I felt alone, even in a large group of people. It seemed that I didn’t laugh as easily as others, or at the same things. I had a different perspective on almost everything, and rarely met anyone with whom I fully connected or felt at ease. I would try my best to fit in, but it never felt genuine.
Why, I wondered, wasn’t I like everyone else?
When I was very young, I attributed this other-worldly state to being gay, but as I quickly discovered, I was just as out of place in the gay community as in the world at large. And being the odd man out is a lonely mantle to carry, at best. (more…)
No matter how valiant our efforts, pooh sometimes happens.
As we celebrate Fathers Day, I am very mindful of the day I became a parent — the morning Mason was born. My now-ex and I were fortunate enough to be in the delivery room, holding his birth mom’s hands, and I was overwhelmed by how thoroughly all of my senses were engaged. It was hard to imagine that this tiny child, who would soon clasp my finger, would be entreated to my care, and I vowed to always remain engaged with him and ensure that he, indeed, had an amazing life.
And despite many upheavals in our life, he and I have remained connected. Now 11, he has grown into a fine young man: smart, funny, a great athlete, and at ease in virtually any social situation. His sweet spirit is infectious, and he lightens the hearts of those around him. (more…)
Aside from the time spent with our family, which I love, I’m finding it hard to be positive or upbeat these days, which is just not like me. I tend to let things roll right off my back, but am finding this funk hard to shake.
I notice it most when I’m alone, whether in the car, running errands, or just hanging out. It hovers, enveloping, and at times grows so strong it makes my heart race.
Partly this feeling is caused by economics. It’s hard to be enthusiastic about work — or anything else — when you’re getting paid a whole lot less than you’re used to and, indeed, far less than you are worth. Especially when finances are tight, prices are skyrocketing, and you have that added pressure of trying to stretch your money to the next paycheck.
Part of this is impatience. After 10 years spent writing my novel, I want it to be published and in people’s hand right now. And yet with agents and publishers having 3-month turnarounds, there is nothing remotely expedient about this process.
Part of this is political. When I voted for Obama, I voted for change — and leadership. While I like some of what he has done, I was hoping for more. I wanted to see him dismantle the big behemoths — education, healthcare, defense, environment — and start from scratch. Put together blue ribbon panels and have the experts — not politicians or lobbyists — tell us how we can do things better. We need to start again, from the ground up, and actually solve problems — no more patches. (more…)
Without a doubt, the most pivotal moment of my life was meeting and the time I spent loving Shane Michael Sawick. Quite simply, without having been lover, partner, and caregiver to him, I wouldn’t be the human, writer, partner, and father that I am today. I am forever grateful to all that he opened me up to, both in terms of new lessons learned, and to the more fully authentic emotional connection I have with myself and with others.
To help honor and keep his memory alive, today I launched a special Tribute section to him on this site. It includes a biography, photo gallery, Shane in his own words, as well as essays I wrote around the time of his illness and death which were inspired by him (Different?, Who Am I Now?, and A Year of Goodbyes). Most importantly, there is also a page designated for you — whether you knew Shane or not — where you can share your memories, stories, or thoughts.
As fully as I knew him, I was only with him for two years. Many of you knew him far longer. I’m looking for your stories, your memories, your photos…
Let’s add to this, celebrate, and share with others, the extraordinary life of Shane Michael Sawick. Taken from us all, far too soon…
This was developed thanks to Facebook, as “25 Random Things” was one of the periodic games people circulate. A friend, Joe Lupariello, had sent me his list, which was simply terrific — funny, smart, and touching. Reading his in turn spurred my creativity, and I published this on Thursday, January 29, 2009.
25 random things about me…
1. One of my happiest childhood memories is of my sister and I building a courtroom, complete with witness stand, and putting our baby sitter in it, on trial for being the worst sitter ever. She never returned.
2. While visiting Segovia, Spain, my now-ex proposed to me while walking in the woods beneath the beautiful castle. Before I could even answer, I was hit with an immediate case of diarrhea, with no bathroom around. I should have taken that as the sign that it was…
3. I cast and directed Jack Black in his first two plays at UCLA, where no one else had yet recognized his talent. To me, he’ll always be that 18 year-old little stoner kid.
4. When I want to cry, I watch “Men Don’t Leave.”
5. In high school, one of my best friends got in trouble for dying a hot pink arrow in her short black hair. In protest, my friend David Diaz and I sprayed our hair bright colors for the day with temporary, washable spray. We were such rebels…
6. One of my first professional acting jobs was in a 1981 t.v. movie called “Fallen Angel” starring child star Dana Hill. She played a young innocent lured into the dangerous world of child porn by Richard Masur. At 16, I was so excited to be making a movie! I got to get out of school and shoot at a pinball arcade in the Valley. And in my “big scene”, they shot me playing a pinball game, just behind Dana, who was seated in an auto racing game. Thus, in the shot, due to the angle, you basically have my butt just behind and to the right of Dana’s head. Probably the finest acting of ass cheeks in a t.v. movie that entire year.
7. As a child, more than once, I made a pig of myself at Farrell’s.
8. Years ago, I wrote a mass “coming out” letter, appealing to people to donate to the annual L.A. AIDS Walk, and sent it to over 200 people, everyone I knew–including my parent’s bridge partners.
9. A few years later, unrelated and yet related, my parents sent out their annual Christmas letter, writing the following: “This year, our son moved into a new apartment and likes his job very much.”*
*Please note they do not mention: A) my name, as I had formally changed it and they were none too pleased; B) that I actually moved in with a BOYFRIEND; and C) that I worked at AIDS Project Los Angeles. But other than that–pretty complete, don’t you think?
10. I make a home-cooked meal 5 nights s a week for my three amazing boys (sons Mason and Marcus, and hubby Russ).
11. While a Production Assistant on a low budget flick called “Blood & Concrete: A Love Story”, I was originally supposed to ferry star Billy Zane to/from the set in my car. However, he was so upset when he saw my bright yellow VW bug that he refused to ride in it. Thus, I got stuck picking up Jennifer Beals every day. Despite my best efforts, she wouldn’t talk to me, more than just to say “hello” or “goodbye.” On one day, we shot out in Lancaster, so for over an hour each way, we rode in absolute and utter silence, as my radio was broken. Thanks for the memories, Jen! (more…)
One of my favorite writers is Irish novelist Maeve Binchy, author of such books as “Circle of Friends,” “The Glass Lake,” and “The Copper Beech.” There is something very comforting about the worlds she creates. Her writing is neither high-brow literary, nor frothy chick-lit, but somewhere comfortably in-between. While her leads are always women and the villains always men, she still manages to create layered stories and environments filled with warmth, where you care deeply about the characters and their outcome.
Her novels are great page turners, where as much as you want to read quickly, to discover what will happen, at the same time you pace yourself, knowing that once you put the novel down, it will be at least a year before she releases another.
Unfortunately, her short stories, of which she’s released several compilations, are more uneven.
With novels, you can take time setting up your story and characters, letting your readers slowly immerse themselves into the world you’ve created. But with short stories, as a writer, you really don’t have time for the niceties that Binchy does so well. You have to immediately hook the reader and quickly convey a clear look, tone, and feel. Whereas a novel can be like a realistic painting, a short story is more like impressionism — a quick and vivid glimpse, with your mind filling in the blanks.
Several years ago, I challenged myself: write a short story as if you were Ms. Binchy — but hopefully more successfully. “Channel your inner earth mother,” I said. “Create characters which are interesting, keep your readers intrigued, and try to stir up some feeling of emotion, all in as few pages as possible.”
“Antique Lace” was the result.
Let me know if I succeeded.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was at a charming bed & breakfast in Vermont, learning how to be an innkeeper. Odd, I know, as that particular occupation had never been part of some long-held vision for myself, but was, rather, a more recent detour. My then-partner and I had what I’d thought to be the ideal relationship, and had recently adopted a newborn infant son, just the year before. And while we’d always talked of the possibility of moving to New England, suddenly, with reasons of which I was not yet aware, it became a priority to him, and owning an inn didn’t seem like such a bad way to do it.
But as I sat shock-still in front of the TV with my fellow classmates, watching in horror as the second plane hit, I had no idea that the towers were not the only structures in my world that were crumbling.
I tried repeatedly to get in touch with my partner and our son on the West coast, but got no answer.
How is it possible, I wondered, that they would not be home so early in the morning? Where could he possibly have taken Mason?
All I knew during those first few frightful hours is that I wanted to be — had to be — home with my family. That was all that mattered. Family came first. (more…)