Monday, September 07, 2009

Happy Labor Day Birthday to MS!

When I remember Labor Day Weekend 2007, I think of only one thing: MS diagnosis. Rather than picnics and beach days, I had partial blindness, a plethora of eye examinations, multiple specialists, an emergency MRI, and, ultimately, the shocking news that I had an incurable, neurological disease I knew nothing about. The rest is kind of a blur.

It's now two years later and Labor Day Weekend is still all about MS, but in a much different way.

This year, an ad agency's creative team came to my house to shoot the B roll for my section of a new MS blog that's launching next month. I've been selected to be one of five video bloggers featured on the site. Once it's up and running, I will provide a link here for anyone who's interested. The book and this blog soldier on and will, hopefully, be inspired by this separate but complementary project.

Here are the highlights of my incredible video shoot that I like to call the Labor Day Weekend MS Birthday Caught on Camera:

Picture this. A large, black Suburban with tinted windows pulls up in front of my house. The door opens and two men and three women step out, each one more beautiful than the one before. If you were to look up New York hipster in a visual dictionary, any of these five people could have been pictured.

Hipster #1 was Hoover, who was, and still is I imagine, a slender Asian man. I can't be sure but he may have been an older looking 20-something or a younger looking 30-something. It was hard to tell. He wore a ponytail, skinny jeans, and a cotton scarf that came on and off throughout the day. In case you are wondering (and I was), Hoover was named after the dam, not the vacuum cleaner. I'm pretty sure he was the creative director for the entire project but I'm not positive. During our time together, he showed me the design storyboard for the blog, went through my closet to pick outfits (thank God it was clean!), and took still photographs of me in the yard.

Hipster #2 was Valerie, an absolutely gorgeous woman in her mid 20s. (Big sigh. Can you tell I have a bit of a girl crush? Or is it just that I want to be her--a creative, cool 20-something living in NYC?) The day of the shoot, she was dressed in black from head to toe. Her dark blond/light brown hair had, at one time, been shaved on the lower third or so. I know this because she wore her hair up to show off the different levels. I don't know her job title (Director, maybe?), but while she was at my house, Valerie operated the camera, approved my clothing, and told me what to do next (e.g., chop veggies, type on the computer, do yoga in the yard). She also made me feel like I was absolutely fabulous for which I will be eternally grateful. Without that kind of ego stroking, it can be a bit disconcerting to have a camera pointed at you for several hours.

Hipster #3, Natasha, is also in her mid 20s. She wore low-rise jeans rolled up into capris and a short-sleeved green t-shirt that revealed a colorful graphic tattoo on her upper arm. I don't know if it was large enough to constitute a "sleeve" tattoo but it was very visible. She had beautiful, bronzed skin and incredibly white teeth. Natasha seemed to do whatever Valerie and Hoover told her to do. She also helped me set up my flip camera and tripod for the video shoots I'll do on my own. It was her first trip to Boston and, although she had to fly back the same day, she planned to return in a few days on her way to the Vineyard with a guy she was dating.

Hipster #4 was Stefan. He wore jeans and a plaid shirt that, believe it or not, was cool. (I'm not usually a big fan of plaid and often make fun of people who wear it.) It may have been a vintage item. He also wore a funky hat that may have been vintage, too. It looked like one that Fred MacMurray might remove when he came in the door on My Three Sons. I'm pretty sure Stefan is the content producer/writer and he was probably the oldest of the visiting hipsters He may have been my age but I'm not positive. When I was asked to say to the camera, "Hi! I'm Julie," he was the only one who laughed in recognition when I referenced Bernadette on the original ZOOM cast, complete with her signature hand motion. He was very kind an encouraging during a conference call prior to the shoot and I definitely felt like he had my back the entire day.

Hipster #4 was Penny. Although she was only about 30, Penny seemed like the grown-up in the group.An attractive Asian woman, she wore typical black, gray, and white NYC business attire. She was the account rep/client liaison so she was sort of made sure everyone, including me, had everything they needed. I think she is a bit of a workaholic since she mentioned checking email from a recent vacation to Greece. She presented the credit card to pay for lunch.

I am not a shy person and I don't usually tire of the spotlight. This day, however, was even a bit much for me. It was all about me all day. One piece of really nice, dark chocolate can be great but a whole box leaves you feeling more than a little sick if you eat it all at once. (I'm the really nice piece of dark chocolate, in case you're wondering.) By the time the hipsters piled into their Suburban to drive to the airport and catch the shuttle back to the Big Apple, I couldn't wait for the kids to come home since I was pretty sure they wouldn't even think of asking about my day.

Happy Birthday, MS. I bet I outlive you.


  1. Wow. This sounds like a totally kick-ass experience--it certainly made for an entertaining read. I can't wait to see how it all turns out!

    Happy MS-iversary. I bet you outlive it, too.


  2. Ack, Julie, they were in your closet?!! Oh dear. Now, I'm getting nervous. They are going to realize that I am so not "real world of MS" material.

    I am so boring in real life.....and sedentary. Maybe if we had time, I could have them come film me swimming at the pool - the equivalent to your yoga in the yard. Guess I better polish up at least part of a piano selection cause it sounds like they would definitely want to get that on film for the B-roll.

    Hey, did you already own your own tripod? Perhaps I need to go get one to make this easier.


    BTW, Happy MS Birthday!! While you were turning 2 (in MS years), I was turning 41 in people years. These folks are going to seem so very young.

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