What a wonderful Thanksgiving Angie and I had. We took our yearly trek over to beautiful Manhattan Beach to our friends Tammy and Mark Lipps. Tammy and Mark have a jaw-droppingly spectacular home over there, a few blocks from the beach. The morning is filled with a trip to the beach for a competitive game of touch footbal ala' the Kennedy family and then appetizers, wine and beer and chit-chat. Finally around four the massive spread is put out, buffet style. Following that a spirited game of 'Celebrity' which I'm proud to say I introduced to the proceedings last Thanksgiving. It has become a yearly event now. Two years running, Angie and I have won. It's a great way to end the holiday. At one point I looked around and the entire table (there were about 20 of us for the day) was literally weeping with laughter. Don and Donna Dieckens, our very close friends, were there as well, and I have to say Donna (who's partner was Tammy Lipps) very nearly made me pee my pants a few times. Funny stuff.
We are so very grateful to have friends like Mark and Tammy and Don and Donna. Smart, amusing, ironic, involved, perceptive people. My favorite kind. Mark, playing with his youngest son Graham and Angie's daughter Lauren, very nearly toppled our defending champion status.
I'm not sure who brought them, but there was a tin of super-exclusive, European cookies there that I very nearly single-handedly finished myself. Not especially healthy for a diabetically-challenged guy like myself but it was, obviously, a day of splurging.
Today I'm back in an all-day rehearsal for the show. I played a couple of the songs on the CD for Tammy and Donna, both amazing vocalists and musicians themselves, and they were both suitably awed by the music. Donna kept saying, "Oh, my God, this role is written for you, Clif." She's right. Hence, my involvement. I completely agree with her.
Wednesday night I had a long rehearsal with the musical director concentrating solely on my work in the play. Accomplished a great deal. I am learning to sing the piece without tensing up. This is common sense for trained singers (which I am not) but tough to assimilate for someone like me. For me, 99 percent of the time, the acting and singing are learned in tandem. That is to say, I learn and incorporate both at the same time. This role, however, which requires so much singing, can't be learned that way. I have to, for necessity's sake, learn one and then the other. It's a departure from my usual approach and consequently a bit daunting.
Thanksgiving is a purely American holiday, ostensibly dating back to the pilgrims. It was undoubtedly concieved for an entire nation to reflect on gratitude. Naturally, it's morphed into a very commercial driven holiday. Nonetheless, the iniitial concept is still observed. Angie and I have so very, very much to be thankful for this year. Although we, like nearly everyone else, struggle daily with all of the issues one might think; finances, careers, day to day setbacks and victories, kindnesses small and large, we live lives we both adore. Our days are filled with unconditional love and lots and lots of laughter. That, in and of itself, is quite literally priceless. Our weeks and months are overflowing with close friends, hopes and plans, goals and accomplishments. We have enough to eat, we are warm and we are always, always very gentle with each other. We instinctively realize and understand how fragile and rare our relationship is, how very rare our good fortunes are. We have both been through the fire and we deeply appreciate the lack of it. We have lived in the valleys and, consequently, revel in the views from the mountaintop. We have a God in our lives that is nebulous, personal, kind and uncomplicated all at once. He or She, for whatever reason, has chosen to watch over us benignly. We go to sleep smiling and we wake up smiling. And that's just not too shabby.
Happy Holidays, Gentle Reader. I wish for you what I myself finally have: peace and love in your life. 'Tis a nearly uncomprehesively beautiful thing.
See you tomorrow.