Sunday, May 31, 2015

ATNY Camps

Flexible Weekly Summer TV/Film Camp Options

On-Camera Focus, Improvisation, Monologue, Scene Study
Core Classes to get You Camera Ready.  Act & Audition Technique

TV/Film Weekly Actors Ages 7 - 17             Saturday Rising Stars Ages 4 - 6

BANNERNEWKIDS  Design Your Own Summer Days & Weeks!
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays &/or Saturdays
June, July or August

Starts June 23rd, 10:00am - 3:00pm
Saturdays, 11:00am - 4:00pm

Enjoy Weekdays and/or Saturdays.  Request Actor Reels.
Actors May come 1-day each week, 2-days or all Week Intensives.

Kids & Teens in New York City
Flex June 23rd - August 15th Programming

Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, 10:00am - 3:00pm
 Saturdays, 11:00am - 4:00pm

Bringing On-Camera Kids in Focus
Television & Film for Young Aspiring Actors

Full Diversification of Core Acting Classes with in and out of state actors.  From TV/Film Scene Study, Monologue Study, Improvisation, Meisner Technique, Audition Technique, Speech & Diction and prepare for top NYC industry showcases!  Lunchroom Provided, it's gonna be fun.  Customize Your Weeks!

Customize Your Days each Week to Fit your Schedule!
Refer a Friend Summer Discounts!

Ages 7 - 17: Full Day Programs, Customize!
Ages 4 - 6 (Non-Readers), Saturdays, Noon - 1pm

Call ATNY for Class Details and Information

Pearl Studios, 500 8th Ave. betw. 35/36th St.
Convenient Location Close to Port Authority & Penn Station


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Product Yay and Nay

I have meant to write about some of these things but hadn't gotten around to it. I also wanted to use them a little more before giving a thumbs up or down.

I've never been into expensive face products. Just not my thing. I've always been tan and that was pretty much my "make-up". And I get botox, so that took care of wrinkles. However, I do have acne scars on the right side of my face that I loathe. I don't know what it would take to get rid of them permanently, except that whatever it is, costs more than my budget for external upkeep. The only thing I can really do right now is try to minimize them. I also just want my skin to look better in general.

A neighbor gave me a Clarisonic Plus. I think this is one of the most expensive of the Clarisonic brand, new. Or they don't make it anymore- it may have been replaced by something else. I looked on their site and it's not available but you can still get it at high end department stores like Barney's and Saks and some online retailers.

It looks to be around $180-$225 at authorized retailers but that includes the cleansers and one or two brushes. I bought new brushes on ebay. I don't know if they're actual "Clarisonic" brand, but I didn't want to invest a lot of money at first before trying it. I've never been great about washing my face with special cleansers or doing a whole routine. Generally speaking, I wash my face in the shower and then when I remember, I use those make-up remover wipes at night. But now, I have been using the Clarisonic at the end of every morning shower. I leave it on the ledge next to the shower, with the brush wet and the cleanser already on. I grab it, cleanse so the actual Clarisonic doesn't get wet, set it back down, wash my face off, and voila! Clean face. I definitely think it's worth it.


I've been using Neutrogena Blackhead Remover cleanser. It seems to be working well. It has 2% salicylic acid in it and exfoliating beads. I like it well enough. You only need a little. I was using way too much at first.

I was never a big foundation user- because of the tan. I pretty much stopped using tanning beds this year. Ok, I didn't TOTALLY stop, but I only went a handful of times. Maybe it worked out to once a month, if that. Put it this way- this is the least I've used them in my life, except for when I was pregnant. I'm trying to wean, but it isn't easy. In any event, I didn't even know what color I really am, so I had to find something to use that was somewhat sheer, but the right color, and didn't look cakey or fake. I found something I love- Almay Smart Shade Anti-Aging. It's like a sheer foundation that just gives a really smooth finish. Before I really got into using the Clarisonic, and was just using the Almay, my husband was saying my skin was looking really good. He always is complimentary, but he was very specific to my skin. I attribute it to the Almay. Plus, it's nice that it matches to your face skin for you. I can't decide what to get when they are really specific colors because I never know what color I'm going to be.

There is nothing worse than seeing that line of demarcation on someone's face from make-up. So, I like this sort of broader way of choosing a shade. This is perfect for summer because it's SPF 15 (if you like make-up with SPF) and it's on the lighter side in consistency.

Those are my new-ish "yay" items. Now for my one little "nay"...

I really need a dry shampoo that works and doesn't make me look like I'm trying to be a 90 year old woman for Halloween. I don't wash my hair every day and I just need a little freshen up on the days I don't wash it.

I tried Not Your Mother's Clean Freak and it was ok. But I thought maybe something else would be better. I'd tried Psssst or something which was awful. I bought CVS brand just to see if it worked. A lot of the CVS brand is the same or better than the branded stuff, so I took a chance. Oh my god. No. I tried to take a good picture of my roots this morning but everyone knows I can't take selfies and this didn't do justice to what this looked like. It looked like I had dandruff. It says leave it in 1-2 minutes but I sprayed and then put a shower cap on and took a quick, five minute shower. I left it on through getting dressed and dressing my face- around another fifteen minutes. When I saw it, after taking off the cap, I had a mini panic attack. How was I going to fix this. It was ALL WHITE with what looked like dots or flakes. I brushed it and it's ok, but I can still see remnants up close.

With the NYM's kind, you could leave it as long as you want and it stays the same. I think I will stick with that or try something else. People I know have recommended a brand that I think starts with a "B" but I haven't investigated that yet.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Why so Glum?

Chum. Why so glum? I don't know how else to put it. It's glum, negative, not good. Whatever. All of it.

I need to know what it is in people that makes them so negative. Online.

Have you ever read a comments section on any article - either from a news source shared on Facebook or directly on a news source site? People are immediately venomous. Completely ignorant too. Not to mention a total lack of grammar and correct spelling. I may not have the best grammar in my writing here, but it's my blog, and it's definitely coherent. Everything is also spelled correctly. Regardless of the technical stuff though, it's the sentiments shared. Discussing people and picking them apart like they are examples of perfect humans.

I started thinking about this last week when I saw an article about a prominent local couple who are accused of doing something illegal and embarrassing. It's all alleged right now, but it's pretty clear they did it. They're Jewish. Well known, wealthy Jews. As Jews, you hate it when others Jews break the law in any way. Money crimes, murder crimes- doesn't matter what the crime, when it happens, it's a blight on my people. I like to call it the Joel Rifkin/Bernie Madoff effect.The Jews are hated enough globally. And we all know the stereotypes about wealth and entitlement. We don't need anyone adding any grains of truth to those stereotypes. So of course if the story is true, these people are complete douches. Worse than that. I don't know what to call them. But the comments section of the online local paper- cue the anti-Semitic remarks. The sad thing is that I KNEW that was going to devolve down that rabbit hole. Maybe night right away, but enough comments down, sure enough, there they were. And people put it out there, loud and proud, like there is nothing the slightest bit deplorable about it.

If I were this couple, I'd have to move. Far. At least out of Bergen County. How do you recover socially after that? How do their kids move on? Small town scandal has always occurred, but there wasn't this open season on the internet to drag it out and make it worse. I have to think that just knowing people were skewering you all over the internet is a complete nightmare. Of course they could've avoided it by not doing the crime. But I'm just not sure what the public flogging does that would help the situation in any way. Does Joe Schmoe's thoughts on the topic, while he's home on the toilet, hopping around online, shed any extra profound light on the topic? I think not.

It's always the same people too. If you see someone constantly complaining on your local Facebook group, just do a quick search of their name. I guarantee you will see a plethora of other comments made by them on various sites, across numerous stories. Never anything positive or happy. Or check out their Yelp reviews- strongly skewed to the negative. Not only is it sad, but I would like to see their reaction if they were the ones being torn apart.

I could write a whole blog just on Yelp alone. If there is a devil, it lives in Yelp. It gives crazy, disgruntled people a voice they shouldn't be able to use. Yelp the same thing as with the online newspaper/blog article people who just go on to unleash their fury. We have one bad review and it's from someone whose only other review is a complete hatchet job on a restaurant. That says a lot to me about a person when the only have negative reviews. That is a person who can never be satisfied. I'm still wondering how I can go to his boss or company and review his performance. Because I have A LOT to say.

I just don't know when people got so mean and angry. Or is it just that they have a forum now where they have a little power? What happened to communication? To taking an issue up with someone or a small business, on the phone or face to face, before just running to the internet to blast them and possibly ruin their business? People are completely losing the art of conversation. Or having the ability to have productive confrontation. I'd say nine times out of ten, if you come to a small business with a legitimate complaint and do it in a nice way, you'll get your desired outcome. But, run to social media, and nine times out of those ten, I'm done with you.

As far as the news commentary- there is also a mind-numbing lack of reading comprehension that just adds to the ignorance of it all. I've read comments over five times before I even understood what the person was trying to convey. If you're going to try to eviscerate someone with words, at least sound like you know what you're talking about.

I can't even be bothered trying to have an intelligent back and forth with people in comments sections. I've had to stop reading them all together. Especially ones about parenting. People are way too defensive. It turns into a bloodbath. And the bottom line is- everyone should just be asking themselves, before they post- "Do I really care?". I bet the answer, almost one hundred percent of the time, is a resounding NO.

As far as "reviews"- I've been making a conscious effort to write positive posts on Facebook and Yelp about small businesses that I find and love. It costs me nothing and it might help them get some business. I have no ulterior motive. Just want to share some positivity. Yet, you can post something positive and there is always someone to come in and pee in your cheerios. These kind of people have to find a fault with SOMETHING. Even if it's something really minor, it's like they can't let it go. It's like they think they're Simon Cowell and been given the authority to critique down to the last detail. Totally not the point of the post and beyond infuriating. If I put out there how great a retail store was when I stopped in, and everyone is agreeing, don't agree only to say "It's great but the floor was sticky one time when I went in there..."

I don't need to write poor reviews. If a retail store, restaurant, service, sucks at what they do, that will speak volumes for them. It will speak enough so that I don't have to do it for them.

I'm pretty sure everyone was taught as a child- "If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all". Apparently, this one needs to be re-learned as an adult. I've definitely made my share of snarky comments over the years on message boards, but I would never try to purposely malign someone's business. I think that's what someone like a Yelp Elite forgets when they give someone a three star review for virtually no reason. A reason that has nothing to do with their goods or services.  Small business owners are people just trying to put food on the table for their family. They don't get a paycheck from someone else. And those people I referenced above, living out their nightmare of a ginormous mistake in the press, they still have children that have to see this press. The public bashing is just wholly unnecessary. Karma will get them. As will a judge and jury.

Before writing your next scathing public review, or nasty comment in a comments section, think about your endgame. Your motivation. WHY are you doing this. Maybe you just need to go for a run, get in some retail therapy, or hug your kid.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Cool To Do

Last weekend was a flurry of entertainment and new places. I thought I'd put them all in one entry because I had a quick spin through all. Enough to want to say something positive, but not in-depth enough to devote a whole entry to them. We went to a communion party at Ariana's Grand in Woodbridge, then we went to a bunch of cool places in Asbury Park.


Ariana's Grand:

That was the party venue. We'd never been there. It is a really nice space. The outside has a carport and valet, so if it's raining, you have no worry of running with an umbrella. It looked like there are two large party rooms. We were in the one to the right of when you come inside. It is a large spacious room with a huge bar. There is also a very large outdoor patio that overlooks a garden. That garden was set up for an outdoor wedding ceremony, I assume, for the next day. It was very pretty and spacious.

There were around seventy people at the party but the room could've comfortably accommodated twice that amount. Especially in warmer months when you'd utilize the outdoor patio area. It was a weird weather day, hot and cold at different times, so we didn't spend much time outdoors but I'm guessing they probably have those outdoor heater things for times they're clearly necessary.

The cocktail hour was awesome. Granted, it all depends on what a particular person chooses to serve at their own event, but B's friend Sal chose wisely! The cocktail hour was in the same room (vs separate rooms), and the food was plentiful and delicious. Lobster tails, shrimp, antipasto, pasta and carving stations, fruit, veggies, and then some. It was consistently replenished too, so you never felt like you had to grab some while you could. I've been to affairs where there wasn't enough food or food ran out before you got a taste. I felt like everything I tasted was really good and there was something for everyone. E and I are the pickiest and we both were full by the start of the main entrĂ©e. It's not close enough to us to do any kind of event there, but it's definitely a lovely spot in that area.

Ariana's Grand
800 Rahway Avenue
Woodbridge N.J. 07095
tel: (732) 326-1400
fax: (732) 326-1411

Asbury Park-

Confections of a Rock Star Bakery:

I walked in and I knew immediately I would love this place. It is all cool, rock n' roll vibe. Pink walls, photos with and of famous musicians, and a stocked display case. Just how I like it.

Just like Goldilocks wanted- not to big and not too small. JUST. RIGHT. That describes the cupcakes. You don't feel like they're skimpy and you don't feel like you need a week in the gym just for indulging in one cupcake. They have a lot of really fun flavors- all named to fit in with the rock n' roll "theme". R'Asbury Park, oREO Speedwagon, Red Carpet, S'more than a Feeling, to name a few. They also have this mason jar filled with a strawberry shortcake parfait kind of thing. That is right up my alley.

I got one of those mason jars, a Cookie $Dough$, and three more cupcakes. I also bought three French Macarons. I've mentioned that I LOVE those. Not all are made the same. I ate all three in about sixty seconds. Not just because I was starving, but because they were SO good. I think I got two strawberry- I ate them too fast to remember what berry they were. The other was a hazelnut. Fab. I didn't eat the strawberry shortcake until the next night and it was still perfectly fresh and moist. I had the cookie dough one a night later and it was also really great- stuffed with cookie dough.

The cupcakes are on the heavier side. They're almost muffin-like. That definitely leaves you satisfied. This isn't a situation like I've had from other cupcake places, where I've felt like I could cut into like three flavors and eat three quarters of all of them and barely equal one. I felt like there could've been a little more frosting on it, but I'm probably alone in that. Most of my crew prefer more cake to frosting. It also wasn't super sweet. I tend to feel the sweeter the better, but for someone like B, he likes them less sugary. He was very happy with my choice for him- SugaRUSH. That's a chocolate and peanut butter mix.

Next time I'm trying Greetings from Asbury Park. It's a vanilla and cinnamon creation. I didn't see that when I first stopped in, but I was dizzy from hunger and there were too many people in there. I saw they had minis of those when I went back to pick up my order. Oh, did I mention they let me purchase what I wanted, but then leave it in the store so we could go walk around. I didn't want to put them in a car for hours that was going to probably get over eighty degrees. They close at seven o'clock. I went in around quarter to five to pick up and I think all their regular size cupcakes were gone. But they had a bunch of minis still and that's when I saw the vanilla/cinnamon. I just didn't want to bring home a ton of cake.

I also got a tour of the very clean and large kitchen, where they make everything on-site. They also make specialty cakes. Everything is fresh and they use all their own ingredients. Just wanted to throw that out there. That they're not buying and selling anyone else's stuff. Y'all know that's a huge one for me.

So go check them out!
550 Cookman Ave
Unit 104
Asbury Park, NJ

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Hallmark, Coupons, Beach & Food Coma

If anyone has noticed, I'm not into waxing poetic about holidays. Any of them. I'm sure I've even said that before. Now that my brain is mostly Swiss cheese, and I've written around four hundred blog entries, I don't know what I have or haven't put out there in here. So if I've said it or not, holidays are no big thing to me. Nor do I want to get all sappy about anything, especially Hallmark days. Including Mother's Day.

I don't need a day. Not because I don't think I deserve it. I mean, I'm a Leo. I'll take any accolades anyone wants to throw at me. However, as I'm pretty sure I've mentioned, if your life is pretty good, you have a complimentary, loving, partner in crime, and your kid is caring & cool, a special celebrated day isn't really necessary. It's nice...I had a coupon for 15% off to Fairway, just by virtue of having a vagina? Or birthing a child through one? There were some women on a Facebook group I'm on who were literally offended by this coupon, saying mothers shouldn't have to food shop on Mothers Day. I say- give me a coupon, I don't care what day it's for- I'll use it. I mean, it's a Sunday. A day I'd ordinarily go food shopping to begin the week. Mother's Day doesn't render me an invalid. I can make it to the store. And I did. For approximately nine dollars in saving. Boo-YAH!

The D-K family did the same things we'd normally do on a nice Sunday in decent weather. With the exception that Sundays right now have t-ball games on the agenda. Only, for some reason, they gave the boys off for Mother's Day. That was nice, because I probably would've just slept in, because that's what I enjoy, we took a drive down the shore. After we ALL slept in.

We'd gone to a communion party the night before, which I will discuss in another post, because I want to talk about the venue itself, and that's not what this post is about. E was up dancing until like eleven o'clock. At night. He goes to bed normally at eight or eight-thirty. I wore heels which never really works out, so I felt like I got run over by a truck. Hopefully in the full communion post, I'll remember to discuss my shapewear, which was a huge fail. Anyway...

We went to Asbury Park. Not a place we'd normally go. Last summer we were there once for my cousin's wedding. And then once more to visit B's friends for dinner. But ordinarily, it's not our place. I had it in my mind that I wanted to eat at Toast though. All I could think about was their red velvet pancakes, which I didn't even order, by the way. I got them for E, but I got the stuffed French toast instead. It was an hour wait to get in though so we had time to walk around. I have to say- it has been built up into a really awesome place. I don't really know what it was like before, but now, I would love to have an apartment there.

As I was waiting for B to park, I stopped into a most excellent bakery a few doors down, that I'm actually going to write about in the next post along with the other cool places we saw and/or stopped in. I don't want to give businesses press in the same entry that I have the word vagina. It's not really fair. If they see the post and the praise, and they want to pass it on, I don't want them to have trepidation on sharing because I've cluttered it up with my blue humor.

Baked goods, glass blowing, antiques, and funky clothes- there was something for everyone. Had I not been so hungry that I would've chewed off my own appendages, I would've fully thrown myself into the commerce going on there. I just couldn't think straight for that hour between putting our name in at Toast and when we actually were served our plates of food.

From Toast, we walked over to the beach. It's a huge beach compared to Long Branch and Deal, where you can usually find us. They have a boardwalk with food. Interestingly, the boardwalk "stores" are made of giant shipping containers. I guess that's what is considered upcycling? Recycling? I don't know. But it's an interesting use of them for sure. There is a huge play set for the kids, which E had a good time on. I found the sand itself to be nicer than our usual spot. It's not as fine so it doesn't have that same cling-on-everything-forever effect the other does. It's a bit chaotic there though, so for me, it's better in the off-season than on. It was pretty crowded and it's not even Memorial Day.

It was a lovely day. We pretty much spent the day eating and driving. After Asbury, we drove to our favorite shore dinner spot- The Windmill in Long Branch. THAT place was PACKED. Burgers and fries and then back to the Parkway north. We didn't get home until almost eight o'clock. Well, we didn't get home until then because....we also had to stop at Fairway. To use my coupon.

I thank B and E for giving me the day I appreciate most. Basically, the same kind of day we have all summer. Minus a tan and the smell of coconut tanning oil. The weather couldn't decide if it wanted to be hot or chilly down there. But- There is nothing I look forward to more than summer. So to kick it off in May is my happiness.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Lights, Camera, Action, Gratitude

E did a video produced and directed by New York Film Academy recently. I believe it is for a promotion for an author's (Janice Kaplan) upcoming book. Right now it's on the NYFA blog, YouTube, and we were told it would be on the Huffington Post and Janice Kaplan's site or Good Housekeeping. I'm not sure. Regardless, I saw it, it's really cute, and I have it posted below.

It was his first "commercial" type thing where he had lines he had to remember and deliver. He memorized three lines, then a few days prior, they changed a line and added a new one. He didn't think he could learn them all but he did. He was super proud of himself. When he got to filming, they also asked him to do an extra line and show them some of his hip hop moves. Originally cautious and shy about dancing, once they cued up Bruno Mars "Funk You Up", he got going.

They didn't use the dancing in this short version of the video they did. They did say they are going to possibly do a longer video in the future. I hope so, because I'd like to see the dancing, AND I think one of the boys got cut out. That boy looked very talented in gymnastics, so I'd enjoy seeing what he did. Plus, he and his parents were extremely personable and friendly. Their son gave E free range with his iPad, which was heaven for him. All the parents and children I met were really nice and friendly. That's not always the case! So we were lucky.

The whole experience was great. It was the most professional, on-time shoot we've been to also. I have to hand it to the entire production crew who really knew how to deal with children and parents. I've been on some sets where they really treat the kids like little adults and the parents like they should already be proficient in exactly how things are supposed to go down. Meanwhile, both kids and parents are usually novices if their kids are doing background work. Here, at NYFA, Richard, Lyndi, Claude, and everyone else, treated us very well. It was much appreciated.

I'm telling this not to brag. Although, after seeing the video, I do feel abundantly proud. But I actually have a point. Sure, a kid can be a natural actor. However, I feel like all the semesters E has taken at Actor's Technique NY has really prepared him for these auditions, and then the shooting. He's learned how to act on camera, how to emote, to learn lines- everything he needs to be successful in these types of situations. Then, when he pulls it off, his confidence soars. That can only be a good thing. I just wanted to give my stamp of approval on the program Todd, David and the rest of the crew has going on over there.

Below is some of what they have going on this summer-

Weekly NYC Day Camps + Sleep-Away Week Aug 18th!

Kids & Teens in New York City
June 27th - August 15th
Weekdays, 10am - 3pm or Saturdays, 11am - 4pm

On-Camera TV/Film Act & Audition Technique
Full Diversification of Core Acting Classes with in and out of state actors.  From TV/Film Scene Study, Monologue Study, Improvisation, Meisner Technique, Audition Technique, Speech & Diction and prepare for top NYC industry showcases!  Lunchroom Provided, it's gonna be fun.  Customize Your Weeks!

Customize Your Days each Week to Fit your Schedule!
Refer a Friend Summer Discounts!
Inquire Now, 917.763.1777

Young Performers Week!


Ages 7 - 17

Transportation Provided.

Broadway Performers & TV/Film Los Angeles Actors
August 18th - August 23rd!
YOU DON'T NEED TO BE AN ACTOR TO ENJOY THE WEEK. Lakefront Swimming, Arts/Crafts, Circus, The ZIP, Sports!
Friends for Life. 


Credits include "Ray Donovan," "Disconnect," "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and more, he's here to help you learn to sing and learn proper vocal technique! 

Agent & TV/Film Casting Director Showcase in 
On-Camera Scene, Monologue, Improvisation, Singing Solo's and Ensemble Performance, Broadway Dance w/Top Broadway Talent!

Moving into it's 4th year, ATNY has given both young actors and energetic young kids & teens the opportunity to enjoy the arts and at the same time, an amazing camp experience. Not just for actors, ATNY will prepare you during this fun filled week for a showcase in NYC with top agents and managers. Young campers will enjoy the following daily activities, as they prepare for our final NYC showcase. From 8am - 10pm, you'll be busy.  3 Core Workshops each day, 2 selected electives each day, our campers will travel in pods of same aged actors throughout the day.

Broadway "FOSSE'S" Brad is back!
Credits include Broadway's "Chorus Line" and "Fosse."  Continue to hone the art of dance.  His new ensemble performance spectaculars for our B&B Campers will blow you away.   You got 4 days to learn it, so bring your dance shoes.

Core Workshops
Dance Choreography, Vocal Workshops, Improvisation, Acting Workshops

Camp Electives: 
Arts & Crafts (Silk Screen, Tie Die, Jewelry Making) 
Sports (Basketball, Skateboarding, Tennis, Dodgeball) 
Waterfront Lake Swimming (First Day swim test mandatory) 
Pool (4-Lifeguards always on duty), Giant Swing & The Zip 

Nightly Activities

Includes ice cream, pizza, slushies & Candy and Singing Contests. A great activity to look forward to each and every evening before bedtime. We keep 'em busy the entire day, wake up at 8am and nightly night at 10pm!  

Early Discounts w/Deposit Until May 15th!

Call ATNY for Youth Membership Price, Sibling Discounts!


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Saying Goodbye: Jocelyn Nissenbaum

Today we buried our friend, Jocelyn Levner Nissenbaum, after a three year battle with cancer. When I say battle, I mean UFC-style battle. Or that kind where they're in the cages, if that's what UFC is. That's kind of how I picture Jocelyn. As a title fighter, wearing the big belt. She was small, but she was strong. The strongest. I've seen lesser stage cancers swallow other people up whole in a matter of months, nevermind years. On a reality level, I always knew she wasn't going to get better but I swear, I wouldn't have been surprised if she had lived at least another three.

Her friend Eileen asked everyone who knew her to share stories, as letters, talking to Sam, even as a teenager. The stories and letters will be bound into a book for Sam. Then, he can know his mom through others eyes when he can understand them and when he has been without her longer than he had her around. Also to know what she was like before she was sick. I didn't write ours as a letter, but more as a story, because it was just easier for me to tell that way. I'm going to re-post what I sent Eileen, a little more in depth here, and a little less "clean", below, so I can share some of Jocelyn with you. I don't have money and time to give, but I do have the gift of words...

The Diamond-Kule family met the Nissenbaums through the Glen Rock Jewish Center Nursery School. Ethan and Sam were in the 2's class together. We didn't really know each other well because we all worked. But we would see each other at birthday parties for other kids in the class. We got to know them a little throughout the year, but Sam and Ethan bonded strongly. They are both only children and that is a rarity it seems. At least in Glen Rock. Although Sam didn't live in Glen Rock, most of the kids in the class were from Glen Rock, Fair Lawn, and Ridgewood, and most were a sibling to one or more other kids.

Sam and Ethan started calling each other brothers. They even decided they were marrying each other, which now, would be legal, so theoretically, we could've been in-laws with the Nissenbaums. We figured we should get to know the parents better if the boys were going to be that close. Being parents of only children and not being bound to endless extraneous family obligations, both sets of us could do things more on the fly. We decided to meet up at the Hoboken Arts & Music Festival close to the end of that first school year. We had an awesome time. It was a beautiful day. We ate and played down on the green by the water. We decided to just take a subway ride over to NYC and got ice cream. It was the boys first subway ride. Still having strollers made navigating the subway a little more interesting, but we made it. Bryan and I were thrilled to meet a "counterpart family" to hang out with. We found "our people"!


There was a D.A.R.E carnival near us about two weeks later. We invited them to go. They declined. Jocelyn was really "tired". I thought- who is too tired to go to a carnival? All of a sudden I was Monica on Friends when she and Chandler are trying to make friends with a couple who ditches them. I was like- "How can they not like us or want to hang out?? What's wrong with US?". I was kind of miffed. Then there was another carnival, this time in Glen Rock, where I figured they'd just show up at some point. They were sort of mysteriously absent. They didn't say they would be there, but it was definitely an event we didn't think they'd miss either. Egocentrically, I thought maybe they just really didn't like us. Apparently we had a totally different perspective of our Hoboken "date".
Then that Sunday night, we got THAT email. The one where Eric told us all that Jocelyn was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. That's where the rollercoaster began. Unfortunately, we didn't really get to know her as "healthy" for long. I'd say it was about a month before the news was out. If that- it may have been shorter. We jumped into friendship because that's what you do when your kid is "brothers" with their kid. We just hung out as much as we could. We barbequed, we spent a New Years Eve together, we ate a lot of pizza and went to Friendly's. Jocelyn still did stuff. She came to the boys' swim classes. She came to Mom's Night Out. She got her nails done. She was thrilled when she got a Coach bag as a gift. Our other friend, Cohen, and I went to doctor appointments and lunched with her. I cleaned her fridge out of the many rotisserie chickens they would never have enough time to eat. I folded a lot of the Nissenbaum underwear. Ethan taught Sam the words to Katy Perry's Firework.

Jocelyn wasn't a big talker. She was more of a quiet listener, who cut away all the nonsense to get to the point. She didn't need a lot of words to express her thoughts on a subject. Besides, Cohen and I talked enough for the three of us. But I felt like you were always getting the truth with Jocelyn. We could be totally inappropriate and make stuff funny that really wasn't. She and I weren't above using cancer to our advantage like when we wanted separate checks at a Moms Night Out with some boozy friends in a restaurant that doesn't do that. :::whispered::: "She has cancer...we may have to leave early...."
I'd gone back to work full time so I didn't have a lot of time to babysit, make meals, etc, so I felt like my only strength would be to help tell her story. I wanted to get her on a show like Ellen. I didn't know what exactly for. Maybe for money, help, something. I just wanted her to be able to have bucket-list worthy experiences. Ellen would've been that kind of moment. I wrote everyone. With her permission, I tried to take photos of her looking at her "most pathetic". We were laughing too hard so I had to keep stopping as she'd try to shrink into the couch and look sad. ::directing:: "Come have to look skinnier and point your head down so the baldness is more apparent!". So when I look at those photos, I don't see them as a "sad, sick person". I think about the time we spent taking those and how we were able to goof around in the face of something so awful.
I harassed the living SHIT out of Gavin DeGraw, on Twitter for Jocelyn (with her blessing), pretty much from the time of her diagnosis, until about a year before she passed, to do some kind of benefit. They knew each other from their hometown. I was hell bent on trying to get his attention. This poor guy. I just would not let it go. I was totally nice, and respectful. I just couldn't let it go. To his credit, he did "follow" me and he DID call her. She called me in extreme excitement to tell me he called and left her a message. We wanted to scream because she didn't answer the phone, not knowing the number, and it was him. Of all the calls to skip. We didn't get a concert, but he did make her smile.


We did a joint birthday party for Ethan and Sam for their big #4. I thought it would be less expensive to share a party but Jocelyn was so popular and so loved that it became like a Kardashian bash. It was the Party of the Century. I think there were thirty-eight kids there. Complete chaos, but I wouldn't have had it any other way. It was so great that so many people came out to celebrate for Joce, Sam and Eric. If she was going to go at that point, I just wanted them to have had that last big party memory.

She was never self-conscious about how she looked either. She always wanted to look nice and put together, as any woman would. But she didn't wear wigs or make a big fuss about her lack of hair. She went out, having little to no hair, where you could clearly tell it wasn't a fashion statement.

One time, we went to lunch with Cohen also. We went to a little rustic diner kind place in Franklin Lakes after Jocelyn had some kind of treatment or she'd been in the hospital. She still had the hospital bracelet on. The young waitress came over to take our order. She saw the "bracelet" and asked if Jocelyn if she went to a big concert for NYC that happened the night before. Jocelyn just deadpanned- "No, I have cancer". We all then just looked at each other and dissolved into a fit of laughter. It was just so stupid. The question, the answer, our reaction. But it was just par for the course. Sorry waitress girl, it was just one of those moments.

We went to Hershey Park as a four family/only child brigade in the summer of 2014. It was the Steins, the Kastins, the Nissenbaums, and us. Even on one of those scooters for people who are unable to walk the park, Jocelyn was still able to have a good time. We had awesome weather and all four kids couldn't have been happier. That was our last real hang out as families. She started clinical trials, was back and forth to Boston, and Bryan and I were working around the clock. Sam and Ethan weren't in school anymore because Oakland has full day kindergarten. Ethan & Sam stopped taking swim at the same time at the Ridgewood YMCA. We'd see each other almost every week and catch up during swim. Then there was no more swim. It just became a crazy time.

But she knew I was always thinking of her, and she knew if she needed anything she could get in touch. We were the kind of friends who could just pick up whenever, have a short text conversation and pick up again in a month. You just always feel like you will have more time. Our last conversation was funny. It was text of course. The bank across the street from my store got robbed of $112,000 by a woman in a pink wig with a fake gun. I had been sitting right in my usual chair, where I can see the bank from my seat. Bryan saw caution tape, county police, and we still weren't paying much attention. Then we heard the bank was robbed. It was all over the news. I got a text from Jocelyn asking if I was ok. I hadn't texted with her in awhile. She had seen the robbery on tv. I told her that I hadn't even known and was just going about my business. I told her what I'd heard. Then I said- "I am an asshole. I'm sorry I have been missing in action". Of course she said not to be silly and that I am not an asshole. She just wanted to check in and make sure I wasn't being held hostage or something. Then we joked a little and that was that.
She was sick but checking in on me. And that's really who she was. Someone who thought about others first. I also really think she always felt she was going to beat this. I never heard her talk about dying or wanting to discuss what would be after she was gone. So if she didn't seem to make any "after death" plans for living like you see in tv and movies, it's because she didn't think that way. I've known plenty of people who have had cancer but I've NEVER seen someone fight so hard to kick it. She was like a superhero. Every time we thought she was down for the count, somehow she rallied. She got three years out of that diagnosis. That's like unheard of with her kind of cancer. She wanted to live. She wanted to be there for Sam. She wanted to be there period. She definitely thought she was beating this, I think, until her last breaths.

I wish I'd gotten to know her for longer as a healthy person. I can see by how many people loved her she must have been super fun, the life of the party, and someone up to try almost anything. Her friend Eileen really gave a superb eulogy, giving us a keen glimpse of who Jocelyn was pre-diagnosis. Thank you Eileen for that eye into her soul. Eric's, as said through his brother, was also perfect. In summation, there was a story about another woman around the same age as Joce, who had some profound quote by someone famous about cancer. Jocelyn's "goodbye quote" was- "Fuck cancer!". THAT, was the Jocelyn that I knew. The one who was purely tickled to wear the shirts I made that said "Shrink those F*ckers!!" (in reference to the tumors). She had a potty mouth like me, but she was also so chill. Even as a sick person, she still was pretty go with the flow and didn't get bogged down in minutiae. She was happy to just be anywhere, get out, and be near any fun going on. She loved to gossip, gossip & celebrity magazines, bad TV and candy- especially m&m's. Those were our shared bonding likes. I will always think of our ridiculously inappropriate jokes, cursing like sailors, her OCD about organization- especially when Ethan and Sam tried on every article of clothing Sam owns- more than once, and how much she loved her kid.

Jocelyn, you will be thought of often and sorely missed. Fuck Cancer. Seriously. Right in the ear. Forty-one is way too soon. But I'm glad you're finally at peace, with no more pain.
If anyone wants to contribute to a fund for Sam and/or a scholarship in Jocelyn's name- the information is below:
For Sam:
"Fallsburg Central School District"
Send c/o: Dan Grecco
PO Box 124
Brickman Road
Fallsburg, NY 12733