The Giver

According to books like “The Hunger Games,” “Divergent” and “The Giver,” in the future, we will all be spared the pain of emotion. We will be told by our leaders what to do and what we must become. We will not be allowed an opinion or a belief of any kind. We will all wear grey and do as we are told. There is something very appealing about not needing to feel any joy or pain, and not having to make tough decisions.

For myself, I can see the appeal. I look really bad in a lot of colors, especially green. I really don’t like my teeth when I smile and I have a very ugly face when I cry. I have also been known to express an opinion or two that get me in trouble. I have a problem with over-sharing, and if I knew that I would be “released” for blogging about my boobs, I would probably not do that.

I have read all of the books in the above series and, as of today, have seen all of the movie adaptions. “The Giver” was always my favorite because I like the notion of one person’s ability to store all of the world’s memories and to protect us from the pain of terrible things like war and disease. No one in the world of the future knows what it is like to feel love, to laugh, or to cry. No one is popular and there is no deadly poverty or extreme wealth. We are all the same. The Giver is the only person who holds the ability to create happiness or sadness.

This week, the world lost one of most beloved “Givers,” Robin Williams. Growing up, I loved him for many reasons. I loved that he grew up in suburban Detroit, he seemed like a regular guy, he was extremely charitable, and that he could make me laugh hysterically (Mork) and could make me cry for hours (T.S. Garp is still my all-time favorite movie character.) (I would also like to point out that Pam Dawber, ie “Mindy” went to my high school which has nothing to do with Robin but yet made me feel more connected to him in a way that only makes sense to me.)

Robin Williams gave everything he had inside to the world. He was the ultimate giver. The problem, it appears, is that he had trouble ever giving any of this joy to himself. This is very common in entertainers, and it is common in writers. We expose ourselves to the world to make sure that people feel the things that we do, yet when we achieve what we want, we find ourselves completely empty. We want to hide from the world until we find that motivation again and create new experiences for people to enjoy.

If you haven’t read or seen the Giver, please be warned because I hate when people ruin things for me in advance (and I’m talking to you people on Facebook who watched “The Good Wife” last year.) But in the end of “The Giver”, everyone receives back the memories of the past. With that, they remember happiness, and they remember fear. They remember the beauty of birth and the sadness of death.

In my life, I seem to experience these highs and lows quite often. I hate feeling sadness, betrayal and anger as much as I enjoy feeling exhilaration, surprise and true friendship. This is life. There is no way to feel happiness and love without feeling hatred or disappointment. These emotions coexist whether we like it or not.

So thank you to Robin Williams, for giving so much of yourself to us. You made us feel a rainbow of emotions and we hope that, if there is an afterlife, you will finally be able to receive the happiness and joy that you gave us.

And thank you to all of my loyal followers and friends, who let me voice my opinion, share my embarrassing stories, and feel my silliness, confusion and frustration. It is a true gift to be acknowledged as a giver. I hope that even if you disagree with me or do not enjoy everything that I write, that you will still let me share & entertain for years to come.

Nanu Nanu.

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Apology

imageFor those of you who attended my wedding on September 5, 1999, in Scottsdale, Arizona, I owe you an apology. It was over 100 degrees, and, per my insistence, it was held outdoors. The only memory that any of you seem to have is of that day is the sweat that was dripping off of the Rabbi’s face during the vows, the groomsmen’s black leather shoes melting in the sun, and my bridesmaids whipping off their dresses and standing half-naked under the bathroom hand-dryers when the ceremony ended.

No one should have to be outdoors in Arizona in the summer. So, being that Arizona is the most ass-backwards state in the nation, it makes total sense that we end school before Memorial Day and start back up at the beginning of August. Yes, we end school before most of the Country, so that we can twiddle our thumbs waiting for camps to begin throughout the country at the end of June, and then start back up in August when the temperatures are so high there are “heat advisories” telling us to stay indoors. No need for the fun, traditional back-to-school clothing shopping, as it is still the same season as when you left school last year.

Here are some Arizona school facts for you for those of you not currently melting here with us: Arizona is ranked in the bottom five nationally in per pupil funding and has been consistently for years. Arizona had the highest rate of decline in educational spending in the nation at negative 21.8 percent during 2008-2012.

I have 3 children, and two of them start tomorrow. Two of them attend our local school district, because they are your “typical” kids. Not too high, not too low. So, they are just fine to attend. Child #3, for anyone who knows him or who reads this blog, is different. I could sugar-coat it or try to say it differently, but he is “gifted.” I don’t say this to boast as I find him to be the most challenging child I have ever met. I was told last year that our school could not accommodate him, and unless I wanted him to skip a grade, we needed to go elsewhere to find a gifted program. “Where do I go?” I asked. “To any other district in the state,” they said, “because they all have gifted programs. Just not us.”

So now, we are in two different school districts that have two completely different schedules. They start and end on the school year on different dates; one has fall break in October and one does not. Spring breaks are different weeks, as are half-days for teacher training and for conferences. I am one of the lucky ones because I can work from home, and can adjust to the fact that I basically have one child home for at least one day a week. What about the parents that can’t do this?

This week, our school district has spent lots of time slapping themselves on the back because they got an “A” rating from the State. This is based on the fact that the kids in the district took the same standardized tests last spring and got the same standardized answers that makes them all meet the standards of the state. The administration is using this as a fact to remind all of us how fantastically standard they are.

They may have forgotten about the fact that they had to make serious cuts this year due to the voters in our district, who did not vote to pass an override that would cost them about $100 a year in taxes. The kids in our area who want to have band in 5th grade now have to go to the middle school on a bus because it was cut out of elementary school. “Specials” at the elementary level were reduced by half this year (Art, Music, PE and Band /Strings at middle schools). To make up for this loss of planning for our teachers, elementary school will end early on Wednesdays.

The people of our school district have decided that this is a hopeless cause, and they are leaving in throngs. This is fantastic news for the charter and private schools around town. They have waiting lists in the hundreds and people are desperate to get their kids in. The incredible, amazing, wonderful teachers of our district are losing their jobs because there are fewer and fewer students to teach.

I am angry and I have a blog. I have a voice and I have a vote. A lifelong friend of mine recently told me that she realized in first grade that she would never win an argument with me because I never give up when I’m convinced I have a point. This is as true now as it was when I was arguing with her in the 1980s about who was cuter: Ricky Schroeder or Kirk Cameron.

I am going to make sure that the people who are elected to my school board this fall will represent my interests, and not their own. I will make sure that the people in my district realize that a “no” vote on this year’s override will guarantee that your home will decrease in value when you try to sell it. You don’t want your kids to go to your public school-that’s fine. You have the funds to pay for them to go to private school or to a charter school? Good. But don’t punish the rest of us with your “no” vote. Trust me, it will come back to you when you try to sell your house. I will make sure that the administration knows now and continues to know that there is a family out there that has no choice but to exist on two school schedules for the next 8 years, and that we are hanging on by a thread. We are by no means the only family like this out there.

I am sorry that all my kids can’t share the joy of the first day back to school tomorrow. I am sorry for my youngest child that he will watch them go off to school, and he knows that he can’t because he’s “different” than they are. He thinks that this is all his fault. He is 6 years old. It’s not his fault.

I am owning up to the fact that I shouldn’t have had my wedding outside 15 years ago. Now it’s your time to tell Aidan whose fault it is that he can’t start school tomorrow.

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Lincoln

There was a war in our family this week…Primack style. While in New York City, we had one night for a Broadway show. We were a family divided. The kids wanted to see “Les Miserables” and the adults wanted to see the Carole King Musical “Beautiful.” So, we divided up. Yes, the kids went alone to a Broadway show (and to dinner) and we went to ours. Then we all met back at the hotel to go on to the next family argument: who got to sleep on the pullout bed.

And so it went. For 10 days, in 3 different cities, the Primacks traveled on, dealing with many small wars along the way. Included in these arguments were: where to eat, where to sit, who is mean, who is the favorite child, and who snores/farts the most.

Due to bad behavior, Aidan was put in time-out at both the Statue of Liberty and at the Washington Monument. Craig got mad at me during the White House tour because I let Aidan pee on the White House Lawn instead of taking him to a restaurant nearby like the Secret Service asked me to. Sam is still mad at me because I told the Capitol tour guide all about The Addams Family. And no one in my family talked to me after our tour at The Mint because I kept singing “Money Money Money” really loud.

But when we got to The Newseum, a museum dedicated to the news stories of our lives, I was reminded about the horrors the world has experienced because of differences of opinion. Walking through exhibits about the Klu Klux Klan, the Oklahoma City bombing, The Holocaust, the numerous school shootings and 911, it’s a lot harder to view it when seeing it through a child’s eyes for the first time.

I wanted to be able to tell them that it was all in the past. That this was the end of the exhibits on horror. But today’s world is overflowing with violence and death based on a difference of opinions or beliefs.

I have realized that the problem today is that we cannot just agree to disagree anymore. There is no compromise, no middle ground. We can’t seem to just peacefully protest or strike. Gone are the peaceful sit-ins and love-ins of other eras. It’s all about violence.

Wouldn’t it be great if Israel and Hamas could just argue and tell each other how much they think they suck, give each other the silent treatment, stop talking for a few days, and then later make up? What if we could just put the Russian militants in time-out for awhile until they calmed down and were ready to talk?

I have a blog, which means I can loudly voice my opinions about whatever I want. I can fight with those who disagree, and I can ultimately even admit when I’m wrong. No violence is necessary and anyone with a voice can tell us how they feel in a variety of ways. Freedom of Speech still exists and we should all use it more.

I have used my blog to complain about issues big and small. I can use it to question the world around me every day. Questions like: What exactly does Scott Disick do for a living? What if I don’t know anyone named Kate to share my Diet Coke with? Can I still drink it? The movies this summer mostly sucked. Why are Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber fighting and why do people care? How awesome is Uber? I love it!!! Why does my husband seem to think that “everyone” is all packed for a trip when really, he’s just referring to himself? I miss Regis. I just don’t like that Michael Strahan on Live with Kelli. Do they actually sell the Ulysses from Masters of Sex and if so, where?

Traveling with a 6 year old is tough, as is traveling with a 43 year old husband with no patience for said 6 year old. They bicker over everything.., many of which I feel said 43 year old should just let go but he cannot seem to drop anything. Ever.,

But both stubborn Primack faces lit up when they saw The Lincoln Memorial last night . The shining beacon to a man who believed in non violent resolution was filled last night with people from all walks of life, from different religions and countries.

We may not agree on everything, but he seems to be the one thing we can. It seems we all agree that a man who believed in loving and accepting each and every person was a very important man to our society. We all wish we still had more like him in our Government today.

Maybe, if we all use the power of non-violent speech for peaceful and lively debate, we will help be able to help world peace in some small way.

And so, if you want to tell us it was dangerous and irresponsible to let our kids wander the streets of New York alone, we understand. But we really think you are wrong for your differing opinions. We’re just not going to shoot you for it. We are all going to go to Ben and Jerry’s and have Cherries Garcia with you (our treat), because those guys, too, believe in non-violence and peace.

Really really delicious peace.

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Let Me Entertain (and inform) You

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Coming soon….very very soon…

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Press Release

To the members of the press that have been HOUNDing me lately,

I feel I owe you an explanation.  Things have been odd here at our house.  There is a lot of movement going on, both day and night.  You have sent your PUPPERAZZI to follow me around the house, checking out my every move.   Today I found them peering around a corner as I made my coffee. They want answers.  Well, I’ll give you answers.

We are moving to a new home.  Yes, your records are correct.  This is our 6th home in 17 years, so we are averaging one every three years.  But let me explain.  It is all Craig’s fault.  My husband enjoys moving the way most men enjoy golfing or sex.  He loves a project of any kind, and moving is a project that keeps on giving.  He loves getting the boxes from the stores.  He loves making the boxes with heavy duty packing tape.  He gets jittery, flushed and tongue tied when discussing moving dates, home inspections, and close of escrow.   He is as full of glee talking about our new neighborhood as he did discussing our children when they were first born.  

We are like the 3 Bears with Goldilocks: this house is too small… this house is too large.. this house is too far away from the 101…… this house needs to much work… and this house is just right.  Or so it goes as of July of 2014. Check back with me in 3 years.  

But with 118 degrees here in Phoenix today, I would just rather move into the freezer section at Costco.  It has everything I need in there.  I don’t think human beings are supposed to reside in this type of heat.  I fear we are all going to one day wake up and realize that we have melted down into teeny tiny people like in “The Incredible Shrinking Woman.”  Only Lily Tomlin will be able to save us.

One of your Pupperazzi, Cosmo, turned 6 today, or 42 in human years.  He’s the same age as me now, so I am feeling his exhaustion a little more acutely than the other members of this house.  He doesn’t want to move off the bed, EVER.  And we really, really don’t have the energy to move him either.  So, Cosmo, we apologize for what you sometimes witness for about 3 to 5 minutes once a week.  If we had the energy, we would forcibly move you somewhere else.  I blame the heat, and our mutual age bracket.  (Your younger sister Zoey has the good sense to run into the closet and hide until it’s all over.  Or she just stays on the bed and licks our feet, which surely is some form of animal bestiality that I don’t want to think about.)

Tomorrow we journey to New York to pick up Sam from his happy place, Stagedoor Manor.  We get a weekend of shows to see at camp, including Sam’s performance as Willard in Footloose.  One of his costars is the daughter of a famous weather anchor.  Without giving it away,  I can tell you that my advice to him to successfully hit on his Footloose costar is to amble up behind her during rehearsal, lean in and whisper in her ear, “So, baby.  What’s happening in your neck of the woods?”  Sam is offended and will not participate.  So I will have to resort to Plan B like I did last year and stalk out the creator of Orange is the New Black.  Last year I just stared at her and wondered how she came up with all the ideas for Weeds.  This year I may tell her the tampon on a sandwich scene really scarred me for life.  I’m not sure how I’ll proceed.  

Then we go to 6 year old Aidan’s dream come true: Washington D.C. and  White House Tour.  I’m afraid Aidan may break free of the tour and go running to look for Obama.  But I’m glad there are Secret Service guys to tackle and stun gun him.  

And then when we return from our journeys, we can continue to go back to the orgasmic journey of Craig Primack, Part 6, concluding on August 18.  And I can go back to being disgusted with the fact that we own way too many boxes of crayons, markers, rubber bands and bottles of nail polish remover.

But, with all the danger and chaos in the world today, I am feeling at least happy that this is my chaos.  The crazy thing about all of the fighting going on today is that it can all be traced to someone moving into someone else’s territory.  People don’t like to have their homes and their land taken, and no one wants to be displaced by a group that doesn’t want them or their family there anymore.

But shooting missiles in the air or killing innocent people is not the answer. Maybe acceptance of change and realizing that we all want the same thing:  a stable home, is the answer.  Maybe Craig Primack is onto something: if you move enough times, and make changes along the way, you will finally figure out what it is that you want.  If you allow your friends and neighbors to do the same thing, the world will be a happier place.

I don’t really think that’s why Craig is having us move, though.  I just think he likes to pick out new paint colors.  

 

 

 

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Peace and Love

For Valentine’s Day this year, I finally got the gift I had been dreaming of for years. That’s right, ladies. I got myself some Howard Stern. Because if I have to spend half of my life in a fucking minivan, I want to be able to listen to the one person who really and truly tells it like it is.

Howard is blunt and honest. He does not feel the need to impress anyone. He asks celebrities the exact questions that I would ask if I could. If he says something that he know will be unpopular, he tops it off by pointing out that he is only saying it “with peace and love.” (ie “If you are an adult, please don’t ask me for my autograph. I won’t sign it. It’s ridiculous for me to write my name down on a napkin for a 50 year old man. And I say this with peace and love. Peace and love.) I think he got this from a rap star or something, but I am not hip enough to know where it came from. I just think it’s awesome.

My closest friends know one thing to be true about me: do not ask me for advice unless you want to know exactly how I feel. There was a point that I told you that I liked your boyfriend because I didn’t want you to be mad at me if I said anything else. But now, if you call me to complain about your husband, I’m going to tell you that I think he’s being an asshole. Or that I think it’s all your fault and that you are the one being ridiculous.

I have always been unafraid to speak my mind, but as I get older I realize there is no use in trying to sugarcoat anything. Not only do I not care about being falsely polite, but I don’t think I am genetically able to filter out my true feelings. (Anyone who has ever met my father will understand. He made no secret of the fact that he wished my sister Emily and I were boys growing up. He renamed us “Albert” and “Edward” and would greet us by saying “Hello boys!” He is also no longer allowed to hang out with my children unless he agrees in advance not to discuss politics around them.)

I am here this summer in my childhood home state of Michigan. I have not spent more than a weekend here in almost 20 years. In a town in which I used to make a point of being seen at every hip venue in town, I am finding that I am trying to make myself less and less visible. The best part about this is that I now travel around the state with a built-in disguise all day long: my older, wrinkled, tired face. When I want to say hello to someone who appears to be squinting at me trying to place who I am, I can choose to symbolically lift my “42 year old Allyson Primack” mask and say, “It’s me! Allyson Ochs! From your childhood!”

The best part of this experience is that with Sam & Lauren both away at camp, I’m spending enormous amounts of alone time with Aidan. What I have realized is that he is more like me than any of my kids. The only problem is that he is exactly like I am today at 42. Not me as a kid. He cannot stand people who are happy twirling around and playing. He likes his friends to have serious interests. Like the Roman Empire or the Revolutionary War. He has no interest in hanging out with anyone unless they “get” his humor. (He was introduced to a kid at camp today named Dakota. Aidan said, “Which one are you, North or South?” And when the kid looked at him with a blank stare, he stormed away, mad that Dakota didn’t get the joke.) He has no patience for stupidity, and I totally get that. I just don’t think I got it at age 6.

But this past week, he found a connection with the one person in particular. A female. And when I say female, I mean an 18 year old counselor, not a 6 year old girl (because they are only interested in coloring.) But Aidan and his counselor got onto the topic of musicals, and she told him her favorite was Les Mis. He was so excited that he wrote her a note and put it in her counselor cubby. You can read it below. Now he chooses to hang with the staff, and I suppose that’s fine. They “get” him in a way that the other kids don’t. He is not into being someone he is not & that makes me proud.

While researching the best way to turn a blog into a book, I came upon an article that suggested the blogging author begin by writing something they feel they know a lot about. The article suggested it is a great precursor to your memoir, and will help set up the topic you have been blogging about. And so, I have spent the last week writing my very first “E-Book.” It’s tentatively titled “Everything you ever wanted to know about show business for your child but had no one to ask (because all the other stage moms are too competitive.)” The other working title is “What to Expect When You Expect Your Child Will Be Famous.”

In any case, I have spent 5 hours a day for the last 2 weeks writing down what I have learned over the last 9 years as a non-show business person in a show-business world. It has been the easiest thing I have ever written, and I have surprised even myself as to how much I have learned. I do not understand my laptop, but if I had to guess, I think it’s about 40 pages long. It will be ready for purchase within the next week, and I think everyone will like it. It is honest, real, and I don’t sugarcoat a thing. It may not be exactly what you want to hear, but it’s all true.

And if you read something in there that may sound harsh or too brutally honest for you, remember: I say it all with Peace and Love. Peace and Love.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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The Confrontation

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you The Confrontation from Les Miserables.

Primack style.

Starring Sam and Aidan, filmed by Lauren. With special guest, making her video debut, our dog Zoey as Fontine.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5ixpcSpCC-c&feature=youtu.be

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