As the mama of a toddler, I kept hearing about Pamela Druckerman’s book Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting. I was skeptical because I have an aversion to the fetishizing of the French, especially among women, but I was intrigued all the same. The book was wonderful in part because it provides insight into how Americans have come to parent, and why it often inadvertently holds them hostage. It’s also wonderful because it offers hope for those parents who feel imprisoned by the job and experience a loss of identity in the midst of child-rearing.
Since that book became an international best-seller, author Pamela Druckerman followed up with French Children Don’t Throw Food and Bebe Day By Day: 100 Keys to French Parenting. A combo book of Bringing Up Bebe and Bebe Day By Day is available now in paperback.
Here we talk about her books, what she’s learned about parenting, and the differences between American and French parenting. Check out her website here. Enjoy!
I recently saw the phenomenal, Academy Award winning documentary, 20 Feet From Stardom about the lives and careers of back-up singers. You must see this film. The voices, stories, and people in this movie are absolutely compelling and captivating. In addition to documenting the life of a back-up singer and what that career can be like, the film shows the way session groups sang back-up on almost every song from the 60s and 70s (think: the Gospel back-up sound on “Sweet Home Alabama” or the ladies who sang “Da-Doo-Run-Run”).
One of the stars of the film was the incredible Darlene Love who is most famous for the vocals on He’s a Rebel (which I sillily referred to as “She’s a Rebel” in my intro here! Oy), Be My Baby, The Monster Mash, and dozens more. Her voice is stunning and her effervescent personality is contagious. The film is a masterpiece and ends with her being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Bruce Springsteen watching on proudly.
This year she is releasing her first full length album this year, there is a biopic starring Toni Braxton as Love to be aired on Oprah’s OWN network, and she will be making her 28th and final Christmas appearance on David Letterman’s Late Show this year. Visit her website for more on tour dates and news.
I was truly honored to speak with this inspirational and talented woman. Below is a clip of her SINGING her acceptance speech at the Oscars and enjoy my interview below that.
I love the Letters From a Nut book series. These books compile bizarre and hilarious letters that Bruce Baum and his writing partner at the time, Barry Marder, sent to businesses (and their responses). They were authored under the pen name Ted L. Nancy. Jerry Seinfeld wrote the forewards to these books, and now there is some controversy about who the true author(s) are. Bruce claims he is one of the two authors while Marder (with Seinfeld by his side) has taken sole credit. He is working on a documentary about this controversy and a pilot for a show called Clear My Name dealing with people who feel they’ve been denied credit for their work or were unfairly besmirched. Check out the video below to see him tell his side of the story and listen to my podcast interview beneath that for more. Also, visit Bruce’s website for tour dates and more.
I’m easily annoyed. I hate loud noises, babies crying, women chattering, the sound of football on television–I don’t like any of it. The worst part of it, though, is that I seem like I LOVE all of it. This is my cross to bear. I seem super perky, but in reality I’m a grouch. In sum, I’m the worst kind of person. I’m Elaine Benes who seems like Kelly Ripa.
I’ve been diagnosed as a “Highly Sensitive Person,” which sounds like a joke, but apparently is a thing where you have greater sensitivity to noises, textures, and other sensory experiences. Being a Highly Sensitive Person really just means I have high highs and low lows, and translates into me being overjoyed or devastated.
Even though I’m irritated by the slightest volume increase (which should make me unable to function in an MTV Challenge house), I am an extrovert, and desire human contact. On one hand, I make every effort to avoid eye contact with people when I’m out in public, but I simultaneously crave attention and interaction to a degree that is probably unhealthy.
This is why social media is a dream come true. I can post an observation, picture, or joke and have people acknowledge (and often validate) me, but I don’t actually have to talk to them. The problem, of course, is that we all still have to go to the supermarket, mall, and doctor’s office, and that’s when I would really appreciate you letting me scroll through my Facebook newsfeed in silence. It’s not you, it’s me. You’re probably delightful. I’m the worst, and I can’t listen to your tales about the weather, local sports, or pumpkin spice lattes.
And, listen, I get that when you’ve been on reality TV that you should be prepared to discuss it at all times, but let me just clear up the three questions people seem to have, for the record, once and for all: 1) Yes, it was fun, 2) Yes, I keep in touch with SOME of “those people,” and 3) No, I don’t think I’m going to do “that” again.
Also, the fact that I have a kid and you have a kid and we happen to be standing in the same checkout line does not mean we need to be friends. In fact, I think it means that neither of us are in the mood to have a chat because we both have toddler at our heels trying to rip into a Snickers bar that has not yet been paid for.
So know this, I’m both annoying and annoyed, so, whatever you do, don’t bug me.
If you grew up in Pittsburgh and have ears, you’ve heard the voice and impressions of legendary radio personality and comedian, Jimmy Krenn. He ruled morning radio for 24 years, and caused a stir when was abruptly fired from the DVE Morning Show. In this Meister Piece exclusive, Jimmy opens up about that controversy and tells us what happened from his point of view. He also shares how he got his start in the business and how he began doing impersonations at a young age. You can hear his hilarious podcast at jimkrenn.com and he’s back on the airwaves every week on KDKA Fridays between 8-9am with hosts Larry Richert and John Shumway. He is one of the nicest guys in the city, and I’m proud to call him my friend. I hope you enjoy the interview–he’s so much more than just a pretty voice.
If you’ve ever proclaimed your nerdiness, you’re probably not a nerd. I hear a lot of girls saying they’re nerds because they “love to read” only to find out their definition of a bibliophile is someone who read Fifty Shades of Gray or The Notebook. If that’s the kind of book you’re into, more power to you, but you’re not a nerd.
I recently finished my PhD in Religious Studies, and even I’m not a nerd. I’ve been forced to navigate a weird in-between world due my dichotomous identity as both scholar and reality star (I’m using the word star very loosely). Almost every day I have to explain that a PhD in Religious Studies means that I am, in fact, a doctor. I’m not a minister, nun, missionary, or even faithful (depending on the day). I study religion. And, yes, I am on reality television, which isn’t exactly a bastion of intellectualism, so I understand the confusion, but c’mon. What’s a girl gotta do to get a little respect around here?!
I realize, of course, that my long blonde hair and ever-present stiletto heels can be confusing for those who think all the smarts wear glasses and pocket protectors. Don’t let my fake eyelashes fool you, though–I love documentaries, non-fiction, crossword puzzles, and TED Talks. Like most people, though, I appreciate a nice break from the ivory tower. My definition of a good dissertation is a done dissertation. I delight in watching Top Chef and Dancing with the Stars. I like dick jokes. And, if I’m honest, I only made it through about ten minutes of Cosmos.
Despite my dubious nerd qualifications, I look forward to a day when people stop asking me if I’m a “real” doctor or, “What do you do with a doctorate in religion anyway?”. So, let’s say we make a deal where you quit pretending you’re a nerd because one time you had braces, and I won’t make you call me Dr. Meister.
Gabrielle Glaser’s book, Her Best Kept Secret: Why Women Drink and How They Can Regain Control, will undoubtedly resonate with many women who have asked themselves if they drink too much. In this insightful book, Glaser describes the relationship women have had with alcohol over American history, and discusses issues of gender, women’s rights, and depression along the way. She, perhaps controversially, disagrees with the way 12-step programs are seen as the catch-all solution for addiction and abuse, and argues these programs are not the sole solution in helping people struggling with alcohol abuse and/or over-drinking. Among the fascinating elements in her book is her discussion of how women have taken on jobs outside of the home without gaining much relief from domestic duties. These added stresses contribute to women self-medicating and de-stressing through alcohol. Glaser provides an abundance of information about women and alcohol, and also offers alternative methods for curbing over-drinking as a means of stress relief. Please pick up her book here–it’s a tremendously interesting and fascinating read.
Despite the fact that my sister was homeschooled and my brother homeschools his daughters, I had a pretty cynical and smug attitude toward homeschooling (and to some extent, I still do). What I like about the authors of The Brainy Bunch: The Harding Family’s Method to College Ready by Age 12 is that they are committed to providing the best education for their kids and accelerating the kids’ learning as much as possible. This has resulted in 7 of their 10 kids going to college by the age of 12 and the other three on pace to do the same. Their children include a successful doctor, architect, and more. Their book (which you can buy here) is a fascinating description of how and why they did it, and how they avoided the pitfalls of creating sheltered kids with a limited worldview. I am interested in providing the best education possible for my child, and this book made me realize I have a lot more options than I used to think. Even if homeschooling is out of the question for your family, the Hardings show how to make the most of your time with your kids to help them foster their talents and interests. I think that’s something we should all support!
Just finished reading (and viewing) The Art of LEGO Design: Creative Ways to Build Amazing Models by Jordan Schwartz (No Starch Press). Nothing like a book about a toy to make me feel like I haven’t achieved enough! The models detailed in this book are incredible. It’s a gorgeous book with visuals on innovative uses of LEGO pieces and sets. My nephews (and I assume, one day, my son) are obsessed with LEGOs and have huge bins dedicated to the thousands of pieces they’ve accumulated over the years. Now that I finished the book, I’ve passed it on to them so they can put their skills to good use. I love the Wienermobile construction shown here. That’s my favorite image in the book. If you’re interested, check out the book and the other LEGO design books here.
I try to “Lean In.” I really do. I got a doctorate. I divide the domestic duties with my husband. I negotiate my pay to (hopefully) make as much as my male counterparts. But sometimes when I’m leaning, I lose my balance a bit.
The imbalance I experience isn’t from being poorly treated by men, catcalled by construction workers, or being asked to take on more housework. It’s from perpetual references I see on Facebook, Twitter, and aggregate news sites who refer to beautiful moms as “MILFs” and headlines that tell me that “all moms will shed a tear” when they see such-and-such video. And don’t get me started on this iCloud security breach.
I saw a headline today–that I didn’t click on–that said that whatever was in their article was “a working mom’s worst laundry nightmare.” Do working moms having lots of laundry nightmares of which I’m not aware? And why don’t working dads have the same laundry nightmares (or do they not have nightmares at all???)? Ok, so maybe it’s not fair that I didn’t read the actual article, but I see this type of headline a lot. Clickbait that usually includes a gender-based stereotype. It makes me cringe. Not as much as the video of Janay Rice in that fateful elevator, but still.
As the accompanying photograph suggests, I’ve got a lot going on professionally and personally, but the last thing I need is to worry about whether iCloud is secure enough to handle my extensive library of erotica (and, by the way, those pics weren’t “leaked,” they were stolen). So, ladies, take all the nudes you want, negotiate your pay like a man, and lean in for crissake, but don’t fall for the headlines that make you feel like you should have “laundry nightmares” or that you need to cry at a kitten trying to fit into an extra small box just because you have a vagina.