Stef And Yogi

Stef called Helaine from Vegas last night. She was beyond distraught. Yogi was missing, somehow snatched from her hotel room!

Yogi came to our house while Stef was still an infant. He was the one stuffed friend she latched onto and slept with every night.

Stef called Helaine from Vegas last night. She was beyond distraught. Yogi was missing, somehow snatched from her hotel room!

Yogi came to our house while Stef was still an infant. He was the one stuffed friend she latched onto and slept with every night.

Yogi was an unusual stuffed animal in that he was also a puppet. I’d stick my hand up Yogi’s back and tell stories or make believe Yogi was playing tennis. It’s the kind of thing a dad does and a child understands.

Stef never lost her affection for Yogi. He followed her to college and on vacation. He moved with Stef when she went west. He drove to Las Vegas with her for Stef’s six week stay. He has slept with her nearly every day of her life.

Our guess is Yogi was in the bed and mistakenly sent to the laundry when housekeeping changed her sheets. That’s not a good fate for a 24 year old stuffed bear.

Stef contacted the front desk who connected her to security who sent someone to the room. The more people she spoke to the more stories she got. It seemed like everyone was trying to be polite, not helpful. They wanted the problem to disappear.

I called the hotel and spoke with a bunch of people. Twice I got names from folks who were supposed to call me back. They did not.

I can’t begin to describe Stef’s upset. It tore at Helaine and my hearts. We were affected as much as she was. Yogi is Stef’s oldest, dearest possession.

Helaine and I discussed it last night. The calls were futile. It was all for nothing. It’s just what a parent does, even when you’re powerless to help.

I heard from Helaine about 20 minutes ago. She was sobbing. Her voice quivered. Stef had just phoned her.

Helaine spoke. “Steffie has Yogi.”

I don’t have all the details yet. What I do know is Stef was in her room getting ready for work when she heard a knock at the door. A hotel employee was on the other side.

“I think this is yours,” he said. And with that he handed Yogi to Stef. I am crying now as I type this.

There are a few takeaways here. Parents feel their children’s pain. Love, even love for an inanimate object, is real and often goes deeper than we realize. Never give up.

Really, never give up.

So, it turns out the hotel didn’t give up either. They deserve praise. Out of respect for my daughter’s privacy I’m not going to name them now. However, when Stef moves back to LA I will reveal where she was staying (in the nicest hotel room she’s ever been in).

Child Update

I just spoke with the child. I can’t always write about her, but have been given permission tonight. She is in Las Vegas. She is on location. Production begins tomorrow.

Stef moved to California a few years ago. I’d like to tell you I helped get her first job. I cannot. I tried. She got it on her own.

For the last year and a half she’s been the assistant to the principals in a busy production company. They do reality shows. They have at least a handful in various stages of planning or production that I know about. Stef’s office was on a small studio lot in Hollywood. Disney Channel shoots a few shows there.

She lives in Hollywood too. She’s in an apartment where everyone looks like they’re from central casting and no one has any body fat.

Stef has been promoted to associate producer. She’s out in the field helping make sure all the pieces come together.

I can’t divulge the show she’s with. It’s on a major pay channel where it’s run a few seasons already.

When you’re on the road for an extended stay the production company arranges for housing. Stef’s staying in a suite in a nice hotel. This will be her home for six weeks. She says it’s the nicest hotel room she’s ever been in.

Tomorrow is their first shooting day. They’ll be out-of-doors walking through Vegas with cameras rolling. I’m guessing Stef will be doing a lot of walking backwards.

Her boyfriend and dog are both back in L.A. That part is tough.

I Never Talk About The Child

You might wonder how a full TV series can be produced from a hot dog stand often filled with drunk and/or stoned clientele? Me too.

I just ‘spoke’ to Stef on Instant Messenger. She’s in her office in Los Angeles. I seldom… maybe never… write about her work. It’s not that I’m not proud. I am. It’s that children demand some discretion from their parents. Fine.

She works for a company that produces reality shows. Think sausage. You really don’t want to know how reality TV made. It’s meant to be consumed, not analyzed.

Tonight is the premiere (10:00 PM EDT TruTV) of a new show from her company, “The Wiener’s Circle.”

The Wieners Circle is a hot dog stand in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. It is famous for four things: its signature Chicago-style hot dogs, hamburgers and cheese fries, and the mutual verbal abuse between the employees and the customers during the late-weekend hours. On the weekends, the establishment stays open as late as 5:00 AM, drawing many drunken customers who have arrived from bars and clubs – Wikipedia

You might wonder how a full TV series can be produced from a hot dog stand often filled with drunk and/or stoned clientele? That’s what I wondered. From the short clips I’ve watched it works. The secret sauce are the over-the-top people behind the counter.

Click here to watch a brief sample of The Wiener’s Circle.

The Child Is Sick

It’s tough being a parent when your child (even a grown child) is a full continent away. I gave her the standard advice on gargling, lozenges, avoiding chocolate and milk products.

Helaine told me Stef isn’t feeling well. I went on IM this afternoon to say hi and see if anything had changed.

stef: i think i’m dying. i have the worst sore throat ever

It’s tough being a parent when your child (even a grown child) is a full continent away. I gave her the standard advice on gargling, lozenges, avoiding chocolate and milk products.

So powerless!

me: Want me to drive by with some soup?
stef: yes
me: ok – I’ll call from Nebraska so you can come downstairs
stef: ok

The Child’s Trip Back Home

I’m throwing this out as encouragement to parents of high school or college age children. They do emerge from the darkness.

Stef has been away a long time–nearly two years since she was last in Connecticut. She’s been back for the past week visiting for the holidays. Wow, we’re a Norman Rockwell family all of a sudden!

There has been nearly no conflict. I’m throwing this out as encouragement to parents of high school or college age children. They do emerge from the darkness. Snarky influences from the Disney Channel, MTV, VH1 do diminish.

It’s been a pleasure to see her. That’s probably more so for Helaine with whom she naturally shares more interests.

She seems more calm… more assured. She is less likely to get upset because of a short term bump in the road. Her emotional world no longer turns on a dime.

In other words, she is growing up.

We’ll be heading out west in March for a friend’s son’s bar mitzvah. At the moment that seems too long a wait.

The Child Returns

She flew all night. I’ve done that. It’s not real sleep. It’s some weird airline sleep.

My daughter is home. It’s been a very long time. Too long. She was anxious to come east.

She is our West Coast success story. Even if things aren’t always moving smoothly, they’re moving. Isn’t that how life works?

She flew all night. I’ve done that. It’s not real sleep. It’s some weird airline sleep.

She’s sleeping now. The redeye always wins!

As it turns out Stef loves Doppler. Shocker!

I don’t want to set up some conflict with Roxie, but Doppler is extra cute especially when performing her one-woman “Salute to Baby Seals” show.

This is not SoCal. We get winter. Helaine gave Stef a set of onesy feet pajamas! Families understand.

Stef wants to come to the station and bring Doppler (for a cameo). I’ll let you know.

I Wish They All Could Be California Dogs

Stef saw the vet today looking for some chemical help in relieving Roxie’s anxiety–in other words “Doggie Valium.”

Yes, that’s Roxie in a suitcase preparing to fly east with Stef for a short visit. If it was only as easy as putting her in a suitcase!

If you’ll remember Roxie flew out to California in a perfectly good dog carrier with mesh sides. They didn’t last as far as the Mississippi! Roxie chewed her way out before we landed at Midway in Chicago.

Stef saw the vet today looking for some chemical help in relieving Roxie’s anxiety–in other words “Doggie Valium.” She even gave her a test taste tonight. Not good. Roxie was up and playing in no time.

Stef’s looked around for a hard sided carrier but if anyone is selling them in Los Angeles we haven’t found them. This afternoon I called a company in Texas that makes them, but they knew little about where their product was sold! Petsmart and Petco they offered. Sorry, neither stock the hard stuff!

Hopefully the trip goes smoothly and Roxie sleeps her way across America. It’s unlikely, but it’s a hope.

In the meantime, did I really need an excuse to post the picture?

Scenes From The Child’s Day

Part of Stef’s day was spent driving to Ikea in Burbank to pick up some set pieces. On her way she drove by Hollywood and Highland, site of this weekend’s Oscar telecast

The child is working in West Hollywood today. She is a production assistant on a pilot for a new cable reality show. It’s a few days work–a very good start.

Helaine and I are proud. She’s undoubtedly exhausted! Her call was 7:30 am. The talent’s call was 3:00 pm.

Production assistant means you’re a jack-of-all-trades. It’s what you do to see what you want to do next.

Part of Stef’s day was spent driving to Ikea in Burbank to pick up some set pieces. On her way she drove by Hollywood and Highland, site of this weekend’s Oscar telecast.

You just don’t get these photo ops in Hamden!

The Child Gets A Job

Actually we were worried about her getting there at all since Stef can’t parallel park and her contact had told her, “there’s plenty of on-street parking.”

Stefanie had an interview in Burbank at 10:00 AM today. I assume she got there early because by 10:01 she was on the phone–employed! Actually we were worried about her getting there at all since Stef can’t parallel park and her contact told her, “there’s plenty of on-street parking.”

OK, it’s California so employment is a little different. She’s got three days of work on what sounds ‘pilotish.’ It’s four episodes of a reality show.

I know there’s some TV involved, but probably a lot more fetching and driving and holding and helping. That’s exactly where she should be, at the bottom feverishly climbing up.

It’s a great start. We’re very excited.

Checking In On The Fox Family West Coast Bureau

With our cell plan calls between the three of us are free (Well, free the way ice cream was free when Stef went to day camp).

Stef is in California. No job yet. She’s trying to feel her way through her new surroundings first.

There’s lots to do and we’re hearing all about it. She’s spoken to Helaine a few times each day. That’s an immense change from the availability of just a few years ago. Even I spent twenty minutes on-the-phone with her last night.

I know. I was the only one she knew who was awake at that hour. It’s still good to be called. The conversation was very enjoyable.

Our cell plan makes calls between the three of us free (Free the way ice cream was free when Stef went to day camp). Even from a non-cellphone she’s only a local call away.

The 203 number all her friends know (and have programmed in their phones) probably won’t change.

We have Skype enabled on all our computers. We haven’t used it yet. I’m sneakily suspicious this stems from my wife and daughter’s common aversion to being on camera–even if it’s only us who see it.

Luckily, I don’t have that aversion.

Two days after Helaine and I left California Stef got sick! Her roommate became “Dr. Jen, Medicine Woman.” It was the toughest part of being separated so far! When your child isn’t feeling well you want to be able to reach out and help.

Of course part of the reason she’s out west is to rise above the bubble wrapped environment many parents (like us) would like their children to live in. Stef needs to make her own decisions without instant parental analysis. We’re here for guidance, but to paraphrase the old commercial, “Stefanie Fox, you make the call.”

roxie with red toy.jpgMy phone buzzed a few minutes ago with two photos of Roxie. She’s still an “aggressive chewer.” I expect pictures will also help keep us in touch.

It was Roxie’s turn to get sick yesterday. Stefanie to the rescue. She did everything we would have suggested she do and now Roxie’s fine.

I tweeted last night how excited I am with and for Stef. This is an amazing time for her. Her new life is free form and more malleable than the structured life of her 16 years of formal education. She will make decisions now which will guide her future.

2,879 miles is still far away, but it isn’t as far as it once was.

On Our Way To Philly

Saturday we’re attending a ‘neighborhood reunion’ from Helaine’s childhood neighborhood. She hasn’t seen some of these people since she was nine or ten. It’s being held in a hotel north of town. I suspect the old neighborhood isn’t quite what it once was!

Helaine and I leave later this morning for Philadelphia. It’s an interesting trip. Well, it’s interesting right now… before leaving the house.

Tonight we’ll see the Phillies play the Padres at Citizens Bank Park. Stef was originally coming along, but school activities need her attention.

Now hitting for Stefanie Fox, Barry Kliger. My friend Barry will be joining us at the park.

Since our tickets were bought online electronically all I needed to do was forward the pdf file to Barry who prints it out and presents it at the ballpark. Voila! No more wondering where and when to meet. We’ll just meet at our seats!

Saturday we’re attending a reunion from Helaine’s childhood neighborhood. She hasn’t seen some of these people since she was twelve or thirteen back at Thomas K. Finletter Elementary School. It’s being held in a hotel north of town. I suspect the old neighborhood isn’t quite what it once was!

Helaine isn’t scared of the unknown, but she definitely has mixed feelings about attending. The ‘let’s go’ side will win out and we’ll have a good time.

Everyone there had better look older than us.

The Daughter Returns

Steffie’s home and on the sofa. She wasn’t feeling well last Thursday, so Helaine drove to college to pick her up and deliver her to the doctor.

When a student asks to leave her car at school and go to the doctor, you know she’s not feeling well! Thankfully, day-by-day, Steffie’s feeling better.

Finals at school were already done for her. Two papers still outstanding can be emailed to the professors. Modern life is good.

So now, in fine Stefanie Fox form, she spends a significant portion of the day on the sofa in our family room. The food is fresh and plentiful. There’s no fight for privacy in the dorm bathroom. There are no drunken freshman to pull a fire alarm at 4:00 AM.

“Do you have to sit there?” she will ask from time-to-time. It’s her spot. It’s easy to forget.

Having Stef home is a good thing. By and large, the three of us get along well. Even better, Stef is a playmate for Helaine and vice versa.

For me, the real advantage is anthropological. I get to watch what a twenty year old woman watches on TV. I am often dumbfounded by what I see.

A few seasons ago it was Laguna, then The Hills. This weekend Stef was watching a show about teens coming of age in Newport Beach. I’ve never felt so financially inadequate! I’m also embarrassed to say, I continued to watch for a while after she went upstairs.

Stef seems to gravitate toward reality shows. That’s what MTV and VH-1 have becoming – reality channels. There’s hardly any music on Music Television and few hits on Video Hits-1.

This is great for the network owners. Stef’s demographic is coveted and these shows are cheap to make. Advertising revenue is based on eyeballs, not program cost. The percentage of time devoted to commercials seems significantly higher than that seen on traditional over-the-air channels.

Along with Real World and shows I recognize are reality takes on ‘little people’ and heavily tattooed tattoo artists.

Maybe my age is showing when I say I find much of what she watches troubling. Of course, I also remember clips of crew cutted do-gooders saying Elvis Presley would be the end of us all. Please, don’t let me be one of them.

TV techniques are so sophisticated, I truly wonder how many of those who watch understand how little reality there is in reality TV… if there’s any at all.

Election Day 2005

It’s election day. My town is electing a mayor and a few other posts. Before I went to work, I went to vote.

It’s always the same. I walk into the lunchroom at the local elementary school, find the table that matches my street, show my drivers license and get my ‘ticket’. Then I vote on a machine which looks like every voting machine I’ve used since 1971 (Nixon-McGovern at Mallard Creek 2 in Charlotte, NC).

I looked down at the list today as they crossed off my name. Beneath Helaine Fox and Geoffrey Fox was Stefanie Fox. How cool is that, Steffie is a registered voter.

Steffie didn’t vote today and that’s fine. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, she did the right thing by not voting!

Voting is the final step of a long process. Unless you take all the steps – don’t vote. Steffie is at college where it would be impossible for her to know what’s going on locally.

I was passing by VH1 last night while some folks were talking about Paris Hilton’s participation in a “Vote or Die” program in the last election. As it turned out, Paris neither voted nor died.

I worry about get out the vote programs. They concentrate on the wrong part of the equation. You shouldn’t vote because there’s guilt involved. When you vote, it should be because you’ve got an idea what’s going on and an opinion you want heard.

Like I said, voting is the final step of a long process.