Monday, October 31, 2011

I Could Die Happy #29

I could die happy after...

Being struck by a spark of creation.

Call it a spark. Call it a Muse. Call it Divine inspiration.  Whatever you call it, I'm always completely struck when it happens.  I can be writing and trying to make a plot point work or a character stand out and suddenly the writing takes off on its own and something happens.  Suddenly all the puzzle pieces fit together and I smile because I know it was something greater than I at work.  When these moments happen, time stands still and I lose myself in everything I'm working on.  I could totally die happy afterwards.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I Could Die Happy #28

I could die happy after....

Photo by Rick Flynn
An afternoon hike in Sedona, Arizona.

A few years ago I went to Scottsdale, Arizona for a conference.  One afternoon I had free time, so I drove north to Sedona.  Wow!  No photos can do justice to the area, though I tried. Red rock formations filling the desert.  A vibration in the air. It all made for a very serene hike followed by lunch at a gorgeous little Mexican restaurant.  It was only an afternoon I got to spend there so it's definitely on my list of places to visit again. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I Could Die Happy #27

I could die happy after....

A really good cup of coffee.

I know after missing a few days this week I owe you more, but today it's a really good cup of coffee I could die after.  For some people it's a particular wine, beer or bourbon.  For me, it's always been coffee.  I don't remember exactly when I began drinking coffee.  It wasn't like today with a Starbucks on every corner and kids going in for a their mocha whipped latte skinny, blah, blah, blah at the age of seven or eight.  I must have been in my late teens when I really got a taste for it.  My taste didn't include all the frilly extras.  I like my coffee with no cream or sugar.  Straight up black!  One more thing: I'm a coffee snob.  I may skimp on a lot of things, but coffee is not one of them.  I'm not talking about buying the Jamaican Reserve at $24 a pound, but I'm not talking Maxwell House either.  It doesn't have to be expensive, but it does have to be good. A few years ago when I was laid off one job and starting one making a whole lot less money, I found myself buying a cheap generic and that's when I decided I'd rather eat popcorn for dinner than have bad coffee. Is this a problem? Am I addicted?   Oh hell yeah!  But at least it's not crack.  

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I Could Die Happy #26

I could die happy after...
Closing a show.

I always forget how much I love doing a show until I do one again.  This time it's been four years since my last show. I tend to have a love/hate relationship with acting.  I love it and then sometimes during the run of a show I end up hating it. This time I'm ending one show and can't wait to begin the next one. Of course after a few evenings free I may change my mind and enjoy the freedom for a while.  At least I know I'll end up back on stage sometime. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I Could Die Happy... #25

I could die happy after...

Meeting up with my friend, Jackie.

I adore Jackie Engle!  Jackie and I met several years ago when I began doing murder mystery plays.  We hit it off immediately. Her sharp wit and wicked sense of humor drew me to her.  Aside from that, she's smart and kind, and is one of those women who does everything.  She's acted with Tom Hanks. She's lived in Paris.  She skis, runs, kayaks, and probably sky dives.  She lives each day to it's fullest.  I love that!  Over the years, we've drifted apart a few times as we both got busy, but when we get back together it's like no time has passed.  Last night I met her and her wonderful husband, John out for a drink.  I love seeing them again.  Next time we don't wait so long.  Cheers, Jackie and John.  I love you guys. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

I Could Die Happy #24

I could die happy after...

Knowing my friends are happy.

Today, after nine months in Afghanistan, a soldier comes home to his five year old son and wife.  I'm sure it will be a joyous reunion, one I wish I could be a fly on the wall for.  Not only does a hero come home.  Evan gets his Daddy back.  Erin gets her husband back.  Jeff gets his family back.  Knowing that makes my heart overflow. Welcome home, Jeff Gross. We all thank you, Erin and Evan for the sacrifices you've made.  

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I Could Die Happy #23

I could die happy after...

Discovering my self worth.

I grew up like a lot of gay or fat kids and never knew my value. All I knew was that it was less than everyone around me.  At least that's what I was taught.  It took me a whole lot of years before I realized that wasn't true.  One of the nice things about getting older is that you discover who you are.  Who you really are.  Because I've discovered that I'm worth a lot more than some others might judge, it's important that I always remember to value myself and not be dragged down by others.  Recently my job was targeted as one some felt necessary to do a market value analysis on.  I had to remind them the analysis was on the job, not me.  They'd never really be able to afford me at my true value.  That might sound arrogant, but for me, it's tremendous progress. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

I Could Die Happy #22

I could die happy after...

Performing in front of an audience.

I suppose it's not very modest, but I enjoy performing live in front of an audience.  I love to hear the laughter when a joke goes well, or the groan when a moment goes badly, and of course the applause that hopefully comes at the end of the show. I'm sure it wouldn't surprise anyone to know that I was pretty much a ham as a child when it came to performing for others.  Telling jokes.  Putting on costumes. Performing skits.  I loved the attention.  I still do.  This is one of those contradictory things about myself.  When I'm on stage I adore the attention, in real life I tend to fly under the radar, not drawing too much attention to myself.  Lately I wouldn't mind my own private applause just for getting through the day.  We should all have a cheering section for a job well done.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I Could Die Happy #21

I could die happy after...
Photo by Rick Flynn
A really good sunset.  

I took this picture about five years ago while on a vacation on Kelly's Island.   We camped with friends Tammy and Rhonda and it was one of the best vacations ever.  Whenever I look at this picture I'm immediately taken back there and I have not a care in the world. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I Could Die Happy #20

I could die happy after...

Photo by Rick
An evening walk after the rain.

This one combines several of my favorite things. Rain. Autumn leaves. Nighttime.  I love a good walk in the evening, especially if it's after a rain.  The air feels clean and energized and all that is troubling me falls away. I'm renewed and refreshed. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I Could Die Happy #19

I could die happy after...

A really good hug.

Hugs are completely underrated.  I love a really good, full body hug.  Not the pervy kind, my fellow pervs, but a fully clothed bear hug.  I could use one right now. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I Could Die Happy #18

I could die happy after...

Photo by Rick
Pumpkin ice cream.

After a hike under the autumn leaves, pumpkin ice cream tops off the day.  I prefer Young's Jersey Dairy in Yellow Springs for the best pumpkin ice cream.  It tastes like fall, or a pumpkin pie in a cone.  If you haven't had pumpkin ice cream you are missing out.  I haven't tried this yet, but I've heard ginger snaps are the perfect accompaniment.  Now if someone could just make an apple cider sorbet. Mmmmm....

Monday, October 10, 2011

I Could Die Happy #17

I could die happy after...

Photo by Rick Flynn
A walk in the autumn woods.

Autumn always seems to fly by. It's back to school season. The beginning of theatre season. I always seem to be busy.  This year I've made a concerted effort to find some time to enjoy what I love most about the season. The changing leaves.  Nature's art hop. A walk in the woods with the brilliant colors above and the crunching leaves at my feet is what restores my soul.  If I can bottle it, I'd make it through winter.  Today looks like it's going to be a beautiful day and I'm off work.  Who wants to meet me on the trails?  It's time for a hike. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I Could Die Happy #16

I could die happy after...

Photo by Rick Flynn
Napping in the sunshine.

My dog Frankie has this knack for always being able to find a spot of sunshine for him to take a nap in.  I envy him.  I, too, love to take a nap in the sunshine.  Whether it's on a chaise lounge next to a pool, in a hammock on a camping trip, or in the comfort of my bed with the sun rolling across me in the afternoon, naps in the sunshine are the best. These naps are usually most appreciated in Spring or Autumn when the rays warm me, but don't leave me soaked in sweat. Today would be a perfect day for this. My eyelids are drooping as I write. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

I Could Die Happy #15

I could die happy after...

Photo by Rick Flynn
After a moonlit swim.

Swimming at night has always been my favorite. The smell of the cool night air combined with the faint smell of chlorine puts me in a complete Zen state. Swimming is relaxing to me anyway, but in the evening or at night, it's better than meditating.  The stars and moon looking down on me.  The sounds of  nocturnal lives awakening.   Aahhhh.  The only thing that makes it better is the opportunity to do it all sans swimming trunks. Au natural.

Friday, October 7, 2011

I Could Die Happy #14

I could die happy after...

A rich cup of hot cocoa.

There's almost nothing better on a cold day than a delicious, rich cup of hot cocoa.  The smooth creamy warm coats your tongue as it slides down your throat to warm you through and through.  Winter seems to be coming on fast. Might be time to stock up. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I Could Die Happy #13

I could die happy after...

Meeting the Pervs.

I was extremely lucky last year when I signed up for a writer's workshop with Katrina Kittle.  This is where I met the Pervs.  There were six of us in this group, plus Katrina.  We all immediately hit it off and magic happened in that room.  We became the Pervs because we seemed to have a collective dirty mind. To this day I'm inspired by the talent and encouragement I found in that room coming from Erin, Jessica, Dodie, Wendy, Jim and Katrina.  For an awkward writer this room was like an alcoholic's first AA meeting.  I felt like I had found my normal. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I Could Die Happy #12

I could die happy after...

Meeting Kim Zimmer

I have always been a fan of the soaps, since discovering All My Children when I was babysitting one summer when I was eleven years old. I was always intrigued by the writing and sometimes the acting.  My dream was always to be a head writer on a major soap.  With the genre dying that seems unlikely, but I digress.

I fell in love with Kim Zimmer from the minute she walked on the set of Guiding Light as Reva Shayne in 1983.  That is why in 1994 when I made my first visit to New York City I had to get tickets to an off-Broadway play she was doing, Four Dogs and a Bone.

On my way back from the TKTS booth at Times Square to the apartment where I was staying at Madison and 34th, I got the surprise of my life when I passed a woman on the street and recognized her immediately by her piercing blue eyes.  It was Kim Zimmer.

I stopped her and asked for her autograph.  I was trying to be cool, but was failing miserably.  She was very sweet and as it turns out has some relatives where I lived.  When I fished my Four Dogs and a Bone flyer out of my fanny pack (don't judge me, it was the 90s), she screamed.  "Look at what you've got." I told her I had tickets for that night.  She signed my flyer, we chatted for a few minutes and off she went.

The play was wonderful and then I got my second biggest surprise of the day.  During curtain call, Kim made it a point to acknowledge me in the audience.  My first trip to New York ROCKED!

As it turned out, I ran into Kim again the next night.  She was staying two doors down from where I was staying. What a weekend!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I Could Die Happy #11

I could die happy after....

Working with Marsha Hanna.

I was very lucky in that my first play as an adult was directed by Marsha Hanna. Here I was, this twenty five year old kid who had done some films, but nothing on stage since high school.  The show was You Can't Take it With You and some friends talked me into auditioning.  I did and got cast as Ed, the wacky xylophone playing husband to Essie. I was both intrigued and terrified of Marsha.  Halfway through the rehearsal process I got up the nerve to ask her why she almost never gave me any notes.  Did I suck so bad, there was nothing that could help?  She laughed and then she took a long drag off her cigarette.  As she exhaled, "No, I like what you're doing.  I'll tell you when I don't."   That was Marsha.  

I was honored to work with Marsha as an actor twice more in  Brighton Beach Memoirs and an adaptation of Chekov's The Cherry Orchard.   The adaptation was one born from an acting class I took with Marsha. We set it in the American South after the Civil War.  It wasn't a huge hit, but several years later Marsha sent me an article about a regional theatre in Atlanta doing it the way we had done it.  "I guess we were ahead of our time," she wrote.

Along with working with Marsha, I had the privilege of knowing her as a friend.  Last year Marsha bravely battled esophageal cancer.  I got to spend a few hours with her before her final trip to the hospital.  She was weak and looked frail, but she was the same old Marsha.  Funny and stubborn.   Right up to the end, she was the woman we all loved.

I miss her all the time and I still feel so honored to have known her.

Monday, October 3, 2011

I Could Die Happy #10

I could die happy after....

Watching someone I love have his glory moment.  Rob has been performing since I met him over fifteen years ago.  We actually got together while we were doing a show together.  This is the talent competition that won him Mr. Ohio National Pride 2011.  I'm so proud of him.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

I Could Die Happy #9

I could die happy after....

A good thunderstorm.  

I love the power of nature. I'm not looking for a destructive thunderstorm where lives are lost, but a good reminder every now and then we're not in charge is a good thing.  Thunderstorms remind of us that. How small we all are in the grand scheme of things.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

I Could Die Happy #8

I could die happy after....

Photo by Rick Flynn

Finishing the first draft of my novel, Postcards from the Desert.  As I typed the last page, I went from wanting to write a novel to one who had done it. Sure, lots of revision lay ahead, but at that moment, I cried.  Finally after all the sleepless nights of characters talking to me and guiding me, I felt like I had everything out on paper. Even as I'm half way through revisions, I have to pinch myself every now and then and say, "Wow, I'm a novelist."  I could die now.