July 5, 2007

Preparing for Andrew's Departure

We're getting ever closer to Andrew's departure for American Idol Camp. He and I appeared on the Fox Morning Show this morning. His voice was hoarse , and he was a little cranky. That's something we'll have to work on. He didn't have to sing much except for a teaser.

I think he's featured this week in The Indianapolis Recorder and also was supposed to be interviewed by the Hendricks County Flyer. That fell through when the reporter went on vacation. All the way around, though, the media experience is good for someone who professes a desire to entertain.

Andrew and I had a heart-to-heart the other night about the trip. He's a little nervous about The Dance Theatre of Harlem. Though there will be a chaperone at the hostel where he'll live, he's nervous about being somewhat on his own. But he'll be fine. He knows how to cook, do his laundry and handle emergencies. I'm sure he'll also make friends who will invite him home for the occasional home-cooked meal.

July 3, 2007

Fireworks in the Cul-de-Sac

As usual, we here in the Majestic Perch cul-de-sac celebrated Independence Day early with our annual block party. As usual, the food was awesome, and the fireworks were better than I'd ever remembered them being.

Jeff got great reviews for his ribs, which practically fell off the bone. We didn't even have to cut them with a knife. He started those pretty early in the afternoon.

The kids did the traditional thing and went swimming this afternoon. There was total chaos with all the kids that appeared, including my cousins Warrick and Jaylon.

We're still working on Andrew's presentation for the Fox morning news show on Thursday. The movements that go with his songs are not yet second nature.

June 28, 2007

Start Spreadin' the News

I sent out a news release on Wednesday about Andrew's attendance at American Idol Camp starting July 7. I blanketed local, Chicago and national print and broadcast media. I'm confident the local print outlets will pick up the story. We thought the NBC affiliate here would since Andrew has been featured twice and will be again on The Today Show July 10th. I have a contact, but she's on medical leave.

However,the Fox affiliate, as expected called about 10 minutes after I sent the release to ask whether I minded if they followed Andrew to camp. I put them in touch with the Idol Camp public relations person. They also asked him to appear on their morning show July 5. The rub: they want him to sing. I am musically challenged, so I'm hardly the person to coach Andrew.

Jeff, a closet Broadway wannabe, stepped right in. We allowed Andrew to select a song, and after much hemming and hawing, he settled on some way too adult song that involved sticking one's tongue down a loved one's throat. Needless to say, we nixed that! I hardly think that's appropriate coming out of a 12-year-old on a light morning news program.

Jeff's suggestion: "New York, New York." Turns out, that perfect, both in terms of the news but also for Andrew' voice. We're working out the kinks, but it should be great.

June 25, 2007

The Truths of "The Secret"

I just finished reading an article on the CNN web site about the the phenomenon of The Secret DVD and book series. The complaint by some therapists and other experts was that the book promoted a "blame the victim" mentality and does not look at the roles of free will and action on the part of the individual.

I was at my friend Shari's house a couple of months ago and watched the DVD with a couple of her other girlfriends. I'm not a big self-help kind of person or one who by most standards would be considered mystical or spiritual. But I actually saw a great deal of truth that I do apply to my own life in "The Secret."

As many of you already have read, my nephew Andrew will attend American Idol Camp and the Dance Theatre of Harlem Summer Intensive in July and August. The Idol Camp was a very competitive situation in that only 700 kids out of thousands of applicants have been accepted. In Andrew' case, there was the additional need for a scholarship to cover the $3,000 cost.

An interesting -- and to me, puzzling -- question kept coming up, especially by the producers of The Today Show: Did Andrew and I really believe that he could rise to the top and be accepted to the camp? This, to me, said more about the mindset of the producers than it did about the reality of getting into the camp. I think part of what made Andrew and me successful in this venture was our unwavering belief that there was no reason why he couldn't be the 700th camper -- if not No. 1. The success was two-fold. It rested on Andrew's talent and experience, of which we already had proof, and my abilities as a writing coach who has been extremely successful in obtaining grants, fellowships and awards for myself and others. In other words, our success was, indeed, a combination of belief and action.

When I told my friend Leslie about the camp, she remarked that everything I touch turns to gold. My mother and others have made similar remarks. It's funny, but I know it's not really that way. Though I may have a high success rate, the law of averages dictates that some of my quests will be unsuccessful. And in most instances, I, like most people, don't broadcast my failures. I also don't dwell on them long enough to remember what most of them are. I just move on to the next goal.

The most important part of The Secret is understanding that we all have some extraordinary, marketable abilities. The vision, of which The Secret speaks, is in my opinion should be coupled with perseverance. If people can't envision freedom or wealth or happiness, they hardly will be able to take the steps to achieve these goals.

I didn't really see how The Secret blames the victim, but I do believe that our ability to achieve our desires rests only with ourselves. For many "victims" their worst enemies often are themselves, and shifting to a positive outlook can change not only how they feel but also their rate of personal success.

June 18, 2007

Catching Up On Our Lives

It's been quite a while since I've written here, but we have had a lot going on. The funeral for Andrew's mother was quite sad. He seems to be OK, but that, of course, is a wound that will never heal. Though the prospects of him ever living with her were slim to none, I think what really died was his hope. Fortunately, he has a lot of really interesting things to which he can look forward.

Roland and Alex are at Springhill Camp near Seymour. It's a really beautiful place. This is Roland's first sleep-away camp experience, so he was REALLY excited. It was like Christmas. He got up early and kept asking when we would leave, but check-in wasn't till 3 p.m. The camp itself was gorgeous and huge. There was a lot of really cool -- but dangerous -- stuff like the zipline and rock climbing wall. The really cool thing was the boys were taken to their housing, which looked like a Mongolian yurt, in an antique fire truck. Heck, Jeff said we should have let the kids go home and stay ourselves!

Instead, I took Jeff out for Father's Day to the new Brazilian Grill restaurant. It definitely was no Fogo de Chao or Rei do Gado. My caiparinha, a traditional rum-based drink, was the best I've ever had, but it was down hill from there. The salad bar was far too small and the price far too high for this city and what was offered. The cheese bread should have been more like a popover but was too heavy, more like a biscuit. I think I'm spoiled. Every churrascaria restaurant -- at least five -- I've been to has been great till now. This restaurant will do for now, but when one of the other chains makes it here, the Brazilian Grill will be blown out of the water.