Sherril's Myriad of Musings: Jill Biden: Second Lady of the Land

Sherril's Myriad of Musings: Jill Biden: Second Lady of the Land

Jill Biden: Second Lady of the Land

Sometimes I think, were it not for the CBS TV program, Sunday Morning, I would never get around to contributing to my blog. Alas, this morning's headline story once again inspired me to do so. Here's the opening remarks of the interview between Rita Braver and Dr. Biden: "When you watch Jill Biden shaking every hand in sight . . . stuffing gift bags for soldiers . . . inviting veterans and their families to the vice president's house, you may be tempted to say, "Isn't she nice!" That would be a mistake! "'Energetic,' interesting,' 'vivacious,' ' but 'nice' is blah. It's just too bland. So I never want to be 'nice.'" I thoroughly agree. There are many adjectives I'd like to be known as and "nice" is not one of them.

I say "Dr." Biden, because she has her Ph.D in Education. Jill Biden is one of the, if not the, first "Second Lady" to have continued to work in her profession while living in the Vice President's residence. I would go so far as to say, that I have never so closely identified with or admired any of the"Second" or for that matter, "First" Ladies in recent times, as I do Jill Biden. I was impressed with Hillary Clinton, of course, as well as Teresa Heinz, who might have been our First Lady, but I can really identify with Jill Jacobs Biden. Not only was she born in my birth year, 1951, her daughter, Ashley, was born in 1981, a year after my daughter, she has a Bachelor's and Master's Degree, as do I (though she went on for her Doctorate, which I have only dreamed of doing, but have not, at least as yet, made a reality), and she has worked ever since, teaching English at the High School level, as well as emotionally disturbed adolescents in a psychiatric hospital. Presently she teaches as an adjunct professor of English at Northern Virginia Community College. Though I am not a teacher, I am a close ally as a Speech/ Language Pathologist. I've harbored another little fantasy of getting certified in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and perhaps working as an adjunct professor at a Community College. So, I'd say we have a lot in common professionally.

It is not only as a professional woman that I relate to Jill Biden, but as an American woman who clearly has always seen her roles as varied, complex and full. In being a mother and wife, I have never lost my identity as a person in my own right. I went to college and earned two degrees so I could contribute and give back. Though nothing in life is more important to me than my children, my children are not who I am. I am a mother and I am an Early Intervention Speech Therapist and I am an advocate for Social Justice and I am a believer in equal rights and I am a Jewish woman with a love for education and learning and sharing the concept of "tikun olam", and I am a lifetime reader of books and a lover of theater and music and a blogger and...and...and. Being all of these things and not ever having put any of them on the back burner in order to raise children, which I believe I have done fairly well, I strongly relate to other women who I can see by what they do, what they say and how they say it, that they see life and live their lives similarly to me.

OK, so here's another thing I like about Jill Biden. She has a profile on facebook. Naturally, I became a fan today. I paused my DVR taped edition of Sunday Morning, went to my computer, searched her name, found the facebook link, clicked on it and wrote on her wall subsequent to becoming a fan. Here is what I posted:
I am currently watching you being interviewed on Sunday Morning and upon hearing about your background, being Jill Jacobs, growing up outside of Phila., PA, I immediately wondered if you were Jewish (if you are reading this and you are Jewish, you will understand this). So, I went to check this out on my computer and the Wikipedia article said that you are not. OK, you're not Jewish, but you are a remarkable woman and a wonderful role model. I love that on your personal info here on fb, you are an educator first and the "Second Lady" second, which is just how it should be. I also love that you are known as Dr. Jill Biden at the White House and beyond. And, maybe what I love most is that you are exactly the same age as me, both born in 1951! Kudos to you, Jill Biden (even if you're not Jewish) (:

So, now I have accomplished two things. I've written a post on my blog, which I think about doing all the time, but actually do all too infrequently. And I have discovered that I have much in common with The Second Lady of the Land and that ain't too shabby.



I believe there is nothing more extraordinary or moving, than a great theater experience. I am not sure what to call Next to Normal, since in my mind, it is more a play than a musical, but it is done mostly through songs. Perhaps in another time, it would be billed as an operetta, but that doesn't really do it justice, either. It is a dramatic play, expressed in song, which comes across as natural as the spoken word. Wickepedia calls it "a Tony Award winning rock musical with book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey and music by Tom Kitt". Rock musical doesn't sit right with me because though much of the music could be classified as rock and the play is done mostly in song, calling it a rock musical misses the point. Next to Normal is a play addressing dysfunction in a family caused or influenced by the mental disability of the mother (Diana) who suffers with manic depression, also known as Bipolar Disorder. In Diana's case, she has extreme manic episodes which lead to psychotic symptoms, delusions and hallucinations, about which I will not elaborate, to avoid a spoiler for anyone who might go to to see the play, which, if you haven't guessed by now, I highly recommend you do. I would call Next to Normal a play expressed in song and music. That may be a long way of saying a Rock Musical, but I'd prefer to find a new name for this kind of theater. If you have any suggestions, let me know.

If you click on the link above (i.e. the title), you will find a New York Times review of the play from February, 2008, when Next to Normal opened originally off Broadway at the Second Stage Theater with a slightly different cast. The current cast is highlighted by Alice Ripley, an actress previously unknown to me, but may be familiar to some from Broadway's production of The Who's Tommy in 1993. Alice Ripley is wondrous in this part. I can not speak her praises highly enough. Not only is her voice beautiful, expressive and displays a broad range, but her emotional range as an actor is what made this piece totally capture my imagination and my emotional world. The other actors, especially J. Robert Spencer, who plays Dan, the father, Jennifer Damiano, Natalie, the daughter and Kyle Dean Massey, Gabe the son are also wonderfully expressive, with beautiful and strong voices and in the case of Kyle Dean Massey, physically gorgeous. When I say expressive, I refer especially to their facial expressions. Because of my less than perfect vision, I am forced to watch the play as much through my opera glasses as directly, which not only allows me, but forces me to see the details of everything from their faces to the shoes they wear and the creases in their clothing. What captivated me was watching the subtle changes in Alice Ripley's facial expressions, which reveal, without words, a plethora of emotions including, but hardly limited to pain, fear, confusion, irony, distrust and love. The confusion and despair on her husband Dan, J. Robert Spencer's face also brings the audience to tears. Speaking of tears, the play is not a tear-jerker. What it is, is a display of life in it's multitude of emotions and how what happens to one family member can so broadly and profoundly affect all of the others. For those who do not like to cry, fear not, because there is a lot in this play that is funny and the characters laugh, as well as cry, as does the audience. Having said that, to watch this play without tears is either to not "get it" or to be the kind of person who does not allow themselves to experience the myriad of emotions available to the human species. From my perspective, that would be a shame. I read an interview that was done with the plays writer and lyricist, Brian Yorkey and he said the following: "We wanted this show to be an emotional experience, as honest as it could be, and we wanted people to experience emotions with Diana and her family -- to empathize, to share the experience, rather than just witness it." They succeeded.

Before watching the Tony Award Ceremony in June of this year, I was not aware of the play Next to Normal or Alice Ripley. A compelling scene from the play was performed on the Tonys and this is what initially sparked my interest. After hearing an interview of Alice Ripley on NPR, I knew that this was a play I had to see. By the way, Next to Normal was nominated for Best Musical (i.e. play expressed in music and song (:), Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score (Winner), Best Actor in a Musical, Best Actress in a Musical (Alice Ripley - Winner), Best Featured Actress, Best Director of a Musical, Best Orchestrations (Winner), Best Sound Design, Scenic Design and Lighting Design of a Musical. It appears I was not the only one who loved this play.

After the play, my sister and I walked over to TKTS and to our surprise found Next To Normal on it's board. I'd bought it for a discounted price online, so I didn't feel cheated. Truth be told, at any price, this play would be more than worth the price of admission.

I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being. Oscar Wilde


MOLESKINE -The Legendary NOTEBOOK of Hemingway and Other Delectable Delights

I am a big fan of keeping a journal, not just a diary type, but also and more frequently, the small notebook inside my pocketbook type. That is to say, I always have a small notebook with me to jot down whatever I think is important and would otherwise forget. I also often buy small notebooks, wherever I happen to be, if they catch my attention and fancy. So, for example, once, when I was perusing my local B&N, I took a quick look at the various journals. I found the MOLESKINE Ruled Notebook, one similar to the one that I had purchased 3 or 4 years ago and had used up. Even though I did not need a new notebook (I'd purchased two very pretty Mini journals on a trip to Canada in late 2007), I still bought the MOLESKINE one, knowing that eventually I would need it and it was just what I wanted, but hadn't found since first purchased.

I have no idea what Hemingway wrote in his note book journal, but I suspect it was quite different from mine. The kinds of things I most often jot down are names of books I have read and books I want to read, audio books, CDs, places and addresses, names of people I want to remember, short directions to places I want to go, current blood pressure from doctor's visits, subjects I want to bring up in therapy, names of cocktails I may want to order in a bar or restaurant, TO DO Lists, online websites, words that strike my fancy, thoughts on anything from Menopause to things that make me happy (or sad), actual journalling about the paintings in museums I visit, trips I'm taking, names of Restaurants, especially in New York City, but not exclusively, etc..

It is the restaurants or other types of eateries in The City I want to expound upon here. What gave me the idea was a TV program I happened upon this morning while surfing channels as I ate my breakfast. I could probably say that one of my all time favorite foods is DOUGHNUTS. I am kind of embarrassed to admit that, but I'm afraid it's true. And, I often associate doughnuts, as well as other sweets, with places I have travelled. So, when I think of New Orleans, the Beignets at the Cafe Du Monde immediately come to mind.

This could be me. It's not me, If it were me, I'd be drinking Cafe Le Monde's coffee au lait with its mixture of chicory and dark roasted coffee, not Brown's something in a carton. It does kind of look like me when I had that hairstyle., which I just may have had on one of my trips to New Orleans...But Anyway.....

Back to channel surfing. I came upon a program on the Travel Channel called, Doughnut Paradise. Specifically, it was featuring a Doughnut Shop located at 379 Grand Street in New York City, called, THE DOUGHNUT PLANT. Here's what it says on the travelchannel.com's web-site..."The Doughnut Plant takes donuts to a different level with fillings like pomegranate and meyer lemon. Made from all-natural ingredients, each square-shaped donut is custom-filled to perfection. Next time you are in the Big Apple, take a detour to the Doughnut Plant and sample some of the freshest ingredients ever stuffed into a square of fried dough." To watch the video, click on the Doughnut Plant's Website, then click PRESS. Then on the right side, under Television, click on 3/20/2008 - Doughnut Plant. This will take you to the video, which is worth watching if you like doughnuts and live in the NYC area or plan to visit. I most definitely plan to.

Sometimes I write down a person, place or thing I want to remember, and I transcribe it from one journal to the next, but then I can't remember why I wrote it in the first place. Such is the case with the entry I wrote many moons ago, in a note book journal I can't seem to find, but I can picture the entry and it was Russ & Daughters Appetizers store. I think I may have heard something about it on NPR and quickly wrote it down in my little black book (which may or may not have been black at the time). The thing is, more often than not, I write it down and proceed to completely forget about it until something happens somewhere and some place in time to return it to my memory. This is what happened this morning, bringing back memories of notes in my pocket journals, past and present and reminding me of the places I've intended to visit to enjoy some sweet delectable treat.

The last example of NYC's edible delicacies that I once wrote in my pocketbook book is Magnolia a place well known for it's cupcakes of all kinds. Their site says..."
At Magnolia our cupcakes are baked fresh all day every day, without the use or aid of preservatives or stabilizers. They are meant to be enjoyed right away!"

They say people line up around the block to get one of these delights at Magnolia and at The Doughnut Plant and maybe even at Russ & Daughters and I've yet to be one of them. But, my time will come and Jenny Craig be damned!


Julie & Julia

I just watched the trailer for the movie, Julie & Julia, opening this August and it looks like it's going to be the kind of movie that is a delight to watch. It stars my all time favorite actress, Meryl Streep.

From the trailer, what becomes immediately apparent is Meryl Streep's uncanny talent to be right on the mark in reproducing accents and styles of speech. The trailer shows a black and white video of Streep as Julia in the kitchen and I thought it was an old video of Julia Child, herself. This looks like it's going to be the kind of movie in which Streep will shine. I hope so.

The movie is Nora Ephron's adaptation of two bestselling memoirs: Julie Powell's Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen

and My Life in France, by Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme.

The movie intertwines the story of Julia Child's climb to fame as the world-renown master chef with another true story about Julie Powell,

played by Amy Adams, who was a secretary in New York City and wrote a blog, called What Could Happen, chronicling her attempt to cook all the recipes in Julia Child's cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, all 564 recipes in one year, 365 days.

The blog was/is right here on bloggerspot.com. It got a wide following and it got noticed by Little Brown and Company Publishing, which picked it up and out of that came the memoir, Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, which was published in 2005. It was a mere hop, skip and jump from blog to memoir to movie.

Now that is cool. It should only happen to me. OK OK, I know...my blog is all over the place with no apparent cohesiveness, BUT STILL!!

In any case, I look forward to seeing Julie & Julia.