4.04.2014

This Gun's for Hire, and Limited Free Download!

My recent return to freelance writing has involved some new and improved setbacks around technology. It turns out that nowadays every last one of us is a widely well-received author. That means you, crazy cute house cat with a trendy Tumbler feed. You too, glib grandma, with your shiny smartphone and the fancy friends following you all over the "Faceboard."

Log on and take your pick among huge bestsellers crowding the virtual bookstores alongside big, steamy piles of self-published pulp downloadable free of charge. We working writers who once scratched out a living somewhere in the middle are now left wondering whether we can still spin a salable yarn. After all, we've made all of it look so easy even a monkey could do it if only he had more time on his paws.
Learning I've earned another set of walking papers from a perfectly sensible full-time job, friends whose careers remain securely intact grow visibly wistful. One wants to write a novel about an entertainment lawyer who lost her job as an entertainment lawyer and wrote a novel about it. Her husband, a well-published British photographer, would gladly give it all up to publish a volume of unpublished  British photographs. Stop the madness!

Remember that movie where James Franco must choose between certain death and sawing off his own arm with the lid of a tuna can? That's pretty much how I feel every day when I sit down with a cup of coffee and decide whether to work on a spec script nobody's asking for or a blogpost few will bother to read. Neither option feels in line with the pain-payoff ratio.


So what if I am coming across as a big whiny-whiner, plodding toward an enviable destiny. Any real writer will tell you the choice was never hers; we all start crafting our little tales long before learning to make letters. Writers write, that's how you know you are one -- even securely locked away like Oscar Wilde or O. Henry, we'll find a way to bring the babble. And don't forget Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot. Or was he a painter? Anyway, he had stories to tell with the original hands-free device.

Even if I never sell a word of the blather I record here, my online journal might serve as a daily warm-up to something more solid. "I write my stories in the morning, my diary at night.," Anaïs Nin tells us in the third volume of her published memoirs -- the keys words there being "third" and "published."

"I need an hour alone before dinner, with a drink, to go over what I’ve done that day," Joan Didion said. "I can’t do it late in the afternoon because I’m too close to it. Also, the drink helps." How much cooler this thankless job must have been back before clean living happened, and you could measure a day's work in lipstick-rimmed martini glasses and stamped-out cigarettes rather than the number of re-Tweets of your assorted bon mots.

"Write drunk, edit sober," Ernest Hemingway advised. Now there was a guy with the economy to purge those demons in a hundred and forty characters or less. He might have been creating a brand for himself all along, sponsored by Life Magazine and some market-savvy wife or another. Instagram had nothing on that bunch.

Maybe we are all storytellers, adding our margin notes to the great human narrative -- yes, even you smart-ass granny, and your mouthy cat, too. Some are better at fooling the rest into thinking a job this silly merits any pay at all.

Which brings me back around to screenwriting. I never could have imagined screenplays coming full circle as my last best hope, the one remaining genre to require some skillset, however murky. A monkey couldn't possibly do it, not without a strong story sense and some decent representation. No, there's nothing smart about writing for money, but here in Hollywood, dope springs eternal.

Pictured at work: Erma Bombeck, Ernest Hemingway, Veronica Lake, Anne Sexton, and two unknown pin-up girls, possibly Vargas.

4.01.2014

The First Time I Got Paid For It

Unless you are the Oscar-winner who got kicked off American Idol, the fresh-faced unknown chosen to star opposite Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire, or the personal assistant to Matthew Broderick who wrote Little Miss Sunshine, there is no such thing as a meteoric rise to the top. In Hollywood, success comes in dribs and drabs, in a series of little firsts meant to drag and drop your pecking order as though rearranging some great Netflix queue in the sky.












There's the first time someone besides your mother admires your work.

The first time someone besides your mother returns a call to share this opinion.

The first time you get a studio drive-on to the Warner lot. (I shall cherish the memory of mine as though it were my "first time"with one of the actual Warner brothers).

The first time your drive-on is actually there when you reach the gilded gates of Paramount Pictures, so you don't have to pull over and hang your head in shame while they examine your undercarriage for plastic explosives.

The first time you get to valet at Sony rather than park across the street in an underground lot beside the lady who makes the gravy in the commissary.

The first time you get to meet with the actual star rather than his or her D-Girl, who almost invariably bears a striking physical resemblance to the original, only without the veneers, voice training and Swiss skin care regimen.

The first time a famous actor nails a line you wrote.

The first time you get paid to write something, anything.










The first time you unknowingly drop your drawstring skirt on the Disney lot while leaving a meeting, then exit the New Animation Building in the shadow of the giant Sorcerer's Hat exposing your crushed velvet thong to every passing geek with a colored pencil.






See, my first time wasn't writing a script for Mr. Movie Star, as popular legend has it. It was years ago, before I ever went to film school, when a kindly drunken Irishman my brother-in-law met on St. Patty's Day at Tom Bergen's gave me a chance to pitch his Sunday morning cartoon. Writing children's animation certainly wouldn't have been my first choice, since I never cared much for children or animation back then. I'd never seen Shrek, for example. I couldn't understand why there weren't any people in it. If you-re going to re-make The Princess Bride, I say pony up for Mandy Patinkin in the flesh.
On the plus side, this particular cartoon was voiced by a number of comedy legends, including Dabney Coleman, John Astin, Tim Curry, Allyce Beaseley and Glenne Headley. I pitched an episode where the kids went away to summer camp and the grown-ups took over the school. "Picture Lord of the Flies, only with grown-ups," I explained.

"What about the kids?" the producer asked. He was sober now, and not nearly as much fun as he'd been while powering back the Guinness and pretending to have a brogue.

"Haven't we had enough of the kids?" I asked?

He wondered if I had anything else. I didn't. But damn if I was going to tell him that, since I was new in town and still believed in my God-given right to highly overpaid employment. Given my background in comedy improvisation, I knew it was possible to toss off an idea he was certain to like by pausing to let him supply the last part of my sentences. "What if the school principal got fired, and had to..."

"Take a job at the Middle School?"

"Exactly," I said. "Only the guy who replaces him is..."

"Even meaner than the original?"

"You took the words right out of my mouth," I told him. "Anyway, what they have to do is..."


"Find a way to get rid of him and bring the old guy back between six commercials for sugary breakfast cereal!"



"So you like my idea?" I asked.

 He told me to go off and write it, getting up to shake my hand. I'm not sure if this is were I lost my skirt, or if it happened farther down the hall once I was out of his eye line.  I felt a light breeze kissing my nether regions, and found my skirt untied around my ankles. Since we hadn't talked money, I hoped he hadn't viewed the whole performance as a pathetic ploy to earn extra points on the "back end."

Though I'll never know for sure as to why, I was very handsomely paid indeed for what would become my first produced credit. That is, after I was teamed up with some guy on staff who re-wrote it beyond all recognition gave it a little polish.


People think we're a lawless bunch, but Hollywood has all kinds of rules. One is never wear granny panties to a meeting anywhere in the vicinity of 500 Buena Vista. Another is, regardless of personal preference, go ahead and build yourself a great career in family entertainment should that opportunity arise after so much wishing upon so very many stars.

Yes, another thing they won't tell you in film school is whatever happens, wherever it happens and no matter how many people point and laugh, you just pick up your skirt and keep right on walking.

Note: Disney neglected to issue the series in DVD and removed YouTube uploads on licensing grounds. Although it aired again and again in syndication snce this piece was first published in April, 2006, I never grabbed a copy.

3.31.2014

If Jesus Went to Film School


If Jesus went to film school, his work wouldn’t be terribly well received. “But it’s the greatest story ever told,” he’d say in all humility while pitching it to the Million Dollar Screenwriter in whose eight-member script workshop everybody was clamoring for a spot. “I just don’t get it, Hay-Seuss,” the culturally-savvy industry mentor would say, pronouncing the name as if the Light of the World were just another emerging Chicano voice.

"Jee-zus,” the savior would politely correct him. “I’m from Nazareth, not the barrio. "Though I am researching a promising new doc over there."

Two Overtly Competitive Third Years sitting cross-legged on the floor would roll their eyes at this slick bit of grandstanding. Jesus would forgive them their transgression at once, since he can’t see a future in Hollywood for either one of the no talent bitches.

Matter of fact, one will eventually sleep with the other’s husband, marking the end of the fair weather film school friendship. The spurned wife will become a lesbian and start an all-girl Oregon playwriting festival for juvenile offenders, while the unapologetic adulteress will attend her first and only movie premiere as a cater waitress.

“I’m a little concerned about the modern relevance of your tale,” Professor Godbucks would delicately inform Jesus. “Maybe we should focus on something a little lighter that might appeal to say an Adam Sandler or a Jim Carrey.”

“They could do Herrod,” Jesus would say, getting a little annoyed at this point. “Haven’t you ever seen that Andrew Llloyd Weber musical?”

“Good God, talk about dated.” This from a Ballsy Directing Student known for both his experimental visual style and total lack of story sense.  His Perpetually Offended Girlfriend, who once scrawled “If you want to direct, you’re in the wrong bathroom” on the stall of the women’s loo, might be concerned with theme. “I’m offended by the whole  'final judgment' concept. I'm offended by yet another tired take on yet another tired whore-Madonna,” said the tired whore-madonna.

“What’s up with the ending?” one of the Third Years would chime in uninvited. “Downer.”

“I don’t get the love interest,” said the future lesbian on the floor, passing some Tic Tacs among a select few cronies. “Are they doing it or aren’t they?”

“If this is supposed to be some kind of black comedy, it’s got to end with a wedding. Not a crucifixion.”

“And forget that lame resurrection. The kids won't even buy that kind of hat trick.”

“You really need to clarify the unique motivations of all these apostle characters. Haven’t you read Legri?"

“Catch up on your Campbell, dude.”

“Aristotle. 'Nuff said.”

Jesus would now be thinking he should have gone to law school or dental college like so many other Israelites. Wasn’t this supposed to be a safe, nurturing environment where he could test his dramatic mettle before being thrown like the Lamb of God to the Hollywood wolves? 

The trouble with film school is everybody knows very well if you can’t reach the top of the heap here—if you’re not recognized with the big scholarships, the best classes, the highest public praise—your chances for any success afterward are very poor indeed.

During break, when the other students huddle within their closed cliques in front of the vending machines, nobody would even notice Jesus turning water into Diet Peach Snapple and multiplying the Pepperidge Farm Goldfish like so many cheesy loaves. "Father forgive them," Jesus might even mutter, "for they know not what's up." He would stand there alone, fading into the background along with the last remaining shreds of his dream.

If only he were lucky enough to have the fates smiling down on him that day, the Loopy Little Theater Major practicing her jazz combination with total abandon in the courtyard might take the empty seat beside him. “Tell me a story,” she’d say, helping herself to some Goldfish. “All you big bad screenwriters have one.”  She’d grab his notebook without bothering to ask, paging through it with a complete lack of guile.

“I’m Jesus, King of Jews,” he’d say. “Bet you thought that was Spielberg.”

"I'm Mary, as in Martin. Triple threat."

"Mary was my mother's name."

"I know," she'd say, looking up from his treatment with stars in her eyes. "Jesus, this looks like a good story."

Ironic Footnote: A blog fan attending film school in London wrote me a few years back asking permission to adapt this post into a feature film. Certain this would never happen, I happily agreed. Imagine my surprise when he sent along this 1-minute trailer. 

3.30.2014

Panties Are Not a Punchline, Honey, Just Shut Up and Bring the Funny

I've been thinking about what it is to be a funny, female writer who  gives it all away in these pages as though hostessing some budget-friendly girlie show in the sky. The way I figure it, a humor blogger  should really shoot for adorable, self-styled glamour-puss over bitter little misanthrope when welcoming a crowd gathering for a laugh. Not that any of that happens much here. Stop me when I'm overreaching.

"The definition of 'crazy' in show business is a woman who keeps talking even after no one wants to sleep with her anymore," Tina Fey tells us.

In that case I'm in a pretty good position, as positions go, since I mostly write quietly and for my own amusement. Then again, there's only so much navel-gazing you can do and hope to become as relevant as say, Leah Dunham's anus. However ass-backwards, maybe the rest of her only got into the game because self-deprecating humor was her birthright as a direct descendent of Manhattan's post-feminist gliteratti. There's a crowd that kept right on gabbing long after the sexy came and went.

Back in the day, a midwest housewife named Phyllis Diller was actually too hot for this job, and only came up with the whole crazy chicken look to take your mind off wanting to nail her. Joan Rivers felt Johnny Carson both brought her up and took her down as though she'd belonged to him on both ends, like a disposable early wife. To check the strength of current ties between comic appeal and sex appeal, count up all the comediennes -- from Kathy Griffin to Molly Shannon, Sarah Silverman and even Sandra Bernhard -- whose underwear you can describe in some detail. Now try this with the guys -- until you get to a single goofball who looks any good in it.

In life as in comedy, most girls will do what it takes to draw an audience, and the truth is we don't care how you got here as long as you pay for your own drinks and stay awake for the show.

At my level, even bothering to read my work earns you the right to rip into it at leisure. My mother told me that my brother didn't care for an online novella I wrote about a sexually adventurous former panty model who goes to work for L.A.P.D. Hollywood Division. To me this is the perfect comic set up, but he found it inappropriate for children, of which he has three, apparently comprising the remainder of my readership. The whole brood gathers around the family laptop in the evening to read Auntie's uncensored internet musings. And I'm inappropriate? Seriously, get an X-Box and some boundaries.

Mom herself dismissed my brief foray into smut writing with a snort. "You're better than that," she announced. Really? Who knew? I figure in the absence of any monetary recognition (or really any other kind) in this digital cabaret of mine, I am entitled to some authenticity of voice. As I tell the students in my on-again off-again film professor gig, there's all kinds of talent in this town, but nobody brings you but you.

Though there are many schools of thought as to whether comedy can be learned, I see my whole life as a sketch in search of its rightful pay-off. "I think if you have a comic perspective, almost anything that happens you tend to put through a comic filter, " Woody Allen told The Paris Review in an interview on the art of comedy. "People think it’s very hard to be funny but it’s an interesting thing. If you can do it, it’s not hard at all."

While you'd expect a few choice pearls of "hisdom" from the guy behind the loopy, self-doubting humor of Annie Hall, his comic perspective is remarkably free of gender bias:
It would be like if I said to somebody who can draw very well, My God, I could take a pencil and paper all day long and never be able to draw that horse. I can’t do it, and you’ve done it so perfectly. And the other person feels, This is nothing. I’ve been doing this since I was four years old. That’s how you feel about comedy—if you can do it, you know, it’s really nothing.
"Is he still shtupping his daughter?" Mom inquired, as if that were right on point with today's topic. I saw him in a Q&A a few years back and told her this hadn't come up. But the two them have been married awhile now, so I doubt it. See, now that's funny.

3.29.2014

Djulie Unchained

Luckily there are no rules in Hollywood, or I definitely would have broken one by telling Darren Star he should be reading my blog. I also told him I would be referring to him here only as "Mr. Bigger" which was both a bald-faced lie and not terribly clever, simultaneously breaking two more rules that don't exist in the span of six seconds, give or take.

In my defense, the chances of Darren Star actually reading my blog aren't much better now than him doing so had I never spoken to him at all. He has people and minions who have people and minions of their own to not read my blog, so I can't imagine him wanting to not want to read it himself. Then again, if there's one thing I've learned about Hollywood it's that anything can not happen at any time.

We were at a Writer's Guild event where famous writers gather to tell the rest of us how that happy event comes to pass, and apparently it has something to do with following your instincts, except when it doesn't. Also it's about luck and timing, except when it isn't, and at the end of the day, it's about story and character except when it's about other stuff. One of these is being in the right restaurant at the right time with the right network president prepared to pitch a high concept medical procedural. "It's not a who done it, it's a what done it," you are supposed to lob across the table with the bread rolls. "The germs are the bad guy," you should add. You might want to use both your napkin and the finger bowl at this point, though both are optional.

This was apparently how "House' was sold, and though I never saw "House," I am impressed by the fact that the TV show, rather than say the United States House of Representatives, comes up first when you Google the word, with or without quotes. I didn't even stay to hear the "Breaking Bad" guy speak, since I never never saw that, either, and the sum of what I know about both series is 1) They are about guys,  2) They win awards and 3) None of this has anything to do with me.

Darren Star, on the other hand,  created an iconic show about four separate and fully-formed women, all around my age. One of them is a writer. Who writes about sex. And the city. He created Melrose Place even as I lived all that right here in these pages.  He gave the world Beverly Hills, 90210; I got a parking ticket there meeting with an agent who never signed me. On top of all that, he's a fellow Bruin, who told at least three anecdotes I'd heard or read elsewhere, including in the pages of a UCLA doctoral thesis around his work.

Really, there comes a point when failure and success are just a hair's breadth away from one another, and there is something incredibly liberating about being the one without a single thing to lose.

"Darren Star to produce irreverent new comedy based on unknown blog discovered en route to the men's room!" Variety would declare once we get our cast-contingent pilot pick-up after a lucrative network bidding war. "Not That Much Sex in This City," Nikki Finke would sniff come awards season, in the event it ever becomes legal for her to live snark the red carpet again. Oh, the early morning quips the big deal producer and his overweight sensation will trade with Al Roker about our kooky friendship that would have never happened but for my inappropriate stalking  old school Hollywood moxie.

I told Darren Star I had no idea why I'd shown up to this event, which was probably the nuttiest thing possible to have shared, being the painful truth and all. I write unproduced features and I write them alone at Starbucks, where we screenwriters don't even look at one another, let alone tweak pages meant to be shot in the morning while simultaneously knifing one another in the back.

"The name's Djulie," I wish I'd added over a shoulder, blowing on an imaginary six shooter and walking off into the sunset with my head held high. "The D is silent, hillbilly." He would have forgotten it either way, but he might have had someone who was anyone call the police first,  and you can be dead sure one or all of them would most certainly not check out my blog.

3.27.2014

This Hollywood, Is It Real?

Toward the end of the civil war in the former Yugoslavia, my Croatian Ex-Husband and I drove up the still stabilizing Dalmatian Coast to Venice, lured by the promise of a cheap vacation. The only major flaw in our travel plans was a small section of Bosnia, where the fighting raged on, and which I will only remember as a series of tense military road blocks along the craggy coastal highway fronting the Adriatic. While the attitude toward a Dubrovnik-born national would vary according to the religious and ethnic identities of those controlling the area in question, all factions seemed very friendly toward me, an American, a Southern Californian, no less.

I remember one curious young soldier stamping out an unfiltered Camel to examine the address on my driver’s license, smiling broadly through a set of tobacco-stained teeth. “This Hollywood,” he mused aloud. “Is it real?” He'd  apparently mistaken Hollywood for a concept rather than an actual city where ordinary people go about their daily business. Given our famous way with illusion, this is an easy trap to fall into, even among those of us who call the place home.



This morning My Very Supportive Manager set up a meeting with Yet Another Confident Young Producer interested in my Hilarious Funeral Comedy. By “interested in” I mean she wants the right to pass it around among her Big Deal Movie Star Friends without having to put up the money for an option, while at the same time being guaranteed the credit rightfully due her should a feature film ever result from her tenuous involvement. For her part, Supportive is a master at making these people think this lopsided deal would be ever so interesting to us, while she’s primarily trolling these waters in search of work for me among the producer’s open studio writing assignments.

Either way, I get a free meal, and this one would prove to be some seriously glamorous eats. Though it’s only blocks from my house, I’d never been inside the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel—a mammoth, Spanish Revival grande dame—into which I, the jaded former travel writer walked in and gasped, “Is it real?”

In a case of art imitating life, the recently renovated hotel—the sight of the very first Academy Awards Ceremony in 1929—seems to have inspired the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at the Disney MGM Studios, a thrill ride trailing a Shirley Temple-esque child star who falls to her death in a runaway elevator. Those crafty Imagineers were clearly aware that the real Shirley Temple received her first tap dance lesson from Bill “Bojangles” Robinson on the Moorish tiled stairway in the lobby. 









The place is said to be haunted by Montgomery Clift, who stayed here during the filming of From Here To Eternity while learning to play the bugle—a skill he still practices, or so the hotel guests claim, on long, windy nights. Marilyn Monroe’s ghost often appears in the mirror re-claimed from her poolside bungalow—which is no big surprise, since it’s now strategically placed to reflect a portrait of the starlet hanging in a public hallway.

Having undergone a major renovation, the hotel made more recent headlines when Courtney Love passed out while partying here and had to be whisked right back to rehab in an ambulance. The clubs and restaurants are being vigorously marketed to the Hollywood A-list by promoter Amanda Scheer-Demme, widow of the much loved late director Ted Demme, who was apparently a close personal friend of the Confident Young Producer hosting me for breakfast today at “Teddy’s.”

“Actually, I knew the gentleman this place was named for,” she told the Snooty Maitre D’. This was at least partially in response to his inquiry as to whether we had reservations—or were at least guests of the hotel.

“You knew Theodore Roosevelt?” he sniffed.

“Oh. I thought it was named for Ted Demme,” she said.

“It’s been the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel,” he replied, “since Mr. Roosevelt was President.”

“Right,” she said, deferring to this geek sporting an attitude dyed to match his employer-provided tuxedo. I mean, here she was about to drop a hundred bucks on a couple of plates of hash only to be trumped by the help.

“Wait a minute now,” I piped in. “Maybe Ted Demme was named for Ted Roosevelt. In fact, I’m sure I read that somewhere.”

This pretty simpleton had never read anything anywhere, and thus didn’t have much to add. He slinked away, a failed soap star with a spray-on tan relegated to inquiring if lowly tourists are “on the list” while buffing the oversized leather menus with Armor All.


“Thank you for that,” Confident mouthed. “Thank you for this,” I said, as a far more appropriate waiter—the type whose father used to serve Erroll Flynn at this very table, who considers all this his legacy—unfolded a crisp white napkin on my lap. “I think I’ll try the Eggs Benedict, so what if it is a Tuesday.”

I'm sure I heard that ghostly bugle whistling the theme from Bridge Over The River Kwai as coffee and water were poured from linen-tied silver pitchers. Another thing they won’t tell you in film school is that while you’re waiting around for that big phone call certain to change your life forever, success really can sneak up on you one meal at a time. And maybe not every day, but certainly on some of them, yes, this Hollywood is real.



3.26.2014

Fly Me to the Moon

This week I went in to pitch an open studio assignment to re-write an R-rated comedy. This was somewhat tricky, since the producing partner of an A-list, twice Oscar-nominated actor wrote the original draft off which I'd only managed to preserve the character names. He would have the final word on my hiring, so my Very Supportive Manager told me just march in and "be adorable about it."

Yesterday the studio executive phoned Supportive to say I had indeed "delivered a movie." The producer reported that I was in fact adorable but he’d like to have lunch with me privately just to be sure I hold up well under harsh lighting conditions. Oh, and he’s got to hear one more “courtesy take” next week—either from his lover, his nephew or the brother-sister team of Sofia and Roman Coppola would be my guess—before making the final decision.

This time it’s not a one in three chance, or even two in three. It’s ninety percent, Supportive estimates. We’re relying on the executive who is trying to set up my spec script and senses I can’t wait as long as that might take. While Supportive feels I should avoid begging, fawning or crying in the meeting room, just for laughs I may have intimated how I only have three weeks left on my unemployment claim and plan to either sell my car to pay next month’s rent or give up my house and move into my car.  Supportive isn’t sure of the exact pay on the ten-week re-write, but the ballpark figure is more than I’ve managed to scratch together over the last four years combined.

Surviving this kind of wait requires many hours of re-arranging my sock drawer, polishing what I haven’t pawned off of the family silver and scrubbing the bathroom grout with an old toothbrush.  I sorted through an old music box filled with jewelry I never wear and thought about throwing out the box along with the J.Lo hoop earrings the size of shower curtain rings that seemed fabulous at the time. Then I remembered my grandmother had given me the box one Christmas. I doubt it was very expensive, just something she picked up on sale at J.C. Penney’s while passing the last of her Golden Years mall walking for exercise.

I never knew her very well until I was in my twenties and she bought a condo near my first apartment. She’d raised my mother alone and never felt obligated to say exactly why. It seemed to me she hadn’t answered to much of anyone in her life at a time when a girl could get arrested for that. She worked two jobs to put my mother through Catholic school, private college and even grad school. Beginning the day my mom gave up her teaching career to marry a struggling law student, Grandma referred to my father as “Whatshisname.” Though she didn’t drink often, she didn’t do it well. Even a glass or two of dessert wine on Christmas Eve fostered some paranoid delusion that Frank Sinatra was trying to kill her. I never did get the details, but frankly it seemed perfectly plausible. She died when I was twenty-six, of natural causes. Later appearing to me in a dream, young again and dressed in fox furs in front of some swank, pre-War hotel, she'd never looked happier.

I couldn’t remember the song the music box played, so I wound it up, expecting the usual "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies" or "Moonlight Sonata." It was "Fly Me To The Moon," made famous by Frank Sinatra.
Fly me to the moon
and let me play among the stars.
Let me see what spring is like
on Jupiter and Mars…

With that, she'd managed to deliver another message from beyond that there was never a thing to fear, that the future most certainly holds something truly magical for me if I can only hang on long enough to let it. I gave myself exactly five minutes to cry before getting up to clean the bathroom.

Note: In response to a student's request for specifics of my Hollywood journey, I've re-published this piece from January 7, 2006. And yes, I did get the job. Stay tuned for tomorrow's post, "Be Careful What You Wish For, My Little Hollywood Hopeful."