Not the Betting Kind…Or Am I?

One film festival doesn’t define me.

Which is why it’s easy to get over not getting into a huge festival like Sundance.

However, a film can define a filmmaker. Which is why I’ve been on pins and needles since I began the submission process for my film, Beggar Girl. There is no way of knowing the who, what, and where of getting accepted to a festival.

Beggar Girl is not a lighthearted comedy. She is political. She is controversial. She doesn’t spoon-feed the audience. She challenges them.  Goes against conventional thought.  Maybe even makes some people mad, with what she has to say.

As proud as I am, I think my film is smarter than I am, and I like that about her.

But that makes waiting to hear from film festival programmers especially nerve-wracking.

The fruits of the creativity and efforts of so many talented and passionate people, she’s beautiful and strong. She can’t wait to find her audience and show off all their work.

But when you send your unique child, who doesn’t sit quietly in the corner, off into the world, you have no idea how the world is going to respond. And you hope that one teacher, one friend, one coach, one person at least, will understand their unique qualities. That one person will appreciate the things about them that others might not see.

And until that happens, you continue to take deep breaths as necessary, and believe that no matter how the others respond, your child will be okay.

I am excited to announce, my baby, our baby (for all those who helped bring her to life) has received her first acceptance, in what is hopefully just the beginning of her journey.

Beggar Girl will screen at the Garden State Film Festival in Atlantic City, NJ, as part of their 2017 program.

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What that means? At least one person in the world, besides me, her mother, ‘gets’ her.

And though I didn’t create this film with an audience in mind–she mainly told me what she is and I helped make that happen–I am grateful to know that she does have an audience.

And if I were a betting woman, I’d bet she probably has more good news to come.

For now, thank you Garden State Film Festival.  We’re headed to Jersey!

A Hug and A Breath

One year, two days, a million thoughts of you, just as many tears, and a hug and a breath ago, you were still here.

Did you hear the soft voice then from across the room as her words wavered between a statement and a question to me?

My answer, I slowly nodded. Yes, I did know. Though I wasn’t ready. I hadn’t admitted it even to myself. But in those few minutes, yes, I knew.

You signaled me with each odd breath.

I’d never heard you breathe that way. Not easy sounding. But not a painful struggle for air. But different.

You were letting me know it was time.

And though she had good intentions and was trying to help me, I immediately came back over to be with you.

I told you over and over how much I love you. I reminded you one by one, by name, what you mean to each of your children and grandchildren and how much they love you, too.

I held your hands and gave you ‘Princie’ kisses. I gently squeezed you and lay my head on your chest rubbing against the softness of your favorite cozy pajamas.

Did you feel me hug you as your breathing changed even more?

I must have been preparing myself because everything tightened inside my lungs and my head, just as they are doing now. My eyes let go of the tears as they streamed down my cheeks and dropped onto your heart, absorbing into the flannel.

I slowed my breath so you would feel calmness. As much calm as I could muster. I squeezed your hands and whispered in your ear promises that I would be okay, wanting to believe it myself.

Assurances of the amazing man you were, and how well you took care of your family and how much you taught me and have always been there for me.

I love you, Daddy. I love you so much. You are the best Daddy ever. You are such a beautiful person. With that twinkle in your eyes you made a difference for everyone who was lucky to know you. With every hug you made things better. You were a good and genuine and loving part of this world.

I love you.

Slowly. Breathing slowly. Both of us unsure of what was happening, but knowing it was happening. You saw. Then you saw.

And for that one moment you and I hung there, just the two of us together, neither of us breathing.

 

Somehow the next moment came.

I love you, Daddy.

I know I promised I’d be okay. And you see from where you are that in many ways I am.

But sometimes it hurts so much that you aren’t here and I feel my breathing change like I’m trying to find you.

Trying to reach that instant we shared. That place between here and there where I could give you kisses and I could hear you breathing good-bye.

When Is It New Year In Heaven?

I wish I could leave 2016 with profound words.

But I don’t have it in me.

Though I don’t feel empty, I feel overwhelmed. Overloaded to where my body hurts.

My intention for today was to finish up a few things, clear some items off the to-do list, clean up some space in my world (like my office) in preparing for the beginning of 2017.

And to write a post that would be inspiring, motivational, uplifting.

Instead, all I could muster was to put on cozy bottoms, Daddy’s favorite red pullover, my fuzzy slippers, and laze on the couch having my comfort, healing snack of open-faced peanut butter bread and orange juice, and watching movies.

For the past thirty years or so, on this day, I made a point of knowing what time it would be in my time zone when it was midnight in Ohio so I’d know what time to call Daddy.

And after I’d call him then, I’d sometimes call back when it was midnight wherever I was.

As soon as he’d answer, I’d burst out “Happy New Year!”  He’d laugh, thank me for calling him, and tell me, “Happy new year to you too, Princie. And I wish everything good for you in the new year. And that you’ll get your movie made and get your name out there.”

My heart aches so much I cannot recall last New Year’s Eve. I  do know that we weren’t thinking it might be our last holiday together. We didn’t know it would only be a couple of weeks before we’d be saying good-bye.

Wish I could say something cheerful like, “It’s always New Year’s Eve in Heaven.” It might be.

But that sounds like a party, and I’m not sure I have that in me.

I want Daddy to be happy. And I know he doesn’t want me to be sad. He wants the best for me. And as I linger on the couch, I want to believe that it will come.

Guess it doesn’t matter that I didn’t do the clearing out and organizing today that I figured would help me get ready for the new year, because how much are we ever really prepared for what comes?

Looking at yesterday, today, tomorrow, it’s frightening how frightening so many things in the world are at this time.

Be careful. Love one another. Give a darn. It matters.  Life is sacred.  And sometimes too short.

I wish everything good for each of you in the new year.

You know what I’ll be doing–I’ll be getting my first feature film made like Daddy always encouraged me to do.

I can’t call Daddy on the phone, but I know he’ll be wishing me Happy New Year at midnight just the same.

And at midnight Cincinnati time, (10PM Mountain Time) where he was for almost every New Year, I’ll take a deep breath and send him a special hug.

 

I Scream

Daddy passed away this year.

A ridiculous number of people who entertained us, brought us joy, and enlightened us have died in 2016.

Carrie Fisher and her mother, two amazing, inspirational women, left us within a day of each other.

Nothing makes sense to me right now.

Hence, today’s breakfast…

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Princie to Princess

When I was younger, I envied that Carrie Fisher ‘got to’ wear the famous gold bikini in the original Star Wars movie, and I was jealous how good she looked in it.

Fortunately, as I got older, I was enlightened by at least three things about her and her iconic role of Princess Leia —

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  1. I realized I was more impressed with everything else about Leia, besides her tone body. I was in awe of her strength, her tenacity, her wit, all while maintaining her femininity. That was what I was inspired by when I watched the movie over and over. She was a rebel fighting in a dress.
  2. As great as Carrie Fisher looked, the most beautiful parts of her were not the image on the screen. As I learned more about her as a person, she is an amazing role model for anyone, but particularly for women. She wasn’t perfect and she was courageous enough to let everyone know it.
  3. I’m too emotional at the moment to remember the third.

And her own words regarding that bikini?

“The father who flipped out about it, ‘What am I going to tell my kid about why she’s in that outfit?’ Tell them that a giant slug captured me and forced me to wear that stupid outfit, and then I killed him because I didn’t like it. And then I took it off. Backstage.” —On the rumored ban on Princess Leia bikini merch

For me, I genuinely felt I would meet Carrie one day.

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Fashionable me, long before Star Wars

I will continue to be inspired by her and what she stood for.

And though my heart is feeling the pain of losing her, I am grateful for her honesty and outspokenness.

I’m really unable to put together what I’m feeling at this moment, so I’ll simply end with this-

Carrie, thank you for teaching us to age with dignity and a sense of self.

Thank you for being the type of kickass, true princess that little girls and grown women genuinely can aspire to be.

Geffen Playhouse's Annual "Backstage At The Geffen" Gala - Arrivals

‘Twas The Night Before My First Christmas Without Daddy

In a matter of hours I will wake up to my first Christmas morning without you here, Daddy.

There have been some challenges lately. Some tougher than others. Some moments rougher to get through.

I’ve cried. I’ve screamed. I’ve laughed at memories. I’ve smiled as I’ve felt you watching over me.

And even through the more difficult times, here I am. And no matter how I’ve felt, or what I might think I wish for, tomorrow is Christmas.  So I’ll say this to you.

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My First Christmas, 1964

Thank you, Daddy. Thank you for always wanting to make the holidays special.

Thank you for doing all you could to bring joy to my siblings and me.

Thank you for being the most loving, caring parent a child could ask for.

Thank you for the moments. Thank you for the lessons. Thank you for the Barbie townhouse even though I might not have deserved it. Thank you for your kind heart. Thank you for your generous soul. Thank you for the gift of your laughter.

Thank you for Christmas morning hugs.

There won’t be a day that goes by that I won’t think about you. And with each thought, I will continue to be forever grateful to you. I will remember the laughs, the tears, the supportive father-daughter discussions, the casual chats about our days. The silly jokes we both shared.

Thank you, Daddy. I miss you. I love you.

Merry Christmas, Daddy. Love, Princie.

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Our last Christmas together with you here. 2015

F*ck Christmas

And while we’re at it- to hell with New Year’s and the next weeks.

Let’s ignore the calendar and not use any dates until well after Valentine’s Day because right after the holidays it will have been one year since Daddy left.

Get it, already? I don’t want Christmas. I don’t want New Year’s Eve. I don’t want January.

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I don’t want any of it, including all the days leading up to the holidays.

To hell with it all.

Yes, I know I’m ‘blessed’ with people who love me and care about me.

I know ‘things could be worse.’

I know other people have it worse.

I know Daddy is looking out for me in Heaven.

I know I should be grateful with all I have, including a roof over my head.

I know I had a good many years with Daddy here with me.

I know if I just smile the world should feel better.

And yes, again, I know the sun will freakin’ come out tomorrow.

But you tell that to my lungs that get so tight from trouble breathing I might pass out.

You tell that to my head that aches so deep from trying to not think too much about Daddy not being here.

You tell that to my eyes that have to hold back the tears any and every time of day that I have to stifle them until I can go into the bathroom, lock the door, and try to take some deep breaths to hold off until the end of the work day.

You tell that to my memories that keep reminding me of times I worry I pushed Daddy too much. Like when I encouraged him to read more and I think he felt he’d let me down so he said, “Sorry, ‘ll try to do better tomorrow.”

You talk about “just smile”to my glutton-for-punishment soul as I blare holiday music in my car everywhere I drive so I can sob away from anyone else at each flashback that emerges of Daddy playing his vinyl Christmas albums in the living room, and baking cookies with him that turned out looking very little like Santa Clauses and Christmas Trees, and the red frosting was always pink and didn’t taste very good. We laughed and ate them anyway.

Tell that to the tears that the saleslady sees as she tries to hurry and still be cheerful while pretending she doesn’t see them streaming down my cheeks as I’m trying to pay for the chocolate I’m buying to subdue the pain, because Daddy’s favorite carol, O Come All Ye Faithful, pipes in over the speakers throughout the store.

You tell that to my oh-so-tender heart that keeps waiting for the call from Daddy.

“Hi, Princie. It’s me, Daddy. I was just calling to see whether or not you are coming home for Christmas.”

Daddy, I don’t know that I’ll ever be home for Christmas again.

Try to tell me something I don’t already know. Maybe I’ll hear you, maybe I won’t.

I know this is a ‘moment’. But this moment really sucks.

Sorry, I’ll try to do better tomorrow.