December 23, 2019

Tommy and his pageant kids – 2017

I’ve been in a very funky mood all day and we all know what that means. Time to write and process and try to figure out what all is going through my head. The most obvious piece of the puzzle is the fast approaching joyous season. Tommy and I developed over the years a sequence of events that informed the period between Thanksgiving and New Years and which turned December into a bit of a marathon. For the rest of my life Christmas is always going to be caught up with my memories of Tommy as we survived wigging Red Mountain’s Holiday Spectacular, producing the Unitarian Church’s Holiday Pageant, singing the Messiah with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, decorating the house with five or six Christmas trees, preparing sit down Christmas Eve dinner for Tommy’s family which grew over the years from eight to fifteen, getting together with friends, and preparing food for 200 for our annual open house. We were usually worn out by New Years.

Last year, I just couldn’t be around any of it and fled half the world away to Thailand for two weeks. Christmas Eve was spent at a beach party at a resort in Krabi where the Thai staff were somewhat unclear on the concept. My favorite moment was when the lounge singer broke into the medley of Santa Baby and Hello, Dolly! I had never considered putting those two particular pieces of music together, especially on a tropical beach with a singer in a red sequin vest and a Santa hat that had definitely seen better days. Christmas Day, I rode an elephant through the jungle.

This year, I am home. I’m doing my usual good egg thing and covering various service needs at work so those with kids and local family don’t have to worry about too much the next few days. I’ve done that a lot over the years. I will never have children of my own so little things to help those who do as I need a next generation as much as anyone else. I thought briefly about resurrecting the holiday open house tradition in some new way but the thought of all that work on my own made me feel exhausted so I put that idea quickly to bed. I’m thinking I probably won’t do that party again as long as I’m in this house. Once I downsize, it may come back in some new form in whatever my next domicile happens to be. I haven’t lived in a space that was mine and put together strictly for my needs and taste for decades. I’m not even sure what that would look like these days. Regency/first empire tends to be my go to for interior design but I doubt I can afford it – at least with original pieces. I absorbed the life lesson of don’t buy fakes, buy what you can afford but real, from my mother at an early age.

I haven’t decorated or put up a tree either. I went down in the basement, looked at all the boxes of Christmas decorations and just felt too tired to haul it all up the stairs only to haul it all back down again in a few weeks. No one’s coming by to see any of it and trees and such are things you do with and for other people. I’m thinking of rehoming some of my theme trees. If anyone is dying to take possession of Marilyn Monroe or Scarlett O’Hara, let me know. I’ve been toying with starting from scratch and doing a new tree that’s all fish, animals, and birds. Maybe next year…

Last night, I got together with Tommy’s family for their family Christmas celebration. Other than one nephew in law down with a virus, the rest of the clan was there and doing well. Nice dinner followed by presents. I have five great nieces and nephews on that side ranging from toddler to twelve and I’ve decided to be the guncle that makes sure they’re exposed to the children’s classics so each of them got an age appropriate decent edition of a book that has stood the test of time. It also allowed me to support the new independent bookstore that opened in the neighborhood this month. The adults all got tickets to Cabaret so they can have a family outing in February. i should have my part down by the second week of the run…

With marvelous 12 year old Gracie Marble in Belltower Players Dear Brutus – December 2019

Theater is keeping me focused and disciplined at the moment. Dear Brutus came off rather a couple of weeks ago. I managed to get through all four performances without completely going up on my lines. A few little bobbles here and there but nothing noticeable. There was the one scary moment opening night when an entrance was missed and I found myself stranded on stage with the twelve year old playing my daughter. Fortunately, Gracie is no ordinary twelve year old and began an in character improv on our scene which most of the audience did not recognize as unscripted and my Spolin improv training allowed me to match her. That girl is going to be something one of these days. The last twelve year old with that level of talent I was on stage with was Jordan Fisher and he’s about to take over the title role of Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway.

Cabaret rehearsals started this week. Only three so far for me but I can already tell this is going to be a good one. First read through was already so far above where projects usually are at this point that I think audiences will be blown away by the time it’s unveiled in late January. It’s going to be emotionally challenging to play Schultz this time through. Last time, I was a widower but in a successful second marriage. This time a widower alone and very definitely processing everything that means. Also, last time I did the role, it was a very different political moment and the parallels between all of our lives and Weimar Germany weren’t quite so pronounced. It’s been twenty months since Tommy died. Twenty months after Steve died, Tommy and I had met, and moved from casual to serious dating. I have a hard time believing that because I know I’m not at all ready for anything serious this time around. I think the difference is that Steve had such a long illness that I did much of the psychological grief work in advance and was in a very different place at the time of his death than I am after Tommy’s. Or I was just younger and more resilient.

I haven’t quite decided if my busy theater schedule this season is a boon or a problem. It’s keeping me from other projects that I should be attending to (like cleaning out this house in preparation for downsizing) but I also think the structure and having to be around other people who are relying on me to show up and give of my skills and energy is what I really need at the moment. If I had more spare time,I’d probably spend far too much of it holed up brooding. I know myself far too well. My bookings end in June and I have no intention of doing anything this summer or early fall so that I can plan a big 2020 trip and get some other life things done.

Going to spend my slow holiday period catching up on some film and writing some MNM columns. I took myself to see Cats this evening. It’s not as bad as the reviews would suggest. It strikes me that there’s an unofficial contest to see who could write the cattiest review of the film. It’s just… weird. It’s weird enough that I can see it becoming a cult classic eventually. Maybe something like Rocky Horror but with the audience throwing catnip and rubber cockroaches at each other. MNM will weigh in shortly. I’ll try to get to the new Star Wars either tomorrow or Christmas Day before I run into any spoilers. The first one came out shortly after my fifteenth birthday so it’s been around my whole adult life. Back in the far off days of 1977, there weren’t multiplexes and Star Wars opened at the UA Cinema in downtown Seattle. The family was looking for a movie that weekend, saw a newspaper ad and we loaded up in the 1972 Ford Van we had and headed downtown. It was the second day of the run and hadn’t yet become a phenomenon. The line was around the block and the 7 pm was sold out but we scored tickets to the 9:30 and waited – me, my parents, and my 9 year old sister and 8 year old brother. In we went, the John Williams fanfare started together with the title crawl and the opening shots of the huge star destroyer. Movie magic. At the end, the whole audience cheered and we knew we had seen something special and we had gotten to see it before it became Star Wars. When I go see this one with the music and title crawl, I expect at least part of me will feel fifteen again. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing as it’s a somewhat difficult age to be but it’s that time when the adult world is finally revealing itself and life is full of infinite possibility. And I could use a little new hope in life these days.

Midnight, not a sound from the pavement… well, not exactly, an occasional car is racing up and down Clairmont Avenue. As long as they don’t miss the curve and plow into the light pole at the end of the block again. That’s happened three times in the four years I’ve lived here. Time to wrap this up. Per usual, I feel a bit better for having vomited this all up. Glad some of you have continued reading.

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