Saturday, May 16, 2015

There are two days in my life when "everything changed." This video is about one of them.

The year, 1998.   

My daughter is one year's old.  
 I'm a first time mom of 37 with a bad case of laryngitis on the day of this segment.

I was still reeling from having nearly lost my child to a danger I never realized existed until my child walked into the kitchen, pointed to her mouth, her eyes rolled back in her head, she fell to the floor and stopped breathing.

This video is about the day (one of them) everything changed.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Teen spokesperson and professional model to address F.A.R.E. (Food Allergy conference) about pursuing her dreams by overcoming fears and staying positive

Great article by Christine Peddle in Allergic Living Magazine which is always full of amazing information and entirely up-to-date info regarding auto-immune issues and allergies.

And this edition has an article featuring someone very dear to my heart:  My eldest daughter, Juliet Larsen, who, in spite of life-threatening food allergies has found the courage to pursue a professional modeling career since the age of 14.

Sorry the scans are hard to read.  

NOTE: Juliet Larsen to address Teens at FARE Conference this Sunday, Long Beach, CA.  She will discuss how she felt growing up with this particular food allergy and how she did not let her fears of anaphylaxis stand in the way of following her dreams regarding participating in sports, theater events or even pursuing a professional modeling career.  

**This Sunday, Long Beach, California at the 2015 annual  F.AR.E. Conference.

Juliet Larsen, today.  At work Thursday, May 14th 2015.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Our epic college journey: The acceptances, waitlists, tours, the endless number crunching -- and finally HER decision.

THE TASK:  To help Juliet find the best college education for the least debt.
THE GOAL - To make sure the choice is 100% hers. 

THE BACKSTORY:  J. applied to 15 colleges.
She got into 6.  
Waitlisted at 4.

(The Ivies blew her off.  Their loss.)

She got grants at all the schools she was accepted at.  

Some of them were very flattering merit grants and scholarships and I'm mighty proud of that.  
Some of them were really generous (Smith/Barnard)
Some were great, but still - a bit too low (for us) given the high cost of schools these days.
We do not have savings for college right now so our daughter will carry all the costs of her education.
Therefore we are super proud of J. for getting into three business schools, in spite of challenges. 
She was accepted at NYU's Stern School of Business, USC Marshall School of Business, Chapman University's Argyros School of Business - along with acceptances at Smith College, Barnard College and UCI.  

She was waitlisted at UCLA, Vassar, Berkeley and Stanford.


The 1rst tour: Due to proximity, was USC, Marshall School of Business (forgot to take photos).
USC -- she really liked very much.  Especially given its proximity to her other love: FILM.  Loved both programs: Film and Business.  She needed a chance to explore finance and film, equally.  The vibe there was truly an energetic, super cool, very urban campus.   However, still a bit too pricy for her.  So, not too high on the list due to cost.

The 2nd tour (for a school she is only waitlisted for)  Stanford.
Not easy to tour when A) You are only on the wait list, and B) Your boyfriend already got into via early acceptance.

And that Stanford tour:  Oh, there's no end to hear what advantages are available for Stanford students.  It's nothing short of astonishing to learn what they are able to have, hold, see, do and not worry about while they are at Stanford.  The whole tour makes your knees weak.  And, let's just say it -- everyone knows it's the hardest school to get into, so all of this is very enticing.

For instance, did you know they have routers in the rose garden so no student has to endure a wifi-free afternoon when enjoying the day in the rose garden?  True story.  A tour perk.

The newer dorms have personal chefs.
Every freshman is taken on a week trip to Lake Tahoe all expenses paid.
They are inventing a cure for food allegies and possibly a vaccine for preventing them.
Juliet has a fatal peanut allergy.
-- And what's not to love about a school funding a doctor working hard to develop a life-saving treatment for food allergies?
Stanford has so many perks to the University, they are impossible to begin to list.
And did I mention?  It's gorgeous there.

They even have some buildings don't move in an earthquakes because they have ions or fancy particles or something Hogwarts-y they've built into the structure.  

Stanford is over 840+ square acres big.  No.  Really.  It is.
And it's jaw-droppingly perfect.  It's "Disney-clean."  

Somebody got choked up at the end of this day's tour. 

Moving right along - 

The 3rd tour: Chapman University.  
Argyros School of Business.  And that was smaller, super modern and lovely, as well.   Perhaps, in the end, a bit too expensive for our family at this time.  (No photos.  Sorry.)  

UCI.  -- Beautiful.  Lovely, rich and wonderful, but, alas, a bit too expensive for us right now, but terrific, of course!  We have been on the campus many times, so we know it well.  Alas, not in our price range.   Her father works in newspapers.   Figure it out.  (Sorry no photos)

4th was Smith College:  And Smith College is fantastic!   (I loved it! ) They were truly the nicest people, ever.  Truly.   The school is so impressive, the campus so lovely - it was hard not to fall in love with it, but I think J. is leaning less toward a lovely small town and more toward a real city experience.

So, after later seeing her grandparents in Vermont, we then drove the next morning from Vt.  back to NYC for the final two tours.  Barnard College (women's college, part of Columbia University) and NYU, Stern School of Business.

So, our 5th, was Barnard.  (second to last)

It was an exciting car ride to Barnard via the Bronx.   Very French Connection-like.  Thanks to Hertz having no maps.  And I got past my fears about driving in Manhattan.  Then we finally arrived on 116th Street and Riverside Drive, via most of Harlem, which is actually really lovely these days, and we parked and made our way into Barnard to meet with financial aid, and take in a very nice campus tour.  

It was cold and windy, the sun went behind a cloud and the spring flowers danced in the brisk wind.  You'd think these California girls would shiver and leave.  But, no.   Besides -- they were having a very cheerful BBQ that afternoon and everyone was in a fine mood.

J. took it all in. She took in every face, every voice, every building, every word the tour guide offered while at Barnard. 

We met with financial aid, which was a very positive experience, unlike the meeting with NYU's financial aid office.  

We walked up and down the school's lovely buildings and 1800's halls and classrooms.   Her eyes got bigger and bigger as the day went on.  

Before it got too dark I suggested we go across the street and see Columbia University.  And despite the winter chill in the spring evening she was thrilled there was even more to see and take in.   And there was a lot to take in.  She had no idea, really how much more there was.

The gate to Columbia is literally right across the street from us, facing Barnard's gate.  We stepped onto their campus.  Walked up and down.  We walked the perimeter of both schools and then down to see Cathedral St. John the Divine.  (Which if you have never done this, really should at least once in your lifetime.)  

We had -- quite the mother-daughter afternoon.  Fairly emotional, but in a good way.  A day of realizing that all that I love, and revere and which move me greatly really were passed onto her through my gene pool without my ever having to point out what I felt were pros and cons, at this stage -- she privately sorted  through it all -- from start to finish.  And she came to a choice that was entirely hers.    This part of the process was very important to me.  It is a massive choice so it had to be all hers, and hers alone.  After all.  She will carry her own college loans.  We don't have any savings for college.  Regrettably none.  But, that's another post.  Another time.  

So she had to be the one to decide.  And decide she did.  It was a great afternoon.  Epic, really.

On walking back we stopped to buy a hot chocolate and a coffee.  And we said in a little cafe facing St. Lukes Hospital.  (A place I noted carefully since I live in terror of her going off to college with a life-threatening food allergy.)  

She said over her hot chocolate:  "I think this is it.   I think this is the one.  I never once felt this way even once when we were at Stanford.  I haven't felt this way once yet on any other college tour.  I want to go to Barnard. This is my place.  These are my peeps.  This the school I want."  And so even with one more tour to go (NYU, the next day,) I think the choice was still pretty much decided at that point.  But I still advised her not to waste the funds and time we invested this trip by closing her mind early.  I said that there could be great discoveries to be made, we could always see what could happen by sharing our situation with financial aid and see if that made a difference.  I told her to keep an open mind and blank slate about impressions.  That we had a long plane trip home to weigh and balance all the options for her.

New York City.  Not every loves the Big Apple, but the ones that do, love it for life.

The 6th and FINAL TOUR:  NYU, Stern School of Business.

NYU:  Very exciting to visit and go on the accepted students tour.  The Stern School of Business was polished and pristine and modern and exciting.  It's certainly impressive!  "Urban!" and "Global!" and Purple Letters telling you just where you are, galore.  NYU owns so much property and programs that taking it all in is definitely a sight to behold.  But, then we went to the financial aid office to "chat" about the "real cost" of each semester....And, boom, found out the massive sticker price we already had lacked the inclusion of room and board -- which is "different for every student depending on what they choose."  I looked at J. she looked at me and that was that.  

A fun tour, but no campus, really.  A great park nearby but not the same feeling as Barnard/Columbia.  But if the cost is $71,000+ before the room and board?  Whew!  No can do!  Besides...there was that something inside her that she felt she was missing until she walked (and walked) the Upper West Side.

We then flew home, tired, exhausted, but finally content and happy that a choice had been made.

She tells me that even if she makes it off Stanford's wait list she is still probably going to choose NYC's Barnard because she felt such a strong connection to the place.  So, hopefully we won't have to go through this decision again.  Because I'm not sure my nerves can take that.

So?  Class of 2019 Barnard College, it is!

May Addendum:  Stanford wrote her last week that due to the overwhelming turnout to accept enrollment at Stanford this year that being accepted from the wait list was no longer an option.  Given that this year they raised their bar on offering a free ride to all students from families making up to $125,000 (which is an increase of $25,000 from last year) this was not a surprise.  But, what was a surprise was how happy Juliet was.  She was overjoyed she would not have to decide between Barnard of Columbia and Stanford, because the reality is she really, really, really wants to go to Barnard.   And as her parent I am overjoyed, too, that my kid is thrilled about where she's going!  Whew!  Done.   That's all we ever really want, for them to be happy about their destination and motivated to make the most of it.


Saturday, April 18, 2015

WORKING FOR THE MOUSE: A theatrical tour-de-force & one-man show about coming of age at Disneyland.


Calling all fans of great acting, astonishing character work, great improvisation, wonderful writing, and what a really good "one-man show" should look like:


You will never see one person play as many characters as you will see in this show. DO take the kids. Do not miss this. Do support this artist's work!!! BOOK THE LAST FEW TICKETS NOW!!!

His show originated in San Francisco, where the below YouTube interview with Trevor Allen was created. Here he shares with the viewer a background on how his life was changed by his work as a part-time character actor at Disneyland.

I'm writing this very rushed, gushy review (sort-of) of this play because A) I'm in the middle of the college decision process with my child, which is a bit time consuming at the moment, and yet I did see this wonderful show last weekend and was struck by how absolutely charming, touching and perfect this performance piece is for a venue in Orange County, CA.

I write it because I read a review of it in a local weekly newspaper that made his show sound lurid and sensational and perhaps not appropriate for kids or true Disney fans -- and I have to say, THIS IS SO FAR FROM THE TRUTH! It's a true story about a theme park that made me love Disneyland and its creators more than I ever thought possible. It's a loving, but realistic tribute to one of Orange County's most frequented tourist attraction and this time I will look at those working in Disneyland with more love, more affection and respect for the hard job they do more than I ever would have before. This show BEGS for a proper theater venue to produce it in Orange County.  I knew whenever a work of theater is recommended to me by playwright, Prince Gomolvilas, that it's going be good, but didn't expect it to be damn near perfect for the OC crowd.

 (Hello, South Coast Repertory?????) WORKING FOR THE MOUSE is a lovely, warm, funny -- Mark Twain-esque coming of age story which takes place from Newport Beach and Balboa Island to Anaheim's most, uhm, colorful motels, to the the very real heart and belly of our one and only Disneyland. Trevor Allen's cornucopia of characters is mesmerizing, hilarious and touching: His is a show Mark Twain would have loved and approved of. Just when you think it's about physical comedy and slapstick, you find the storyline will break your heart and touch you.

 My daughters and I (all Orange County, CA residents) had tears in our eyes when the lights came up. I waited until the audience had left to find Mr. Allen and tell him I want to do everything I can to see this show makes it to Orange County, where I firmly believe it will be greatly loved and adored.

 So - that's the purpose of this rushed blog review: YOU HAVE ONE WEEKEND -- NOW TO STILL SEE WORKING FOR THE MOUSE IN LA. It will make you laugh. It's a master class of acting and storytelling. IT PLAYS THIS WEEKEND ONLY. Until someone wise and wonderful gives it another run in the OC.

I dunno.  Maybe The Orange County Register will write about it or something.  They should.