Saturday, January 1, 2011

"Quite a party, Woodrow, quite a party." Those are the last words of Gus McRae to Woodrow Call in one of my favorite books, Lonesome Dove, and they encompass exactly how I feel about 2010.

I was settling into my desk this morning, adjusting things after I'd been away for almost two weeks, and I ran across a calendar for January, 2010. I noticed that I was having the first read-thru of my play, From the East to the West, in a couple of days from now this time last year. And, of course, it got me thinking about the year that was.

I can say, I think, that 2010 has been the best year in recent memory. So many wonderful things came to fruition: Performances of three of my plays, From the East to the West, Praying Small and Bachelor's Graveyard. And then there was that little thing called getting married. And saving Franny, my Norfolk Terrier puppy, from the 'joint' up in Bakersfield, bringing him home and making him a part of our family. Accepting the lead role in Adding Machine at Odyssey Theatre here in Los Angeles. Also making a couple of independent films. Signing to two agencies, Pinnacle Talent for commercials and Schiowitz and Clay for theatre. Renewing lifelong friendships with my my buddies Jim Barbour and John Bader. Starting a new theatre company with the former of the two called 'theGathering.'

But, without going into too much detail, it is Angela, my wife, that has changed everything. She has single-handedly given me a life of unimagined happiness.

So we flew in last night to LAX from Springfield, MO, where we'd just spent 11 wonderful days and nights with Angie's parents, four of the nicest, most accepting, loving and supportive people in the universe. I say four because we alternated time between Angie's mom and her stepfather and her dad and her stepmother. They are my family now, too, and I couldn't have picked four more generous and loving people if I tried.

I'm still not entirely sure they 'get' what it is I do, but I was talking to a good buddy of mine, a major Broadway star over the past decade or so, and he said the same thing. He said his family didn't entirely 'get' what he did either until he started making about ten grand a week on B'way. Of course, I'm not making ten grand a week on B'way at the moment, so it's a little harder to define my passions to them. Nonetheless, in the final analysis, I don't think they really care one way or another. As long as Angela and I are happy, which we are beyond words, it's all just fine with them.

And we got some goodies over Christmas, which was really cool. It has been many years since I'd done a 'family' Christmas, so I was humbled, overwhelmed and filled with gratitude all at the same time. It was the best Christmas morning I've had in decades, maybe ever. I've spent so many Christmas mornings either alone or on the road, I wasn't even sure how to act. And watching two beautiful little girls (Angie's brother's kids) unwrap presents that morning was truly the highlight.

We came home to our puppies, Franny and Zooey, going bonkers at seeing us again. In fact, they still are. I'm sure they thought we'd deserted them forever.

So today it's all about final touches on the script for Adding Machine. I didn't work on it as much as I'd anticipated over the break so I've got a little catch-up work to do today. I have been waffling a little about the piece. That is to say, it's either going to be magnificent or slightly out of reach. I've decided it will be magnificent.

Josh Schmidt, the brilliant composer of the piece, contacted me a few days ago and asked if he could get seats for the January 28th performance. I think that can be arranged. As a playwright, I've often flown in to see various productions around the country of my own work so I'm a little nervous. I long ago decided that I wasn't so much an actor as a 'purveyor of plays,' as Laurence Olivier once described himself. My job is to tell the story on the page, as honestly as I can. That's the long and short of it.

So as I start 2011, which I'm convinced will be even more wonderful than 2010, if that's possible, I've decided to list the ten best things that happened to me over the past year. Just as an academic exercise, really. I've thought about it a lot over the past few days. Here they are:

1) Angie
2) Angie
3) Angie
4) Angie
5) Angie
6) Angie
7) Angie
8) Angie
9) Angie
10) Franny and Zooey

That pretty much sums it up.

See you tomorrow.

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