Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Next Top 10

Don't get excited boys. I'm not about to announce the next 10 top girls in your city or country. I'm talkin' books here. I am quickly approaching #70 out of the 100 book challenge I have taken on for 2010. This has been quite an interesting experience for me. I have had great conversations with so many different people about books. I was really happy to see the number of people reading on set this summer. Two of my top ten were recommendations by emmy nominee Michael Sheen, whom I met on the set of "Jesus Henry Christ" this past summer. His suggestions were"Cloud Atlas," and "The Wind Up Bird Chronicles," and are now two of my new favorite books. We were both excited that because they are both 500 pages, they count as two books. I also had one recommendation from both Drew Roy and Noah Wyle called "Shantaram." I have not yet gotten to this one, but it is on my to-read list.
I am having so much fun with this challenge. I feel like I am learning so many new things. I'm really connecting with other readers and out of all the healing I've done, healing thru books has been by far the most helpful to me. Although, I must admit, Sangria was also a close friend of mine this summer.

So here is my next top 10 favorite books (in no particular order)

1. Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell
2. The Wind Up Bird Chronicles, by Murakami Haruki
3. The Slap, by Tsiolkas Christos
4. Camp Nurse: My Advetures at Summer Camp, by Tilda Shalof
5. Open, by Andre Agassi
6. Shit My Dad Says, by Justin Halpern
7. This is Where I leave You, by Jonathan Tropper
8. Without Reservations, by Alice Steinbach
9.  Beyond Hitler's Grasp: The Heroic Rescue of Bulgaria's Jews, by Michael Bo-Zohar
10. The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss

Sunday, September 12, 2010

StarSitter: Thank God For You! (Synopsis)

Everyone keeps asking me what my new book is about, so I thought I would post the synopsis here for you to read. I'm looking at a release for sometime in October and a book signing in November when I nail down a date with Indigo Bookstore. By the way, love my cover? My friends Jordana Lieberman Hay and Amy Levine did it! Now then, here you go:



             A drunken-dial from a fallen teen queen?
·                             Spray tanning in a boutique clothing store?
·                            A disastrous first pitch at a Chicago Cubs game?
Thirty-year-old Grace Daniels’ life comes full circle when she receives a phone call from the publicist of former Hollywood it girl, Maddy Malone. Fresh out of rehab, Maddy is returning to Chicago for a part in a low budget Indie film and discovers that her former guardian is now the host of her own talk show, called As Good As Grace. Having already rejected both Oprah and Ellen’s pleas for an interview, Maddy decides that her first public appearance ought to be on Grace’s show instead. When the two are reunited, Maddy is shocked and enticed by the new and improved Grace. It seems that Grace has cultivated a new image with her recently highlighted hair, hot boyfriend Jesse, and expensive designer duds. Maddy is acutely aware that Grace has moved on up, Jefferson –style.

Grace is also astonished by some distinct changes in Maddy since they were last together. For instance, Maddy, once consumed with haute couture, now shops at the Gap and resorts to selling her old designer bags to the crew on set when she needs extra cash. Even more surprising is the revelation that Maddy has also essentially dispensed with her freeloading and attention seeking mother, who, she explains, due to a Botox mishap only came to visit Maddy once while she was in rehab. When Maddy’s hotel reservation is lost, the perpetually self sacrificing Grace makes a split second decision to help her and finds herself in even more ludicrous adventures with her young protégée. Overwhelmed and sleep deprived, Grace struggles to keep Maddy afloat while the young starlet comes to terms with the fact she is no longer dazzling the paparazzi on the red carpets or wowing them at Cannes. As they embark on this journey together, both Maddy and Grace learn that sometimes in life, stepping up to the plate and helping others can be your ticket to salvation and the true path to glory and fame.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

"What I did this Summer," by Andrea Dana

As the first day of school is upon us, lots of kids will be writing this essay.  However, if I was still teaching in classrooms, I think I'd change the title to, "What I learned this summer." I mean, anyone can list off things like: Wonderland x10, summer camp, and backpacking Europe. I'm more interested to know how a kid's education was furthered by the activities he/she took part in. It's not just because I'm a teacher, but because I learned a few things about myself this summer too. You see, for the past year and a half people have been telling me how "strong" I am for the things I have gone through, which I seem to always reply "Really? You think so?" I never feel like I'm so strong. I always feel like I'm just doing what I have to do. I mean, I guess I could lie down on the floor and never get up again, but what good would that do?  In my opinion, when you are forced into a situation that is beyond your control, you'd be surprised how much strength you have. A lot of people have said "I don't know what I'd do if one of my parents died." The truth is, they'd do exactly what I've had to do. Keep going.  What I do believe is that there is a difference between being strong and being brave. From what I have learned this summer, being brave takes a lot more strength than being strong does. Therefore, this summer I learned how brave I am. Not only did I make the decision to put my sixteen-year-old Lhasa Apso, Charlie, down. That took strength, but I also made BRAVE decision to not leave his side while it was done. I held him and hugged him while the vet put him to sleep in my parent's backyard by the swing. I really surprised myself with that one. At first, I didn't think I'd be able to be present to watch my best buddy die. I anticipated that I'd be screaming, crying, and to be honest, puking. I felt so much guilt that I was taking Charlie away from my two other dogs, Lucy and Molly, and was terrified over how they'd react over it. (they weren't present when Charlie was put to sleep) I'm not going to go into detail about the process of euthanasia, but to say that it is probably the most humane and peaceful way for a living being to die. The time frame from the injection to Charlie's final breath probably took twenty seconds at the most and within that last breath I could feel his sigh of relief. He fell asleep. Just like that. No more suffering. No more pain. Afterwards, my good friend Wendy directed me to a link that she thought would be helpful. It is the story of "Rainbow Bridge." I wanted to share this with you, and strongly encourage you to read it and definitely share it with anyone you know who has lost a pet.
I'll be honest, I'm not trying to toot my own horn, but I was really proud of myself that I went through with such a selfless act. I had gotten to a point where I knew that I was holding onto Charlie so that I didn't have to suffer another loss in my life.
I am so thankful to still have  Lucy and Molly, who have been a huge comfort to me and have barely left my side. It makes me want to go storming back to that hoarder shrink that I went to see, Dr. NOT Oprah and say to her, "Hey Big Edie (that's a Grey Gardens joke). This is why I have so many dogs!!!"

A few days after Charlie passed away, I went with my cousin Marla and two of her three children to Centre Island. I am sure I hadn't been there in over twenty years. As we got off the ferry, I felt like I had stepped into a time warp. I don't think anything had changed since my last visit there, other than the fact that I no longer fit into those little fire engine cars that I used to drive on the tracks as a kid. However, I am happy to say that I still fit into the logs at the Log Flume Ride...and yes, I went on it three times, got soaked, and loved every second of it. I felt so nostalgic that day. I had spent a lot of time at Centre Island as a kid in the 70s. My dad used to take us there all the time. We even had a little sailboat docked there that we'd take a ride in, if my dad could remember where he had left it, or how to even sail it, but those are small details.
I learned something else while I was on the train ride that takes you around the island. The same train ride, that as a kid, seemed WAY longer and the island seemed WAY bigger. I was sitting with my little cousin Kaia, who's five-years-old, and as we went along the tracks, she pointed out other rides she wanted to go on. We both got excited as we saw all the animals on the little farm. As we went through the tunnel, all the little kids let out shrieking screams of excitement mixed with fear to be in the darkness. Kaia gave out a few little yelps and then poked me in the arm and said, "Look Cousin Andrea there's the light at the end of the tunnel!" Talk about an eye-opener. It was indeed the light at the end of the tunnel. The one I've been looking for, for the past eighteen months. Marla and I laughed over the irony of it, but something inside me finally clicked.
I was lying in bed last night thinking how my life has become so psycho. One day I'm putting my dog to sleep, the next day I'm doing an interview on Etalk Canada. One day I'm at my dad's unveiling, the next day I'm partying it up with Noah Wyle, Peter Shinkoda, and the rest of my "Fallen Skies" friends. So really what have I learned this summer? Life is full of many ups and downs. I can't have one without the other. However, when I accept the brave decisions I need to make, live in the moment and believe everything will work out eventually, maybe I won't need a five-year-old to point out the light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe next time I'll be able to find it myself.
So as you all go back to school, back to work, or just get that same end of summer dread that you get every year, try to think about everything you learned this summer. Whether a teacher asks you to write it down, or not, somehow store it in your memory and keep on going.