Crafting A Cast Monday, Aug 29 2011 


This weekend my sisters and I had a conversation. It was sort of an ongoing conversation that picked up where it left off several times because there was no clear resolution to our dilemma which was this: Who in the world is going to be capable of playing us when our life story hits the big screen? This is a conversation everyone has, right? My poor brother-in-law went from amusement to bewilderment when he realized that we were actually serious about the topic. He also wisely shut his mouth and offered no real suggestions once he realized the seriousness of the topic. One small comment or observation about which actress carried similar personality quirks or physical resemblance could lead to him being ostracized from our conversation and very likely shunned until the subject was dismissed. Worst case scenario would be that we’d cast someone awful in his part but threatening him with such an outcome didn’t seem to evoke the kind of horror that it would with the rest of us. I don’t understand that really. Is that just a gender thing or something because I think we are the normal ones here. I’ve actually known girls to get FURIOUS if you tell them they look like a certain celebrity that they do not admire or so-an-so could play them in their life story. Do guys not sit around and talk about these things??? That’s weird.

Here’s my thinking: True actresses are cast into parts based on their ability to portray a character, or real life person in this case, in a way that captures a person’s personality, mannerisms, and character traits as they are. Simply “having the look” isn’t enough to win someone an Oscar for an accurate portrayal, right? Hair can be dyed, weight lost or gained, and fashion sense can be mimicked, so why would someone be so simple-minded as to choose an actress based on their hair color and skin tone?? It’s a good thing I’ll be in charge of casting when this happens. I suggested that when the time comes, we have several actress audition for the various roles while we sit in our cute little director’s chairs with our names and titles monogrammed on the back. This TOTALLY makes sense and is a reasonable request Brother-In-Law, so why is your jaw hanging open?? Shut it!

(Disclaimer: these are merely suggestions and are subject to change at any time or with any whim though the participants in this screenplay have been cautioned to not make any rash decision especially while drinking or PMSing.)

The role of Miss um… Erica?!?! is set to be played by the one and only Julia Roberts. There. MY decision is a good one and perhaps the ONLY one not open for discussion. This is MY screenplay and therefore MY decision and it is a good one. Both Diane Keaton and Blythe Danner will audition for the role of Mom,  and Cloris Leachman gets the part of my grandmother hands down. We tossed around ideas for the two other sisters and came up with the following potential actresses for the youngest: Ann Hathaway (she looks just like her but most importantly has displayed the ability to be beautiful, quirky, naive, and a little neurotic all at once) Mila Kunis, and Natalie Portman. Middle sister was a little more difficult to cast, and Brother-In-Law smartly kept his suggestions to himself lest some unfortunate actress be deemed to have horse-like teeth or something and offend everyone at the table. He did offer one idea when the poor guy still thought the conversation was for amusement purposes only but the BACKLASH to his Shannen Doherty idea produced a FIT and evil eyes the likes of which really only Shannen herself could pull off. Um… if the shoe fits!! I’m JUST sayin’, he might have been onto something there. I’m KINDA thinking Neve Campbell or Courtney Cox for her (and not just because she makes me Scream sometimes) but right now we’re thinking of the dark hair pale skin attributes both of these carry and their ability to portray and professional working mom.

Look, we’re not conceited or anything. I mean, we KNOW this whole thing may not ever get to the big screen. THAT is why we have devised a secondary list of actresses should this go straight to Lifetime. Picture Robin Tunney from The Craft and The Mentalist playing the role of Moi. I know… that’s good, right?!? We haven’t ironed out all of the backup cast here yet, but some combination of Neve Campbell, Alyssa Milano, Shannen Doherty would probably be appropriate. Hey! I’m wondering here if it is NOT a coincidence that all of these actresses have played WITCHES?!?! I’m just now realizing that and it kinda creeps me out. We’ve crafted quite entertaining lives for ourselves here but we’re TOTALLY not Wiccans. I mean, not that there’s anything WRONG with that I guess. (Dear God, please don’t let them hex me or throw out some voodo gris gris on me for offending the witch people by thinking they are creepy! I’m looking to cast a screenplay here NOT have spells cast upon me. Amen.) Oh and while I’m thinking about The Craft, do you think I will I be able to choose the caterers for craft services, because I TOTALLY want those Viva La Waffle truck guys!!!

OMG! This is EXACTLY what BOTH of my sisters look like when they are PMSing! She could play EITHER of them!

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Something To Talk About Tuesday, Jul 19 2011 


Seven weeks ago I left my little “perfect” life that I had created and set out to do things on my own and in my own way. I left with an extra set of clothes for myself and the kids. The only other things I brought (other than makeup and a toothbrush of course) were my ancient laptop and my cute little monogrammed bag that held all of my tabbed and organized binders for my various volunteer committees. It was on my mind that in exactly one week I had a huge volunteer leadership retreat to pull off for some very talented women, and this was the first big event of the year for all of our committee chairs and board members to come together and plan. I had spent time and effort planning this with some really great gals and did not want to disappoint them, or more importantly myself, by dropping the ball. I had a Camping theme for the big event and had coordinated other people to present their ideas and activities around it. When I planned the theme and activities months before however, I hadn’t ACTUALLY planned on camping out at other people’s houses when this all went down. HA! Maybe they would just all think I was some sort of method actor who had to get into character by camping out with my kids for inspiration. Geez! Who was going to know about my recent hike from home and start fishing for answers. I was nervous, but I kept this old movie in my mind the whole time.

Does anyone remember that movie, Something to Talk About? The fabulously neurotic, Grace has a marriage which is falling apart, volunteer commitments and a family business to run and hilariously struggles to keep all of the balls she is juggling in the air.

I have a cookbook to put out, and a daughter to raise, and the God damn winter Grand Prix. And I just don’t have time for the nervous breakdown I deserve, so please, don’t ask me to stop and think! -Grace

Whoa! I didn’t have the whole cookbook thing since I’m not on THAT committee this year, but I was trying to pull together my big retreat for the year, manage the family business and raise my kids while being a little bit center stage as my marriage fell apart. When I left, I didn’t even tell my best friends, much less the glorious group of women that I would be facing exactly one week after my surprise flight. What if they all stared at me and actually knew everything already through the grapevine and were actually WAITING for me to fall apart as if EVERYONE would do that like they don’t have their own lives to lead and struggles to face?!?! Awesome!!!!! Just a few minutes into indulging that fantasy I had just proved myself to be conceited too by thinking anyone would CARE. Ohmygod! What if I lost my mind and stood up in front of everyone and had a super-massive-stress-induced-temporary-loss-of-sanity like Grace does and started pointing out flaws in everyone else’s marriages?!?! That would most CERTAINLY not be graceful. Or, maybe, what if, I dunno, I vomited in front of everyone when words tried to come out?? Even worse, what if I cried. Hard to believe I guess for most people, but crying in front of everyone would have been the worst case scenario for me. It would have shown some vulnerability that I was struggling to keep at arm’s length. Isn’t that CRAZY!?! I WOULD HAVE CHOSEN TO VOMIT PUBLICLY!!! I didn’t barf, though that would’ve been funny, and I think the event was a success thanks to a lot of great people. The parallels with the movie have continued though.

Somewhere in the movie, Grace’s mother tells her to stop making a spectacle of herself and to just accept how things commonly are. Return to life as normal and don’t set her expectations too high. Don’t cause any waves, right? Don’t make anyone else feel uncomfortable or God forbid awkward around her when they see her. She should DEFINITELY not question her place in life lest someone else feel inspired to do the same.

You’re telling me that if I just eat shit politely with a knife and fork and learn to swallow the handfuls of bullshit I’m served, then everything will be A-Okay? – Grace

Guess what I think? Eating SHIT makes you fat. It’s true! I should know. It works in two ways. First, listening to everyone around you tell you what you should want and should believe and should allow starts to get a little mind numbing. After a while, you quit being numb when life just doesn’t work that way for you and you get sad. Numb is easier than sad any day, so wine and another late night lonely dinner work to numb some people. Then you just start to feel like shit yourself and take the easy route… right through the drive through when everyone is hungry because it’s easier than listening to the kids complain about your culinary capabilities. Billy’s mom must actually feed her kids nuggets and jelly beans for every meal because the way I get looked at with my SOUP can NOT be normal, and THAT lady never looks tired. Before you know it, everyone is eating crap – both from the “truths” we’re fed by other people AND the fast and fried food that takes less effort – and we’re all FAT.

Let me tell you what I won’t do anymore; eat the shit that I’m served from other people around me even if it’s sugar-coated. A glass of wine to wash down the taste isn’t going make it any tastier either, and I’m pretty sure about that now. That’s the worst kind of crap to take, isn’t it? I mean, it’s all cleverly disguised, but it still stinks to high Heaven no matter what fancy china you choose! If you invite me over to a sugar-coated turd, bringing out the china just ends up making feel awkward and inferior anyway like I’m going to mess up and use the wrong fork if I even pretend to taste your delicacy. Please don’t get me wrong though. It really isn’t my place to stop YOU from eating the unpalatable. I will mind my manners and let you eat without saying a cross word, but someone please tell me how in the world am I supposed to trust you and your ideas about what is good and healthy when you’ve just eaten a turd the size of Texas and gone back for more! Now you are LITERALLY full of it! And your breath stinks too. And when you start to get all gassy and full of hot air by telling me everything you know to be true, I’m going to see it for what it is: a shitty burp. Go away and come back another day because lucky for me, my mama taught me that the only time it’s acceptable to eat excrement is when you’ve been in an earthquake and have to lay in the rubble waiting for rescuers. She meant that literally too, so your “perfect” marriage and “perfect” world crumbling down around you don’t count.

People are always going to find something to talk about, and the Bird People never run out of things to say. Something else will come along though, and I KNOW it’s gotta be more scandalous than me. I’m just a girl in a new little castle with bunnies and birds and a couple of dwarfs to entertain me. Here’s hoping that if this fairy tale ever hits the big screen, Julia Roberts herself will play me because SOMEHOW her movies keep ending up in my blog! Someone should call her. 🙂

My Steel Magnolias Thursday, Jun 23 2011 


It’s been raining for a few days straight here, and as I sat on the balcony drinking coffee this morning I got to thinking about friends. And the term “fair weather” friends. This morning’s coffee comes courtesy of a Frosty mug. (Not like it’s spiked or anything since people usually think of beer being served in frosty mugs. Totally sober here. For real.) I won this mug at a bunko game back when we actually PLAYED bunko. Looking at Frosty, as I have now named him since he is a snowman and I am  clever, gives me a toasty, warm and fuzzy feeling because he makes me think about My Girls. Now we just get together at a restaurant. And rest. And rant. Usually we talk about what’s going on with who and laugh over cocktails. Bunko has kind of become like the game Marco Polo because there isn’t really any rhyme or reason to when it gets called. Sometimes I call bunko when I can’t really “see” things right and want to reach out to my girls. Don’t look for a picture of the Bunko Girls yet. I doubt I’d get that many women to agree on one picture where everyone’s hair looks nice and nobody thinks they look fat. Check out Frosty below mugging for the camera though. He’s sitting there for me, with the dark clouds behind him and the communication tower of some kind just off in the distance. Don’t correct me if I’m wrong about that big thing either. Because then I’ll look stupid and the rest of this won’t make sense so just go with me here.

Even on rainy days when the sun isn’t so bright, I can send out a signal to some girlfriends and see who’s up for a game. I don’t always hear back from all of them, but that doesn’t mean I should assume they are fair weather friends. They just may not be able to communicate what they’re thinking when the clouds are blocking the signals. Some people may actually be those fair weather friends, I guess, and don’t want to get out in the storm lest their hair frizz. I get that too. I know I don’t always want to walk around with frizzy hair either. Occasionally, most of us do put on our hats and stylish rain boots though and just prepare for a bad hair day. Donning that rubbery soled footwear and choosing to brave the storms to help out a friend can be good for the soul. I’m speaking in metaphors here, but sometimes girlfriends can just appreciate a really great pair of shoes too, and it’s as simple as that!

“I promise that my personal tragedy will not interfere with my ability to do good hair.”

– Steel Magnolias

I could go on and on and onandonandonandon with the Steel Magnolia quotes since it’s one of my total faves, but Annelle says that to Truvy in the beauty shop when she’s trying to explain some of the gossip around town regarding her past. It’s really none of their business. The girl wants a job and wants to prove she can be professional. I love it!  I think I may be looking for a job myself with this writing gig, but I also see it as a shout out to my girls to let them know that I’ll be there for them even if I have other things going on myself.  And all of us will always have good hair! You know, I went to high school in the same town that Steel Magnolias was filmed. From what I’ve heard, that scene from the beauty shop was filmed at the home of a school employee. I went to a school for the “gifted and talented.” Some girls, that SOMEHOW I never managed to talk to at that high school, have become GREAT friends now and encouraged me to share my “gift” and “talent.” They’ve been a gift for ME for sure. Perhaps they saw my knack for writing and forecasted the rainy days to come in the present. We connected through Facebook, and I have gotten to know some of them really well. Lovely ladies – all of them gifted. You don’t have to attend a school like that however to discover your own gifts. We all have them. My writing didn’t start until one week ago. That gift sat in a box I guess, like moving boxes often do, and I just now dusted it off and unpacked it. Maybe I didn’t see it because this particular box wasn’t wrapped up in the sparkly kind of paper I love. There wasn’t even a ribbon. (more…)