Wedded Blog. Bliss!! -or- Part Two

6 07 2008

Monday, June 16, 2008 – I can’t remember what time I woke up, but I know she was already gone. Off being girly, buying flowers and whatnot, her dad along for the ride, snapping pictures that I’ll see later. My friend, the chosen family member, and I get in touch. He’s been up for a while, I’m sure, probably bored out of his mind, waiting for me to wake up, but he doesn’t make a big thing of it, for which I am grateful. Or rather, will be grateful once the day is behind me, and I can think like a normal person.

I get ready for the beginning part of the day. I don’t like to change clothes in the middle of the day. In high school, when I was in choir and we had a performance in the evening, for which we would have to wear our uniform tuxedo-minus-jacket, rather than wear my standard jeans and tee during the day, go home, throw on my almost-tux, and then go to the performance, I would actually just wear the uniform all day at school, just to avoid having to change midday. Today, though, I make an exception. Not because I don’t want to wear a snazzy suit through the city of San Francisco, but because if I were to spill anything or smudge anything or heck, even breathe too harshly on the fool thing, then that darling, starry-eyed girl I came up here with would actually murder me. Coldly and premeditatedly, and she would likely be acquitted. So I’m thinking, two outfits today?… Being dead? After genuinely thinking about it for about thirty seconds longer than I should have, I decided on the former.

So, my friend and I meet up, and, being two mid-twenties males, we are — big surprise — hungry. We decide to go across the street from the hotel to Mel’s Drive-In. I’ve been to two different locations of Mel’s, and I still haven’t figured out where the “drive-in” part of the equation comes in. Anyway, we sit, we order, we wait, we talk, the food comes, we eat, my friend asks the waitress where the best place is to get this or that, she doesn’t know, the bill comes, he offers to pay, I let him, we talk a bit more.

Why do you need to know all this? Well, you don’t, actually. I guess I’m just telling you all the mundane little things to get you to understand how bizarre today is. Here it is, the biggest day of my life so far, the most significant, the most important and beautiful, and the world is just moving along like normal. Even in the moment, while I was there and my mind was racing, I was aware of how outside I felt. You know how when you’re sick, your head’s all congested and your voice sounds stupid? When you’re that kind of annoying sick, you know how it just doesn’t make sense that everybody you meet isn’t just as sick as you are? Most people you meet, they’re just normal, going about their business, and you maybe think, “Big faker.” But then you meet a genuinely cheerful person, and you just can’t wrap your head around that idea. You’re suddenly okay with the idea of gouging a cheerful strangers eyes out, just so that they’ll feel the same as you, and you can’t help thinking, “Showoff.” Well, my day was like that, but with fewer eye-gouging thoughts.

How can you possibly be a waitress today? Don’t you get it? Today’s kind of a big deal. Can you not feel that? That surge, that actual physical energy coursing through what I assume is the entire world. I mean, even if I’m wrong, and it’s actually just coursing through me, how are you not affected by it? When you get near me, Mr. Bellboy, sir, how are you not jolted halfway across this hotel lobby? Really, Mr. Drugged Up Homeless Man, today’s the day that makes sense for you to ask me for some change? Yes, random passerby, it is a silly shirt I’m wearing today, but wouldn’t you rather be talking to me about something else? Anyone? Come on.

But they didn’t come on. Like that Chris Gaines song, It Don’t Matter To The Sun, “This old world just keeps turning ’round, turning ’round, like it did the day before…”

We got back to the hotel, and started getting dressed for real. Talking some mindless small talk, pretending like a huge event wasn’t just moments away. Sandals giving way to loafers, jeans to newly pressed slacks. Silly shirts became an undershirt, a white, non-stained or -smudged or -breathed on button up, a jacket, and a tie that refused to tie correctly.

“Do I button all the buttons on the jacket, or just the top one, or what?” “All but the bottom.” Whether or not his answer was correct, it didn’t matter. I just needed an answer. I wasn’t nervous, know that. People often asked, in the weeks leading to today, “Are you nervous?,” and I’m simply not. I don’t really get why one would be. It seems to me that if you’re nervous about today, then today isn’t the right day for it. I don’t know. Not nervous; excited. So excited that I needed answers and didn’t care if they were correct.

So, here we were, two best frieds since forever, now both in our suits, about to walk down to the lobby. His suit was nicer, more expensive, shinier. But mine was black, so I think I win.

Into the lobby, waiting. She’s not there yet. Still haven’t seen her all day. Her dad and her brother join us before long. We laugh a bit about how on time we are and how on time they’re not. “They” being every female in the group.

Finally, there they are. There she is.

A little something about her. She’s a bit of a photographer. Before knowing her, I never really understood what makes a photographer different from me with my Kodak disposable. I mean, point and click, right? Well, here’s the difference: I’ll point and click, and I’ll show the picture to someone and they’ll say, “Oh, that’s a pretty flower.” She’ll point and click and show the picture to someone, and they’ll say, “…,” because they’re absolutely speechless. Blown away. A photographer, this woman in front of me, finds the hidden beauty in beautiful things.

When I saw her for the first time that day, wearing a dress that I’d only ever seen in a garment bag, holding flowers that I’d later see pictures of her picking out this morning, all I could say was, “…”

Our eyes met, we smiled, and we led the party out the doors and down a few city blocks.

“Click, click, click!,” was about all I heard for the next hour or so. Well, that and, “Okay, now one with your mom, now your mom and your sister, now just the two of you, now you by yourself, now just the guys, now…” Also, in fairness, I should say that the homeless community finally started respecting the day a bit, by saying, “Congratulations,” and, in one case, humming “Here Comes the Bride.”

We finally get to the City Hall, and our professional photographer showed up, and we were posed, and made to smile those fake smiles that everyone accepts as genuine when they look at pictures. We went into this room and that, signing this paper and that, and then we waited. After a bit, we walked up the stairs that Indiana Jones walked down at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, and we found ourselves on a platform, just us… and the sleeping homeless man on the steps right over there. Atmosphere. Awesome.

Then the ceremony. This part you know. “Do you take her? Do you take him?” “I do,” and, “I also do.” And yet, even though there were no surprises here, and I watch a lot of TV and movies, and could have easily done all three participants’ parts, it felt like these words were being said for the first time. Written just for us, meant just for us, fulfilling their purpose in this moment, right here, right now. I smile and look down at my ring and smile bigger right now, as I’m writing these words. The rings. We put them on each other, and I realized that my finger had been missing something all these years.

The ceremony ends, but the pictures don’t. First, there are pictures of the reporter from the Associated Press, come to ask the newly married straight couple how we feel about being married on the technically-first day same sex marriage licenses are being issued. All I’m thinking as my wife (my wife!!) talks to the lady is, Four minutes married, and this’ll be the first time her new name appears in print!

After that, the photographer gets an idea. She’ll go up there to the balcony, and we’ll all gather in a semicircle, and she’ll get a whole group shot. Splendid. So, she goes up, and we all gather, and for just a moment, I look around. Here we all are, myself, my wife (!!), her mom, her dad, her brother, her aunt, her cousin, my mom, my sister, and my best friend. And in that moment, the world stepped up. In that moment, the world acknowledged the gravity of the situation, it did matter to the sun, everyone stopped and took noticed, tipped their hats and bowed, nodded in our direction, said a united chorus of “Congratulations!”

Or maybe not. Maybe instead, in that moment, this group of people, most of whom had never met each other before, this group of people, united just moments ago solely by their common knowing of we two, this group of people, in that moment, became family.


Laughing On The Verge Of Serious -or- Part One

1 07 2008

Friday, June 13 – Friday the 13th. I get off work at around three or so, the day having so far been a sporadic parade of “Congratulations,” and “I heard that… Is it true?” I finally walk out the door, though, and my ride is waiting for me. Together we begin our journey. Well, that’s not exactly true, is it? Our journey really began nine years ago, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

The many-hour trip, broken up by the occasional meal and pit stop, started with a gnab, which is the opposite of a bang. The L.A. traffic at around three o’ clock on a Friday didn’t let us get out of Dodge for about an hour and a half. You know that Weird Al song, Traffic Jam? “I left home five hours ago, and I can still see my house from here.” That song was written for this day.

Anyway, we’re finally on the wide and open, and just about as day gives into night, we arrive at our motel. This motel, whose name escapes me, was apparently voted the best motel in the area. I suppose. I don’t travel much, so sometimes I’ll think to myself, “What, really, aside from the fact that motels have many fewer rooms, are cheaper, and have an ‘m’ where the ‘h’ should be, is the difference between a motel and a hotel?” The answer, my friends, is this: at a motel, the guy you check in with will not have any readily available idea that you were supposed to be checking in tonight, there will be at least one mouse- or door knob-sized hole in the wall, and you will have the distinct feeling that probably there’s a hidden camera in your room that is connected to monitors on which greasy and sad, creepy men are watching your every move. That last paranoia, I blame squarely on Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale. Thanks, jerks. Aside from those things though, you got a bed, a bathroom, something resembling a desk, and the best basic cable has to offer.

Saturday, June 14 – This is the day that officially makes it so that I don’t have to help anybody move for at least a year. Martina McBride once sang about The Day Of Reckoning; today was The Day Of Traveling. A lot. First, we leave the “m”otel and continue on our way, stopping just once for lunch. We check into the “h”otel, and I promptly break the TV. “It worked just a second ago, I don’t get it. Now the channels won’t change. Weird.” “Maybe if we unplug it and plug it back in.” “Sounds good to me.” *BLINKK!!* “Well, now it doesn’t even turn on. Damn.”

Broken TVs, though, pose no threat to The Day Of Traveling. For The DOT will always persevere. “Don’t worry about it.” This from the girl who clearly encouraged the present state of brokenness. “We have to pick up my mom and dad.” And so we do. Hey, you know what’s fun for a guy who literally gets lost trying to figure out the shopping mall map directories? Trying to navigate through a foreign airport. Especially when he’s trying desperately to keep up with the girl in front of him who doesn’t slow down, even though they both realized, upon parking in the garage, that neither of them knows on which airline her parents are traveling. Fun: the other “F” word.

So, we’re running frantically through who-knows-where, leaving messages on her dad’s phone, “When you land, hopefully you turn on your phone. If you do, please tell us where you are, because we are dumb in a cheesy-farcical-comedy-that-nobody-believes kind of way. Thanks.” Things work out and we collect the parents… but then, wouldn’t ya know it, we don’t know how to get back to the car. “We think we came from there…” “Where it says ‘Do Not Enter’?” “Yeeees…” “Wait! Wasn’t there a red 1974’s-version-of-the-future neon hallway?” “Yes! There was! Okay, everybody. Look for something that wouldn’t seem out of place while you’re waiting in line for Disneyland’s Space Mountain!” And, strange as it seems, we found it, and it led us to the car. Success!

So, we get back to the hotel, and now the TV works. TV elves? Makes you wonder. No time though, because, “Okay, my aunt’s already here, but she’s spending time with some friends, and we have to get my brother.” “Right, but my theory on the elves… oh, never mind.”

Off to the bus station. Where’s the brother? “Where are you?” “I’m here.” “No. We’re here; where are you?” “Here.” “Not here. ‘There,’ maybe?” “Pretty sure if anyone’s ‘there,’ it’s you.” “No, we’re definitely here.” “’Here’ here?” “Probably not. Ah! There you are.” He gets in the car. “Where were you?” “I was right there.” “Exactly.”

Back to the hotel. Rest for a few, and then it’s off to dinner. Hey, you know what’s fun-with-a-capital-“FU” for a guy who can only really talk at length about movies and TV, and doesn’t really do well in groups of people? Going out to dinner with a girl he cares deeply for, her brother who he doesn’t know very well, her parents who he’s met about three times, her aunt who he doesn’t remember meeting, and her two friends who he’s never met. Yay!

Little side note. What did I eat for dinner, I know you’re dying to know. The answer: barbeque. Here’s how you know you’re me: you’re thinking, “Oh. You had a barbeque?” Here’s how you know you’re everyone else at dinner that night: “No, silly. Barbeque is the name of the food. It’s meat done up a certain way, and it’s actually called barbeque.” Here’s what I think. Barbeque is allowed to be a noun when there’s an “a” in front of it. In fact, it can be two different nouns. It can be the actual device that you use to barbeque things. You know, the thing with a lid and charcoal, there’s a grill, and you through some lighter fluid in there. It can also noun out to the event. “You’re invited to a barbeque,” but you should spell it Bar-B-Q. If you don’t want an “a” in front of it, that’s fine too; just understand that you’ve just verbed it. To barbeque. “How’d you cook this meat?” “Oh, I barbequed it.” But what you can’t do is then call the meat barbeque. You don’t call a grilled cheese sandwich grill. A blended smoothie does not become blend. You can’t just have something that’s orange and call it an… okay, wait.

So, after dinner, into the hotel bar. More awkward for me, trying to smile and nod, but always in new, more convincing ways. I don’t drink, either, so there’s really not a lot going for me here. Maybe now you’re thinking, “Well, that wasn’t so bad. A little dinner, some folks had a nightcap, you’re about ready for bed now, right?” Oh, no, no my friends. You underestimate The DOT.

Off we go to pick up my mom and sister, not from the airport or the bus stop, but from the train station. One day, and we’re covering an entire John Candy/Steve Martin classic. We collect them, and on the way back to the hotel, we get to go over a toll bridge. Maybe you’re used to this, I don’t know. I, however, am not, and it was awesome. I know it’s not really any different from paying to get out of a parking garage here in L.A., but somehow it feels more magical. Also, there’s the slight possibility that you’ll come out the other side, and you’ll be a cartoon. Anyone? Phantom Tollbooth? Just me, then? That’s cool.

To the hotel, depositing my mom and sister, and now to bed? Noooo! Because we first have to drive back to the airport to pick up the aforementioned aunt’s daughter. The cousin. Which is where this happened.

“You’re kidding. Seriously? Again?” What prompted that scorn from me? This: “Heh. Hey, guess what? I forgot the paper that tells me which airline she’s flying in on.” So, we drive round and round, and it’s all very déjà vu, except no Space Mountain hallway and also no Denzel Washington. We finally find the cousin, and back we are to the hotel, I marvel at how little I actually care about what’s on TV, and so, finally, sleep.

Sunday, June 15 – Just for kicks and giggles (I heard that phrase from a woman recently. I thought it was awesome. I bet she has kids.), we decided to start this day off with an homage to yesterday. First thing, it’s back to the airport to pick up the honorary family member, my best friend since eighth grade. We know which flight he’s on, we find him no problem… and then we get more lost than all of yesterday’s losts put together. For about forty minutes we three looked for our exit. Thing is, so many of those damn passageways look the same. Stupid design flaw.

We finally do escape, and we meet up with most everybody back at the hotel, and The Day Of Adventure officially begins! (Side note: I’m not shortening The Day Of Adventure, because it acronyms out to The DOA, which, frankly, sets a tone that I’d rather not set, thanks.)

Off we all (minus the brother, that is, who will meet us later with a friend in tow) go to Fisherman’s Wharf. Oh, did I mention where we are? We’re in San Francisco. So, we get there, and I don’t know what to expect, because remember how I don’t travel? Well, it turns out it’s like, a little outdoor shopping center. Tourist trap, it’s a tourist trap. It’s like the 3rd Street Promenade here in L.A. Thing is, I frickin’ love the 3rd Street Promenade here in L.A., and this place is like that, but different enough that it feels new, and… good for you, San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. Good for you.

So, we eat lunch, various members of the party depart, but the brother and the friend have now arrived, so we almost break even. We shop around a bit, and my sister and I harshly judge the guy performing magic at the magic shop. Really though, he’s pretty bad. That is an objective statement, not at all fueled by the fact that my sister and I used to sell the exact same trick – er, “illusion” – at a magic kiosk a few years back, and we took pride in our presentation, and… I digress.

We find a little arcade-y place, and so we stop in for a bit. Oh! If you ever are there and you find this place, do yourself a favor. Find the machine that is a closed in glass box, inside of which is a miniature desolate landscape: dusty horizon, ragged wagon, lone wooden wheel. It will ask you to give it a quarter, and you simply must. You may think that the wagon will start to shake, or the wheel will roll, or everything will burst into simulated flames, and little people will spill out screaming for their lives. But no, my friends. What happens is so much better. You ready for this? Wind blows. Uh-huh. Wind blows and the flaps of the wagon cover sway in the wind. Which blows. For, I have to admit, quite a long time, considering it was only a quarter. After we were duped into the thing, my friend and I waited around for some other poor sap. And sure enough, two girls happened by, stuck a quarter in, and then probably wondered why two random guys were snickering behind them.

We then found a pretty inexpensive boat tour that took us around Alcatraz, and to within good photo-distance of the Golden Gate Bridge. Because you can’t spell “mind-bustingly silly and/or embarrassing tourist” without “boat tour”. But it was cool. By which I mean cold. I dig the cold, but even I had to borrow my mom’s sweater (she had a jacket as well; I didn’t make the woman freeze to death.). I also mean it was cool, because we saw a seal or otter or sea lion with half of a dead fish in it’s mouth. A conversation ensued about the very fine line between “half of a dead fish,” and “a half-dead fish”. Awesome!

Back to the hotel to collect everybody, and then off to China Town. Which was fine, except I didn’t know that’s where we were going, and I specifically requested a buffet once I did figure it out, which didn’t happen. I have a hard time finding things I like to eat, and then also everyone seemed to be sharing their food, so I felt all obligated to put my food on the Lazy Susan, even though I didn’t want anybody else’s food; I wanted my food. But I’m not bitter. I’m also, apparently, not a big, whiney baby, so that’s good.

Back to the hotel, where we played a really fun game of Loaded Questions, which we knew from experience is a delight to play with stupid people, and now we found out that it’s almost equally fun with non-stupid, but sleepy people. Yay, games! And really, yay grown up grown-ups who still want to play board games, and laugh, and share some silliness. Because I’m going to be one of those grown-ups one day, and I’m glad I won’t be lonely about it. Yay, me!

Gone our separate ways now, and my friend and I find ourselves in his room. Talking about what tomorrow holds, being cavalier, but wise and sage and nonchalant and meaningful about it. Being two guys who have known each other forever, talking about how one of them is doing this thing tomorrow that will be the biggest thing either of them has ever done. Being two best friends, on the verge of incredible seriousness, laughing into the wee hours.

Me And Joss: The Legend Continues

26 04 2008

Are you a fan of Joss Whedon? If you are, then you’ll understand why I’m about to tell the non-fans to become fans, and if you’re not a fan, become one.

So, for a very long time (about ten years now), I’ve thought that the man was a genius. If you don’t really know who the heck he is, he created Buffy, Angel, and Firefly, as well as the upcoming Dollhouse, and he wrote and directed Serenity, the spin-off feature film set in the Firefly world. He wrote and directed most of the absolute best episodes of those shows, and really many of the best episodes of television I’ve evr seen. In case you’re wondering, yes, I pretty much have a man crush on the guy. I would have his babies.

Anyway, probably about a year and a half ago, I was walking along the 3rd Street Promenade here in LA, and who should I see but a schlubby guy in sneakers and a loose-fitting shirt. This guy was, you guessed it( you guessed it, right?), Joss Whedon. I couldn’t bring myself to approach him, so I just kind of stalked him up and down the Promenade for about fifteen minutes until he rounded a corner and exited my life.

Cut to a few months ago when, during the writers’ strike, there was an event called Mutant Enemy Day. Mutant Enemy is Joss Whedon’s production company, so I’m sure you can guess what the event was like. Buffy, Angel, and Firefly alum (actors, writers, producers, etc.) were out that day, striking in support of the writers. Now, I had been striking with the Battlestar Galactica writers when I was able since the strike had begun, so the striking wasn’t particularly exhilerating, except that, once again, Joss and I crossed paths. And, once again, I couldn’t bring myself to approach him. It just felt like we were all there for a cause, and to treat it like essentially a convention seemed inappropriate.

Cut to this past Tuesday, three days ago. I’m at work at the bookstore, when who should come up the escalator, but Mr. Whedon himself. I know! I just couldn’t let this go. “Hi. Are you Joss Whedon?” My voice was stuck in my throat, and also was doing octaves I’d never heard it do. “Yes, I am.” “Hi, Joss Whedon. I am a huge fan of yours.” So far, so good. Seriously, what is up with my voice? “Oh. Well, thank you.” “I’m so sorry. I’m all nervous.” Okay. That was okay. Kind of a lame thing to say, but you’ll redeem yourself. Just say something cool right now. Talk about that time on the Promenade. No, he might not appreciate having been stalked. Tell him about how you’re sorta-friends with a former Buffy writer, Jane Espenson. Yeah, that could… no! Tell him about how you supported the writers, and struck with them. Yeah. Or just tell him that he’s your hero, and that he changed your view of television forever. Say something! You’ve been quiet too long. Something cool, something relevant, something now! “Jane Espenson comes in here!” “Oh.” Crap! That’s what you said? You really said that? It’s like that time you met Kevin Sorbo and you told him that last week you had met Lucy Lawless, and then he just politely walked away. Stupid, stupid! “I don’t know if you’d care about that.” No, I care.” He cares! You said something and Joss Whedon cares! “All right. Well, have a nice day.”

And he was gone.

Telling my fiancee about it later, she said that I totally redeemed myself for the Promenade, when I couldn’t even talk to him. I told her, “Yeah, and next time I see him, I’ll redeem myself for this interaction.”

So, here’s what I’ve decided. I don’t know if coincidences exist. But I’m deciding that Joss and I crossing paths so often is not coincidence. I’ve decided that it means we’re fated to work together sometime in the future. I’ve also decided though, that just because fate says “Yes,” doesn’t mean you don’t have to work for it. So, I’m writing this script, right? And some days, I don’t want to write, and I think, “What does it matter? It gets done or it doesn’t, what’s the difference?” Well, the difference is this: if I write it, and it gets made, and I’m in it, then I’m one step closer to being somebody who other people recognize. People like Joss. If I don’t write it, who knows? So, I write. And I let fate take its course, but I do my part, too.

— ldi

Glass And Tears

3 04 2008

She broke a glass and broke into tears. Everybody saw it, they’ll tell you positively. There was the loud crash that came from the other room. The partygoers rushed in and saw her sitting, surrounded by thousands of tiny shards. Sobbing.

Nobody understood. They judged her for it. Silently and not so silently. What kind of woman would be so affected by a broken glass? Or was it that she’d made a mistake, and couldn’t handle being imperfect? Either way, they all thought, this was an extreme reaction.

What none of them knew was that earlier that day, as she was preparing for the party, she’d stubbed her toe. And she hadn’t screamed. She’d looked at the small bead of red forming, and just continued looking. Finally, she’d washed it off, and continued her task.

What none of them knew was that two days ago, she’d gone to her car, and had found a bit of metal broken off in the lock. And she hadn’t sighed. She’d looked at it, stared for too long, and called a cab.

What none of them knew was that a week before that, her partner of over a decade had left her, abandoned her. And she hadn’t screamed. She’d sat in stony silence as the woman she loved packed her bags and walked out of her life. She’d stared at the door for hours, until the sun had disappeared, and the darkness had lulled her to sleep.

What none of them knew was that the day before that, a woman she’d grown up with but never really knew passed away. And she hadn’t cried.

One thing had led to another and to another and to another, until, finally, she broke a glass and broke into tears.

What she doesn’t know is that tomorrow, the sun will rise and she will feel its warmth on her skin for the first time in what will feel like ages.

What she doesn’t know is that a week after that, a true friend will call to ask if she’s all right, and they will talk for hours.

What she doesn’t know is that a couple of days after that, she will meet someone, and they will nervously flirt, and she will return home and laugh.

What she doesn’t know is that that laughter will last for days.

What she doesn’t know is that a month from now, or a year from now, or ten, a friend will give her a set of wine glasses as a gift, and she will smile, and she will cry, and she will remember, and she will be loved.

One thing will lead to another and to another and to another…

— ldi

The Past, Present, And Future

18 03 2008

Sometimes it’s tough being me. I try to be very aware of certain things, like when an opportunity for growth or change presents itself, but I don’t always act on it. Lately, I’ve been trying to be better about that. It’s almost like I’ve been working on the outline of the story that will eventually be my life. Right now, I’m trying to add character development, maybe even get an arc in there.

A couple of days ago, one of my managers at the Bookstore asked me if I would join him and some people for a table read of a script that one of those people had written. I wouldn’t be reading any of the parts, I’d be reading the stage directions. Well, normally, I would have thanked him kindly, declined, and been on my way. Thing is, I found myself saying something like, “Well, let me check my schedule,” and actually meaning it.

Why this change? Well, part of it was due to the fact that a friend of mine recently told me about this thing called iscript, which basically is a thing where a writer or writers will send in his, her, or their script, and then iscript will choose readers to read the script aloud, record it on a thing, and then send that recording to the writer or writers. Cool idea, except they don’t have actors read it, and no direction is given, and it seems that a lot of it doesn’t even involve the readers responding to the other readers’ performances; it all feels kinda stiff and bland. To me! I don’t know, maybe it makes sense for some aspiring writers. Anyway, because of that, I’d been thinking of doing a similar thing, but with a small group of actors, and recording a performance, instead of just a bland recitation. So, part of why I said I’d think about the invite was to get a sense of how a table read works, and also to be a part of one, albeit in a stage directions capacity.

But really, the bigger reason that I said I’d think about it, and eventually agreed to do it, was because I’m at a point where I really do want to try new things. I want to do things that are outside of my comfort zone, things that I normally would just say no to without ever really considering them. I mean, how am I going to fulfil those actor-y dreams if I can’t even say yes to anything I’ve never tried before?

Another thing I did, just yesterday in fact, was to go to my old high school. I grew up in a city called Covina, and I don’t know if any of you have ever seen the movie IT, but if you have, then you’ll understand that Covina is a lot like Derry. For those who don’t get that, Derry is basically a town that you can’t ever really leave. Not in a weird, force-field kind of way, more like, you either never really move out, or if you do, you find yourself back there at some point, probably permanently. It’s that kind of place that just kind of feels like home, you know? It seems simple, easy. When you’re growing up there, you believe you can do anything, go anywhere.

So, I went back to Covina, because we’re having a picnic in the park reception after the wedding, and we wanted to scope out the Covina Park, the park I grew up going to. Afterwards, I wanted to visit my old high school, and visit “that special teacher”. You know the one. Everybody had one, or if you didn’t, you knew somebody who had one.

Anyway, I’m sitting in the parking lot, and I start freaking out. It was a mixture of a freakout. There was the sweaty palms kind of I-was-a-total-geek-in-highschool-and-I-still-am-and-yet-I’m-willingly-going-back-in freaking. But there was also this one, which I didn’t expect: what if that teacher didn’t recognize me? Or, worse yet, what if he did, but I hadn’t grown into a person that lived up to his expectations. So, I almost turned around and left.

I’m glad I didn’t.

I walked through the school, probably looking like a kind of creepy guy who shouldn’t be allowed to roam a high school hallway. My hair was messed up, I didn’t have a back pack, I was wearing sandals, I recently sprained my ankle, so I’m walking with a limp. To a casual observer, I might seem like I fit in, since I still look really young, but if you looked closely and paid attention, I clearly didn’t belong. And that’s almost creepier than like, a guy dressed in black, wielding a knife. Because that guy, you just get outta the way, but the subtle guy might be upon you before you ever notice. Sorry about this tangent. Those were just the things floating through my head as I was walking to the teacher’s classroom. Like I said, I was freaking out.

So, I finally see him, only his head is now shaved, and he has two kids, so I had to look really hard at his face to make sure. “Mr. Kearns?” And do you know what happened? His face lit up, all smiles. “Hey! I was just thinking about you the other day. Somebody had your year’s yearbook out, and we saw your picture! How’ve you been?” And we talked. Only for about five minutes, but still. I’m engaged, oh! to who?, you don’t know her, I’m an actor in L.A., that makes sense, I also write, I always thought you would, you always broke down movies really well, well, it was great seeing you, yeah, come back soon.

Immediate recognition, no disappointment. Thank you.

So, in the past couple of days, I’ve looked ahead to my future, when I’ll be a person who regularly considers new things. Hopefully. I’ve also looked back at my past, and seen how far I really have come.

I may not know what’s next, have all the beats worked out, but for the first time in a long time, I’m really excited to find out where this story is going. And that’s something.

— ldi

The Old Man

13 03 2008

Hey, so I just finished watching a movie called My Summer Story. Have you ever heard of this? It’s actually a sequel to the holiday classic A Christmas Story. You know, the one with little Ralphie who wants the Red Ryder BB Gun, but everyone’s concerned he’ll “shoot [his] eye out!” Yeah, I never knew it had a sequel, either. And Ralphie is played by a Culkin, no less! Sure it’s Kieran, but still.

This post will not be a review of My Summer Story, except perhaps to say there’s a reason the original is a classic, and this other I hadn’t heard of. No, this post will be about me, because it’s my blog, so suck it.

So, I’m watching the movie, and it is what it is. It’s not awful, it’s just not particularly inspired, but then it gets to a scene toward the end. Ralphie finally catches a fish on the regular fishing trip with “The Old Man,” played here by Charles Grodin. He then catches another fish. And another, and another. And as he’s reeling all these fish in, and piling them higher and higher in the boat, the Adult Ralphie voice-over comes in and says something to the effect of, “And even though the Old Man never actually said, ‘I’m proud of you, son,’ he always had a way of saying, ‘I’m proud of you, son.'” Then the Old Man shouts to all the other fishermen on the lake, “Clear the way! We got a fisherman here! Get outta here! My son here’s a real fisherman!” Then the boys go home, and that night Ralphie is invited to stay up with his dad and his dad’s friends, listening to crude stories, and just being one of the boys. As the movie fades to end credits, Adult Ralphie chimes in with, “And that was the best summer of my life.”

Ahhhh, sweet, right? Like, sickly sweet. Like, vomit-y sweet. Except, the thing is, I was all throat-lumpy, and, while I didn’t cry, I probably could have. I won’t get into all the sordids with you, but I will say that my dad and I have maybe not the best relationship. He and my mom divorced when I was young, and things were fine for a few years. My parents had a better relationship than they’d had while they were married, my sister and I got to see my dad every other weekend, and because it was such a small amount of time, he made a real effort to make it quality.

But then the real world set in. He started being tired some of those weekends. He got a girlfriend, and eventually a new family. He and my mom stopped being friends when he had a hard time with the child support payments. Eventually, we fell completely out of touch, leaving me to not even know if he was still alive. The worst part was that my sister has always been incredibly emotional, so when it came to having a hard time with our dad, she got to be the focus. It wasn’t her fault, and I don’t hold it against her, but it made it tough for me to express my feelings, because if they weren’t as “strong” as hers, then they were overshadowed, and if they were as strong, then I was just jumping on her coattails. Does that make sense?

We eventually reconnected with my dad at my grandmother’s funeral. We all did our best to get to know his new wife and our new half-brother and to stay in touch, but it just wasn’t the same. It never was.

My last couple of birthdays have gone by without a call from him. But that phone works both ways, and his last couple of birthdays have gone by call-less as well. I don’t even know when Father’s Day is anymore. I just don’t keep track. After the movie was over, David’s Bridal called to let my fiancee know that her wedding dress is ready to be picked up. The first thing I thought was that my dad doesn’t even know I’m engaged.

I apologize for this post. The upside is that I don’t really have any readers yet. I guess I just wanted to get all this out. Every once in awhile it hits me, you know? I mean, the pain is always there, the emptiness, but sometimes I’ll see something and it’ll make me think of it specifically. Like My Summer Story. Or that episode of Fresh Prince of Bel Air, when Will’s dad comes into town, and he believes that this time it’s for good. But then his dad leaves again, and Will breaks down in his uncle’s arms: “I learned to ride a bike without him! I learned to shave without him! I’ll get married without him, raise a family without him! Because there’s not a damn thing he could ever teach me about being a father!!” Then, through his sobs, “How come he doesn’t want me?”

I guess I just can’t remember my dad, even subtextually, saying he was proud of me. I know he loved me, but was he proud? When was my “best summer ever’?

Like I said, I apologize. It just gets to me sometimes.

— ldi