An essay about depression, disappearance, and returning.Read More
sleep, my girl.
Are you free for lunch?
I've donated "Lunch with the Author," a signed copy of The Silver Boat, and the chance to have a character named for you in my next novel, to the most wonderful event: Bid to Save the Earth: Christie's Green and Runway to Green Auction. Just click on the link to place your bid...
The auction benefits four environmental charities, including NRDC--Natural Resources Defense Council--the amazing organization that does so much to protect our planet... I'm a member of NRDC and feel so proud of the work they do.
or Ivy at the Shore (shown at the top, the terrace cascading with bougainvillea.) Bring a friend if you'd like; we can talk about books, writing, life, inspiration, wildlife, the sea, the earth, ways we can help...
Please check out the details, as well as the auction itself and other incredible items (go flying with Harrison Ford, meet Lady Gaga in Miami, sit courtside at a Knicks game with Jay-Z, attend opening night at the Metropolitan Opera in a box for eight, or take a tennis lesson with John McEnroe, among many other tempting .)
And I really hope we can have lunch!
Blue sky, sparkling sea, marine mammals.
Today there's a feeling of excitement and peace. The birds seem more settled. The ocean surface is calm enough to see dolphins swimming by, black blacks and dorsal fins glistening in sunlight, making their slow way along the coast. The sea lions continue barking--the sound is haunting at night, or in the fog, but somehow joyful during this brilliant day.
Most exciting for me: the sight of spouts a few hundred yards out. The whales go by, gray whales on their annual migration north. A few years back I had the unimaginable pleasure of spending time with the whales in their winter grounds, Laguna San Ignacio--beautiful, pristine, unspoiled, thanks to the efforts of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
"The Whales Go By," by Fred Phleger, an oceanographer at WHOI and later Scripps Institution of Oceanography, was one of my favorite books of childhood. Perhaps my lifelong love of whales began in those pages. One of the best Christmas presents I've ever gotten was this now vintage and out of print book...lovingly searched out and given to me by a good friend I'd told of its deep meaning to me.
Books and stories can change the lives of young readers--and old readers, too. Today I read a friend's essay on friendship and fishing, and feel transformed.
Back to marine mammals: aside from the whales swimming by, I have an orca in my bathtub. Katie Jones, cetacean researcher and friend of J-pod in the San Juan Islands, tells me it's a transient.
Have you ever seen such interviews? They're a phenomenon in Westwood, and I would feel remiss if I didn't share them with you. Everyone has a mother, and it's clear no one lacks for words on the subject. Here they are, Mothers on the Street.
Writers love to talk--and write--about mothers, too. Their own mothers, themselves as mothers, their daughters as mothers, their grandmothers as mothers. It's a rich tapestry for all of us. If you are in Los Angeles, I'd love for you to see In Mother Words at the Geffen Playhouse.
The show begins previews tonight and opens on February 23. The journey to the moment has been as exciting, funny, and poignant as the show itself. It all began with a group of up writing about our experiences with motherhood. I'm the show's stepmother, and my piece is "My Almost Family."
My work--on the same stage as Beth Henley's? I'm in awe.
It started with a phone call. Actually, it began with love... Joan Stein called me. She said that she and Susan Rose Lafer were putting together IN MOTHER WORDS, a show about motherhood, and would I consider telling a story about being a stepmother?
Because the request came from Joan, I didn't even hesitate. We have been great friends for many years, since she discovered my second novel and produced CRAZY IN LOVE for TNT. We clicked instantly, over that story of three generations of mothers and daughters, and have shared the joys and sorrows of each other's lives ever since. The photo shows her giving an interview about IN MOTHER WORDS on NPR, and totally captures her warmth and enthusiasm.
Joan knew I love my three stepchildren and thought I might draw on experience to tell my story. I decided to focus on M, my beautiful and amazing stepdaughter, who provides love, humor, and pathos at every turn. A girl after my own heart. She is a walking/talking Greek Tragedy with romantic comedy undertones. I adore her.
I've gotten to know the lovely and dynamic Susan Rose Lafer, and to feel her deep support and belief. She and Joan conceived of IN MOTHER WORDS and have been passionate about the project since the beginning. Their devotion to the work has been so inspiring and heartening. It's amazing, as a writer, to feel so backed by such great women.
Lisa Peterson, brilliant director, joined the project at the start. Under Lisa's guidance, I wrote and shaped my monologue, MY ALMOST FAMILY. She is kind, precise, open, and has an eagle eye for the right word, the wrong word, the necessary, the extraneous. I have learned so much from Lisa.
I've met and worked with many of my fellow writers during workshops in New York. We are: Leslie Ayvazian, David Cale, Jessica Goldberg, Beth Henley, Lameece Issaq, Lisa Loomer, Michele Lowe, Marco Pennette, Lisa Ramirez, Theresa Rebeck, Luanne Rice, Annie Weisman and Cheryl L. West. I revere these playwrights, have attended so many of their plays. We have true treasures, theater icons, writers of heart and soul among us. To be part of their company is humbling.
Here's the great thrill: IN MOTHER WORDS will open at the Geffen Playhouse on February 23, 2011; previews begin on February 15. To have written, trimmed, experimented, listened to our pieces read back to us, cut here, added there this last year or so, has been a glowing time for me: a slice of life in the theater. Can you imagine how I've longed for that, dahling? I moved to NYC when I was young, and Brendan Gill, drama critic of the New Yorker, became my mentor. He taught me that going to plays, for a writer or anyone who dreamed of more, was as necessary to life as breathing. I believe that to my bones.
We got the word just before the holidays: IN MOTHER WORDS would be opening at the Geffen Playhouse in LA in February. When Janice Paran, our fairy godmother/dramaturg asked for character descriptions to give the theater, I knew this was really happening.
The Geffen Playhouse has special meaning to me. I've attended many shows there and find it one of the most charmed, magical theaters in the world. From the minute you walk through the warmly lit courtyard, you know you are entering another world. Their productions are fantastic, and I never leave the theater without losing myself in the play's realm, left my own life for ninety stunning minutes.
I began this note with "love." Love is all over this production. In my own piece for M. In all the monologues, the threads of motherhood, parenthood, new babies, old grandmothers, weave together into a tapestry of love. More than anything, I wish my mother were alive, so I could take her opening night. She was a writer, had a play produced in her youth, and--perhaps because of the times in which we lived--gave up her own art to raise three daughters. So much of what I do is inspired by MY mother's words.
Please come to the Geffen and see our show. You'll definitely laugh, and you'll probably cry, but isn't that what happens when you sit in the dark and immerse yourself in a show that reveals the truth about real, true, extraordinary, singular, ineffable, surprising, unending love? The photo at the top of this page shows the Geffen's enchanting courtyard...how can you deny yourself an LA night of theater, beneath the twinkling lights and amongst the stars?
I haven't even told you the cast! Click on the links to see...
(M at an early reading of IN MOTHER WORDS.)
(This is Part 1 because Part 2 is sure to follow...)
I'm spending a little time in California. There's a place I love to stay, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I write to the sound of the waves; fall asleep to them, too. When I think back on all my novels, so many (including my forthcoming The Silver Boat) have long sections written in this hotel--in fact, in this very room. It makes me happy to be here.
Writing as a moveable feast. Do the ideas come differently in far-away places? I think so, a little. I like to write in different rooms. There's no place like home, but I love to dig in here, without everything around me being quite so familiar. I show up in the lobby every morning, and write as I watch the world go by. Friends visit for tea, or to write together.
(with Audrey Loggia and Saffron Burrows.)
By day, it's right for writing; at night, it's quite a different scene... Exciting, filled with music and conversation. Very cozy, all through the seasons, to sit by one of the two fireplaces and dream.
It feels like my home away from home. (It's possible to have more than one of those...) Every day I see dolphins swimming past. The beach is wide; I walk along the tide line every day. Yesterday I found a sand dollar. I could watch the shorebirds for hours.
Sometimes I do.
P.S. My home away from home is Shutters on the Beach...
The day was brilliant, and the wedding took place by the sea.
Molly and Alex had written vows that included references to water--they had met in it, the pool at Connecticut College. And it flows and surrounds and falls from the sky and brings everyone and everything together. As they spoke to each other, they held hands, and just behind them the cove glittered in sunlight.
The day was joyful. We were so happy for Molly and Alex, and to be together in such a spirit of love, to be with people so open and positive. People had traveled long distances to be there: from California, Texas, even Wales. The weather was pure September: warm in the sun, cool as the afternoon progressed.
The wedding began with a moment of silence, for beloved friends and family who were not there. Alex's stepmother Deb played cello and Maureen and I noticed an osprey fly overhead. It was a moment, probably not that meaningful or significant, or maybe it was. How hokey, to look up in the sky and see a fish hawk and get choked up thinking of who wasn't with us.
Molly held a bouquet of blue hydrangeas. She'd woven the stems with a bracelet made of sea glass given to me by her mother. I remember the day Molly visited the cottage at Point O'Woods and spotted it on my bureau. She'd gone straight for it, picked it up as if it had called her. I suppose it had. She didn't have to ask--I gave it to her.
Maureen and I sat in the front row. We'd been instructed to by Molly, who wanted us in her line of vision. We are her aunts, her family. Mia, her cousin, was a bridesmaid. Alex's family embraces her as if she was their own. All the toasts and comments and conversations and actions say as much. They have taken her to their hearts. It was moving to see.
Michael, who officiated, spoke about the mysteries of water and of life.
The reception was held under a tent. It was festive and fun, and with Twigg at our table full of laughter and stories. He and Audrey Loggia were also "family of the bride." The food was delicious. The band began to play, and Alex's aunt Penfield came for me and Maureen and told us it was up to the aunties to start the dancing. Which we did, no problem.
P.S. Arleen, I posted the picture of Molly's gold shoes on my Facebook page.
The lobby at Shutters on the Beach is a wonderful place. I have written chapters of novels there, a screenplay with a friend--we sat on one of the couches five days straight and wrote until we had a draft--several essays, and many letters. I stay there so often they call my favorite room the Luanne Rice room.
The hotel is at the foot of Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica; it has amazing views of the Pacific Ocean. Many celebrities pass through the lobby. Much rarer is the occasional legend--such as the one you see on my lap in the photo above. The lovely, brilliant E. She visited with her father, Johnny Walker, and after reading the New York Times, discussed the review of a new biography of Diaghilev. E has much to say about the Ballet Russes.
Ben Affleck was across the lobby, but he didn't sit on my lap.