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!

Sisters Hangin’ Tough Sunday, Jun 26 2011 

This weekend was a fun one and a big one for my sisters and me. I am the oldest of three girls, and about seven months ago my middle sister sent me an URGENT email. She was living in California at the time and hoping for a transfer back home. She must receive Ticketmaster updates to her phone or something and when one caught her eye, she took it as a sign. The New Kids On The Block were joining the Backstreet Boys on a new tour and it was hitting this area. She insisted on buying tickets and that the three of us would go together. She was living clear across the country at the time, but this MONUMENTAL tour was a sign, I guess. She went on faith and purchased the tickets somehow KNOWING she’d make it here in time. Step By Step, things fell into place. Summertime came, she got the transfer, and moved less than a month before the concert date. I’ll bet the girl thinks Jordan is her KNIGHT in shining armor and got this ball rolling for her. Whatever.

So Friday afternoon, I hit the road in my dad’s old pick up truck to stay with my sisters for the night and have some much needed girl time. Here I was rolling down the road in Daddy’s truck which neither suits my style nor my driving capabilities. It’s BIG. Bigger than what I’m used to for sure, but driving his truck is kind of like trying to walk in his shoes. Both are a little big to fill but will get me to where I’m going until I can find my own perfect fit. The rearview mirror was there and talk about time to reflect! It’s been thirteen years and it’s still humming, but on this trip down memory lane it was humming a New Kids song. There are dents in that truck that I put there myself. It was new when he died, but we kept it and used it to move all his girls into new apartments over the years. When the New Kids were indeed ACTUAL new kids on the music scene, Daddy’s girls were screaming, neon wearing, side-ponytail-sporting little girls and pre-teens. Here we are now, all grown up and still screaming decades later. The screaming just comes from OUR kids now and not as often from us. The grandkids are just like Daddy’s kids, really. How could they NOT be. They are loud and fun and smart and maybe a little dramatic, but it’s all entertaining.

As I pull into town, my phone starts exploding with texts and calls. I’m not about to wreck this big ol truck to check my phone, so I leave them be and try to send them my mind vibes: “I’ll be there shortly. Hold your horses.” I think it worked too. My phone quit blowing up, and I was able to quit thinking that I was perhaps missing out on something BIG – like nutty friends and sisters sneaking onto the tour bus BIG. “Keep on truckin’,” I think to myself as I roll off the interstate and check my messages at a stop light. Huh, Whaddayaknow. One of those messages is from my apartment manager and it seems there is a complex issue at hand. The apartment below me has discovered some sort of leak. The ceiling is dripping and buckling and it seems to be coming from MY apartment. Great. Last thing I remember before we scooted out the door to drop off the kids was hearing, “Hey, Sis! Come see what I made!” The call came from the bathroom, so I assumed something gross and never bothered to listen for a flush. I hadn’t bothered to check and see if last night’s waterfall creation had been resurrected or anything. CRAP! Buckle up, get your BUTT in gear, and hit the GAS, Baby! Maybe it’s just a leaky pipe or something. They’ll discover the source and fix the problem without me. One can only hope.

I arrived at my youngest sister, Little’s house and barely made it in the Nick of time. Backstreet’s Back, alright! We had our tickets in hand – actually Middle wanted to print them herself from my Ticketmaster account. She was so nervous I would forget or suffer a last-minute printer malfunction that she didn’t trust me. We headed to dinner and began our photo diary of the evening. The restaurant was packed! It was the ultimate cougar den. Chicks were dressed in 80’s garb and homemade t-shirts. Now I was HACKED. Little should have made us some like I asked. “Look how freakin’ boring we look,” I thought. Oh, well. We’ll make up for it.

My brother-in-law and niece had to drop us off at the concert. We were responsible grown ups and knew that we’d be drinking therefore needed a chauffeur. My poor little Baby Boo wanted to go with us but serenaded us with Gaga songs the entire ride to compensate. We start them young here musically speaking, so her chance will come soon enough. We arrived at the venue and pulled into the drop-off lane. HA! Never in my life have I seen so many husbands driving min-vans filled with kids in car seats and moms decked out in their finest. I think the best were the Pregos though, and there were lots of ’em. Cute little bellies were decorated with all sorts of NKOTBSB sayings and lyrics. It was totally cute, but I was also TOTALLY glad I was not one of them. I’m irritable pregnant, and my view of the scene would’ve described annoying squealy voiced thirty-something fatties all gathered to relive their teenage dream crushes while singing at the top of their lungs completely off-key to a group of guys they’ll never have a chance with. See? I’m much more pleasant without a bump and raging hormones. (more…)

Daddy’s Girl Sunday, Jun 19 2011 

So it’s Father’s Day. And THIS is my Dad. It’s one of my favorite pictures of him, and in it he’s celebrating a professional victory. A BIG win on a BIG case in the BIG Easy. He looks cool, right? I mean, everybody has a picture of their dad wearing a leather Bomber jacket over a duck appliquéd sweater over a fancy Cousin Eddie mock turleneck dickie, for sure. He’s smoking the celebratory cigar, and I can still remember his favorites – Flora Fina 858. Look carefully, and you can see my reflection in the glass of the frame. You can see a lot of him in me today. He helped frame who I am, and as I reflect on the 24 years that I was blessed to have spent with him, I do it with a smile on my face. Good, but with no cigar… Yet!

One time when I was flipping through old photo albums, my daughter, who was about 4 at the time, entered the room and the conversation went something like this:

JC: You know, I KNOW what your dad was.
Me: Oh, really? How did you know? Did I tell you?
JC: No. But I know what it means.
{dramatically looking down her nose at me as I was sitting on the floor}
He was one of those guys that stands around a store or parking lot and doesn’t pay for anything.
{And she narrowed her little eyes disapprovingly}
Me: Wait, whaaa?? HUH??? Where did you hear that?
JC: I saw it on a sign and asked you what the word meant.
Me: {frantically flashing back through my mind to recall what I could POSSIBLY
have said to have disparaged my dad so…. BING! Light bulb illuminates}
Oooooh!!! No, Honey. I must’ve confused you. My dad was a LAWYER not a LOITERER.
JC: What’s the difference?
Me: Well… Um… Nevermind actually. Just go with that I guess.

Dad was an attorney. He was a pretty damn good one too. His strength was in the courtroom where he had an amazing ability to connect with jurors and colleagues alike. It was just something that came naturally to him, and his personal attributes helped him professionally. He was a small town guy that was more relatable to the every day Joe than the big city high falutin corporate types. I’ll never forget the time he told me about how opposing counsel walked into the conference room to prepare for depositions and everyone had to wait while Bentley, Baron & Higgins (or whatever their Ivy League sounding names were) inked up their Mont Blancs with their little wells. Dad finally got annoyed, I guess, at their tactics used to intimidate the poor little commoner being deposed, and pulled out his Bic like a knight in shining armor brandishing his sword to save the day. “C’mon, Guys. Let’s get this going,” he said. He was a great litigator and his reputation as such allowed him an edge when trying to settle cases out of court. He was a formidable opponent in the courtroom so other attorneys often wisely chose to settle rather than risk a duel. People almost HAD to like him even if they were against him. It was a double edged sword for an opponent.

Daddy held an office on the 6th floor of a local building with a view of the lake. I even got to work there as a runner for the law firm. It was a very prestigious position as I believe I was the ONLY runner in town who’s job title was truly accurate. I literally ran all over downtown in the summer heat and humidity frizzing my hair with each important delivery that I made since I did not have a car. Ever the outdoorsman, he also kept a set of high powered binoculars perched on his window sill in that office so that he could look out and into the boats on the lake. If the birds were working and his own work could wait, he’d fly down the road to the house where he kept his boat. Many a partner of his may recall getting a phone call saying, “Meet me downstairs at the seawall. I’ll pick you up in the boat in 10 minutes.“ Those same guys may also remember getting into a bit of trouble at home when they’d arrive from a long day at “work” with their suit paints smelling of salt water air and fish guts. I may need to set my own sights on a nice set of binoculars for myself someday because from where I sit at my vanity/writing desk, I have a similar view. Except I don’t live in a big HOUSE. Or have an OFFICE. And neither are on a LAKE. But since I DO have a second floor apartment, my view of the SEWAGE POND from the TRAILER PARK behind me and it’s residential POOL offer me quite an entertaining view from my HOME/OFFICE ifIdosaysomyselfthankyouverymuch!