nostalgia

May 23, 1981

May 23, 1981

J, myself and CD - not really rocking the Renaissance look.
J, myself and CD – not really rocking the Renaissance look.

To this day, I think this is the only time John and I experienced Ren Faire so it’s kind of interesting (to me, anyway) how Ren Faire wove through my life anyway. Long after we broke up, my college boyfriend Luke became a weekend Ren Faire entrepreneur selling costumes and period weapons. I had no idea he was such a Renaissance buff.

Arriving, taking it all in. Now that I look again, we were hardly the only ones who couldn't cough up a costume.
Arriving, taking it all in. Now that I look again, we were hardly the only ones who couldn’t cough up a costume.

It left a huge imprint on the four-year-old brain of our son, CD. For years, he and his girlfriend (and future wife) Serena spent every weekend with their network of friends at Ren Faire. (He’s a lot better at roughing it than I am.)

CD loved the area they set up for the kids to create art.
CD loved the area they set up for the kids to create art.

Later still, my screenwriter pal Art Everett and I collaborated on a spec script for the Practice (my sister Janet worked there at the time) which featured a comedic Ren Faire “B” story. Sadly, the Practice ended its run about the time we finished and our spec ended up in a desk drawer.

J enjoyed this one more than I did.
J enjoyed this one more than I did.
Instant karma strikes! Dad tweaks Mom's nose - Son tweaks Dad's nose and pokes eye for good measure.
Instant karma strikes! Dad tweaks Mom’s nose – Son tweaks Dad’s nose and pokes eye for good measure.

If I were going to do it again – and I’d like to, it’s only been 35 years since our last visit I’d spent a little more time and money (both of which I probably have more of now than we did then) and invest in an appropriate period costume, throw my inhibitions to the wind and enjoy a day of real-time role-play. Oddly enough, I think it’s also becoming easier to let loose and play as I get older.

When will the codpiece come back into fashion?
When will the codpiece come back into fashion?

If anyone’s up for an LA Ren Faire excursion soon, call me. Let’s meet up.

Gorgeous family
Gorgeous family

 

 

May 21, 2005

May 21, 2005

Our treehouse

 I was in charge of planning our cross-country road trip and booking our lodgings. Most of my selections came straight out of the pages of Eccentric America, a terrific resource.  The Out ‘n’ About Treesort in Oregon and Ravenwood Castle in Ohio (exactly like it sounds like it should be – a replica of a Celtic castle) were the two most interesting places we stayed. I wanted to book a night at Sod House, so we could experience how early American settlers lived, but John drew the line at sleeping on sod.

The Oregon Vortex

There was a bag swing and rope ladders at the treehouse. I chided Sam and Alex when they were unable to climb up the rope and offered to demonstrate how easy it was. To my horror, apparently I’ve lost ALL of my upper arm strength over the decades – I couldn’t make an inch of progress.  To explain my failure, I shouted “I have Fuchs!”  and they responded with hysterical laughter. I do have a tendency to blame Fuchs (genetic cornea disintegration, basically – link to blog 9/4?/04) for everything, even though realistically it has no effect on anything but my corneas. This episode was videotaped but, alas, we lost the camera and all of the film well before anybody could post my humiliation on YouTube.

Sam on the swing
Sam on the swing

As one would expect, there was no television and no internet service in the treehouses so we spent an old-fashioned evening playing hearts and spades.  I regret not taking more photos since each treehouse was unique.  Ours had an upper adult unit connected to a smaller kid’s room by a swinging bridge. The only downside was showers, sinks and toilets were on ground level, about 75 feet away.

May 19. 1972

May 19, 1972

Asleep

 This is another one of those mortifying memories I would’ve successfully repressed if not for my diary. Obviously, at 21 my social skills were sadly lacking. I didn’t even try to engage when I felt intimidated – the only thing I could think of to do was escape. If that meant falling asleep under a table, so be it.

Wanting to escape reality
Wanting to escape reality

I never did become a party animal. Truth be told, I’m uncomfortable at parties now – even small dinner parties. I think today there’s a term for this – social anxiety – and it’s considered a genuine psychological disorder. I believe I suffered from it then (and now). It was worse when this condition didn’t have a name or diagnosis – when it was simply weird behavior.

Social anxiety
Social anxiety

Over the years, I learned to hide my social anxiety far more successfully than I did in ’72.  I understood it sprang from extreme self-consciousness, the ridiculous fear that everyone was looking at me and judging all the things I did wrong.

Cornered
Cornered

For a few years, alcohol eased my self-consciousness and enabled me to socialize more freely but it was a temporary fix that – if anything – exacerbated my underlying insecurities. It was only after I gave up the crutch of alcohol that I began to make real (if slight) improvement. I’ll never be the life of the party, but I don’t think I’ll crawl under a table and go to sleep anytime soon either – although sometimes I still want to.

 

May 17, 2005

The long but not winding road
The long but not winding road

May 17, 2005

We stopped at the Custer Battlefield Museum because it was conveniently on the way.
We stopped at the Custer Battlefield Museum because it was conveniently on the way.

I can’t believe I wussed out on walking outside for a magical spectacle like snow falling on a geyser. Even harder to believe, I’d probably do the same thing today. Braving the elements to see something special appeals in theory and I admire people who do it – but creature comforts and gift shops thrill me just as much.

Sam and Alex enjoying Old Faithful.
Sam and Alex enjoying Old Faithful.

In the gift store, I gravitated to one book –  Death in Yellowstone.

Death in YellowstoneIt detailed every death in the park since it opened. Some demises were more desirable than others. Given a choice, I prefer a heroin overdose to being eaten alive by a bear. I’d rather walk backwards and drop off a cliff than trip and stumble into a lava pit where my insides would get microwaved so even if rescued, I’d expire in agony as my internal organs melted to goo.

Whatever you do, don't fall into a pool of lava! The result isn't pretty.
Whatever you do, don’t fall into a pool of lava! The result isn’t pretty.

It amazed me, how many ways there were to die in Yellowstone, not that we were looking for anything darker than macabre conversation.

Live bison can kill you. Lamar cannot.
Live bison can kill you. Lamar cannot.

Growing up, Alex shared my distaste for dirt and outhouses. Sam was fine roughing it as long as her stuffed white cat “Kitty” came along. Kitty is no longer young and beautiful like she was on Sam’s first birthday but Sam hasn’t noticed any change. That can happen if people love deeply.

Kitty's done a lot of living.
Kitty’s done a lot of living.

It can but it probably won’t, so don’t get your hopes up. My husband’s eyes laser my flaws like only the long-married can. He’s not afraid to call them to my attention (sometimes he should be). Does he love me less than Sam loves Kitty? I think not.

Sam and Alex challenge each other with the potentially lethal Lamar .
Sam and Alex challenge each other with the potentially lethal Lamar .

True love can’t get a foothold when infatuation blinds lovers. It’s born in the bitter realization you and your true love are not, after all, the same person.  You disagree. He thinks you control him, you know it’s really the opposite. He’s not perfect, never will be. Neither are you. Now that you’ve seen him as he truly is (I’m kidding, you’re not even close – it takes years) can you look into his eyes and tell him that you love him?

Alex and Lamar share a moment.
Alex and Lamar share a moment.

If so, maybe you do.

On the road again
On the road again

 

May 15, 2005

May 15, 2005

My favorite photo (that I took) of Deadwood
My favorite photo (that I took) of Deadwood

 This was one of my favorite family vacations. Sam graduated from an upstate New York college the week before. John and I flew to Buffalo and rented a gigantic van. Our plan was to load four years’ worth of Sam’s worldly possessions plus ourselves in the van and drive it across the country to LA. None of us had done it before.

Alex joins the Rowell Road Trip a couple days late
Alex joins the Rowell Road Trip a couple days late

Aside from the fact our luggage didn’t travel with us to Buffalo and we weren’t able to reunite with it until we hit Philadelphia – aside from that snafu, everything went as smoothly as it possibly could for a sweaty family of four jammed into a hot (that’s hot as in sweltering, not Corvette).

The second time we drove far out of our way to see Mt. Rushmore and - once there - stuck around for less than five minutes.
The second time we drove far out of our way to see Mt. Rushmore and – once there – stuck around for less than five minutes.

We picked up Alex at the Columbus airport after he finished his finals. Regrettably, Chris and Serena couldn’t make it. Just as well, since two more riders would’ve meant strapping someone to the ski rack. Our van featured a DVD player to help the boring miles speed by. In between all the anime, we viewed the first season of Deadwood again to psych ourselves up for our visit to the same.

Alex in the Maze
Alex in the Maze

A brief review of Deadwood, the HBO series. The first season was brilliant.  The second had its moments. The third jumped the shark.  A traveling Shakespearean acting troupe planted themselves in Deadwood for the season and – like the big black hole of an idea this was – gulped airtime and sucked away all semblance of plot.  A mercy killing would’ve been kinder. The Shakespearean acting troupe  was tantamount to a Deadwood Talent Show.

Laverne & Shirley - The Talent Show

You remember the dreaded Talent Show trope, you’ve seen it before – most egregiously in the final season of Showtime’s OZ, when inmates in a maximum-security prison sang and tap-danced for their fellow sadistic killers. Laverne and Shirley’s brewery threw a Talent Show. So did General Hospital. Suffice to say none of them have elevated the art form.  IMHO, when a show stoops to the dreaded Talent Show, it deserves to die. No appeals, no reprieves. Everything must end someday; some should do it sooner.

Great Family Road Trip

Back to the Great Family Road Trip through Eccentric America in a few days.

May 11, 1965

May 11, 1965

The picture in the front of that diary - still hideous after all these years.
The picture in the front of that diary – still hideous after all these years.

 In 1965, I was foolishly over-optimistic about how easy it  would be to conquer my tendency to talk like it’s a race to the finish line (and the loser dies) whenever I speak to a group. The larger the group, the faster I gallop.

I call this facial expression "the Silent Scream".
I call this facial expression “the Silent Scream”.

Obviously, nerves – or more accurately fear – is the root of this malady. A doctor explained it’s due to a primal burst of adrenalin – speaking in public triggers a “fight or flight” response in my reptilian brain.

Given my father, a Lutheran pastor, delivered a sermon to a large seated congregation every Sunday, you’d think I might acquire this skill naturally – by osmosis.  I did not.

Mom! Kathy is doing all the talking again!

I made up for it in small groups – such as my nuclear family – where I felt comfortable. There, I morphed into “Chatty Cathy”, a nickname I loathed. It was all Janet could do to get a word in edgewise.

Word in edgewise

My father recorded us after dinner and doing family devotions. I belted out every verse of every hymn I knew by heart, barely pausing to catch my breath. In my monotone shriek, it had to be excruciating. My father tried to slow me down. “It’s Janet’s turn. Let Janet sing.”

She's too little!

(atonal shrieking)

Joy to the world

 

Let Earth recieve her KING

And on and on, all recorded for posterity. Clearly, I was desperate to entertain them lest they decide I’d become redundant now that Baby Janet was on the scene. Photographic evidence of my terrifying ordeal can be seen in my gallery, “Kathy Vs. the Alien Baby”.

 

 

 

May 9, 1993

May 9, 1993

Jim McCann, Judith Russell, CD Rowell, me and John outside the Great Western Forum.
Jim McCann, Judith Russell, CD Rowell, me and John outside the Great Western Forum.

I rarely watched sports at all (certainly not by choice) before my obsession – some might say my addiction – with the Lakers began. A novice at rolling with the ups and downs of a long season, I took every loss to heart. Viewing the game through the lens of a die-hard fan, I was outraged at how the referees routinely called phantom fouls (and otherwise screwed) my beleaguered Lakers. Did somebody pay them to make my team lose? When obsessed, my thinking gets increasingly deranged.

1985-86 Lakers team
1985-86 Lakers team

How did this obsession begin? My very first Lakers game – an early round of the playoffs, 1986. The Forum was shaking; Laker fans were confident they’d breeze past Houston on their route to a second NBA Championship. The Lakers led the scoreboard every single second of the game -– until the last one, when Ralph Sampson drained an impossible three and the Lakers were out. Dream over. If they’d won as expected, I probably wouldn’t remember it so clearly. The out-of-nowhere last instant loss was high drama, to say the least. I was hooked.

The Forum basketball court
The Forum basketball court

John’s theory was after a loss like that, they’d come back strong and win the championship the following year so we bought our first season tickets. We were high in the rafters but we made friends with the interesting crew of people who owned the seats around us and it was a great year. They did indeed win the championship. I almost fainted, it was so exciting. We videotaped the games (VHS) so – if they won – we could watch them again when we got home.

Arty night shot of Forum
Arty night shot of Forum

Yeah. We were really that crazy about the Lakers. And it was a blast to be a fan in 87, 88 and 89  when they won everything. Less so in 90 and absolute misery as I write this. I’ll never give my heart to another team, though. It can only be broken once.

John and me in front of the Forum.
John and me in front of the Forum.

When I wrote I was a “smidge” down, I was trying to manage my emotions. I’d read that using words that minimized pain could actually reduce one’s emotional reaction. It worked, but gradually I slipped back into my catastrophizing ways. This entry is a timely reminder it’s far better to be a “smidge” disappointed than bereft because my life is over.

 

May 7, 2014

May 7, 2014

Daisy's last day. We had her for ten years, from when she was four to roughly fourteen. She was a PERFECT dog.
Daisy’s last day. We had her for ten years, from when she was four to roughly fourteen. She was a PERFECT dog.

After our beloved Daisy (a golden retriever mix) crossed the rainbow bridge, we adopted a terrier mix from a local rescue organization. Before long we discovered Nicky’s head was full of bad wiring (as opposed to any trace of a brain). He’s pathologically devoted to me, so much so that even after two years, he’ll attack John if my husband dares to get too close to me. Then there’s his piercing, ear-shattering bark.

Nicky's intellectual look.
Nicky’s intellectual look.

It was clear why Nick’s two previous owners dumped him; if I followed suit, his next owner would do the same thing. My dog was a lemon but he loved me so much! How could I save my psychotic little terrier? My novel and brilliant solution? Adopt another small dog and hope Nick follows the new dog’s example. I am nothing if not a clear thinker when it comes to adopting more pets.

Nicky and I before Zelda.
Nicky and I before Zelda.

Enter http://lhasahappyhomes.org and a lhasa mix named Xyla (now Zelda). Her previous owners surrendered her because she needed eye surgery, which the rescue organization provided. They were honest about her flaws (she was a chewer but that’s over now). On the plus side, she was smart – dolphin smart, as opposed to Nick, no brighter than the average mollusk.

The beautiful regal and QUITE entitled Zelda.
The beautiful regal and QUITE entitled Zelda.

Zelda watches television like she’s following the plot but she’s actually watching for the appearance of a dog (or cat, pig, horse – any four-legged creature). Then she goes bonkers, barking and launching herself at the TV,  frantic to vanquish the intruder in our home. If Nick tries to assist, she lunges and growls at him.

Nick and Zelda share space.
Nick and Zelda share space.

Zelda’s more into food than Nick, as you might surmise from her chunky physique. If Nick doesn’t finish his food, she drags a piece of paper on top of it with her nose (she’d be unstoppable if she had opposable thumbs) and then nudges it from  Nick’s side of the room to hers. She’s adept at distracting him, stealing his treats and hiding them to enjoy later – usually in the corner cushions of my sofa. I once found a square of cheese waiting there.

Zelda loves to read.
Zelda loves to read.

They were both about a year and a half old when I adopted them which makes them roughly three now. They still act like silly puppies which is fine by me; the rest of my family is less enthusiastic. Sure, pets are work but I can’t imagine a life without animals around me. Our current crop is Fitzgerald-themed – Carroway, Gatsby, Wilson (the cats) and Nick and Zelda (the dogs). I talk to them like they’re people because to me – given their wildly different personalities – they are.

Nick doesn't know how to read.
Nick doesn’t know how to read.

May 5, 2012

May 5, 2012

Hollywood Bowl1
It was thrilling to explore a legendary venue like the Hollywood Bowl. Actually, any casual visitor to LA can explore its exterior – the site is neither gated nor guarded. Tourists can park in the lot, stroll up and down the shell, even take the stage if they choose on off-season days when no one is doing a sound-check or performing.

13 Daisy Dell

Backstage, of course, is off limits. That and its exclusivity endows it with irresistible mystique, at least to me. I’ve been backstage at a few rock shows (notably Bruce Springsteen, Motley Crue and Kiss) but on those occasions I was so in awe of the performers that specific details about the surroundings were a blur.

Dressing room, Hollywood Bowl
Dressing room, Hollywood Bowl

The tour Michael arranged was perfect. Our guide, who’d worked there for years,entertained us with anecdotes about the rich and famous and we could take our time. I took a lot of photos, many already in the clubs and venues section of my site, some reprinted here.

View from the stage of the Hollywood Bowl
View from the stage of the Hollywood Bowl

Why my interest in the inner workings of the Hollywood Bowl? I’m writing a novel about a defunct rock’n’roll band, famous in the sixties. One member went on to success beyond his wildest dreams. My hero did not. The book – half of which takes place in the 60s – is about their attempt to reunite 25 years later. Will the secrets and betrayals that shattered them in the seventies resurface in 2000? Have any of them really changed?

Hollywood Bowl Empty Seats

May 2, 1981

May 2, 1981

My sister, Janet, and me in 1981.
My sister, Janet, and me in 1981.

Living in Los Angeles, it’s not uncommon to run into celebrities. (It’s not exactly “common” either. It’s definitely an “event,” more unusual than not.) Generally speaking, when they’re out with their families doing things normal families do – like going to a play – it’s considered bad form to approach them.

He was very gracious.
He was very gracious.

I make an exception in cases like this, in which (a) I have a deep, genuine appreciation for a specific piece of their work and (b) the work in question is relatively obscure. I’m not speaking from experience, obviously, since I can’t say I’ve ever been approached – let alone mobbed – by fans. However, if that was my problem, I suspect I’d be less annoyed – possibly even charmed – if the fan who interrupted my theater experience complimented something I wasn’t used to accepting compliments on.

He was super nice.
He was super nice.

“The Morning After” deserved a lot of compliments. It was an ABC Movie-of-the-Week that, to the best of my knowledge, aired only once, on February 13, 1974. It’s  been released on DVD but is very hard to find and I can’t find more than a snippet of it on YouTube. According to Wikipedia, it’s shown in some treatment centers (for alcoholism). IMHO, it deserves a much wider audience. It moved me deeply when I saw it in 74 – I waited in vain for a rerun. Van Dyke was nominated for an Emmy for his lead performance but lost to Hal Holbrook.

The Morning After4

The Morning After3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most likely the reason it didn’t get more attention was its downbeat ending. Van Dyke plays a successful PR man with a family who struggles – unsuccessfully, as it turns out – with alcoholism. The final scene, which I vividly recall, finds him ragged and alone, under a pier on the beach, chugging a bottle. It broke my heart – just like similar real-life scenarios break hearts every day.

The Morning After1

The Morning After2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 74, people didn’t talk about alcoholism as freely as they do today. According to Wikipedia, Van Dyke was one of the first celebrities to admit to a problem with alcohol – quite different than today, when sometimes it seems like rehab is a requirement – not an impediment – to celebrity.

 

The Dick Van Dyke Show

 

I loved the Dick Van Dyke show long before I saw “The Morning After” but “The Morning After” meant more to me. I’m glad I got the opportunity to tell him so.


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