travel

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.

April 13, 1994

April13, 1994

She led two lives_edited-1

 It’s exciting when a script goes out for casting. The Helios Movie of the Week, “She Led Two Lives,” ended up starring Connie Selleca.  The project I was about to travel to Texas to research didn’t get made. A disproportionate number of research trips took me to small towns in Texas, probably because a lot of stories ripe to be turned into TV movies occur in  small Texas towns.

I knew a lot about small Iowa towns - like Graettinger, my father's home town.
I knew a lot about small Iowa towns – like Graettinger, my father’s home town.

These were heady, exciting times but some of my weaker diary entries. Today’s entry reads like a call sheet. Mentions of J and my family are cursory, I didn’t record any adorable things the kids said or profound observations from my dad. In retrospect, I wish I’d filled these pages with personal anecdotes and quotes from my family instead of tracking blips on the radar of my career.

Summer days with the kids.
Summer days with the kids.

This leads to a bigger regret – I wish I’d spent more time with my children when they were young instead of obsessing about my next writing assignment. The writing doesn’t matter much now but I’d give anything for a few days with Chris, Sam and Alex when they were thirteen, six and five. (Maybe not thirteen, that was rough.) In my dreams, they’re always five or six.

Summer with the kids

Before I feel too guilty or too sorry for myself, I should add that I was lucky. I wrote at home, not in an office, and I could make my own schedule. To all intents and purposes, I was a stay-at-home mom who could volunteer at their school or scout troop, pick them up if they got sick in the middle of the day etc. Maybe I took all that time for granted and that’s why I didn’t value those years enough. I hope to do better when and if I have grandchildren.

With CD. It would be nice to have a baby in the family again.
With CD. It would be nice to have a baby in the family again.

 

 

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.

March 9. 1969

March 9, 1969

This wasn’t my first – or last – fantasy about taking drastic measures to escape my life. I didn’t follow through on this brilliant plan or any of the others which didn’t stop me from devising new schemes to start over someplace else whenever I’m overwhelmed where I am.

Flying away to Sweden
Flying away to Sweden

Before my wedding, I thought about hopping a plane and disappearing in Sweden (because I took Swedish at UCLA, as if that would do me any good.)  Thank God I lost my nerve – or regained my senses – and showed up at the church on time. Sticking around and seeing things through was always the right choice.

Hop a train to a new life, new name, new city.
Hop a train to a new life, new name, new city.

The fantasy of running away – starting a new life with a new name – is probably impossible in our high-tech surveillance-happy world. Even if I could, there’s no reason to believe my new life would improve on the one I’m living. As the saying goes, wherever you run to, you take yourself with you.

Go where?
Go where?

And of course, “myself” is the problem. The only way to change my circumstances is change myself. It’s an inside adjustment, not an outside one. I didn’t know that in ’69, as I sank into a bottomless clinical depression. I find solace in the fact that no matter how much I wanted to leave this life, I stayed – and you know what? It got better.

These boots are made for walking - incognito woman of mystery somewhere far north of here
These boots are made for walking – incognito woman of mystery somewhere far north of here

February 10, 1986

 

February 10, 1986

Matt, John, Jim McCann and me (Janet no doubt behind the camera)
Matt, John, Jim McCann and me (Janet no doubt behind the camera)
A rare sighting of Janet (with me) in front of the cameraA rare sighting of Janet (with me) in front of the camera.
A rare sighting of Janet (with me) in front of the cameraA rare sighting of Janet (with me) in front of the camera.

This was John and my first trip to Europe. We went with my sister Janet, her husband Jim McCann and John’s brother Matthew. It didn’t start out well. Our van broke down halfway up the mountain road to our lodge forcing three jet-lagged American boys to brave the icy night and push the van up the hill. Sometimes it’s especially nice being a girl.

Pushing the van1

Pushing van2

If you've seen the film "Don't Look Now" (Donald Sutherland/Julie Christie in Venice), it's hard to miss the creepiness of the costumed little person staring at John from the side.
If you’ve seen the film “Don’t Look Now” (Donald Sutherland/Julie Christie in Venice), it’s hard to miss the creepiness of the costumed little person staring at John from the side.

For some reason, Janet and Jim didn’t join us on our day excursion to Venice – probably because it was a long drive from where we stayed in Neustadt. They would’ve if they’d known it was Carnival – we didn’t know it either.  We arrived as falling snow dusted gondolas, surrounded by people in masks, capes and Renaissance regalia; music and bells rang across St. Mark’s square. The spectacle was as surreal as it was magnificent.

Lady in red with umbrella in otherwise empty snow-covered gondola.
Lady in red with umbrella in otherwise empty snow-covered gondola.
Carnival costumes
Carnival costumes

One mundane memory remains (that I didn’t write down). Like every other day on that trip, the weather was arctic – subzero cold and bitter winds cut through to our bones. Even so, John and Matt didn’t complain (much) when I dragged them up and down narrow streets on a quest for Italian leather boots. Hopelessly lost by the time I scored “the pair”, we ducked into the nearest restaurant for warmth as much as food. The menu was in Italian with no accompanying translation to English. We threw caution to the winds and ordered entrees with appealing words (but no concept of what we’d be eating).

Musicians in costume
Musicians in costume
More elaborate costumes
More elaborate costumes

animated-octopus-image-0007

I got a sea creature with massive tentacles served with black ink, enough to make me hurl. Once again, it paid to be the girl. John graciously traded with me. To this day, he swears he got the best of the deal.

Matthew and I dance in the square - one of my favorite photos.
Matthew and I dance in the square – one of my favorite photos.
John and I (in Zurich I think but not sure)
John and I (in Zurich I think but not sure)

February 6, 1994

February 6, 1994

Matt, Alex, John and Sam in outdoor hot tub in the snow.
Matt, Alex, John and Sam in outdoor hot tub in the snow.
Chris and Alex catching up with school work at night.
Chris and Alex catching up with school work at night.

When I started to write this diary blog I realized this was the last time my family and I skied. How could 23 years fly by so quickly? Why did we stop? We didn’t make a decision to give up the sport, it just happened – like far too many of my relationships (and in some cases, obsessions) end, arbitrarily and without warning.

Uncle MattMy sister Janet and I taught ourselves to ski as children. I introduced my husband John to the sport around 1980.  We invited John’s brother Matt along on our first and subsequent ski trips. In no time at all, John and Matt skied advanced slopes while I stayed stuck between beginner and intermediate. I broke my hand at a Motley Crue concert in 1985 (See November 28, 1985) which didn’t help. It heightened my fear of falling and re-injuring my hand, which made me nervous. A nervous skier is a bad skier.

CD pondering
CD pondering
Alex enjoying a snack
Alex enjoying a snack

Chris, Sam and Alex surpassed me because by nature children are fearless – and being close to the ground, they didn’t have as far to fall.  Other than our final trip, we skied at Deer Valley in Park City, Utah.

Matt, Bryan, Sam, Alex, Chris
Matt, Bryan, Sam, Alex, Chris

On this trip, we skied in Oregon, a vacation arranged by one of John’s high school and college friends Bryan Arakelian.  As usual, everyone’s favorite Uncle Matt came along. In addition to being a great skier and musician, Bryan is an all-star chef so it was gourmet dining every night at the condo. Due to deadlines, I stayed home half the time to write which was fine with me since not only was I unable to keep up with the grown-ups, I could no longer keep up with the kids. We had a great time.

Why was it our last ski vacation? I wish I knew.

January 22, 1971


January 22, 1971

 

I could count on Sandy to help me search for the past.
I could count on Sandy to help me search for the past.
Vania Brown could travel back in time too.
Vania Brown could travel back in time too.

January 22, 1971, is practically a template for every return trip to Santa Clara after my parents moved to San Diego. Invariably, these visits were poorly planned and rushed, always too much to do in too little time. My neurosis compelled me to forage in vain for a piece of my past (in the case above, the Grapes of Wrath gig).  My futile search for Luke was eerily similar to my  recurring “missed connections” dream.

Where'd you go, Luke?
Where’d you go, Luke?


A classic recurring dream involves taking an exam you’re unprepared for. There are infinite variations. In my typical version, I forgot/neglected to drop a UCLA class and the deadline passed. I must take the final but I never attended the class and know nothing.  In my father’s version, he stands before a congregation without his hymnal or Bible – lost. I suspect every occupation dreams its own variant on this theme. No matter how often I dream it, it shoots my stress level sky-high.

 

Consequences can be dire if you forget to drop a class -- in a dream - within a dream.
Consequences can be dire if you forget to drop a class — in a dream – within a dream.

 

My “missed connections” recurring dream induces frustration rather than anxiety. These dreams always take place in Santa Clara.  I’m home (I can’t believe I still call Santa Clara home when I haven’t lived there for almost 50 years but some places leave a deep imprint) and I want to get in touch with somebody but I left their phone number and/or address in LA. Sometimes, I can’t figure out how to dial the phone or intercom – or the person I’m searching for moved and left no forwarding address. I’m always thisclose but I can never get there. To this day, I dream alterations of this theme over and over.

 

SANTA CLARA

 

No doubt it’s obvious to amateur shrinks what these dreams mean. All I know for certain is they’re not going away. Santa Clara, here I come…. over and over again. As Bono famously sings, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”

 

December 23, 2015

december-23-2015_edited

Our private tour of the U.N.
Our private tour of the U.N.

 When Bobbi mentioned a stop at the UN to drop off her mother’s medals, I expected a tedious detour. Wrong!  It was one of the most interesting places we saw despite being far from ancient. It’s not open to the public at large – to put it mildly – so the four of us felt privileged by a personal tour from a man who knew every inch of the place. All in all, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Bill, Bobbi, John and me on our Roman holiday
Bill, Bobbi, John and me on our Roman holiday.

For someone like me, flustered by too many choices, confused by too much information – there is no better travel companion than Bobbi Goldin. She’s better than the most advanced elite travel app. Anything you could conceivably want to know is available in an instant – just ask.

Bobbi pre-selected places for lunch as well as dinner.
Bobbi pre-selected places for lunch as well as dinner.

Weeks before we left, she researched restaurants in Rome. Not only did she pull the trigger and decide which establishments to patronage, she figured out it might be a problem to find open restaurants on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and booked everything in advance.

John and Bill admire Palatine
John and Bill admire Palatine

She also knew which private tours to book (the Vatican and Pompeii, in case you’re wondering.)  Our private tour of the Vatican paid major dividends. Not only did we avoid lines and see things we missed on our last trip, our tour guide was delightfully wry and irreverent – something my husband, the product of a Catholic education, thoroughly enjoyed.

John - a Catholic boy
John – a Catholic boy

And the shopping! She knew which streets to target, what to look for and even how to fill out duty free forms.

Me at Palatine
Me at Palatine

My rave about Bobbi should be no means minimize Bill!  Hilarious, intelligent and provocative – by which I mean sometimes he argues outrageous positions to stimulate passionate discussions. As much as he loves spirited conversation, he prefers a leisurely pace when touring museums – just like my husband. Last but not least, for a non-celebrity like myself, it’s fun to see him get recognized and appreciated by locals or fellow tourists. He’s gracious when approached, even when interrupted, a class act in every sense of the word.

William Bill Atherton
William Bill Atherton

So, bottom line – let’s do this again! Spain, next time?

 

 

December 20, 2003

december-202003

A family portrait without Sam - a common occurence in these years.
A family portrait without Sam – a common occurence in these years.

 If I’d understood how hard it is to send a child away to college – how much you miss them when they’re gone – I would’ve been a more sensitive daughter. Unfortunately, there was no way to transmit this belated insight to my college-age children. They all went away to school with nary a thought about how their mother might cope.

Sam is back for this one! Sitting in her Dad's lap.
Sam is back for this one! Sitting in her Dad’s lap.

My two sons chose Southern California colleges within driving distance of our house.  Sam selected a small campus in upstate New York – nearer Rochester and Canada than Manhattan – which meant we saw her over Thanksgiving, Christmas, and spring break (and of course summers). The first year was the most unbearable, but the fourth was by no means easy. I kept hoping below zero temperatures and snow would send her screaming for California sunshine but she stuck it out

A happy cousins reunion! From left to right, Sam, Alex, and Carly Salter Govind
A happy cousins reunion! From left to right, Sam, Alex, and Carly Salter Govind

Despite the psychological distress her prolonged absence caused me, I’m glad she experienced life in a completely new environment. Aside from three months I lived in NY – both my daughter and I were there on 9/11/01 (Link to September 11, 2001) – I’ve spent my entire post age-five life in California. My husband was born in California and never lived anyplace else.

dream

J and I share a retirement dream designed to remedy this geographical deficit. Whether or not we’ll achieve it – who knows? It’s fun to think about. We’d sell or rent our present house for at least two years and live six months in New York, six months in Paris, six months in Rome and six months in Berlin. We estimate six months is about enough time to learn how a neighborhood works. Twenty years ago, we would’ve missed our children too much to consider it, but now that cell phones get reception everywhere and there’s always the option of skype, what’s to hold us back? Here’s hoping we live long enough and the world as we know it still exists.

Where will we go, what will we do? After 41 plus years together, it's sure to be an adventure.
Where will we go, what will we do? After 41 plus years together, it’s sure to be an adventure.

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