You know how there are some things that are important to you before you become a parent that aren’t so important afterward? Yet there are also some interests you have that no change in your status in life could ever shake.
Well, my love affair with Oscar dates back to college. And yes, you’re right, my husband’s name is Dan.
I’m talking about the Academy Awards, the equivalent of the Super Bowl for millions of us movie fans. The 83rd Academy Awards will be broadcast Sunday on ABC starting at 7 p.m. Central.
Back in college, a group of us who worked at the student newspaper would gather around the television in the conference room to watch the ceremony together. We’d cheer and jeer throughout the night –- critiquing the fashions attendees wore; groaning at the silly, wooden dialogue presenters are forced to say; clapping for particularly touching acceptance speeches; and reveling whenever there was an upset. (I still remember when Anna Paquin won “Best Supporting Actress” for “The Piano. She was only 11 years old! Yes, I’m obviously a true Oscar geek.)
After graduation, my roommate Maria and I threw some great Oscar parties, a tradition I tried to keep up as much as I can as I moved around the country. Some years I even turned a plastic tablecloth into a “red carpet” for the guests. My husband would break out his projector so we could “screen” the ceremony on a large wall.
But the centerpiece was always the food, which was required to have some kind of connection to a movie or a nominee. When Reese Witherspoon was nominated for “Walk the Line,” for instance, I baked “Reese’s Peanut Butter Cookies.” But perhaps the best was the cheese ball my friend Sandy brought the year “Brokeback Mountain” was nominated for Best Picture. She shaped the cheese ball to resemble a mountain, and then on top placed two little Fisher-Price cowboy figurines. Classic!
Since I’ve had my daughter, I’ve had to put my role as hostess of huge Oscar parties on hiatus. It’s hard to have people over to your house for a party that goes til midnight when your daughter is upstairs sleeping. It might be even harder to get my city friends to haul all the way out to the far western ‘burbs for a bash where the major prizes don’t get handed out til after 10 p.m.
Yet my interest in the Academy Awards has not waned, and I find that such a wonderful thing. Yes, I love being a mom. Yes, I so enjoy seeing this adorable, funny little person grow up before my eyes. But I still find something deeply satisfying about debating whether to make “blackened swan wings” in honor of “Black Swan” (easy, easy, they’d just be chicken wings!) or creating a dish of “fish and chips” in honor of the oh-so-British “The King’s Speech.”
I also appreciate the outlet for relaxation that movies provide me. I’m not an outdoorsy person, and exercise is perennially on my to-do list. But if I can make time for a movie, a really good movie, sitting in the dark and quiet transports me for two hours to another place, away from laundry and bills and my long list of to-do’s.
Because I do love movies so, I used to do my best to see every one of the “Best Picture” nominees before the ceremony. That was before the nominees were increased to 10. But still, I’ve seen six of the 10, and I might squeeze in two more before Sunday night.
So this Sunday, I’m going to let my husband focus on keeping our rugrat in line while I hang out with my friend Maria watching the show. She’s planning to make a main dish of Winter’s Bone-In Ham – I still have to come up with a dessert to match her brilliance. We’ll critique the fashions, cheer great acceptance speeches and hope for an upset. Anyone want to bet on Best Actress winner Michelle Williams?
Go West readers: Is there a passion or interest of yours that feels as strong or as important to you today as before you had your children?
Tara Burghart is the editor and founder of Go West Young Mom. Most weeks she writes a column called “Simple, Really?” examining why simplifying her life seems to be a complex undertaking. You all now realize that the ultimate goal of simplifying her life is to make more time for her to see movies. By the way, she still can’t believe that “Shakespeare in Love” won Best Picture over “Saving Private Ryan” in 1998.