Saturday, December 24, 2011

My 3rd Annual Holiday Letter

Season’s Greetings!
December 2011

Welcome to my third annual Holiday Letter. The traditional 3rd year anniversary gift is leather. Maybe now I can finally get that white leather jacket I’ve been eyeing on David Bowie.

Towards the end of the school year, I was the Production Director for the Anderson Fashion Show, the largest student-run event at Anderson. I also preformed standup comedy at the year-end student assembly. In June, I finally graduated from UCLA. It’s been an amazing achievement, and I am hoping to only have to sell one kidney to pay off the loans. I also still can’t spell entrepreneurship without the use of spell check. It was a busy year for graduations in our family. In addition to earning my MBA, Craig’s sister Cecilia wrapped up her film program in December, close to the time my sister, Stefanie, finished her master’s thesis. I am so proud of both of them that I could squeal. But I won’t.

In May, Craig’s brother Barry married Cyndi. To follow the wedding themes, in September, Craig and I officially became Mr. Johnson and Ms. Chernow, but in the legal sense. I chose not to change my name due to my professional credits and Craig’s total lack of interest in both of us taking on SparkleMagic as a last name. The wedding was wonderful. Craig and I had an intimate wedding at the same park my parents had their wedding reception. Afterward, we rented out a water park. We made a ‘splash’ as our entrance as husband and wife involved us coming down the main waterslide in all of our wedding apparel. By midnight that evening we were on a flight to our honeymoon at Disneyworld. We greatly appreciate everyone’s help and support, especially when my best friend Erica had to run out to get Craig a burger at a drive through since the carter mistakenly put bell peppers in everything, something he is terribly allergic to.

I have actually taken up hobbies. It started as casual sunset paintings, and before I knew it, I was involved in Nanowrimo- a national contest in November to write 50k works in the month of November. If you have never heard of it, I recommend you check it out at So yes, I wrote a novel in November.

I have recently taken the position of Destination Marketing Manager for Caribbean and Costa Rica for Pleasant Holidays. If you want to feel jealous now, please do. It’s been a lot of work, and a huge learning curve for me, since I have not worked in travel. However, the industry is fascinating, and occasionally, I even travel to tropical destinations.

Craig and I wrapped up our year by joining the local roller derby team near us. I am working on becoming a player, and he will be a referee. I’m still figuring out how gravity works on skates, but hope to have wonderfully exciting news of games and an ability to stay upright in next year’s letter.

The furry critters remain good. Buttercup still thinks a toy is only as good as how loud you can get it to squeak. Currie has decided that plastic is a good snack. Newton and Kelvin have wimpy cat-offs. And Tesla thinks they are all ridiculous.

Hope the year has found you well and doing awesome things.
Until next year, this is Brandie, wishing you goodnight and good luck.

Warm wishes,
Brandie, Craig,
Princess Buttercup, Tesla, Curie, Newton & Kelvin

Sunday, October 9, 2011

One Month Anniversary

Today is my husband and my monthiversary. I have friends who claim that it should technically be called a mensiversary, but that just sounds too bloody to me. So yes, Craig and I have been married for a whole month. It sounds like we are just starting out, even though we have been together for over 5 years. Somehow all of that disappears as one starts counting post marriage.

So what has life been like after the wedding?

I feel old. Having a husband just makes me sound so much older than having a fiance. There is a strange mix of comfort and serious maturity with having a husband. A fiance is a much flightier creature. A fiance has not yet really committed, though he might help pick out wedding colors. A fiance is the sexy stage of almost getting married. It's all about buying diamonds and using French words.

Somehow, husband doesn't have the same effect. It's not a bad thing. I feel much more mature telling people about my husband. I am still slipping and calling him my fiance. After all, we dated two years and then were engaged for three years. He's been my fiance a damn long time.

The rest of life has been on the process of settling down. The initial insanity of the wedding was over. (Still thinking of an excuse to rent another water park.) The honeymoon was a fantastic trip. Kids just started school, there were no lines for anything. There were a few wedding and honeymoon mishaps, but that's another story.

Life if a lot similar to life before. This is true despite people who would try to convince us otherwise. I have heard from some that marriage will lead to the guy saying less stupid things (and from more reliable sources, the opposite tends to be true.) My new husband and I got an article a very religious family member thought we'd like. It basically said to cut out all your external relationship. Craig and I feel outside friends and space is key for any healthy relationship.

The biggest change is my new job, but that didn't come from being married. We still go out. We watch TV and dote on our pets, especially Buttercup. We make each other laugh a lot and cry a little. Marriage has not fixed any, but that wasn't really the point. We do work on things, but we don't need to be fixed.

We are celebrating our monthiversary by seeing the photographer tonight and getting the wedding photos. I am excited. They are truly lovely. And it's a great way to remember that big party we had, not to improve our relationship, but to celebrate and confirm a rad relationship we already had.

It's been a good month. I love Craig, my fiance... I mean husband.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


I haven't written in almost a year. The last post was for my 2010 Holiday letter and I've already started my 2011 letter. If you have a problem, you can go suck it. I am in no mood.

Around 4am this morning, I couldn't sleep. I was too cold, and I'd pile on blankets and get hot sweaty and then too cold. I don't know what was wrong, but I couldn't sleep.

Around 4am this morning, eighty miles away, my cat died.

My mom would say it was fate. My husband would say it was just coincidence. My manicurist said my cat was saying goodbye. I have no idea.

I am heartbroken, but not surprise. I shouldn't even be sad, though I am. It's like hearing your great-grandmother died. Tristan was 17 years old. She was about as healthy and happy as one could be when one is about 6,000 years old in cat. She was in her warm, safe home. She wasn't suffering from a terrible disease or injury. Hell, my mom was even cooking for her.

But I already miss my cat. And let me make a note that she was MY cat. Truth be told, my mom deserves far more credit than I for the upkeep of my cat. I moved out to college when Tristan was about eight. The apartments I lived in from then on were not conducive to an older cat who ABSOLUTELY refused to be an indoor cat (aka wouldn't touch a litter box). The only time I rented a house, there were a hoard of ally cats. Nope, my cat was much happy staying with my parents, their yard, and their way of life. Someone was almost always home. My mom was an outright cat lover, and would shower Tristan with affection. My dad would never admit to even liking cats, but could be caught stroking Tristan and quietly talking to her.

But these facts aside, Tristan was my cat. As a soft consolation prize (bribe?) for putting us through yet another move, my dad agreed to let my sister and I get a cat. He had an emphasis on 'a' and we had an emphasis on 'cat.' We also had my mom and cuteness on our side, so he really didn't stand a chance. Mom took the two of us, about 8 and 10 years old, to a cat rescue. Of course, we each needed our own cat. We could share plenty of thing in childhood, but not a cat. My mom gave us a quarter to call my dad at a pay phone while he was on shift at the ER where he worked. His adorable, pleading daughters and cajoling from the surrounding nurses quickly forced him to cave in before our call ran out of quarters.

My sister picked out the most beautiful cat there. A lovely, long-haired Himalayan with soft blue eyes. Except for a small stigmatism with her eyes, she looked like a pristine show cat. She was a sweet cat, happy for head rubs. She would even walk all over your keyboard if your computer work was conflicting with paying attention to her. She wasn't super bright, but that might be because I was unfairly comparing her to a street-smart brilliant cat. But all in her own right, but was a lovely and wonderful cat.

Looks didn't play into my cat selection. A rough and tumble kitty, she had a chunk bitten out of her ear. But she did have plenty of personality. Some of the cats would rub against the bars. She did so with such vehemence that you'd think she was trying to break out in order to leap onto your lap for intense head rubbing. She was purring so loudly the staff couldn't read her heartbeat. Yep. That was the cat for me. She was 6 months then. We had her for the next 17 years.

She definitely marched to hear own beat. She decided to be an indoor and outdoor cat, and learned to ring bells we put on the door for our dog to ring when he wanted to go out. When she didn't want to go out, she learned that catching my dad in a good mood in the kitchen mean a squirt of whip cream in her bowl.

She was a good cat. A really good cat. She will be missed.

Love you girl.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Brandie's 2nd Annual Holiday Letter!

Season’s Greetings!

December 2010

Welcome to my second annual Holiday Letter. This year I am going green with my letter! Basically, I can’t afford to print and mail these suckers. As the way of my people, it has been another busy year.

School remains a prominent part of my life. After 2 months of intensive research, 43 hours of interviews, 2 conferences in Dallas and Washington DC, plus countless weekends, I am happy to say I survived my thesis! Now I have 2 quarters of school till graduation in June. In May, I took advantage of my first abroad school trip; a program at the Cannes Film Festival in France. I went out a few days early to see my sister, who is still attending school and living in Paris. It was wonderful to catch up with her, see Paris, and eat escargot. Once in Cannes, I saw amazing films, terrible films, and really strange foreign films. The students in this trip also got to meet with several entertainment professionals in the film distribution business. And there was a yacht party I went to till 3am.

Back in the States, I remained busy purchasing my first home. As of my birthday in July, I officially became a homeowner! As thrilled as Craig and I are of our condo, it is a work in progress. We got a place heavily infested with cockroaches, broken windows, and walls covered in crayons. Several visits from an exterminator, and many visits to Home Depot, and I can proudly say that our place is bug-free and on its way to total awesomeness. However, two weeks before we had to move in, I had an emergency appendicitis. I was out of commission, and Craig really put in heroic efforts to get us moved. After several weeks of recovery I am good as new, except for a few scars. And Craig tells me scars are sexy.

We had two additions to our furry family. Due to unfortunate circumstances, we ended up with Craig’s sister’s cat, Newton. This fat orange tabby is an utter love bug. He loves to sit in my lap , purr, and shed. We also adopted a small, fluffy mutt from the Humane Society. Our Princess Buttercup was rescued from a hoarder, who had 35 small dogs at his place. Buttercup was one of the last of these dogs adopted from the shelter. She is dangerously cute, and has tagged Craig as her ‘super special person.’ Now at 4 cats, 1 dog, 1 fish, and 2 people, Craig and I are especially glad to have moved into a larger place.

Sadly, there has been tragedy this year. The worst news came in October when Craig’s younger brother Bobby died suddenly. He was an amazing and loving person. We, along with the rest of his family and friends, miss him greatly.

As the year comes to a close, I look forward to significant events coming up next year. Both my sister and I will graduate from masters programs in June. After three years of working full time and attending a top MBA program, I am ready to move on. It has been an interesting and intense journey. Craig and I are eagerly looking forward to our wedding in September. We anticipate an intimate service at the park where my parents had their wedding reception. Afterward, we will be moving the reception to a local water park. We can’t wait!

I hope this year sees you in good health and good spirits.

All the best,

Brandie & Craig

Tesla, Kelvin, Curie & Newton

Princess Buttercup

Monday, November 29, 2010

Hello Blog, I'm Back, But Not Ready To Commit

Hello Blog,

It has been over a year since I posted, and I wanted to say I'm sorry. You have been a good, faithful blog- and, well, I have ignored you. I was planning to say that I would try to do better now, be a better blogger- the kind of blogger you need me to be. But the the truth is, I just can't commit. Sure, I'll have a steady stream of blogs for a few weeks, but then life will certainly get busy again. Before long we will be back to sporadic late night drunk-blogging where I promise to change.

So I am laying it out on the table right now. I would be interested in an open blogging relationship. I am being very honest that I will read other blogs, and probably even comment on some of them. I really enjoy blogging here, but I am just not ready for the time it takes to be committed to this blog. I'm sure there will be future updates on what I'm doing, and what's been going on in this last, most-crazy year. For now, let's just be blog with benefits.



Sunday, October 18, 2009

ER Time With The Chernows

This quarter at school is kicking my ass, thus the serious lack of posts.  Finally getting one done.

Now that the adventure known at Chicago Stem Cell Transplant is behind us, I figure it was time for some serious R&R for my folks. Both are wiped from Chicago, not to mention the trip back to California- which involved a ton of packing. Mom's birthday was just a few days shy of their trip home. Hmmm pack for your birthday, sounds like such fun. I figured she needed a real birthday celebration. I plan a special day with her at our favorite hot springs- Glen Ivy. I didn't tell her that I invited her sisters and booked her for several spa appointments.
9:30am I got a call from her that my childhood cat, Tristan, wasn't doing well. She was lathargic, deydrated, and had a kitty fever. Mom was going to take her in to the emergency vet and hopefully, if things settled down, come to Glen Ivy later. I was pingpoing in my head- worried about my cat (who is 14 yr old btw) and worried that my overworked mother wouldn't make it to her massage (that she didn't know about) in the next hour.
10am The spa let me reschedule mom's massage for later in the day.

11am Mom's sisters show up. We all wait around for word on Tristan, and to find out if my mom would finally get a break.
12:45pm - Mom makes it! Yay! Tristan was given antibiotics and hydrated. Mom's sisters laid down on lawn chairs with their hair in towels and wearing sunglasses. Totally surprised Mom! Lovely day followed.

Wednesday became part II of the Chernow ER festivities:

5:04pm Got a text from Mom that Dad was running a low grade fever, and likely there would be a trip to the ER. I got on the phone with my dad (who doesn't love a text like that?) to get detail. Yes, he had a low fever (100.4) and yes, they were going to the ER- mainly as a precaution, since he was a recent stem cell transplant patient. Every time he got a low fever before it turned out to be something more serious, so all of his doctors just wanted to play it safe.

I spent the evening drinking a large glass of wine, eating take-out, and hoping for the best.

10:48pm Got another text from Mom that they were going home.

The next day they had to go back to the hospital. Dad still had a fever and still on the brink of having to be admitted. Fortunately, his fever broke. 

It's been like that the last few weeks.  Dad has been in and out of the hospital, often from lack of fluids or food, since he has a hard time keeping things down.  It's kinda a roller coaster of being very concerned, but also kinda numb at the same time.  Every time I hear 'ER' I wonder if it's something serious or just caution because he's a recent transplant patient.  Hopefully things will get better once his immune system is back to par.

Good news- Tristan is doing much better.  Whatever she had seems to have resolved, and she is her usual feline self.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Zombie Wedding Followup

Over weeks of planning, 14 hours on set, and a lot of fake blood- and we had an awesome zombie wedding!  Check out a followup article on the Examiner by our favorite zombie-reporter/zombie (he was also in the shoot) here.

We had an amazing cast and crew.  Everyone worked really hard and weren't afraid to get into the shoot and get dirty (well, bloody).  We took over 2,000 pictures, so stay tuned for the finished video, as well as behind of the scene photos of "That Special Day."