Monday, October 31, 2005

Why I blog

I've noticed a recent rumbling in the blogsphere about "Why People Blog." Some are trying to network, or get famous, or get a book deal, or get laid.

I guess I started blogging to talk to my friends about cancer. I had all these unprocessed feelings, and I was too raw to pick up a phone. We (the Fies fam) were starting to be contacted by other caregivers and suvivors, and they quickly became friends, too.

When I was getting my first masters at New School, I took this amazing class on the friendship potential of Virtual Communities. To me, that's what blogging is all about. In a way this site is an extension of a newsletter I used to put together to try to keep my friends in touch. As we get older it gets harder and harder to maintain friendships in our busy lives. Some of us are having kids, losing parents, battling our own illnesses...all while struggling to make a living in an increasingly difficult economy. I wanted a safe place to update people on my life and to ask the questions we used to ask each other at 4 am in the dorm. Like "Is this what you wanted out of life?" and "How do you deal with *fill in the blank*.

I'm honored to have met so many lovely people online, and to have a safe space to keep my old friends a part of my current life.

A new reader left beautiful comment here today that has really inspired me, and I'd just like to say thank you. Andrea, if you're out there, please drop me an email or your blogaddress so that I can personally respond.
Here's the new hair. Lots of layers and shorter and all that jazz. Mom would have liked it; she was always on me to cut my hair. Liked my Dana Delany circa China Beach bob the best. Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 28, 2005

Just the facts, Ma'am Posted by Picasa


Movies by Women and the Guerrilla Girls must raise money for our "Startling Statistics" Oscar season 2006 billboard campaign, which will highlight the fact that women comprised only 5% of all directors working on the top 250 films of 2004.

The billboard will appear just down the street from the Kodak Theatre(home of the Academy Awards). Do your part to shake up
Hollywood during Oscar season!

The 2002/2003 billboard, which accurately and cuttingly pointed out the gender inequalities in the film industry, created a lot of buzz both locally and internationally and prompted action within the community to support women-helmed film projects as well as racial diversification initiatives.

To give back and donate online and for more information, visit:


We're looking for volunteers to help us spread the word to blogs, famous directors and actors, and media outlets. If you could donate ten hours of your week to this cause, please e-mail us at

Our current volunteers have made a big difference in bringing awareness to the campaign. Please join in the effort and donate a few hours of your time!


Money raised as of October 27: $1,675
Promised donations: $500
We still need: $3,825

The billboard will go up no matter what; even if the First Weekenders Group must foot the remainder of the bill.

Every dollar we raise will go to the actual billboard. Please donate now!

We've reached out to hundreds of organizations over the past month, but we're still only receiving about $125 in donations per week. Please do your part to pitch in! Forward this e-mail to everyone you know to help spread the word.

If you're a member of the media, check out our press release and spread the word about the campaign:

To donate with PAYPAL (credit card):

Please note: Tax-deductible contribution is via check through the generosity of New York Women in Film & Television. Write checks out to: NYWIFT (New York Women In Film and Television). Mail to: T. Veneruso, 419 N. Larchmont Blvd. #90, Los Angeles, CA 90004.

Or to donate directly to New York Women in Film and Television by credit card:

Mom's LA Memorial

Thinking a lot about her while we get ready for the last Memorial this Sunday. 40 + people coming, making it only half the size as the Memorial for her in the town she lived in for thirty years. Amazing.
Mom, Hero and Lorna on Mom's 66th in August Posted by Picasa
Me and Mom on my 30th - she gave me that locket Posted by Picasa


Arnold's Neighborhood

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

short film - back cover (click to view clearer version) Posted by Picasa

Short Film

My screenwriting friends realized between all of us we had enough experience and equipment to make a great short we're all on board now to start shooting our own work.

We participated in a short film festival this weekend. My friend Sharri produced and directed. She got the crew, equipment, and cast together while I was up in NoCal at Mom's memorial.

Then Friday night at 7 pm we received our instructions: genre = mockumentary, length 4-8 minutes, must include a character named DJ Chris Wiffle, a prop boat, and the line "Where on Earth is your faith?"

I wrote the script, and we emailed it out to the actors and crew around ten pm. We called it "Aberrations Vol. IV"'s a faux Scientology instuctional video.

Saturday we started shooting at noon. Finished pick up shots on Sunday, handed it off to a friend of Sharri's to edit. Monday we went to another fab friend's house for the sound mix and to finish paperwork. By Monday night at 6 pm, the project was done and FED-EXed off to the contest.

Sharri is going to convert the short to Quicktime tonight, so you'll all get to see it soon! It was a blast. Everyone was wonderful, and added something amazing creatively.

We're all feeling very inspired to do a few more shorts and then tackle a feature.
Short film Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 22, 2005


I highly recommend it.

Ironically, I was named after Elisabeth Kubler Ross.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Received this Quote

Today via Christina W. Thought it was lovely and apropos.

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway. If you are successful you will win some false friends and true enemies; Succeed anyway. If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; Be honest and frank anyway. What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; Build anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; Be happy anyway. The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you've got anyway. You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; It was never between you and them anyway. - Mother Teresa

Hubba Hubba Posted by Picasa


Oh, lookie there. Brian has a nice update about the Memorial at his site. And I stole one of his pix so you can see Mom as a model now.


Okey dokey. Back in town, but not up to speed. Need to do laundry, pay bills, sleep a little. The Memorial went great. I promise to give details and pictures soon, when my mind de-mushes. The animals are fine, the house is fine, TiVo worked, Nurse Sis and I are alive and not basketcases, everyone thought the Memorial was classy and happy and perfect. So, job well done. My favorite comments were that Mom was cool and kind. It was an amazing gathering of people celebrating her life.

I'm so sorry I've been slacking on personal responses to comments. I have read them, and they've meant the world to me.

And yes, I look exactly like my Mom. You'll really freak out when you see more of the pix of her in her thirties. Genes are a crazy thing. And I'm a lucky girl, even if I didn't get her model heighth. (wait til you see her modeling pictures! Those legs!)

Friday, October 14, 2005

No Freakin' Way

Actually got a great haircut, with a new lady, before a big event. What's next, winning the lottery? Or the LA Lottery. (selling a screenplay?) I feel a little bad, because she cut off six inches of hair, and I didn't think to ask if that was enough to make a wig for any cancer survivors. Crap. Next time.

My hair is still a few inches below my collarbone. Tres chic, methinks.
Reader Request...Here's Hero! Posted by Picasa
Hero's Bath Posted by Picasa
Hero Bath Aftermath Posted by Picasa

Memorial Service

I'm starting to get pukey nervous about going up north for Mom's Memorial thing this Sunday. Boy oh boy. I think we've established the current Anti-anxiety medicine is not working. I'm okay, I'm just kind of getting that dizzy anxious thing, and my elbows are bleeding from picking at them so much.

I don't know exactly why I'm so freaked out. Partly because I have to travel and stay in a hotel right now when I'm emotional, and getting ready to get out of town is such a chore under the best of circumstances. But I think I'm also wigging about seeing people I haven't seen in twenty years, and all the focus that's going to be on us as family members when I'm stressed and weigh the most I have in five years and frankly don't want anyone looking at me. I'm getting a haircut today, and it better be the best god-damned haircut of my life.

I think I'm also nervous that it's going to be the blur of a wedding, where people tell you kind things and amazing stories you're never going to remember. I feel a duty to remember, but I'm incapable. I'm very concerned about my memory deficits and properly remembering my Mom. How long will it be before I forget the sound of her voice, or it becomes normal not to have the phone ring and have it be her? This is the longest I've ever gone without speaking to her, and it's starting to become very real. I'm not away at camp, and she's not on vacation. I'm a member of the Dead Moms Club.
Mom's Memorial Program Posted by Picasa
Mom's Memorial Program Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Sucky Blah Day

Just too much to do. I've gotten much done, but there's SO MUCH MORE. Can't imagine how I could be getting through this if I was working fulltime right now. Hats off to you who have.

So many thank you card and emails I should be returning, but I just can't talk to anyone right now. The phone calls alone have been exhausting. Wonderful, but ultimately tiring. It's hard to tell the story of Mom's death fresh for each person. I don't want to get into some rote blah blah blah thing about it, her friends and family deserve to hear it like I'm telling it for the first time, but when you're on the fourth dozen rendition of it...guess I'm not Yul Brynner in The King and I.

Funny, I'm growing irritated with the friends acting like nothing happened. I mean, I don't want to be treated with kid gloves, and I'm trying to stay in a spiritual place about this, but I also don't like phone calls where it's like "So what's new with you? How ya doing?" Huh? Like I want to chit chat about their crappy day. Kinda doesn't compare, you know? I'm sorry, were you orphaned?

Definitely feeling a need today to curl up and hug a pillow. Where is my ass-kicking clone? Need clone.

God. Soooo obvious Aunt Flo is visiting. Cramp, cry, bitch, moan. Shovel food in. Wah, I miss my Mom. At least I worked out today and took the dogs to the park. So what if the corporate taxes aren't done yet. Jail is lovely this time of year.
Mom's Obit Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 10, 2005


But I'm a writer, so I find my dog's lint to be haiku material.

It's been really weird to observe the mourning process, in myself, my family, the people I come in contact with. Some people are shockingly appropriate and kind, others are desperate to tell you their awful stories and enact some measure of completion on you, with or without your permission (sort of an odd rape-mourning). It's amazing how many people are open wounds about death.

Some look really disturbed if you tell them without crying, which I'm having more and more difficulty with. Not to be all pro-Camus, but why would I go out into the world at all if I was about to crumble at the mention of Mom's death? Don't expect me to put on a show for people; my mourning is my own. I know my family's calmness and dark sense of humor disturbed the hell out of the nice lady at the funeral home, but that is our inheritance. Call me Bree, but I don't think it's appropriate to go rubbing my snot on strangers' sleeves.

Really though, for the most part it's just an overwhelming amount of physical and emotional work to do with a mushy brain, sprinkled with unexpected acts of kindness from people you didn't know cared, and oddly innapropriate impositions from people you thought cared more.

All in all? Interesting. I expect the Memorial service up north this weekend to be even more so. No way to prepare. Just going into the fray.

Three more big fishies (lots of little ones, but I'm saving the ready-to-mount-over-the-fireplace ones for you loyals.

First Fishie
My trainer (the one I started with so I'd be strong enough to lift Mom at home, and I'm just trying to lose my caregiving weight...45 pounds, here we come skinny jeans) what a horribly crafted sentence I have no energy to fix. I'll let you deal with deciphering that one.

Ahem. Last Wednesday when I took my glasses off in class, my trainer made a big stink out of calling me Superwoman. It was very noticeable for several reasons. Two other girls in class wear glasses, and he didn't say it them. This trainer has only met me twice, and though I adore him and his perfect gay abs and would do infinite lunges for his approval, he doesn't know I'm a comic buff yet. And...I'd already decided I was getting a Superman tatoo to commemorate Mom and her Fortress of Solitude visualization. So I guess she likes that idea. Because a bum in front of Target called me Superwoman yesterday, too. Huh. Got it Mom. One tatoo, coming up.

Second Fishie
Thursday night at my graduation ceremony for Flash Forward (yes, where I didn't reach my one-month goal of become a Writer's Assistant OR do my homework assignment of getting at least one industry mentor), I spoke out my accomplishment of helping Mom have a beautiful death, and some of the other little goals I got done during the month with the support of the class, and named my new goals (see above, top of website). I also spoke about my tendency to play small, and my new resolve to try not to diminish myself and go with my natural tendency to be an entrepreneur. Long story short (too late!), when we broke up into groups and did some more brainstorming exercises, I spoke about self-publishing Mom's memoir by Christmas...and this lovely guest looked me dead in the eye and asked,

"Why self-publish? Don't you think you're selling yourself short?"

To which I said, "Whu-huh???"

Mom's last words to me were, "I never sold you short."

Okey-dokie Mom. We'll try to find a real publisher, interested in a great companion book to one of the biggest hits of next year.

Poisson Trois
Nurse Sis (Brenda) and I went to a good friends' house for dinner on Saturday. This lovely couple made an incredible, formal meal for us last spring when Mom was still up for company, and had really wanted to see her the week she died, when she refused company. Because Jack and Patrick were so dear to Mom, Brenda agreed to this dinner, even though her mourning reaction right now is calling for much more daily privacy. (whereas I feel much more of a drive to be lightly social with my friends...again, interesting, and strategies I expect we'll switch on sometime soon.)

Anyhoo, from appetizer to desert, they served us Mom's favorite choices. I swear, Jack is now channeling Mom's stomach. Tomato caprese for appetizers, chopped salad with avocados, pork chops and wild rice and spinach, and flan for desert. Favorites, all around. Really, really weird. And it was great, because Jack had already told us he felt Mom touching his shoulder at church last Sunday and talking and laughing with him, so he was really blown away that she whispered the menu to him, too. Very cool, Mom.

But Mom, I'm losing weight now, not gaining. No more popcorn, okay?

Friday, October 07, 2005

Amazing People

Everyone's been so amazing. Really beautfiul and supportive and touchingly kind. Thank you all. It's overwhelming.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Light a Candle

Thank you to reader Steve (Lunchmoney) for posting this site on Mom's Recovery. It's a lovely I'm sure many of us can use for years to come.

What Mom really wanted was to be a writer. She wrote an autobiography while I was in junior high, then put it away after too much discouraging editing "help" from a local J.C. instructor. I really wanted to self-publish it for her when she first was diagnosed, but she didn't become interested until this summer. So I'm committed to getting that done, and Brian is going to draw the cover from the best picture we have of Great Grandpa and Mom on his lap.

I think it's an amazing story. At the age of six, she was diagnosed with TB and sent away to a sanitarium, where her older brother and Grandpa were. But because of the quarantine rules of that era, she was alone in the hospital for a year...the only contact she had with them was waving through a window.

Anyway, I think she's a beautiful writer and really captures a distinct viewpoint and amazing details of her era. It's of some small relief that I have something active to do that feels important in her memory.

Here are some of her blog entries at Mom's Recovery:
Can You Believe it?
Spittin' Tacks Mad
Walkers are Cool!
Remember Nod
If a Tree Falls
Oh my god this was a terrible idea. Why did I start listing blog entries? You can actually follow the progression on her blog of how small her life she had to keep adjusting her goals and dreams to reachable sizes, until she was squished into this tiny little heartbeat of hope. I'm filled with such sadness and regret now. Urgh. But...if you get a chance, she was (is?) a wonderful writer who really wanted to be read. I have to go now.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Or is it Fies-hies, in our case? (One of Mom's favorite dinnertime sayings was "Pass the cheese, please, Fies.")

Fishies - for those of you unfamiliar with the stories of my nineteen-year-old cat passing last spring, Calliope taught me the afterlife exists by sending me a half-dozen undeniable signs.

Mom sent three undeniable signs to us yesterday. I may have to explain the significance first.

Mom's last new goal was to go on a roadtrip with me in the spring. She always needed a goal and a metaphor. Two of her most wonderful memories were getting to know Brian and Brenda on separate road trips, so she decided it was my turn. And because she was 66 years old, she somehow got fixated on driving Route 66 with me from Chicago to LA. In a Thelma and Louise convertible. Oh, and that I should bring my expensive video camera and make a documentary out of it. (She was always looking for ways to get a little famous and make a was one of her charming ways, and a great irony that all she had to do was live her life to become immortalized.) And just in case I wasn't convinced yet, she would finally tell me all those family stories she'd been holding out on. (Mom was the family historian to the end, and had an amazing memory, which I unfortunately did not inherit. Much of our family folklore has died with her.)

So when her three children went to make memorial arrangements, you can imagine our relief when our destination was located above a classic car display room with a huge neon "Route 66" sign. Clearly, we were in the right place.

Then when we picked out urns, we found the blue one with seagulls, which we all instantly agreed was Mom. And ten minutes later I looked at the name of it and saw it was "Coming Home." Her focus the last two days of her life, which eventually shifted in her mind from her Hollywood home with Hero to the afterlife with her Grandpa.

The last sign? Before she lost consciousness, Mom began writing a list of all the people on Earth she loved. Barbara was a fierce list-maker, busy busy busy up to the end. It was very touching. And when she was done, Brenda and I helped her make a list of all the wonderful people waiting to greet her in the afterlife. She got really excited about this, and it helped shift her focus in a beautiful way. Her emotion over getting to see her beloved Grandpa again, and finding out who her father is were new goals that she couldn't wait to accomplish.

After she was done with the lists, she started visualizing a safe place to go to now. She asked me, "What was that icy palace Superman took Lois to, that was beautiful but not cold?" An amazing memory. Dead on. I told her "The Fortress of Solitude, Mom." She smiled and closed her eyes and said, "Oh yeah. Mmmnnn. That's where I am." I had forgotten how much she loved the movie, and Christopher Reeve was a hero of hers during her cancer battle.

So last night I was really tired, but for some reason I knew I had to turn the TV on (Brenda reported the same feeling but actually went to sleep instead...which she desperately needed). I switched channels for twenty minutes, unsure what the hell I was doing. Then I hit A & E. Superman II. At the exact moment when Lois discovers Clark is Superman, and he then flies her to the Fortress of Solitude.

We love you Mom, and we miss you...but it's wonderful to have such a powerful, loving Guardian Angel. Looking forward to a lifetime of fishies.

I'm actually doing really well. I would request that readers send some messages and love to Brenda and Brian. They need some candles lit.

And if you want to smile and think of Mom, A&E is replaying Superman II:
Tuesday, October 04 @ 2:30pm ET
Tuesday, October 11 @ 8:30am ET & 2:30pm ET
Saturday, October 15 @ 1pm ET

Monday, October 03, 2005

Going Home Posted by Picasa

Going Home

Hello Lovely, Supportive Readers. Brian has an announcement over at the newish Mom's Cancer Blog, or Mom's Recovery Blog. So please check there. You'll be hearing from me soon.