Thursday, February 28, 2013

If at First You Don't Succeed, Blog, Blog Again

It’s has been a Red-Letter Week for the Mommy of the Bride blog, which made its debut just over 2 years ago.  Over 130 posts later, has attracted 20,000 hits! (Thank you)

How did I start blogging?

Two years ago I came very close to securing an agent for my memoir. Shortly after I queried, she asked for the opening chapter. A week later she requested three more. Promising! Even though I thought her reply sounded a little odd.I see on your website that you are a stand-up comedian. Do you intend to leverage your contacts in the comedy world to promote this book?

Apparently, when Ms. Prospective Agent googled my name, she left out the middle initial “B” and got the Official site of Laura Hayden stand-up comedian instead of – writer.

I sent the chapters along with this clarification: I have to inform you – and this is not a bad thing – that I am not exactly who you think I am! 

I explained her Internet faux pas, redirected her to my writer’s website and downplayed the mistaken identity by quipping, I may not be performing monologues onstage, but my students say my puns are “pretty darn funny." Keep it light, I thought.

Her answer shot back, it seemed, instantly. I'll be honest, I only requested your work because of a misunderstanding. I figured a comedian dealing with loss would attract at least a look from a major trade house editor. While I think the idea is well conceived and the writing samples are excellent, I simply don't feel you have the platform necessary to meet with success in this highly competitive market. Editors look for nonfiction authors to come with a media presence.

And she advised me to start a blog.

Well, I did. Decided to focus on the future instead of the past (though the past sneaks in regularly).

20,000 + posts later, it’s time to shop another book.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Red Carpet Worthy Dressing

Octavia Spencer at the 2013 Academy
Awards wearubg Tadashi Shoji - again1
Photo by Getty
What does Octavia Spencer and the Mommy of the Bride have in common?

We both love Tadashi Shoji.

But it’s not what you think.

We’re not interested in him romantically.
Just fashionably.
Earlier this week Octavia walked the 2013 Academy Award Red Carpet in a Tadashi Shoji gown. He’s the same designer she wore last year when she won the best supporting actress Oscar. His dressmaking has a knack for flattering less than perfect female figures with strategially snug tucks of material over their assets and a flow of fabric over their liabilities.
I wore Tadashi Shoji to my daughter’s wedding. Off the rack TS. Actually, off an eBay store site.
The online gown caught my eye after a number of disappointing visits to bridal shops. It’s  difficult to find petite sizes, even in these specialty stores. (My once-favorite Marshalls department store has shrunk its petite department so much, it no longer exists).

Bride and MOTB (in her Tadashi Shoji gown).

When I saw that the Tadashi gown was available in a range of sizes, including my petite-medium-ish domain,I clicked it into my cart and let parcel post do the rest.
Once out of the package, all it needed was a steaming.

Monday, February 25, 2013

A Grim Day in MOTB History :February 25, 1828

Louisa Adams, only First Lady MOTG.
After digging up info on First Lady MOTBs last Presidents’ Day weekend, I stumbled upon mention of the only First Lady Mother of the Groom: Louisa Adams (wife of John Quincy, sixth POTUS).  
MOTGs traditionally have less say in wedding plans. Yet, in 1828, Mrs. John Q Adams' position was unique, since her youngest son John II (named after his grandfather, the 2nd POTUS) was marrying  his first cousin (Louisa’s sister’s daughter Mary Catherine Hellen).  As if that wasn’t enough connection to pull off a 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue venue, Mary had actually become part of her future in-laws’ household when she lost her parents as a child.

Which made Louisa a surrogate MOTB as well as MOTG!
All of this had an almost storybook sound to it, until   the White House dirty linen surfaced.Mary, who grew up to be beautiful and flirtatious, started playing an 1800s version of The Bachelorette with all three of the President's' sons. A site as official and staid as puts it as politely as possible:
The winner -
Bachelor # 3
Charles was conquered first and then dropped for older brother, George Washington Adams. A bitter, rejected Charles described her as “one of the most capricious women that were ever formed in a capricious race.” She became engaged to George, who would postpone the wedding to please his parents and finish his education. It would prove to be fatal for their relationship. Mary, whatever her best intentions may have been, was not one to wait.

Ironically, John Adams II, who was expelled from Harvard, would be the winner in this bachelor derby. 
Neither Rejected Bachelor/Brother #1 nor Rejected Bachelor/Brother #2 attended the White House wedding.  Louisa Adams kept the list of invited guests short. Nine months and seven days after the nuptials, the bride gave birth to a baby girl. A year or so later, Brother #1 took his own life.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

First Lady Mothers of White House Brides

The Nixons dance at daughter Tricia's White House Wedding in 1971
MOTB finds herself wondering about White House weddings this Presidents’ Day weekend, especially weddings of Presidents’ daughters. 

Come to find out - eight POTUS daughters have celebrated their wedding at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue when their dad’s were still in office. 
  • Maria Hester Monroe March 9, 1820 
  • Elizabeth Tyler Jan. 31, 1842 
  • Nellie Grant May 21, 1874 
  • Alice Roosevelt Feb. 17, 1906 
  • Jessie Wilson Nov. 25, 1913 
  • Eleanor Wilson May 7, 1914 
  • Lynda Bird Johnson Dec. 9, 1967 
  • Tricia Nixon June 12, 1971 
Yes, that's a two-fer-one administration – during Woodrow Wilson's term! Other Prezzes have walked two daughters down regal aisles  (Johnson, Nixon) but not while living in the WH. 

While all these Presidential Daddies' Little Girls had Papa Commander-in-Chief to thank for dibs on the venue, their First Lady Moms ran the show (with the help of more than one wedding planner, I'm sure).  

Sketch of Nellie Grant's nuptials
I'm figuring the lady on the far left of this drawing is First Lady Julia Grant, the MOTB of Miss Nellie Grant,daughter of Ulysses. It's the only publicity "drawing" of the event, appearing on the front page of Leslie's Illustrated  the morning after the Big Day in 1874. (I don't think the word paparazzi had been coined yet.

Lady Bird Johnson glimpses her daughter's way in this traditional pose.
Found this lovely picture of Lady Bird Johnson, far left,  at daughter Linda's White House nuptials in 1967. Begs the caption Proud Mother of the Bride.

Apparently I'm not the only one who gets a kick out of  Presidents' daughters' weddings and the MOTBs behind them. This You-Tube video, posted five months ago, features First Lady Pat Nixon dancing with President Nixon at their daughter Tricia's wedding in 1971. Original footage was a Super-8 home movie shot by H.R. Halderman. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Snow Stoppers and Goers

(AP Photo/The Lowell Sun, Julia Malakie
Snow today. More snow predicted for tomorrow.  But not nearly as much as the two feet that fell last weekend. And even that wasn't the greatest height of the storm. Towns less than an hour away got forty inches. The school districts around and about the New Haven area still have not restarted classes - and may have to give up a scheduled school vacation to make up for the days the blizzards blasted away.

Most of us Nutmeggers have been only inconvenienced by the Blizzard of 2013. We’ve had to shovel out, stay put a while, sit in traffic a while. 

But most of us stayed safe. Babies about to be born, disregarded the stay-put memo. So they entered their new world at home, maybe, or in the ambulance on the way to the hospital – due to blizzard delays along the way. One Baby Girl – named Lizzy – will inevitably be called Blizzy for the rest of her life, thanks to her snowy birth date.

The blizzard’s early forecast did serve to postpone a  friend’s  80th birthday party booked at a nearby restaurant.Most guests could make it a week later. But bigger events are harder to put off.  Bigger events like weddings!

A Waterbury CT bride made it to the church during the blizzard, after switching from limo to a Ford Expedition to get there. (I bet the couple was tempted to change their honeymoon to a warmer destination too – if and when they were able to  get going on a honeymoon.)

A bride in Lowell MA donned snowshoes to get to her wedding . Farther north – in Maine – another bride  actually wished for lots and lots of snow – because her Mom and Dad had been married during a blizzard  in 1970. Her getting-hitched wish was granted.

 Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night could stay these couples from the  completion of their appointed vows, surpassing even our mail couriers pledge to deliver - no matter what last weekend!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Winning Names

Larry and I had a pretty easy time naming our daughter way back when.

Some history: Emily  wasn't on a most popular names list when she was born in the mid-80s. By 1990 the name ranked #7 . . . five years later # 3 . . . and by the start of the new millennium Emily topped the official list of Most Popular Baby Girl Names.

Who knew? Certainly not the two of us.  We just loved the name. And I soon came to love the shortened version even more. (Note: Parents-to-be  who are considering baby names need to weigh in on shortened versions too!)
Some backstory: I taught, teach, and will no doubt continue to teach writing for some time. The name Emily  connected my English-teacher brain to the literary Belle of Amherst – Ms. Dickinson. A fortunate synapse for sure!  Had I only been able to connect  the name to Emily Post,  why, our Emily might have been named Mallory - after the likeable daughter in the Family Ties sitcom. (You're dating yourself if you knew that – just saying!). But Mallory was nowhere near a close second!  If this Name Game was a horse race, Emily crossed the finish line way before Mallory got  very far out of the gate.

More backstory: My husband’s brother was, is, and will no doubt continue to be an actor for some time.
Got that?

Now picture Larry holding his first born, just hours after delivery. I’m spent, as is Baby Girl Emily, from an arduous labor and emergency C-section (Note:Long-laboring moms sign a pledge to mention their ordeal whenever, wherever possible).

But Larry is on a New Daddy high, grinning from ear-to-ear as he says, “John may be the actor in the family, but I have an Emmy.”

I have loved, still love, and will always love that story. Even more so today, the morning after Emily (now a mother of a six-month-old) sent me this text last night.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Blizzards Past and Present

I just happen to be reading a biography of Ella Grasso this week. In 1974 the wise voters of CT (including me!)     elected Ella the first woman governor to secure the position in her own right. I’m especially interested in Ella because, a few years ago, I moved to her hometown. I’ve been trying to figure out just where she lived for a while now. I had it narrowed down to one street of modest homes about  a mile from me. Finally, Jon E Purmont’s biography  of Ella pinpointed the exact address: 13 Olive Street, across the street from her parents’ house at 12 Olive Street.

Ella’s first term as governor  put her in charge of the State’s response to the Blizzard of 1978, an epic storm that cast “nearly two feet of snow,” over three days, February 5 to February 7.  Coincidentally, today, thirty-five years later (almost to the day!) the Blizzard of 2013 rivals the 78-er with about the same amount of snow having fallen in half the time.

I thought I was on top of this weekend's storm. Yesterday, as the snow fell gently but steadily through the morning and afternoon, I kept a path open for Winnie, my elder doggie. I shoveled an inch or so at a time, through the day, figuring this would keep the snow removal “doable” in the morning. Last mini-clean-up ensued during Winnie’s last “run” for the night – about 9 PM. That’s when I noticed the wind blew stronger than during the earlier part of the day.

Off to bed reading Ella, and then off to sleep, I woke up in the middle of the night. The snow- glow through the window, so typical of a nighttime  storm,  drew me to take a peak outside. Flakes weren't falling. Not down, anyway. Sheets of whiteness fiercely flew horizontally, before my eyes. The sight bordered on the preternatural.!


Took a while for me to get back to sleep with that image frozen in my mind, accompanied by the howling of the night’s idiot wind. By 7 AM, when Winnie was ready to do her morning thing, I got up to open the back door. A wall of snow stood before her doggie eyes. The barrier  piled up past my thigh. This was just one of many mighty high piles throughout the yard that drifted far above the official two feet that had accumulated overnight. Pre-shoveling my backyard driveway through yesterday hadn't made a bit of a difference. My driveway and yard were impassable.

Best neighbor in the world

Today, when I talked to the best neighbor in the world (after he had snow-blown my driveway) he said he had been up at 3 AM too. Unlike me, who just took a peak outdoors, he went outside and watched one inch . . .two inches . . . three inches accumulate before his eyes. What had taken a full day to accumulate earlier took only minutes in the middle of the night! 

This afternoon, tired from snow-clearing and tired of 24/7 TV coverage of the blizzard, I picked up the Grasso bio where I left off, the start of her second term election year. I was reminded how nine months before the election Ella prevailed in a Mother Nature vs. Mama Grasso blizzard showdown. The Governor  took “full charge of the emergency operations." Even spent one night “catching a few hours of sleep on an office sofa” in the emergency headquarters. For the sake of safety, she closed the roads for three days, made herself available to press and media, and got President Carter to send federal troops from Fort Hood, TX to help the Connecticut National Guard with clean-up.

I've decided to put the bio aside a few days.Now where did I put  Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer?