Thoughts on Dreams… well, thoughts on La La Land

When I was younger, I loved acting.  As the youngest of four daughters, I was always very melodramatic as a child.  As a teen, I was in a play in Richmond, California (at the East Bay Center for Performing Arts) and I felt like I was home.  Then, when I was 17, I was actually cast in an independent film.

I had learned about the film from an acting class that I was taking in someone’s living room in Berkeley (no, I’m not joking).  For several weeks prior to the audition, I watched “Mississippi Burning” so I could master a southern accent (which was sought by casting). Three weeks prior to leaving California to attend the University of Montana, I went to the audition.

The movie was to be set in the 60s, so I wore a cotton tank top with wide straps and narrow-legged capris.  I pushed my dark hair back with a thick headband and curled the ends of my hair inwards.  After the audition (which was filmed by a massive camcorder ala Sex Lies and Videotape), I was complimented on my accent (“I thought you were really from the South,” the casting director commented approvingly).  I loved everything about the experience.

About a week after getting to Round Up, Montana, and before classes started, I had a message on our California voicemail to call the producers of this film.  From a pay phone in front of a small diner near (but not on Main Street), I called the filmmakers.  I was offered the role.  But I was in already in Montana and my mother told me I couldn’t return to California for the film because I was “too smart to be an actress.”

So I spent one semester at the University of Montana and it was universally awful.   A year later, I ended up at a different college.  After graduating from college, I went to Georgetown for law school.

I loathed law school.  In my second year of law school, I was cast as the ingénue in a community theater production of a British sex farce entitled “Not Now, Darling.”  This was one of the happiest experiences of my life.

But I was too smart to be an actress.  So I graduated from law school.  I never found my way or my passion.  Now I have $180,000 in student loans and I’m a single mom working a temp legal job living in a small apartment with no saving and no college fund for my kids.

And at 43, I’m sitting on the carpeted floor near the entrance of theater number 17 in Plano, Texas, typing this on my cell phone while La La Land plays on the big screen.

La La Land is about fidelity to things your love.  The irony is not lost on me.

I know my mother thought she was doing what was best for me when she refused to let me go back to California for the film.  But opportunities to do something you love are few and far between.  If you get a chance to pursue your dream, no matter how far-fetched it seems, then do it.  Just do it.  It seems to me, in hindsight, that the smartest people are those who follow what they love.

 

It’s Not Over. (Thoughts from a lonely protest in Texas.)

(Written first on Daily Kos.)

Tonight, my son (13) and I went to Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas for a political rally.

I saw an event on Facebook posted by a group called Women & Allies and I decided it was time for my son to learn what being an American is really about.

While frantically painting protest signs and trying to arrange a carpool (because everything I do is at the last minute and poorly planned), I explained to him that one of the defining features of being American is having the freedom of speech.

(Case in point: when someone screamed “TRUMP!!” out of his pickup truck, I explained that just like we had the right to carry our clever signs, that fine gentleman had the right to be poorly informed and belligerent.)

After painting two signs that read, “President-Elect Trump, From Russia with Love,” we joined a woman I met through Pantsuit Republic (Collin County) and headed downtown.

(Okay, in the interest of full disclosure, one side of one of the signs read, “President ELECT Trump SUCKS” because this was our first foray into sign making and we were short on time and, for this side, short on space.  My son said it was pretty immature, messaging-wise, and I told him that was okay because it was the sign I was going to make him carry.)

But I digress.  Around 6:45, we found a small group of people near the Grassy Knoll (yes, THE Grassy Knoll, not A grassy knoll).  I found it entirely appropriate that the scene of our protest, with about 20 people, was in front of flags at half-mast.  (Of course, I think all of our flags, across the country, should fly at half-mast until the inauguration.  Then, if Trump is inaugurated, they should be flown upside down.)

I’m proud to report that while I was trying to meet the people on the knoll, my son grabbed his sign and, with no prompting from me, began walking up and down Main Street.  In fact, I had to stop chatting to join him.  I’m also happy to report that we were joined in our walking by a great young woman named Fany, who did not have a sign but did have a glow stick and, apparently, an activist’s heart.

There we were.  My son and I and Fany, walking up and down Main Street.  There was a small collection of activists behind us on the grass.  They had hung a large fabric sign on the bushes that read, “Dallas Supports the Hamilton Electors.”  We had one organizer join our walk when she realized her t-shirt was a sign.  It read, “Fuck Trump.”  (Right on.)

In the hour and a half that we walked up and down Main Street, we got about a dozen positive responses from the cars driving by (honks and flashing lights on high), including the (usually scary/stressful) “whoop whoop” of a Dallas police van that switched on it’s siren momentarily.

We had one large pickup truck veer abruptly toward the curb, slow down to scream “Trump,” and then peel off in a way that left us standing in an alarming large exhaust cloud (how did that truck pass the annual emissions inspection??).  But we also had another driver of a large pick up truck later scream “Fck Trump!”  This was an important lesson on making assumptions.  I pulled my son away from the curb when the second large pick up truck slowed a bit (after the first large truck veered toward the sidewalk aggressively), and we were all pleasantly surprised by the expletives directed at Trump (and, well, not us).

We had three people walk by and laugh in agreement with the signs and five people sort of hang around with stone faces.  I was guessing the latter were tourists, but who visits Dealey Plaza after dark?  Besides protesters and a few passing-by locals?  No matter…

Do you know what does matter?  We were there.

On a seemingly random Monday night, we were there.

For the people who drove by, we were there.

For the people who were wondering “does it even matter now?”, we were there.

For the people thinking that there is nothing you can do, we were there.

For the people tempted to accept the insanity of Trump as “just how it is now,” we were there.

For the people thinking that this fight is over, we were there.

I was not disappointed by the small number of attendees.  I was inspired and invigorated.  Every one of us was there because we care, and we care enough to be there on a chilly, windy Monday night. Every one of us was there because not being present was harder than staying home at this point. Every one of us was there because we believed it is vital that others see us there.  Our presence tells others, in Texas, that they are not alone.

And we have not yet begun to fight.

For many of us, election night of 2016 was not the end, it was just the beginning.  We will be on the right side of history.  What was 20 tonight will be 20,000 next month and then 2 million next year. But first, you have to show up.  

And tonight, my son and I did just that.