pWdumaNjA-6CEEBhRoD5euxNETs When All This Actual Life Played Out: May 2015

30 May 2015

Shooting into the sun

Balboa Island, Newport Beach, California
31 December 2014

I don't have brakes.

I really don't. I go and go until I drop, working with dogged determination, playing with equally dogged determination, though not nearly so often.

Last night was the last night the daughter will screen a film at her high school. The screenings are required for their production classes; every student screens twice per year. And basically, one of my jobs for the last two years has been to help to run the event, four nights a year. Which doesn't sound like much.

Until you do it.

We knew last night would sell out the 430-seat theater, and it did. And like my counterparts, I was running between the desk and the theater, counting seats, slowly releasing tickets, praying we would find the balance between "sold-out" and "we can get a few more in."

And we did.

Last night was the last night I will work the event, and I made sure that my presence was no longer needed out front so I could go take my seat inside. Usually, I sit out at the front, and deal with late comers, do other work, take photos of blimps.

But last night, the daughter was screening her senior project. And I'd already seen it hundreds of times, vetted cuts, looked at dailies, done shoots and reshoots. Figured out locations. Fed cast and crew. Was stunt driver, camera operator, boom operator, script supervisor. Transported hundreds of pounds of equipment in the back of my car.

(Which finally needed the struts replaced. No big surprise, really. It's 18 years old. And it's been transporting Arri light kits for 4 years. Cranes. Cast and crew.)

I also wrote the story the film was based upon. It had a very specific genesis, and filled a very specific need. The daughter and I had discussed every particular of the story in great detail: the motivations of the characters, the set dressing, the clues to what was occurring, the back story for certain props. Colors had meaning, placement of items had meaning, presence and absence had meaning. The two main actors had taken their characters and made them their own. One had brought such intuition to the role that it was almost breathtaking.

So, I wanted to see it on the big screen.

It had been decided by the person who decides these things that the daughter's film would close out the program and the year. The story is sad, but affirms the power of love--and does it a lot faster than Interstellar did. I teased that they'd better provide boxes of Kleenex. The daughter had already had nearly her entire class and some of the teachers in tears just watching the cuts.

There's a lot of talent in her class and it was fun to watch the films a lot of these kids had produced. I've known most of them for all four years. They've shot films in nearly every room of my house and my back garden, and I've supervised their shoots elsewhere. I've gone to see their bands perform. I take a proprietary interest in them and really want to see them succeed, and it's been fascinating to see them discover their niches and interests and run with what they love.

So the daughter's movie played and I listened to the audience. The silence was total until close to the very end of the film. There were gasps and murmurs at the final reveal, and I watched the people around me wipe their eyes as the film faded out.

Mission accomplished. Her story made the emotional connection with the audience that was intended. It was done with elegance and subtlety. It gave the audience something to think about.

I ran back out to the front, and helped with final clean up as the students and the audience gathered and talked about all they'd just watched. When I was done, I made my own rounds, and talked to some of the kids I knew best and whose films had impressed me the most and told them how much I'd enjoyed their work, wishing them the best in their future endeavors.

One said to me, "You wrote that story? Can I get your contact info? Because maybe you have some more stories? I want to do stuff over the summer..."

For a moment, I was too taken aback to even feel flattered. I do what I do, and I always do it. I've been doing it since before I started kindergarten. I do it for me, and this time, I did it for the daughter because she needed something, something that maybe only I could give to her.

But she's always been after me to do more with my writing. And mostly I recoil in shock and horror because I can't even imagine allowing people to read what I write. It's just not good enough in my view.

And when people said to me, about this film, "but you wrote the story," my response has been one of puzzlement. Of course I wrote the story. That's what I do. I write. And I always have.

Slowly, possibilities showed themselves, and then I did feel a little flattered, and I said, "Sure, ask L. She can give you what you need. We'll see what we can do."

When I woke up this morning, I realized for the very first time in this whole process that a story I wrote had been adapted into a film. It was such a weird and alien thought, but rather pleasing.

I do so much in my life that bucks every trend, breaks every rule, goes against the grain. And I'm not talking about things that are illegal or hurtful. I'm talking about filling needs, doing stuff that I like to do--traveling like a mad thing, going to concerts--and raising my children to be themselves. Writing a story for my daughter because it was the story she needed.

Every camera maker and camera manual will tell you not to shoot into the sun. But I do, carefully, because if done carefully, it can create a very artful photograph. And in some ways, it's really a metaphor for my life, the way that I raised my children. Don't do this, I was told, don't do that. And I watched and I listened and then I let them grow the way that seemed right, the way that looked most moral, and would give them the greatest chance at successfully being who they are. Carefully, I shot into the sun, and I shot for art, for good, for right. And because I did, last night, I let 430 people have one of my stories, for the first time ever, and I didn't even notice or have a moment to feel self-conscious about it.

Which may be a virtue of having no brakes.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.

29 May 2015

And a blimp flies through it

Last night
Orange, California
28 May 2015

I stepped off the plane on Saturday and right into the crazy.

(In at least one case, dealing with someone who may well be literally crazy. Not looking forward to one more week of that.)

So last night, another event. On the front lines. Smile firmly pinned place. Pretending I'm fine with talking to masses of strangers. Which I'm not. I don't like that sort of spotlight.

Next week, there will come a moment when I am called forward to accept thanks, but I will have disappeared. Afterwards, there will be a hiss of disapproval--"Where were you?"--and I will evince surprise and offer an explanation, mention a job that needed to be done, preparations that couldn't wait. I will neglect to say that I made good my escape via the service elevator, or a back door that I located in advance. I don't want to be thanked. I want to be finished.

But last night isn't next week, and in the lull, after everyone had been ushered away and tucked into their seats, I sat in the quiet, made notes (serving spoons), watched the sun set, and caught sight of the blimp out the window. It inscribed lazy yet purposeful circles in the twilit sky, red light on its crew cabin visible then invisible.

How like my life.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6. This time last week, I was in New Orleans. What wouldn't I give to be in Virginia.

28 May 2015

Girl going places

The daughter
Kindergarten graduation
2003 June

Valedictorian. Excellence in Physics (!?!). Conservatory directors' scholarship. State biliteracy medal.

Two weeks.

And then, she's off to film school. She knows that road isn't easy, but she's embracing it anyway. She has things to say. She will say them, one way or the other.

Two weeks.

And then, I pick up where I left off 21 years ago. Or start fresh.

Or something.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Canon PowerShot S110.

24 May 2015

Eight days a week

Dallas, Texas
17 May 2015

Eight days later, home again, with a raging cold, amazing memories, new experiences and a busted knee. Also, I'm holding close 12 hours of the finest entertainment available--and that doesn't count the five hours that I sang to D. en route from Dallas to San Antonio in the middle of the night.

(Okay, I actually tore the meniscus in my left knee in April--night time film shoot FTW!--and reinjured it dancing around like an idiot on Friday. Big surprise, and yes, I do need a new orthopedic injury with the start of every Rush tour. It is a requirement for my attendance, apparently. And I think D. set a new record for shortest time driving from Dallas to San Antonio just so she wouldn't be subjected to my singing anymore.)

Stories, good and bad, when I stop sneezing.

Tech stuff: Taken with my Nikon D7000. Yes! Do I know how to use it? NO! Is half the world mad at me right now for bailing for a week? Yes! Do I care? NO! Was I actually working during the Houston concert? YES!

23 May 2015

I'll be gone before you wake

Kenner, Louisiana
23 May 2015

22 May 2015

Birthday beignet

Café Du Monde
New Orleans, Louisiana
22 May 2015

21 May 2015

From a hotel window: New Orleans

French Quarter
New Orleans, Louisiana
21 May 2015

20 May 2015

From a hotel window: Houston

Houston, Texas
20 May 2015

18 May 2015

One guess...

Dallas, Texas
18 May 2015
Minutes after I took this, I successfully walloped a former MLB pitcher with my flailing elbow whilst dancing around like an idiot. I am still so embarrassed.

17 May 2015

From a hotel window: Dallas

Dallas, Texas
17 May 2015

16 May 2015

I would never trade tomorrow for today

Somewhere in Texas
16 May 2015
Although I was willing to negotiate NOT taking a certain gift that was offered along with this. I'm just too damn shy for some things.

15 May 2015

On the road again

Orange County, California
15 May 2015

11 May 2015

Saving graces

Orange County, California
8 May 2015

One month.

Naturally, between now and then there is so much to do, including run away from home for my birthday.

(Dreading the flight, but embracing the flight, if you know what I mean. The headlong flight.)

And the timing is terrible, and timing should be all, but I have a stubborn streak and it's just too bad.

One month.

I can't even fathom it.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6. Yes, I'm taking the big camera with me.

02 May 2015

Tonight I was at the symphony...

Screening of Vertigo with live orchestra
Costa Mesa, California
2 May 2015

It's like I said on Out of the Kitchen so many years ago: one night you find me in a seat at the symphony. Two weeks later, you find me in Austin.

Tech stuff: Take with my iPhone6.