Gutsy Women

 

A few nights ago I was privileged to attend a discussion about a new book. It was held at the 125-year-old Ebell Women’s Club, a place I’m pretty used to visiting. I was there with all kinds of chicks I love (another privilege), so I knew I’d have a good time. What I got was much more.

 

Maria Shriver

 

Maria Shriver led the conversation with the book’s authors. When she came out, she said she intended to steer the conversation in a positive direction, to stay away from ugliness and hate. She’s pretty damned sharp. She’s also a humanitarian. She would have been enough of a draw, but we got more.

 

Maria Shriver, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton in Conversation

 

Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton have written The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience and when they walked out on stage, it was amazing. The theatre roared and I was on my feet in an instant. There was so much positive energy. It was really beautiful.

 

Speaking about the book, the authors told of important women and the impacts they’ve had in our world. Unfortunately, history has often refused to acknowledge these women, history mostly recorded by men. My curiosity was piqued and I can hardly wait to read the book. I fully expect to learn a great deal and to be inspired. That was certainly my experience last night.

 

Chelsea Clinton

 

I have to tell you – I expected Mrs. Clinton’s speech and demeanor to be intelligent and confident. I didn’t know what to expect from Chelsea Clinton, however, and I could not have been happier. She was brilliant, personable, witty and assertive. Maria Shriver did an excellent job of keeping the conversation moving and she asked some pointed questions. The three women on that stage were amazing.

 

As I drove one of my friends home, she and I talked about the night. We both felt it had been a bit surreal, that we were amazed to have been there, to have witnessed the conversation. We were so impressed with what we saw and heard. And we were grateful.

 

Hillary Rodham Clinton

 

Before entering the theatre, attendees were given an opportunity to write questions for Mrs. Clinton and Chelsea Clinton. I thought about it a bit, and realized the only question I had was this: Can you imagine how quiet our country’s political front would be had my fellow Americans done the right thing and voted for the betterment of our country, how much more safe the entire world would be, how fewer service members lives would have been lost, how much lower our national debt would be, how much better our reputation in the world would be, how much more respectable our supreme court would be without a seated sexual predator, how downright boring our day-to-day government functions could have been? I know – it was a lot. In the end, I decided I wouldn’t write my question, that I would just listen. I made the right call.

 

Shriver’s intention of a positive conversation had been achieved. There were gutsy women on the stage and in the theatre. It was a love-fest, and I got to see it. From the front row.

 

Hillary Rodham Clinton - a Gutsy Woman

Passion Follows

 

Big Bear Clouds, Too

 

I’m knee-deep in getting a show ready for the stage, but took a breather to attend a writers’ retreat this past weekend. It took place at Big Bear in the San Bernardino Mountains. It was cold, y’all (by Los Angeles standards) and there was an abundance of nature (again – by Los Angeles standards). I was pretty happy about all that.

 

The retreat was led by Pete Goldfinger who is, well, how do I describe him? We only just met and I am already singing the guy’s praises. He is a successful screenwriter, yes, but he is also a natural when it comes to teaching. I learned so much from him and came away with a hunger to learn more. To dig deeper into the process of creating. He touched on aspects of writing that I hadn’t ever considered. My mind felt like a kid discovering the 64-box of crayons after only knowing about the 8-box. So much color! I was overwhelmed, in the best way, and couldn’t wait to use what I was learning – to create, to envision, to dream.

 

Big Bear Clouds

 

And I can’t begin to describe the other attendees. Their projects are exciting, varied and creative times eleven-ty. Being around them was a privilege. Picking their brains was informative. And they were fun. I hope I see them again. I want to hear their stories. I want to be challenged by their ideas and intelligence. I want to hang out with them.

 

Once I got home, I watched an interview with Jeff Bridges and he spoke about a TEDx talk given by Terri Trespicio and how it inspired him. In the video, she gives her take on passion and how we are too often told to figure out what we’re passionate about and to follow that. She posits that this particular course can be limiting or worse. To butcher her words, she says we should get after life. Take care of business. Hustle. Make those ends. If we are busy with the business of living, we won’t have to follow our passion. Our passion will follow us. As someone who’s barely keeping her head above water while spinning various plates and juggling multiple commitments, I can tell you that Ms. Trespicio may be right. Yes – I’m overwhelmed with all that’s going on. But I’m still here. I’m still going for it. And if I look over my shoulder, I can see the shadow of passion just behind me. And I can’t stop smiling.

 

Mikki Writing at Big Bear - Photo by Yeni

Baby Power

 

I saw this headline while perusing the news on my phone:

 

Baby Power

 

And I thought, it’s about time. Babies have held too much power for far too long in this world. Thank goodness Johnson & Johnson is taking it back!

 

Then Mister pointed out the error, which sent me into a tizzy as those sorts of blatant errors are like fingernails on a chalkboard for me, and I rescinded my rant. Okay. Whatever. Babies. Am I right?

I Don’t Need a Boat.

 

When discussing something or other, I often say, “I don’t need a boat. I need a friend with a boat.” This is terribly true. I neither want the responsibility nor the burden of owning a boat, y’all. But if a friend has taken on all that accompanies possessing a water craft, then I am more than happy to appreciate that person’s kindness in allowing me to enjoy their boat. Of course this extends to all sorts of things. And I am grateful for the blessings of my friends’ lives, and for their generosity. So much of what I get to do in this world is due to various friends and their willingness to share their blessings with me. Yes – I am a lucky gal.

 

A couple of nights ago I was invited to a screening of “Judy” and while I thought it might be okay, I had no idea what I was in for. The film is just lovely and heartbreaking and informative and beautiful and powerful and… I could go on, but I won’t, except to add this: When every single person around you – female and male – is crying because of how good a film is, you have won. Period.

 

Renee Zellweger

 

The friend who invited me out for the screening is a member of the SAG Nominating Committee. The Screen Actors Guild is responsible for the SAG Awards, which will be in January of 2020. The Nominating Committee, as I understand it, will, well, nominate individuals and groups of actors for the SAG Awards. Because this was an industry thing, Renee Zellweger, who stars in “Judy,” was on-hand for a Q&A after the film. And she was pretty cool. Down-to-earth, honest – she made quite the impression on me and I find myself with a newfound respect for her as an actor.

 

I got to enjoy that night out because a friend shared her privilege with me. I don’t need a boat. I’ve got friends. So yeah – I really am a lucky gal.

A Reader

 

Mikki at a New Orleans Book Store - 2012

 

More than one friend has told me about reading a really good book, and parsing out the last few chapters, to make the read last. And each time I’ve heard this, I’ve marveled. Whenever I’m reading a great book, I want nothing more than to zip right through it. It’s all I can do to function properly within the parameters of the rest of my life when I’m in the middle of a page-turner.

 

But now, I don’t know, things have changed. These days, when I read a book I’m super-into I get a dark feeling as I near its end. And when the last page has been read and the book is closed, I actually experience a bit of mourning.

 

I’m going through that right now, as I just finished Elizabeth Gilbert’s City of Girls. I had gotten comfortable with “Vivian” and her New York City life. I liked my time with her. I liked her. And now that I’m done with the book, I miss her. I miss her wit and her insight. I miss her unique-to-her skills and sense of adventure. I miss that book’s world.

 

For some time I’ve been aware of the fact that I will never live long enough to read all the books I’d like. That’s heavy enough. Couple that with the aching that accompanies the finishing of a lovely tome and I find it’s a bit much.

 

But I am a reader. No denying it. And that’s why Graham Swift’s Waterland is at my side, ready to introduce me to a new world, to new characters. I have no idea what’s coming, as this book is on loan from my friend Lorinda. No matter – I’m ready.

Nope.

 

The Container Yard Tour_Hell No

 

I stopped in the grocery store yesterday and nearly tripped over the Thanksgiving displays by the entrance. Nope.

 

I ran into a department store, looking for something or other, and an entire section had been taken over by Christmas decorations. Nope.

 

And don’t even get me started on the repugnant, amoral, racist pig in the White House. Double nope.

 

Y’all – can’t we just have the here and now? Can’t we just find our own moral compasses and follow the damned things? Can’t we just do better? Be better?

 

These are the days when I wish I had a cave to hide in.

One Crazy Summer

 

Do Something Every Day

 

Usually when I close my eyes at the end of a day I can think back on my waking hours and come up with a few things I accomplished, things that help me to feel like I didn’t waste my time. I don’t know why I do this to myself, but I do. And honestly, it’s rare that I lie there feeling like a complete schlub who didn’t do a damn thing worth noting. Big things, small things – I count them. And that nightly ritual really helps me to like myself. It might not be how you roll, and that’s okay. But I am definitely habituated to this behavior and it generally serves me well.

 

When I come to the start of a new season, like today, I find myself trying to figure out what I did for the closing period. How did  I spend it? Did my choices make a difference for me or for others? Was it enough? Was I enough?

 

It isn’t always a kind process. Sometimes I’m really down on myself, or grasping for anything to count as time well spent. Those times are hard, and usually point to a period of self-doubt or low self-esteem. Sometimes I’m elated to recount three months of accomplishments and experiences. Most of the time, however, I hover somewhere in the middle. I recall a few fun things, a few moments of service, a few standout happenings. Middle of the road ain’t too shabby, y’all.

 

This summer? Well, it was odd. There was a lot of uncertainty in my little world. A big move seemed possible and because of that, I spent more time than you can imagine in Atlanta, Georgia. Because I’m a goer, I made the best of it. (It wasn’t difficult.)

 

Lorinda and Mikki in 1980-something

 

Mister and I spent a weekend in Athens, GA, with my sister from another mister, Lorinda. I have loved this gal since I was 13 years old. She’s even more fabulous than ever and I still love her.

 

Creature Comforts - Athens, GA

 

I drank beer – gasp! At Creature Comforts in Athens, they know what they’re doing, y’all. For reals. While there, I took a photo with these two gals. I have no idea who they are. But I liked that they were willing to snap a pic with a complete stranger. And they smiled! Yeah – I dig that.

 

HIGH Museum of Art

 

I went to the HIGH Museum of Art. I’m a museum junkie, so this was really a no-brainer.

 

I got to spend time with cousins. People I not only love, but actually like.

 

Bugs - Kindred Spirits

 

I found a kindred spirit in my cousin Kathy. She collects and displays beautiful dead things. I like that. A lot.

 

Brunswick Stew

 

I made a quest to find delicious Brunswick Stew. People outside the South may not be familiar with this BBQ joint staple, but I’m not only familiar with it, but also obsessed. There are rules, y’all. When a bowl of Brunswick Stew is placed before me and I spy with my little eye a lima bean in the mix… Oh, lordy. That ain’t right. And that happened to me at a very popular place run by some Texans. Nope. I searched and searched and probably ate more little bowls of stew than most people consume in a year. On my last day of tooling around town, nearly defeated, I spotted this joint…

 

Daddy D'z BBQ Joynt - Atlanta, GA

 

Daddy D’z. I went in, took a seat and a chance. When the food was placed before me, I appreciated the beauty, but I’d fallen for that before. I slowly took a bite… And then I started crying sweet tears of joy. That stew was mighty close to what I loved as a child. And I was grateful.

 

Carter Presidential Library - Atlanta, GA

 

I went to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum. Not only is the facility beautiful, it is fabulously inspiring.

 

Jimmy Carter Quote at Carter Presidential Library - Atlanta, GA

 

I thought I knew about President Carter, but I knew nothing. He is a beautiful human being and was a fabulous President. Not only that, but he’s done more for the citizens of this country – in his post-Presidency years – than most living Presidents combined. I took my time going through the Carter Library. I shed a lot of tears there. I loved it so much. I would happily go again.

 

Maurine - Oakland Cemetery - Atlanta, GA

 

Because I love cemeteries, I tooled around Oakland Cemetery one afternoon. When I stopped in the visitors center, the gentleman there couldn’t have been nicer. He was also a bit misinformed, as he said that he’d been told Oakland Cemetery was more loved and better than the cemeteries of Europe. Had he gone to any of those, I asked. No. I told him that at first glance, Oakland looked to be a fine cemetery, but he might want to visit a few more before making such statements.

 

Margaret Mitchell Headstone

 

But it is a fine cemetery. Margaret Mitchell is buried there, if you’re into that.

 

Mayor Maynard Jackson Headstone

 

So is Mayor Maynard Jackson. His marker is beautiful. And here’s an interesting note about Mayor Jackson’s grave. In the South, the dead are buried with their headstones facing East, because that’s the direction from which Jesus will rise again, don’t you know. But Mayor Jackson’s marker is askew. It faces downtown Atlanta’s skyline, which can be seen from his burial site. He loved that city.

 

Sometimes I Drink Water to Surprise My Liver

 

I rode MARTA all over the danged place and walked more miles than a sane person should have during the heat of a Georgia summer. I also drank a ton of local brews and talked with people from all walks of life.

 

Georgia Green

 

It was lovely to be there. Folks were great. The city was green and beautiful. I soaked up about as much of Atlanta as I could.

 

Malibu

 

Closer to home, I spent a few days with friends in Malibu, which feels like another world. The booming ocean provided a beautiful backdrop for time with these adored souls.

 

M*A*S*H Filming Location

 

While in the ‘Bu, we hiked to the old M*A*S*H filming site in the Santa Monica Mountains. The hike itself wasn’t difficult, but the heat just about took me out. I will again do this hike, but will definitely bring more water. Dag.

 

Back at the homestead, I swam and swam and swam. Because we don’t have a pool heater, I try to get in the water as much as I can before the night temperatures drop so much as to cool the water beyond comfort for swimming. We made it until 14 September. That was the last day I could bear it. Once the water drops into the 70s, I get freaking cold. It bums me out once that privilege is done for the year. But that’s the way it goes.

 

And now, the light is changing. The daytime temps are still h-a-w-t, but the nights are quite comfortable. I’ve started studying different recipes, in anticipation of cooler weather. I’m ready to switch out my clothes for pieces not worn since winter. Social gatherings are increasing, as friends are back in town after their summer travels. Work on various projects has kicked into high gear. Autumn is here.

 

It isn’t lost on me that as I age I become more aware of the seasons. More appreciative, too. As odd as this Summer was, I found joy in its days. I rode out the unknowns and the difficulties and came out on the other side. And I loved it.

 

Pool Shark

 

I don’t know how long I’ll be able to remember the way it felt to tread water for an hour, the water lifting my body and bettering my health, but I remember now. Maybe tonight, when I close my eyes at the close of this first day of Fall, I’ll list the moments that occupied my time, checking off what served me well. And then, if I’m lucky, I’ll remember what it feels like to float. To trust the water. To be in the world and of the world. In my own skin.

 

Love

 

Bad Ad

 

 

I’m working on a show right now, based on historic archives (some pieces 125 years old!), and I’ve got writing on the brain. Some things as simple as emails to actors are being handled and I pore over each mission more than you can imagine. Do I make mistakes? Yes, yes, and yes. And that is why I first send the text of said emails to my cohort in this endeavor. I always hope I’ve caught my own errors before letting a missive fly, but just in case, I want my buddy’s eagle-eyed opinion each and every time. Not only might she flag an obvious error, but she may have a much better way of getting a point across. As The Temptations sang, I ain’t too proud to beg. Collaboration is a beautiful thing, y’all.

 

I’m telling you this because not everyone is open to letting someone else proof their work. And as Fats Domino sang, ain’t that a shame

 

Bad Ad

Would You Lie in the Bottom of an Empty Grave?

 

London - The Last Day - Highgate Cemetery

 

I’ve gone and gotten myself hooked on a new-to-me show, “Lodge 49.” It’s a little trippy, a little Cali, a little dude. And for some reason, I freaking love it. I’m not going to try and describe it, because I will flail and fail. That’s not why I’m writing anyway.

 

In one episode, a character is out for a lovely stroll in a cemetery and she falls into a freshly-dug grave. Looking up from the bottom, she says she rather likes the view. Upon seeing this, I said out loud, to no one, “I would do that. I would lie in an empty grave.”

 

And I meant it. I would. It would be a crazy opportunity. I’m a goer. If the chance presented itself, how could I resist?

 

To say that life has been all over the place is an understatement. Up until a couple of days ago, I didn’t know where in the world I’d be living in a few months time. Add to that a litany of philosophical and esoteric quandaries and you’ve got yourself a hodgepodge of fucked-up-ed-ness. I did anyway. And to some degree, still do. Honestly, I haven’t really figured out much of anything. Questions still loom. Uncertainty still hovers. If I’ve managed anything at all, I guess it’s a modicum of relaxation. I’m going with the stream right now. Its waters are twisting and rippling beneath low-hanging branches from nearby banks, mostly shaded and often dark. Even when I can’t see what’s ahead, the water keeps moving. And I’m trying to float.

 

I’m almost caught-up on “Lodge 49.” The second season just started. I’m smitten with its magic, though it may be only imagined. Time will tell. Same for real life. I have no idea what’s coming. But I do know this – if ever someone gives me a go at lying in the bottom of an empty grave, I’m taking it.

Lest We Forget…

 

Flaggie

 

Here in the United States, it’s Independence Day. Some of us are waving our flags. Some are gathered with friends and family, grilling up some fun. Some are watching fireworks, eyes trained toward the heavens in awe.

 

But let’s not forget, friends, that a complete dip-shit is doing his best to behave like a crazed dictator in a narcissistic show of embarrassing jack-assery. Let’s remember that while we enjoy a holiday, somewhere someone’s baby has been kidnapped by our own government and is being held in shameful conditions. Let’s remember that if the fuck-tard gets his way, we may find ourselves in a war that could harm us for all time, if not out-and-out destroy us.

 

Fireworks - Photo by Mister

 

I don’t mean to be so dark, but this is the world we now live in. And for those of us who actually love the beauty of what our country can be, it’s important for us to remember that we are the true patriots. We who believe in the decency of America, in the humanity of the world – we need to remember that the horrible and pitiful people who’ve lost their moral high-ground do not get to take our love of country from us.

 

So I will indeed be putting out my flag today. I will barbeque and enjoy some fireworks. And I will toast the honorable among us, the true Americans. We don’t get much press, but we’re still here. And our patriotism is enviable. It is caring. It is inclusive. It is humane. And not one of us needs a goddamned tank to prove anything.

 

Womens March 2018 - A Patriotic Pink Panther - photo by Mister