Are Our Best Days Behind Us?

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I’m reading the short stories of John Cheever right now. Something about his characters and themes taps into traits and inclinations that are at the core of who I am. Cheever had/has a fixation on loss, lost youth, lost money, lost hope.  Yesterday, as I was reading one of his short stories, about a character described, at 40, as a middle aged man, I remembered something I had forgotten.  I am middle aged.  And unless I live to be 95, I am on the downward slope of middle age.  But whenever I get worried about my age, I always think of Sarah Jessica Parker who is three years older than me.  At every age, she is beautiful and fashionable and smart and relevant and the thought of her comforts me.

This morning, I read Cheever’s O Youth and Beauty, about a former star athlete who in middle age has money problems and drinks too much. Again, as I drank my morning coffee and sat on the couch reading, I wondered, are my best days behind me?

I remember that hope we had, I had, in our youth that our adult lives would be filled with an abundance of riches. Not just monetary riches, but certainly including those. We would have many friends, many children, many vacations, many pets, many accolades, many successes.

When I was in high school, I was in forensics, and I was sometimes asked to do monologues or scenes at various womens’ clubs in Independence. A small group of us would assemble in a church fellowship hall and entertain the ladies. My piece was always from God’s Favorite by Neil Simon, always a crowd favorite. Even at 16, I could tap into the Charles Nelson Reilly that was gesticulating within me. We’d put on our little show, they’d feed us cookies and tea and sometimes give us a small honorarium, and then we’d be on our way. I’d drive off in my ratty ’65 Mustang and think this was just the beginning of a rich life. Unlimited promise.

Are all of my best days behind me?

As I walked the dogs a few minutes ago, I asked myself that question. How far back in my memory reserve would I have to go to access a really great day, not just a good day, but a special, think of it for years to come day. Maybe even a remember it on your deathbead, a la Claire Fisher from series finale of Six Feet Under, kind of day.

You can imagine my relief when a fairly recent memory popped into my head, from a mere two months ago. Not surprisingly, I was on vacation. Also, not surprisingly, I was in New York.

Eric and I were in New York but during the day he attended a trade show at the Javits Center. I decided that was the day I would go to Governors Island. I’d never been to Governors Island, when I lived in New York, I do not think it was open to the public.

I took the train to the tip of Manhattan and walked to the Ferry terminal, then took the Ferry to Governors Island. I walked around the island, took pictures, posted pictures to Instagram. I boarded the ferry to return to Manhattan. Took more pictures of both islands. Docked in Manhattan and went to Starbucks and bought a water with a gift card my Mom sent me. I visited a gift store I like where I bought vintage looking dog stickers.

I pondered the possibility of taking the subway back to midtown where we were staying, especially since it was 90 degrees, and also, I developed a stomachache from drinking that water so fast. But I decided I would walk until I got tired and then take the subway the rest of the way. I walked from South Street Seaport through Tribeca and Soho into Greenwich Village then by my old apartment on 15th street. I walked up 8th until about 30th and then I jogged over to 9th Avenue. Somewhere around 23rd, the thought of a flower topped chocolate cupcake from Cupcake Cafe popped into my head. How long it had been since I’d had one of those cupcakes? Ten years? Fifteen? When I got to 9th Avenue, the bakery was not where I remembered it but across the street. Had they moved or had I remembered it incorrectly? I bought my cupcake. I considered eating it at one of the handful of dusty tables, but decided I would take it back to the hotel and eat it there in the blasting air conditioning. I walked up 9th Avenue with the intent to also buy a sandwich at Amy’s Breads but at Amy’s Breads, at 2:30 p.m., the sandwich pickings were slim. So I ambled up and got a turkey sandwich at the French bistro near our hotel. I ate my feast in our room, half interested in an episode of Catfish playing on MTV. I took a shower and Eric texted me to say we would meet for drinks at Soho Grand before our dinner at Balthazar. I had a few hours to kill so I decided to visit a museum on the Upper West Side where an Al Hirschfeld exhibit was ongoing. I walked from our hotel, around Columbus Circle then up Central Park West. I took pictures of some of the more stately apartment building along the avenue. I’d walked by them a hundred times before but I hoped that because I was taking pictures of them now, I would remember the names and the details. Was the Dakota above or below the San Remo?

When I got to the museum, I found that they were closing in less than an hour and admission was almost $20, so I decided not to go in. I’ll never know how many Ninas I might have discovered inside the New York Historical Society. On 81st, I turned to walk west, inspired by the thought that it had been many years since my last visit to Riverside Park. On 81st and West End, I happened upon The Calhoun School, famous because the building itself looks like a giant television. I took a picture and sent it to friends via Facebook. On Sundays, when I lived in New York, I attended a church that had services there. I tagged Yvonne and Tania and Sarah in the picture I posted, I would have tagged Dana but she isn’t on Facebook.

From there I kept walking and as I crossed Riverside Drive, I remembered an episode of Naked City that was filmed there. How could the street look almost the same 50 years later? Has there ever been a city as unmoved yet everchanging as New York? I walked into the park. It’s no Central Park, I thought to myself. But I walked south until I discovered the Seventyninth Street Boat Basin. I considered stopping for a glass of wine. I remembered that I’d actually woke up a little hungover that morning. Too much bourbon at Bemelman’s and Robert and the Ritz-Carlton the night before. So I kept walking. I walked down the parkway along the Hudson River, marvelling at the stunning views of the water and the George Washington Bridge and New Jersey. I thought about how growing up (in Kansas) I always pictured New Jersey as an ugly, undesirable state and obviously, now I knew how wrong I was. I grew to love New Jersey decades ago.

I walked south to a new park with a fancy, sophisticated walkway and then I headed back to Columbus Circle. It was 5:30 and after my industrious walk, I was sweaty again. I decided to go back to the hotel to take another shower.

I was a little late to the Soho Grand, but Eric and our friend were enjoying cocktails and Sriracha-coated peas when I joined them. Believe it or not, I did not order a cocktail.

From there we had dinner at Balthazar, which was good. And then I can’t remember what else we did. Did we walk around Rockefeller Center and then up 5th Avenue? Did we go for drinks at the Ritz-Carlton again, then along Central Park South back to our hotel? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. Years from now, I might remember it incorrectly, that we hopped into a cab and sang songs around the piano at Marie’s Crisis or that we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge at midnight. And if that’s the way I remember it, that’s okay. No reason to getted bogged down by the facts.

Besided the hangover, the stomach ache, the pervasive heat, the not getting to see the Hirschfeld exhibit, I also had to contend with moments of melancholy and anxiety throughout this special day. Like a Cheever protagonist, melancholy and anxiety, and self-absorption for that matter, are part of who I am in my core. And yet, I will always remember this day fondly, importantly.

I walked 23.58 miles that day. I know that because I tweeted it that night when I got back to the hotel. I was proud of what I accomplished. I take my visits to New York very seriously, but you already know that.

Already, Eric and I are planning our next visit. I have to wrap this post up in a speedy manner or else I will be late to work. Forgive any mispelled words or dangling modifiers, maybe I’ll go back to fix my errors when I have time.

So off to work, I’ll go. Sometime during my day, I’ll check Kayak for flight and hotel deals. I’ll remember a museum that I wanted to make it to in August and I’ll go to their website and see what exhibits they’ll be showing at the end of January, beginning of February. Maybe I’ll finally make a reservation for us to eat lunch at The Four Seasons or Afternoon Tea in the Palm Court. Still planning a bright future.

We must do what we can to prove that our best days are before us.

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Guest Blogger, Michael Patrick Gaffney: “Oh Shut the Stage Door and When Thou Has Done So Come Weep with Me!”

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A few days ago, my friend Michael relayed to me something that had recently happened to him. After he told me the story, I told him that he should write a guest blog about it, the event had riled him so. And he did. I hope it was a cathartic experience for him. I will say I have been waiting at many of his stage doors, one of the pack of friends, excited to see him after a performance and wish him well. If there is a more beloved Bay Area actor, I can’t imagine who that might be. Although I can’t claim objectivity on this matter. He is writing about actors, but just as much, he is writing about friends, the scenes we play with each other and the consequences of our actions.

“Oh Shut the Stage Door and When Thou Has Done So Come Weep with Me!”

I want to preface this by saying I am aware that I am an extremely sensitive person and to be an actor you need to have a thick skin, or at least so I’m told. I just looked up the expression, thick skin: Having a thick skin or rind. Not easily offended. Largely unaffected by the needs and feelings of other people; insensitive. Nope, not me. Not by a long shot. My skin is as thin as a 90 year old albino Irish woman’s. It was closing night of a production of Romeo & Juliet I was doing with an extremely talented bunch of actor friends who basically got together and said, “Hey, let’s put on a show!” No money, we provided our own costumes and did it in the round with no set. We didn’t actually have lights until an hour before we opened! It was theatre on a wing and a prayer and we were acting by the seat of our pants and it was exciting and fun and my first attempt at Shakespeare. And the great thing was people came to see it! We were playing to full houses and the audiences were young and diverse and seemed to really appreciate the show. I should mention now that we were performing in an old dance hall and not a theatre so there was no back stage and even worse, no stage door! I’m the type of actor who plots his escape from the moment the curtain goes down. I either rip off my costume and run for the stage door before the audience has time to leave the theatre, or I sit in my dressing room and wait it out until the coast is clear. I think a lot of actors feel this way and can relate. It’s just a very vulnerable time and the last thing you want to do is talk to people about the show or even worse your performance. I can be naked on stage or perform with a 103 degree temperature but having to face people after a performance terrifies me! There we lots of fellow actors in the audience on closing night and I love my theatre community here in the Bay Area, so I had to suck it up and thank people for coming out. It was going fine as I have mastered the art of deflection in a conversation! “What show are you working on?” “Did you lose weight?” “So how’s your father?” It was all going fine when suddenly I felt a tap on the shoulder. I turn around and it was an actress I had worked with a few years back, I’ll call her Pilar. Here is basically how the exchange went:

Pilar: Hi!!! (Big hug)
Me: Hi! Thank you so much for coming! I love your coat! That’s a beautiful color on you.
Pilar: Thanks! (Long awkward pause)
Me: So pretty…(Long awkward pause)
Pilar: Did you have fun tonight? (Big smile)
Me: Yes, I did! (Big smile. I can feel the blood rushing to my face.) Pilar: Good! (Big smile…awkward pause)
Me: Okay.
Pilar: Okay.
Me: Bye.
Pilar Bye-bye.

The rest of that evening involved me badmouthing Pilar to other actors and finally breaking down and crying, asking a group of supportive friends why some people have to be so cruel? Talk about a performance?! Pilar obviously left too soon and missed my best scene!!! Why did I care so much what Pilar thought and why did I react so strongly to what she said, or more importantly what she didn’t say? I guess I just don’t understand why, if she did not care for my performance, she felt the need to come up to me? Why didn’t she just leave or better yet just say, congratulations on the show. Did she feel she would be compromising her artistic integrity? Why did she feel the need to let me know she didn’t care for the show or even worse me personally. As Blanche Debois says in A Streetcar Named Desire, “Deliberate cruelty is unforgivable, and the one thing of which I have never, ever been guilty of.” Going to the theatre is one of my great pleasures in life. I find it especially exciting if I know one of the actors in the show. I am filled with pride and want them to have a great show. Some shows are obviously better than others and occasionally I will disagree with a directorial choice or think someone may be a little miscast. I also know what hard work it is to put on a show and how much time and energy has been spent to entertain me for two hours. So if I stay after to see someone I know, I always greet them with a congratulations, or good show or good work because they desire that! They just gave everything they had and left it all on the stage for me, the audience. A good friend suggested that the next time I see Pilar in a show I should come up to her and ask, “Did you have fun tonight?” But I just couldn’t do that to her because she is a fellow actor, a member of my tribe and a good performer who deserves my support and respect. Part of me hopes Pilar doesn’t read this. But part of me hopes she does and perhaps she will be a little less honorable to her artistic integrity and a little kinder to her fellow thespian the next time she attends the theatre. As for this thin-skinned Shakespearean, I start rehearsal on Monday for my next show and I hope all of you will come! If you don’t see me afterwards chances are this next theater has a stage door.

A Good Day

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For the last few months, my check engine light has been coming on in my car. It would last a few days or weeks and then disappear only to reappear days or weeks later. It’s no surprise how long I can put off something I don’t want to do. If you don’t believe me, ask my dentist. Anyway, yesterday, I mustered the courage to address the check engine light. I called my VW dealer in downtown LA and made an appointment. At 9:30, I dropped off my car. The shuttle was leaving as I bit into my first bite of the free chocolate cake donut that I’d been fantasizing about on my drive to the dealership, so I ran to the shuttle and asked for a ride into the heart of downtown. The guy in the front seat was being dropped off at Main and Temple and I said that was fine for me, too.

When the driver dropped us off at Main and Temple, I said my thanks and looked around. Okay, what will my downtown adventure be today, I thought. I pondered walking to Grand Park and then I looked up at City Hall and remembered that the Observation Deck on the 27th floor is open to the public Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm. So, I walked into City Hall, was checked through security and asked the police officer at information how to get to the observation deck. After taking an elevator to the 22nd floor and getting on another elevator to the 26th floor and walking up a flight of stairs, I was on the open balcony of the 27th floor of City Hall and I was completely by myself and I felt like the entire freaking city was mine. I walked around and took pictures. The entire time I was up there, I shared this amazing view, these amazing views, with only a handful of people. It was one of those “I am such a lucky guy” moments.

But wait, let me just back up a little. In the morning, when I was drinking my first cup of coffee, I looked to my left and these two dogs were laying next to me, looking like this:securedownload-7
Lucky Me.

Anyway, while I was on the deck, Eric told me I had to check out the rotunda in City Hall, so I went back to my friend at the information desk, who, by the way, reminded me in all the best ways of Edie Falco. I asked Edie where the rotunda was. “Take the elevator to the 3rd floor, you can’t miss it.” And I took more pictures walking around the 3rd floor. Business types floated past me as I shuttered away. They think I am a tourist, I thought. And you know, I am sort of a tourist, but Los Angeles is my home too. At 46, I’ve lived here longer than I’ve ever lived anywhere else. I love LA. Also, I hate LA. But LA is part of who I am and I am part of who she is. And experiencing City Hall in such an intimate way, made me proud.

But wait, there’s more. I popped into The Last Bookstore (453 S. Spring), one of my favorite used book sellers. The first time I went there, no one had told me about the labyrinth upstairs where all books are $1. I don’t want you to make the same mistake. I spent an hour there picking through shelves and boxes. I purchased four books and as I was leaving, I thought, wait, isn’t the Bradbury Building near here. Shameful side note: I’ve lived here 20 years and had never been inside the famed Bradbury Building, famous among other things for being a noted filming location (Blade Runner, The Artist, Chinatown, Disclosure). So, I walked over to 304 S. Broadway and made my own history by going in and taking some pictures. And by the way, my pictures do not do it justice.

As I was leaving, VW called to tell me my car was ready. (I never did quite understand why the engine light came on in the first place.) They asked if I wanted a shuttle and I paused and decided I would walk back. I walked down Broadway to Fifth, then walked through my favorite downtown hotel, the Millennium Biltmore. Then I walked to Bottega Louie and pondered buying a sandwich (I passed) then walked over to Figueroa and walked into the trippy Hotel Figueroa, then LA Live, then all the way down Figueroa to Washington, turned left and my tired legs were back at VW. When they brought me my car, it had been washed and vacuumed and then I went for my morning swim that had been postponed into an afternoon swim.

And while I was swimming, I thought about how great my day had been and that I wanted to go home to blog about it. But I also thought, while I was swimming that maybe it’s not a good idea to proclaim, “This is how awesome my day has been.” That maybe, that’s an invitation to the universe to send something horrible your way. And while I drove home, decided against writing a blog about how awesome my day was, (don’t tempt fate) I wondered why I was so neurotic, why couldn’t I just enjoy my day?

I did not blog later that day, instead Eric and I went back downtown to visit his friend Val and the three of us dined al fresco at a new restaurant (Zinc Cafe & Market, at 580 Mateo St.) and had a relaxing vegetarian meal. As the sunset on a perfect Los Angeles in July evening, we ate meatless tostadas, mushroom pizza and even ordered dessert. When our brownie a la mode came out with orange zest on it, I thought, I do NOT like fruit and chocolate. But I tasted it and it was really, really delicious. Maybe even better because of the orange zest. Who knows?

Anyway, last night, as I sat on the couch reading one of my new $1 books, I thought, THIS was a good day, maybe even a perfect day. And yes, perhaps I should have just kept it to myself, but I have decided to share it with you. Sometimes, you have to tempt fate.

Tacky at the Palace

LATheater-BergerConserI can’t imagine I’m the only one who grew up loving “Weird Al” Yankovic video spoofs.  What’s your favorite?  My Bologna?  I Love Rocky Road?  Eat It?  He has a new song and video, Tacky, which is a spoof of Pharrell Williams’ Happy.  Al’s version is as fun and danceable is the original.  I am sharing the video here.  It’s a delight to watch Al and co-stars Aisha Tyler, Margaret Cho, Eric Stonestreet, Kristen Schaal, and Jack Black dance and lip sync in garish ensembles, but I have to be honest, the filming location steals the video.

I don’t want to give too much a way, I want you to watch the video. Suffice to say, if you love LA or you love downtown or you just love historical preservation, you’ll love this.   The person who came up with the idea of filming the video at the Palace Theater in downtown Los Angeles was a genius.  And I appreciate the irony that a song about lacking class and doing the inappropriate thing is ultimately a thoughtful and gracious love letter to my city and those beautiful old theaters of the other Broadway.

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A few years ago, outside the stage door of a Broadway theater, I found myself herded into a cattle holding pen along with about 200 other people.  My friends Michael and Kim and I were waiting for Broadway legend Kristin Chenoweth to come out and greet us after a performance of the show she was starring in at the time, Promises, Promises.  And yes, this is the same Michael who often thoughtfully, eloquently, guest blogs here.

Michael and Kristin Chenoweth grew up in the same town and attended the same high school.  They walked the same halls, performed on the same stages, learned from the same teachers.  In fact, one such teacher, whom Michael is still close to, was the reason we were ushered into the front of the holding pen. There had been the possibility that we would get to go backstage, but it didn’t pan out.

It’s a humbling experience to be packed with hundreds of other people like that. There were security people yelling at us about where to stand, what to do. “No flash photography!”
To her credit, Kristin was gracious when she came out. Michael teased her by calling her Kristie Dawn, the name she went by when she was just a young Oklahoma girl with a big voice and a dream. She good-naturedly dead-panned, “Don’t call me that.” She and Michael talked Broken Arrow for a few moments, then she signed our programs, said hi to a few others and then climbed into a waiting SUV and was whisked away.

And I was both exhilarated and depressed by the experience. It made me us feel both special and insignificant. But while she and Michael stood talking, I felt an odd resentment boiling beneath the surface. I thought, Kristie Dawn, you really don’t know who you are talking to. Talk about a legend.

I met Michael several years ago when we did Party together. He was, even then, an available, funny, skilled actor. And through the years, I’ve been lucky to see him in many roles and he continues to expand himself. The last thing I saw him in was a production of Greater Tuna where he expertly and seemingly effortlessly became 20 different characters, 20 inhabited lives. And if Michael were only an actor, that would be enough to make him the kind of star around which the world orbits. (Full confession, I’m no Isaac Asimov.) But, I think the thing that makes Michael truly a legend is that he’s the best friend anyone could ever have. I know a lot of people, but I don’t think I know anyone as beloved as Michael Patrick Gaffney. And if you’re reading this and you know him, you know what I’m talking about. He remembers the details of your life, he reminds you of memories that you’ve shared, he does not pontificate, but always makes you feel he’s rooting for you. And I can never see Lucille Ball or peanut butter or a lady bug without thinking of him.

I don’t know if MPG will ever be as famous or as rich as the little one (his name for her, not mine.) If we lived in a world that made sense, he’d have Tonys and Emmys and 912,398 Twitter followers, too. But I actually think, in many ways, Michael’s life is richer than, well, richer than most. He is loved and he knows how much he is loved. And we’re just lucky to have him in our lives. Because I knew him, because I know him, I have been changed for good.

Patron of the Arts

1798866_10152304887902755_1072442248_nAs my one year blog anniversary draws nigh, I will confess to you, today, why I started this thing.  I used to take an acting class. I’ve talked about the teacher at times on stage.  He figures into a story I often share about my struggles working on Uncle Vanya.  My feelings for this teacher, whom I’ll call Professor, are complicated.  At times, he could be overwhelmingly nurturing and other times he could be mercilessly cruel.

I left his class several years ago, then after a two year absence, I returned.  I think he was disappointed and hurt that I left class initially and when I returned, I never felt like he liked me.  I hope that you are different than me, but I am one of those insecure types that likes for people to like him.  When I returned to class, our every conversation was adversarial or dismissive or academic.  In my early days of class, he had told me how unique and special my instrument was, but after my flight and return, he never said things like that to me.

After I left class the second time, he told a story to his New York class about a student in the LA class who was nothing more than a patron of the arts.  “This student is in his 40s, he calls himself an actor, but he is nothing more than a patron of the arts.  He goes to plays and read books and goes to museums.  He can talk at length about what he reads or sees, but he, himself, is not an artist.  He does not dig deep the way an artist digs.”  And of course, I was that LA student he was talking about.  When I first heard about it, obviously, it hurt my feelings.  Professor often talks about his students, usually derisivlely, in class, often in the victim’s presence, but more often, behind their back.  As perceptive as he is about humanity, he chooses to build his class around his own antagonistic pathology.

But, back to me, this is my story, after all.  What I did love about Professor is that when he said something about me, usually something negative, I was able to look at it and ask myself, if there was truth there.  And of course, always, there was something true, maybe not 100% true, but somehow, as ugly as it was, there was at least a part of it that resonated.  

I am a patron of the arts.  I read books, but don’t write them.  I see plays, but don’t act in them.  I go to art museums, but I don’t paint.  But I am an artist, and that’s not to say that I am a good artist.  This blog is my art, over which I toil.  And I am not attempting histrionics by saying that it’s been mostly failure.  Not one of my posts has “gone viral.”  Most of my posts receive startling few hits.  Many friends have openly told me that they don’t understand why I am doing this.  And, Amy Grant has not retweeted even ONE of my beautiful, complimentary, open-hearted posts that I’ve written about her and repeatedly tweeted to her.   But still, I keep going.

There have been some successes.  I’ve received nice compliments.  I’ve made a couple people laugh, a couple people cry and of course, my holy grail, a couple people laugh through tears. My favorite emotion!  What’s more, I feel I’ve gained something as an artist.  It’s helped my onstage ventures. I am better at writing than when I started.  I think I understand story a little better.   

So, I am glad a low moment inspired me to create Easily Crestfallen.  It’s kind of thrilling to think that hearing something unfavorable about yourself, can open you up to the possibilities.

Marilyn Monroe’s Amanda Wingfield

marilyn monroe carlyle blackwell 5Yesterday, I was discussing the Broadway revival of The Glass Menagerie that I was lucky enough to see last week.  The person I was speaking with, an actress of a certain age, asked me what I thought of the production.  I told her that when you see a play like that, you have a hope that you are going to witness the definitive portrayal of these iconic characters.  I had hoped to see the definitive Amanda, the matriarch of the Wingfield family or the definitive Tom, the narrator and central, autobiographical character of the play.  In my humble opinion, that is not what I witnessed.  Both Cherry Jones and Zachary Quinto gave heartfelt, formidable performances, but I left wanting a little more.

My friend, I’ll call her Jane, said that an actor needs to understand the poetry of Williams to play his characters.  I agreed and admitted to a struggle with the poetry when I worked on another Williams character in an acting class.  “You know who would have made a wonderful Amanda?” Jane asked me.  “Who?”

“Marilyn Monroe.”  

I confess to you that I actually gasped a little when she said that.  “You mean Laura?”  I asked.  “No, Amanda.”  Jane went on to tell me that many years ago, she had been in the same acting class as Marilyn.  She told me her Amanda would have been something to see.  In some ways, I’ll admit, I couldn’t see it.  

And yet, in the two days since she put this idea in my head, it’s all I can think about.  One would not have a hard time believing that Marilyn’s Amanda would have had a trail of gentlemen callers.  One would not have a hard time believing that Marilyn’s Amanda would have chosen the most unpromising of those gentlemen callers.   Marilyn’s Amanda would have understood that Williams is funny.  And Marilyn’s Amanda, entering the living room with the ridiculous old cotillion dress from her youth, would have been, as Jane put it, something to see.  So many possibilities.

If you are a drama nerd like me, and you’re still reading this, no doubt, you’ve had your own opinions pop into your head about the possibility of Marilyn Monroe’s Amanda Wingfield.  Maybe you like the idea, maybe you hate the idea.  Whether over a cup of coffee or a Makers Mark neat, these are the conversations I love.

Because this is the way my little brain works, I think of what might have happened if Marilyn had played Amanda.  What might Amanda have unlocked for Marilyn.  There is something exciting about living with a character that helps us understand the world we live in and understand ourselves better.  Maybe Amanda could have saved Marilyn, maybe she wouldn’t have left this world so young.  And maybe Amanda would have turned Marilyn into a great actress, not just a compelling movie star.

And there is something else about yesterday’s conversation that I’ve carried with me.  It goes back to those possibilities.  I told Jane that Marilyn as Amanda sounded so wrong and Jane said, “It might be!  And it might be so wrong that it’s right!”  Maybe this conversation will unlock in me the practice to see the possibilities for myself, that Tom Wingfield isn’t the only one with tricks in his pocket, things up his sleeve.