friendship

May 3, 1980

May 3, 1980

Mary Bennett Denove, the bride
Mary Bennett Denove, the bride

Mary and Jack’s wedding was fun, which isn’t the first word I’d use to describe most weddings. Beautiful, moving, magnificent, and interminable, sure. In my experience, relatively few are fun.    

Joyce and John Salter, John and I dance
Joyce and John Salter, John and I dance

As a pastor’s daughter, I was privileged – or required, depending on your point of view – to attend more weddings than most people see in a lifetime. My father married hundreds of couples and our family was usually invited.

The groom, Jack Denove
The groom, Jack Denove

I wasn’t one of those little girls who dreamed about my future wedding day. Bridal magazines bored me even when I prepared to be a bride myself. Although there was zero possibilitiy my parents would divorce – divorce was almost unheard of on either side of the family – I would have predicted I’d get divorced and remarried several times.

Kathleen

Why? Because at the age of ten or twelve, fifty years of marriage sounded like an eternity. I was becoming aware – not proud, but aware – I could be  capricious (all right, fickle) in matters of friendship and, later, romance. It wasn’t always a liability. I dodged some bullets and learned a lot from failed relationships.

Robert Lovenheim, Joyce and John Salter at table #6
Robert Lovenheim, Joyce and John Salter at table #6

By the time I married at a relatively young (for today) 24 – I was beginning to understand what makes a relationship work. (In a nutshell, it takes work.)  The multiple marriages I imagined in my future never materialized. In a real sense, given the changes John and I went through in our 42 years together, we experienced mutltiple marriages with each other. Some better than others, of course. But we never wanted a divorce at the same time, so we went the distance.

Wilkie Cheong, far left, Mary and Jack Denove
Wilkie Cheong, far left, Mary and Jack Denove

So did Mary and Jack. Happy anniversary, Denoves. It’s been a blast.

Mary Bennett Denove

 

 

 

 

April 30, 2005

April 30, 2005

Jack and Mary deNove, my sister Janet, me and John
Jack and Mary Denove, my sister Janet, me and John

I met Mary Bennett my first quarter at UCLA, when we both snuck into an encounter group for depressed Sproul Hall residents. (Neither of us were depressed enough, according to their survey – we must have hidden it well.)

Mary Bennett, Cowgirl. in the Sand, circa 1969
Mary Bennett, Cowgirl. in the Sand, circa 1969

Ten minutes into group, we cured our depression by deciding to be roommates. I did take the precaution of checking out her LP collection first. When I discovered that – like me – she owned Mason Williams’ obscure first album, it was a done deal. I’ve never regretted it.

Mary (bridesmaid) and Jack at my wedding in 1975
Mary (bridesmaid) and Jack at my wedding in 1975

Mary met future husband Jack Denove before I met John but they married five years later. Apparently they weren’t quite as impulsive. Since Mary and Jack went to Loyola Law School and J was in law school at USC, they were one of the first couples we socialized with. Mary and I served as bridesmaids in each other’s weddings and John eventually joined their law firm – now Bennett, Cheong, Denove and Rowell.

Jack & Mary

I didn’t know Karen Stuart well but I liked her. John worked for her husband, Tony Stuart, before joining Mary and Jack. In this instance, my first instinct was correct. I shouldn’t have let Karen read my book without doing a rewrite. Since writers generally get only one shot – one read – I should have made sure it was as good as it could be. This is Not My Beautiful Wife, the novel in question (title taken from the Talking Heads song Once in a Lifetime)  wasn’t ready.  Karen was kind and gave me  useful notes, but this once in a lifetime opportunity was over.

John, Jack, Mary, Becky Miller Cheong (Wilkie Cheong's wife - Wilkie must be behind the camera - me)
John, Jack, Mary, Becky Miller Cheong (Wilkie Cheong’s wife – Wilkie must be behind the camera – me)

Maybe one of these days I’ll pick it up and try again.

April 28, 1968


April 28, 1968

My nuclear family circa 1968
My nuclear family circa 1968

It’s difficult if not impossible to convey what life was really like in 1968 to people who weren’t even born then. IMHO, most films set in the sixties are cliched embarrassments. The best was “The Big Chill” but even that was nothing like my reality.

I never considered running away. My father made a concerted effort to stay close. He would sit beside me and listen attentively to both sides of a new Beatles album – not to censor my music but to stay connected to my world. He took me – my opinions, my passions – seriously. Since I was still a self-involved child, it never occurred to me to exhibit similar interest in his music. My loss.

My father and I on my Confirmation Day.
My father and I on my Confirmation Day.

Baby boomers like me – teenagers in the late sixties – weren’t all about sex, drugs and rock’n’roll although “revolution” was in the air. My friend JoAnn, an aspiring model, had been obsessed with appearances – her personal revolution was reflected in a new craving for more authentic relationships.

My friend JoAnn
My friend JoAnn

The times exerted a powerful effect on Tal Pomeroy, who drew a high number in the draft lottery. One of the smartest boys at Wilcox, he was successfully challenged in his efforts to help me grasp the periodic table of the elements.  He didn’t take a traditional route to his eventual M.D. like he might’ve in the fifties. Instead, he criss-crossed the US, worked all manner of jobs and got to know all kinds of people. Along the way, he handwrote long beautiful letters which could never be condensed to a text or tweet.

Tal Pomeroy
Tal Pomeroy

I’m grateful I came of age in the sixties. Were they better or worse than other times? I don’t know – but I doubt any other era could be as interesting.

Coming of age in the sixties

April 24, 1966

APril 24, 1966

Santa Cruz Beach postcard
Santa Cruz Beach postcard

This is another one of those splendid spring days Sandy and I shared, when not a whole lot happened. I  probably wouldn’t recall it at all, if I hadn’t written it down (and I think the beach photos posted here might’ve been taken today). I can’t imagine what we found so hilarious about “Rockin’ Robin” – we were probably punchy after a day in the sun and surf with our best friend. As usual, my perennial fear made it into the mix – “I bored her” – but Sandy’s mother was sweet and reassuring.  We were both barely fifteen years old. It was a good time to be young in a city like Santa Cruz.

Sandy on the beach
Sandy on the beach

For whatever reason, my family didn’t go to the beach a lot, at least not that I remember. Our family outings – rare on Sundays, a working day for my Lutheran pastor father – more often than not took us to Mt. Cross (a Lutheran Bible camp in the mountains) or a local tour of model homes. We weren’t looking to buy – we lived in the parsonage, which was owned by the church – but we loved to pretend we were moving into our own house. My sisters and I competed over who got the best imaginary bedroom.

Me circa 1966
Me circa 1966

I haven’t been to Santa Cruz in decades but I’m sure – like the rest of the Silicon Valley – it’s nothing like the Santa Cruz I remember. I invite anyone who reads this and has been there recently to share their impressions about how it’s changed – what it’s like today.

Sandy and me on the beach.
Sandy and me on the beach.

Is the boardwalk still there?

Santa Cruz Boardwalk

The roller coaster?

Roller Coaster

April 18, 1982

April 18, 1982

J settles down after the shock (talking to Jake Jacobson)
J settles down after the shock (talking to Jake Jacobson)

For John’s 30th birthday, I threw him a genuine surprise party (with a little help from my friends). I’ve never done it for anyone else and no one has ever thrown one for me. I’m not sure how I’d react. Given my social anxieties, probably not well.

Anne Kurrasch and future law partners Mary and Jack deNove
Anne Kurrasch and future law partners Mary and Jack Denove

There were a few logistical hiccups. We were leaving for Hawaii in a few days but – to avoid going to work – J told his boss, MPR, he was leaving today. I couldn’t advise him against this without spoiling the surprise even though – since I’d already invited his office staff including MPR – everyone knew he lied. Fortunately, they had a sense of humor.

J with his boss MPR
J with his boss MPR

The party lasted well into the following morning, as most did back then. Turning thirty was a big deal. Only yesterday “Don’t trust anybody over thirty” was a catch phrase. How could people as young as us turn thirty? What happened to our twenties?

Mary Bennett deNove, Anne Kurrasch, me, Joyce Salter
Mary Bennett Denove, Anne Kurrasch, me, Joyce Salter

Decades later, thirty no longer sounds old and the question is different. What happened to our thirties, our forties, our fifties? Before long, we’ll know what Paul Simon meant when he sang “How terribly strange to be seventy.”

J and I with Joyce and John (forever young) Salter
J and I with Joyce and John (forever young) Salter

I don’t feel like I’m fifty, let alone sixty, so I can’t possibly contemplate seventy. I doubt I’m alone here. Almost everyone my age eventually says something like, “I know I don’t look my age.”  I assure them it’s true even though it’s patently false and they do the same for me.  In my mirror, I don’t look my age either but it’s meaningless. In my own eyes, I never will.

J doesn't seem to age

J doesn’t seem to age either, at least not until I see him – or myself – in photographs. There, the truth is revealed. Sometimes I don’t spot myself at all because I’m looking for someone younger. Sometimes I wonder how my mother snuck into the picture. Why are photos so much crueler than the mirror?  Someone out there knows the technical reason. Maybe they can also explain where my thirties and forties went.

Where did our thirty and forties go?

April 11, 1988

April 11, 1988

Art Everett, the Hostess with Horrible Hair, Russ Carpenter
Art Everett, the Hostess with Horrible Hair, Russ Carpenter

The Last Emperor Best Picture

Amazingly, one of our guests this evening would win his own Oscar ten years from now in the very same venue (the Shrine Auditorium). It wasn’t amazing because he lacked talent, but because Oscars aren’t easy to come by. Our friend Art Everett’s friend Russ Carpenter (pictured, above and below) received the Cinematography Oscar for “Titanic”  in 1998. (Cinematography Oscar for “Titanic”)

Sam fascinated by the feathered fan.
Sam fascinated by the feathered fan.

Bernardo Bertolucci - Best Director

Terry McDonnell, Joyce and John Salter
Terry McDonnell, Joyce and John Salter

The rest of us are still waiting.

Michael Douglas - Best Actor

Cher- Best Actress_edited-1

John Salter, Judith Russell, Terry McDonnell, Joyce Salter and Jon Crane (cut off)
John Salter, Judith Russell, Terry McDonnell, Joyce Salter and Jon Crane (cut off)

Sean Connery - Best Supporting Actor

Olivia Dukakis - Best Supporting Actress

 

 

 

 

 

J, Sam, Judith Russell, Terry McDonnell
J, Sam, Judith Russell, Terry McDonnell

Adapted Screenplay

Original Screenplay

 

 

 

 

 

Art Everett, Judith Russell, Russ Carpenter
Art Everett, Judith Russell, Russ Carpenter

Babette's Feast - Best Foreign Film

April 6, 1976

April 6,1976

Family Plot

The introvert in me resists going out, particularly when it necessitates small talk with people I don’t feel comfortable with (the other NBC secretaries). However, when I commit and follow through, I tend to use my remaining time more wisely, like the example above. Since I understand this dynamic intellectually, you’d think it would be easy to make commitments to leave my house but it’s not.

My NBC ID card
My NBC ID card

My usual excuse – which I fully believe when I use it – is that I can’t go out and socialize because I have too much writing or organizing to do. At any given time, this is true. A truly overwhelming amount of desperately-needed organization has been hanging over my head for at least thirty years. It doesn’t get done even when I prioritize it. I live for the day it’s complete – it would be fantastic to be unencumbered by clutter – but I don’t make progress. There must be massive subconscious resistance at work.

My friend Gailya Melchoir with stepdaughter Mindy and son Brandon, 1970s
My friend Gailya Melchoir with stepdaughter Mindy and son Brandon, 1970s

I’m better about writing than organizing, but not a lot. External deadlines usually do the trick, although I’m a master procrastinator and don’t get serious until the last minute, Still, give me an external deadline – something due for someone else, not myself – and whatever I need to do gets done. Self-imposed deadlines don’t work because there’s nothing to stop me from extending them to accommodate my inherent laziness.

LATER X

Energy Saving Mode

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’d love to change these self-destructive tendencies and for a long time I harbored the illusion it was possible – I’d learn from my mistakes and make better choices. Unfortunately, it hasn’t happened yet and I’m losing faith that it ever will.

April 2, 2006

April 2, 2006

Old And Wise

Jake and Anne at their engagement party.
Jake and Anne at their engagement party.

 Jake’s unexpected death in his fifties was a shocking wake-up call for a lot of people. He died in the car as Anne was driving him to the ER after a cold/flu took a turn for the worst.

Jake with me at our Edwardian-Dickens theme party.
Jake with me at our Edwardian-Dickens theme party.

I met him in 1978 when I wrote the Success show at Lirol. It might have been a passing acquaintance except that – sheer coincidence – Jake lived less than a mile away. Consequently, he was invited and attended all our parties and quickly became friends with all our other friends. Jake had an extraordinarily large circle of friends. He met his future wife Anne at our parties- she went on a few river-rafting trips with him too –  but they remained friends for years before they married and had a son.

Jake pops his head into photo with Joyce Salter, Patti Akopianz Cavender and Randy Cavender (a Halloweeen party)
Jake pops his head into photo with Joyce Salter, Patti Akopianz Cavender and Randy Cavender (a Halloweeen party)

As the photos reveal, Jake was a party animal, an extrovert’s extrovert, our very own “wild and crazy” guy. His stamina was legendary because he could party all night and still perform successfully in his demanding job as assistant director/ line-producer (more about this career in my 3/16 blog). He loved adventure, fishing and the outdoors. He seemed fearless.

JAKE!He was surprisingly well-read and literate, with a special interest in history, which most people might not guess based on his gregarious outdoors persona. All the years I knew him, he had a loyal dog at his side. I remember the Doberman best. Jake named him “Lucky” because Jake saved him from a junkyard existence.

Jake loved to dance.
Jake loved to dance.

Although Jake was extraordinarily unlucky to have his life cut so short, he packed an awful lot into the years he had. There just weren’t enough – not for him, not for the people who knew him. Anne’s fears at the memorial were understandable – I would’ve felt the same way if I found myself a widow in a sea of couples – but also unfounded. Both she and Jake are unforgettable.

Jake & Anne

 

 

March 28, 1992

March 28, 1992_edited-1 

Two sisters in Taos

Joyce and I went to Taos to visit a former friend I’ll call V (for Voldemort – she who must not be named). Neither Joyce nor I had ever been there. Ostensibly we were going to get a lot of writing done but I’m not sure either of us believed that would happen (it didn’t). In truth, it was a chance to escape our routine days – which revolved around our husbands and children – and reclaim our “independence”.

Getting silly. (Joyce and I do this a lot.)
Getting silly. (Joyce and I do this a lot.)
At African dance class.
At African dance class.

We shopped in Taos, took silly pictures, and beaded necklaces. V talked us into taking an African Dance class.  Later she wound us up and down twisting mountain roads to a secret hot spring that supposedly few people knew about. After we parked, we hiked down a narrow slippery path to the spring.

Buying beads.
Buying beads.

It was every bit as spectacular and secluded as advertised – a genuine hot spring with a breath-taking view of the Rio Grande rushing past hundreds of feet below. Joyce and I, Midwestern Lutherans at our core, are not the type of girls to skinny-dip, but V ridiculed our narrow-minded inhibitions so we shed our clothes and slipped into the steaming water.

Memories come back of Joyce and I in the hot tub trying to do an Ingmar Bergman PERSONA inspired pose.
Memories come back of Joyce and I in the hot tub trying to do an Ingmar Bergman PERSONA inspired pose.

I’m glad she did. It was magical, a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I would’ve regretted it if I’d declined. Remembering special times shared with V creates all manner of cognitive dissonance. It’s easier to demonize, to refuse the existence of any mitigating factors.

Striking a pose1

I suspect I am not alone here. Experiences contradicting my mind set are inconvenient and acceptance is hard work.

Striking a pose2

My diary drags me kicking and screaming back to reality.

Striking a pose3

 

March 26, 1982

March 26, 1982

I assume “HW” refers to the title of a screenplay project. In my diaries, I almost always refer to projects by the initials in their titles which means – after all these years – I’ve forgotten far too many, especially those that failed to come to fruition. “HW” was one of those.

Me with husband and son at Ren Faire - not single and free to hang out with cool girls
Me with husband and son at Ren Faire – not single and free to hang out with cool girls

I have no idea what Colleen Camp or Joyce Hyser was like in high school – I never got to know either one of them that well (Hyser not at all, really). I do know that in 1982 Colleen and Joyce were indisputable royalty in Hollywood’s cool crowd.  Confident gorgeous girls like them awed me – still do,

Joyce Hyser with Springsteen - can it get any cooler than this? - Joyce Hyser
Joyce Hyser with Springsteen – can it get any cooler than this? – Joyce Hyser

I’ve crossed paths with Colleen many times since then. She’s always delightful, bubbly and friendly, even though – at best – I’m on the outer periphery of people she knows. Colleen was and is a social whirlwind. She knows everyone in the industry and is renowned for her major parties. (I’m not on the guest list but that’s what I hear.)

Coleen Camp
Coleen Camp

Based on her intel about the Outsiders, it was shooting in Tulsa (I was out of the loop – see November 15, 1980).  I admired Coppola’s savvy solution – the unequal per diems – to incite tension between actors which successfully translated to the screen.

The French movie poster for the Outsiders clearly depicts tensions between the socs and the greasers.
The French movie poster for the Outsiders clearly depicts tensions between the socs and the greasers.

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