City life can be exciting. A few years ago, we sold our house with the "Houston" address and moved back to the town where I grew up. It's a heavily industrial town in the same county as Houston...Harris County. I don't relish the idea of living within window-shattering distance from an exploding refinery, but this is how life has gone for our family. My father worked in refineries and this was the bread and butter on our table while growing up...the Houston Petro-Chemical Industry is one I've been very acquainted with for most of my life. At night-time, my mother used to tell me that she thought the refineries and chemical plants reminded her of beautiful Christmas lighting, but it sure didn't smell like Christmas.
But, this is the Houston area. It has a heavy industrial side to it and we happen to live smack in that area. Lovely. I think this is part of the reason I am so very anxious to move to the country. I'm beyond the point of being ready. Life is not always glamorous when you live a Metropolitan kind of life.
However, no matter where we live, excitement seems to follow our family. Sometimes, I feel as if we are on a roller-coaster ride that never ends. And that's an inside joke for me and my husband - we met at Astroworld (a part of Six Flags) and this was an amusement park in Houston. I was twelve years old and rode my first roller coaster on the day I met this cute, lanky boy. From then onward, the roller-coaster ride has never ended. I am thankful.
A few years ago, we had extra excitement in our home located just outside of Houston...our daughter was selected in a Houston audition, to be on the show "America's Next Top Model." She was actually in her Freshman year as a Biology major at Texas A&M when they called to tell her that she was being flown to California to do the entire Tyra Banks thing, but I was horrified, petrified and extremely hesitant. Actually, I made her write an essay on important foundation ideals in her life, things that truly mattered, and I intended to use this piece of paper as therapy if she ever became Britany-Spears-Screwed-Up-Famous. I would have wallpapered her mansion with that essay, if it ever became necessary.
Before her departure into America's Next Top Model land, all of us in the family had to sign extensive contracts that nearly stated that we possibly sacrifice our lives if we told anyone where she was going. No one could know about her whereabouts because they film in advance of the show's airing. Top secret.
America's Next Top Model paid for everything and flew her out to California for the glitz and glamour of a famous person's life. True to form, she lost her privacy the moment she landed at the airport. Her escort allowed Heather to make a quick call to tell me she'd arrived safely and that her phone was being confiscated. Was Momma happy? NO she was not! I did NOT like one bit of this "Hollywood" scheme. But, we were trying to see the ordeal as an adventure. We were adventurous people. Our family liked adventures. I tried to not hyperventilate.
Still, every day, I pictured Hollywood perverts everywhere. Before she had left for California, my daughter and I had held extensive conversations about the lures and false promises that go with fame. Fortunately, my daughter had already had a valuable experience in modeling that taught her to stand her ground...this head honcho famous guy wanted her to cut her hair and she said, "No," while the other models from her agency were having their hair hacked off to please this guy.
My daughter knew she'd probably be turned away, but she didn't give in, "You're not touching my hair." She still got the modeling job and kept her hair. I was amazed at how many young women were letting the modeling job dictate their hair...inches and inches of beautiful hair because they wanted to model. I told my daughter to NEVER sell out. If it didn't feel right, WALK AWAY ---- FAST.
However, America's Next Top Model had procedures to protect their show from having surprises revealed. That was understandable. Controlling communications was necessary, as it is in most big business, not just on reality shows.
In Heather's hotel room, the production crew made sure she could not communicate with the outside world, except for an emergency. And, they took the journal she had stashed in her suitcase, the journal that she wrote in, every day. But, she found a solution to satisfy her need to write and to document her daily events, she used the tiny hotel pad in the side drawer with the pencil left for guests, and she wrote something at the end of every day and hid it.
Her suitcase was LOADED with food. Our daughter was not a malnourished model. That girl knew how to EAT and we sent so much food with her that I didn't worry about her having hunger pains for a long time. It's a good thing because they only gave the girls "good food" on Fridays. Since my daughter is a Texas girl, food is a real issue. Texas is serious about their food.
My first baby had an awesome experience and she was on Cycle 8, Episode 1 of America's Next Top Model. She was one of the initial top twenty girls on the show for the two hour episode and they did quite a lot of filming of her. When the show finally aired, I called all of our family members, gave them an important message to "...NOT MISS TONIGHT'S EPISODE OF AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL." They had no idea why I'd ask them to watch that show. But, the following day, we were inundated with people who were shocked that we kept this a secret for so long.
Heather ended up being extremely home-sick during filming of the show. She also became disillusioned with Hollywood after seeing someone approach Tyra Banks and a make-up person saying, "Don't touch her" as they rushed over to brush over the part of her arm that had been lightly touched. It was a wake up call. Our daughter came back home with renewed gusto for her Biology studies.
Today, she is a biologist in a research laboratory for people with fertility problems. She loves her job with a beautiful passion.
She loves utilizing her knowledge of science, testing and research to help people bring the baby they want so badly into their lives. I am so proud of her. Click on the link below to see a segment of the show with my daughter telling Tyra Banks what a REAL bootcamp instructor sounds like (the opening of the show was that the girls were in a "bootcamp").
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She'll always be "model" material to me. We might not be Hollywood people, but our lives are incredibly full of vibrancy, love, excitement and good Texas food. That's good enough for us!!