9:33 AM - 05.06.19
I have a cold sore.
That's not really "the lead story" here, it's just on my mind right now. And it does have troubling "implications" beyond just being uncomfortable.
(But I'll get back to that later...)
Had another Sante Fe shoot for Acting Like Nothing Is Wrong this past weekend (Left on Friday, came back on Monday) It was my third time there.
The flight there kinda sucked - The initial plane to Phoenix was not available, the delay meaning I had to go to Dallas instead, then to Sante Fe. Then a delay on the tarmac in Dallas meant some anxious fast-stepping to not miss my Sante Fe connection. But happily, it all worked out (An upside to the Dallas jaunt? I had time on the plane to watch Stan and Ollie, which I'd been wanting to see).
But transportation difficulties aside, the weekend was great fun, and was very productive without feeling terribly exhausting.
(But I'll get back to the issue of "exhaustion" later...)
Saturday morning Diane F. came over (accompanied by her daughter Christi), which was a huge deal.
I became quick friends with Diane the first time I met her, so was very sad when, between my last visit and this one, I learned she'd had a stroke (Or maybe a series of strokes).
But my sadness at the news was dwarfed by Jane's. Diane is her best friend, who has been a major cheerleader and sounding-board for the film (Jane had already decided to give her a "Creative Consultant" credit in the film, before the stroke happened).
Diane initially hadn't wanted any visitors, so it was a few weeks before Jane got to personally visit with her. Meaning this was only the second time Jane was seeing her, and was one of the first times Diane was getting out of the house.
I was nervous about seeing Diane - wasn't sure how much she'd remember me, where she was at in terms of her ability to communicate, and so on - and I thought the experience might be "difficult".
But it really wasn't. She knew who I was and was happy to see me. And the stroke hadn't effected her face or ability to articulate, it just left the "circuitry"...jumbled. She struggled for words, and sometimes a couple sentences came out as "word-salad". But with her daughter there to sometimes "translate"...we were able to communicate, and I felt I actually understood what she wanted to say most of the time, even if it came out off-kilter.
The most heartening thing, to me, was - as Jane had previously suggested - that "Diane" was still basically herself. She was recognizably the person I met when I first visited Sante Fe. Funny, self-deprecating (She kept referring to herself and her situation as "a mess"), and just...loveable.
During the visit, she announced she'd decided she couldn't stay in Sante Fe, and was going back to Portland with her daughter Christi (One "victory" we witnessed while Diane was there - She'd been referring to Christi as "Mom" post-stroke, but she called her "my daughter" during the ensuing conversation, for the first time).
And, and I don't feel like I'm overselling this, when Diane said she was going back to Portland with Christi, Jane was, in my mind, downright heroic - We were all being supportive of Diane's decision, but Jane more than anyone, when inside her heart was breaking at what was now the second loss of her best friend and confidante.
But instead of trying to argue Diane out of her decision, instead of saying "What about us?", Jane smiled and told Diane she understood, that she had to do what was best for her and her daughter.
Then, when Diane left, she burst into tears.
During our time together, me and Jane have developed a running gag around the phrase "I'm proud of you".
But in the moment, I couldn't have been prouder.
In the afternoon, Jane had scheduled an interview/discussion with Jennifer B., a woman who's volunteered as a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) for foster kids in Sante Fe, who'd also had her own rough childhood (Not officially in the foster care system, but shuffled around to various family members, as my own mother was),
I didn't know Jennifer - I met her shortly before we started shooting - so when Jane first told me this would be happening, I thought it would be be a fairly dry discussion about "foster care issues".
That was when Jane had just said Jennifer was a CASA volunteer. When she later added Jennifer would have "stories" about her own childhood as well, I thought things might get rough - The stories I come across about foster care, and rough childhoods in general, always seem to make my life experiences seem downright idyllic.
But the resulting conversation, lasting about two hours, was more free-wheeling than I would have imagined. Jennifer was very cute (funny and flirty), and while there were some tough things discussed, and some tears shed, there were a surprising number of laughs as well.
(It's been a worry of mine, when having these discussions that, "nothing interestng" would happen - Jane started with the idea of asking questions from a list, but has decided, for the most part, that she likes not knowing where things are going to go in the conversations, so basically just lets us talk - but I would say, whether I'm talking to old friends like Cary. and Tim, new friends like Wes S, or someone I just met before going on-camera like Jennifer, "interesting" hasn't been a problem, at least not from my point-of-view.)
In the evening, Jane threw a little get-together (I think partly because she likes throwing get-togethers, and partly because she wants me to meet her Sante Fe people and have them meet me, for purposes of promoting the film).
Probably the most meaningful contact I had there was meeting our film's editor, David Aubrey, who had specifically asked to meet me.
Jane recently gave him everything we have to date (And now everything we got this weekend), But anyway, the two of us got on well, and his enthusiasm for the project seemed quite genuine.
And I think he appreciated a couple instances I recounted where editors saved my bacon, and had a better sense of the scene in question than I did (In an episode of Shameless and on Castle, respectively).
It was a big deal for Jane to hand off all the stuff we have so far, very nerve-wracking - While she knows we've gotten some good material, it's gotta be tough to hand the work to someone whose job is to pore over it as carefully and critically as possible.
And I have to say, I'm on pins-and-needles about what he'll have to say once he sifts through everything.
For me, it still feels like a bunch of disparate pieces; while I can imagine amusing/interesting edited versions of the conversations we've recorded, or the things I've said on camera, or fun clips of me dancing (Alone and with others), or evocative B-roll footage, I have no sense of any "through-lines", so to speak. I don't know what picture of me emerges (Other than "I'm kind of funny and like to dance"), I don't know what "story" we're telling or what the "narrative" is, anything like that.
Which once again makes me go to my "default" when it comes to this project: Thankfully, I am not the film-maker here, because I don't think I'd be very good at it. My only job - paraphrasing my buddy Willem Dafoe - is to give Jane a lot of honest stuff to work with.
(And I think I've actually been pretty good at that.)
She's the story-teller...and I'm the subject she's telling the story about (While hoping that the story will not just be about me, but will touch on "universal themes" that a general audience can relate to as well)..
And, whatever comes of it all, I've been very glad I signed on to do this.
It struck me again recently that, had I said "no" to this project, nothing would have happened. In all likelihood, all the time spent involved in the project - all the new people I've met, all the new experienes I've had, all the fun I've had hanging out with Jane, etc - would have instead been spent watching TV, playing on the Internet, and feeling depressed that "nothing was happening" (I've still been depressed that "nothing was happening" in terms of acting stuff - though that's picked up recently - but pretty sure I've been a lot less depressed than I would have been).
Which is why, while both of us hope that something will "happen" as a result of the completed film (She's hoping to at least recoup the money spent, while I'm hoping it will have some positive result on my acting career), the experience itself has been a great thing to have "happened".
Sunday afternoon was the big piece with Wes Studi - With the two of us talking about acting (Or, more to the point, talking about being actors), playing some music (Him on guitar, me on harmonica), and me interacting with his horse, Kloe (We didn't know if me riding her would happen or not - The general consensus was that would depend on Kloe).
Wes's wife Maura (Who happens to be the daughter of the late Jack Albertson), was the one who suggested this all happen, after seeing me and Wes interacting the last time I was there in Sante Fe (I'm fond of telling people how Jane initially "warned" me that I probably wouldn't get much from Wes - because he was somewhat shy and retiring with people - but then we pretty much became instant friends).
To be honest, I wasn't sold on the idea initially - I don't know, I guess I thought it seemed gratuitous somehow. And I see our relative positions in the biz as vastly different - like he's a "real actor", and I'm...whatever the fuck I am. And I don't feel like I'm good enough on harmonica to be recording it for posterity - but I'm glad I "rolled with it" because it was a lot of fun, and it's hard to imagine people won't enjoy seeing whatever of it makes the completed film.
I was...well, not terrified, but more than a little nervous about meeting Kloe; I haven't interacted in any way, shape, or form, with a horse in many, many decades (And as I recall, when I did, it hadn't gone well).
But it went fine. Kloe's apparently kind of a "nibbler", so she wanted a taste of my shirt, my Fitbit, and basically whatever she could get her mouth on. But Wes was there, and he showed me how to do some basic commands with her, and to do a bit of "wrangling".
And while it wouldn't really be accurate to say I "rode" her, I did get on her at one point (Though much to my embarrassment I had to be hoisted on her - I couldn't get into the saddle by myself. Genevieve, our camera person for the weekend, said that, as a novice, they should have had a block for me to stand on).
I sat on her for a minute or two (Wes had put a saddle on her, but no bridle, so he was holding onto her with a rope). The she took a couple steps back and forth, and I quickly said, "Okay, I'm good!" and dismounted.
(Hey, it's a start...!)
The whole afternoon was one of those times where it felt like "work" and "play" definitely mixed and mingled, in a way I wish it did all the time - Dick and Jane brought food, there was a fair amount of drinking involved (I certainly drank more than I typically do in any given year...though surprisingly, barely got a buzz on), and I felt like I'd perhaps solidified a growing friendship with Wes and Maura (I recently posted a couple pics of me holding her Dad's Oscar - for The Subject Was Roses)
I was leaving Monday evening, but we did one more bit of shooting before I left,,,
Dick and Jane are friends with Paddy _____, an Indian chef they knew in East Lansing, who basically followed them out to Sante Fe and started a restaurant there.
Paddy is a character, so Jane decided it would be fun to get the two of us on camera, with him making me some Indian food for lunch and talking about Indian cooking (With, in my mind, a very tangential connection to my "food issues" and experience at WW).
More than anything we've done so far, I felt like I was kind of "playing a role"; I didn't know him (I met him briefly the first time I was there), and we weren't going to talk about anything super-personal - we weren't going to talk about anything I knew anything about, for that matter - so it felt more "lightweight" than anything that came before.
But I'm an actor, so I enjoyed "playing the role" of interviewer talking to someone aout their area of expertise (And apparently I was quite convincing - Jane said afterward that I'd brought her to mind, in both my demeanor and questions, of the late Anthony Bourdain).
(And since I like food, and Paddy's great at his job, eating great-tasting Indian food wasn't exactly drudgery.)
After the shoot with Paddy, all that was left was doing my laundry for the trip back home, and counting down till it was time to drive to the airport.
Much like last time, I wasn't ready to go back home (More on the challenging dichotomy of my life in LA vs life as the subject of an upcoming documentary in my next entry).
But this time it was clear that Jane was also not ready for me to leave (Happily, thus far I haven't been there long enough on any of these trips to overstay my welcome). I mean, I think she's always a little sad to see me go, because we've been enjoying the work and getting to know each other, but this time it felt like something more.
And I think that "something more" was the experience with Diane - When Diane left, there were a few moments when it was just Jane and me, taking in the impact of what Diane had said (That she would be leaving Sante Fe). And I hugged Jane as she cried, and told her how much I thought of what she'd just done - I can't remember the last time I've had to do that (put on a brave, supportive face as you feel like you're dying inside) if I ever have.
And that, easily, is the biggest thing I've gotten, and the biggest thing I think I'm going to get, from this documentary - I think, coming from this experience, me and Jane are going to be friends to the end.
And I don't have too many of those.
Well, I do really want to talk about what it feels like to go from being interesting enough to be the subject of a documentary, to coming back to an LA where no one really gives a shit one way or the other.
And I did promise to get back to that cold-sore - I know you're dying to hear me expound on that...
But it'll keep
Till next time...
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