Sometimes Epic Is Tiny

When your work is The Internet, as mine is, all day long you are bombarded, as I am, with news of people doing amazing things.  It’s inspiring – if that person can do that amazing thing, then maybe I can too! – and also very intimidating:  why haven’t I done an amazing thing?   I am so useless and tired and lazy!

It’s basically why Facebook makes people hate their friends.

All of that inspiration can drive a person mad.  Some days, I embrace it and I feel like I can indeed do anything.  I’ve been very productive at times.  But some days, I am just so tired and I have so many things to do.  Writing this little post right now is simply procrastination.  I have a list up to my left elbow of the mundane household tasks that must be done before 7:30 tomorrow morning.  In there somewhere must be time for me to sleep.  After all, Epic needs energy.

But there are moments when I look at what is right in front of me and I see how what I am doing is huge and deserving of appreciation and epic in its own way.  The other night I was too tired to move so I watched Brady playing a dancing video game.  I sat back and appreciated his healthy body, his just-off-kilter sense of rhythm, his concentration, and his pure joy.  I realized that there wasn’t anything more important than what we were doing right then and there.  It flooded my body with that physical ache you get when you are completely conscious of just how much you love.

A simple moment.  Others might not think it was so grand.  Brady might not even remember it later in life.  But it was remarkable for me, and I’m sticking it in my bag of things to remember when I feel insignificant, unimportant, uninvited, unappreciated, and any other un’s that I don’t like.

I made people.  Maintaining them – that’s a pretty epic undertaking.


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Dead Meat

Once upon a time I was actively involved in live theater.  Not just in high school or college, but community theater.

Yes.  It’s true.  I have headshots somewhere around here, even, and they are hilarious.  Someday I will show you, but I can’t find them right now.  I did find this for your viewing pleasure:

See that vamp up there on the left?  That’s me as the shy and bumbling and accidentally well-spoken Annelle in a stage production of Steel Magnolias, circa 1995.

When I first got to LA I popped my headshot and resume into the fray of actors who would do anything to perform before an audience and quickly learned that I actually hated them and the whole scene.  They were miserable, awful people who talked only about themselves.  Oh wait, maybe that was just me.

While waiting for my “big break” I worked backstage on a few small theater productions.  The one I remember most vividly was a several-weekend run of Athol Fugard’s “My Children! My Africa!” which was a meaty, emotional drama about two school children on each side of the Apartheid divide in South Africa.  The whole experience was very intense in a scrappy, no-budget sort of way.

I was the assistant to the director, and so I was involved with every phase of the show.  Despite the low-rent nature of the production, it seemed like an endless stream of young actors auditioned for the three available parts in this small cast.  We held what I remember to be many long nights of readings, where I sat with the director and producer and helped move things along.  They had worked together several times before, and they had inside jokes and could complete each other’s sentences and even had a special code they used during the auditions.    Many times I saw one of them scribble the letters “DM” on an actor’s resume, and then slyly push it across the table to the other.  Eventually I asked the director what it meant.

“Dead meat,” she told me.

And the dead meat would be thanked, told to expect a call if he or she made the cut, and sent out of the room.

There was a lot of dead meat coming through that door, according to those two.  It was a cruel label, but their shorthand was at least a polite way of shielding those poor kids from the truth while quickly getting their point across to each other.

I was a great director’s assistant.  I didn’t realize it at the time but that production was a springboard into my future career behind the scenes as a producer and director myself.  I’m pretty sure if I had auditioned for that pair, I would have been DM’ed indeed.  Thank goodness for the internet, where DM means something much more positive and I can perform away on my YouTube channel and I don’t have to care whether anyone even clicks on it or not.


That Missing Feeling

Kyle snapped this pic of me at the beach at Bradley Point in West Haven

Today I discovered that Brandi Carlile has a new album.  Her music is alternately exhilarating and devastating, and it’s the latter quality that makes me hesitate to download it.  To listen to it, even.  I thought I had licked this fear of emotional music when I boldly attended the Indigo Girls concert a few months ago, but as my cursor hovered over the play button on iTunes, I was flooded with an overwhelming feeling, which only later I can translate into words like  ”NO.  STOP.  THIS WILL MAKE YOU CRY.”

Today was the kids’ first day of school.  It wasn’t really a “day” of “school” for Brady – just an hour and a half of Kindergarten orientation, which I was required to attend as well.  Still, Kyle was there until about 1pm, so Brady and I got a treat and did some errands, and then we all settled in after some simple homework and…

…had nothing to do.  I couldn’t really get any work done because I was preoccupied and distracted.  I couldn’t put my finger on the source.  That state of mind makes it impossible for me to keep one ear out for the children and my eyeballs on the computer, putting puzzle pieces of a website together for the Los Angeles masses who may or may not read it.  I had to wait until the evening, when they are in bed.  And I was tired from a long 1.5 hours of sitting on a tiny desk chair, willing myself not to cry as the teacher read a book to a class of 5 and 6 year olds that spoke of the day they were born, while my precious golden baby sat there, five years old and enormous.

Since we returned to Los Angeles on Sunday I’ve been a nonstop blur of motion and activity and planning and on-the-ledge, margarita-requiring anxiety in advance of The First Day of School and the absence of enough kid-free time to feel like I’m in control of my workload.  And suddenly, after school today, nothing was required of me and I simply deflated like a sad balloon.  And it hit me.

I was homesick.  I am homesick.

And because of that same thing that makes me not buy more of the music I love because I know it will make me cry, I couldn’t call any of my family members or girlfriends back east.  So I developed a stomachache, tried not to complain about it to Stewart whose answer is always “But this is your home,” and distracted myself by doing housework, fretting over the kids, and catching up on the latest book club assignment.

I wanted to call you, My People, but this will have to do instead.  After three weeks of very much togetherness, I miss you so much.  After the kids went to bed and before focusing on my work, I went through the photos of our trip, and I pulled out some random shots to share here.

Lemon Italian ice at Libby’s in Wooster Square, New Haven

Walking to the very quaint oldies concert on the green, West Haven.  This was a rare occasion when Brady let Gramma hold his hand.

Hanging out on the front porch.  Notice Gramma’s pink tips.

“He’s like Marmaduke,” said Grampa.

After Laura’s baby “sprinkle.”

I’m pretty sure she’s gonna be mad that I posted this.

Summer math lessons.

Step into my office.

Sunset over New Haven, taken from the Summit Happy Hour at East Rock Park.

Good times with old friends.

Another sunset at Bradley Point.

Finally tuckered out with Aunt Kathy

Annual shot of my mom drinking a beer during the summer.

Cousin Dominick, a very big boy, now complete with a little sister:

Lydia, the first girl grandchild

I can’t begin to tell you how hard it was to get all six eyeballs pointed at the camera

This was the only moment that made me want another baby for a nanosecond.  All of the other moments just made me want to visit again, and soon.

This picture made me a little teary.

And then we came back.

“I’m so happy to be home!” Brady exclaimed today.


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Songs That Stab Me in the Heart: “Perfect” by P!nk


You’re so mean
When you talk about yourself, you were wrong
Change the voices in your head
Make them like you instead

This is a pretty obvious choice, I suppose, but I don’t care. When I heard this song on the radio in the car last fall I almost pulled the car over to find a link to it to send to my friend because, damn. There’s an official video but it’s way too on the nose and makes the gut punch of the song feel contrived. Great songwriter, this P!nk. Not so much on the music videos.

And I love how she kept the F-bomb in the lyrics and released a clean version so the kids can hear it on the radio.