Shortlisted at Last

There was an interesting piece in the March 2006 issue of Vanity Fair. It seems that the 31-year-old screenwriter, Zach Helm, transformed his career after he wrote up a manifesto for himself. I wish I could share this professional life-altering document with you but only excerpts have been released here and there.

Of course I am sure that at some later date we will have the opportunity to read the complete work, for $24.99, but wait there’s more ~ for an additional $14.99 you can buy the companion workbook to put down the bones of your own manifesto.

It’s not as if Mr. Helm wasn’t making a comfortable living in L.A., quite the contrary. He had established himself a reputation as a professional writer and had a steady build of work from 1997 on, but no one could see his work. He decided he was done with cleaning up other people’s scripts and giving up creative control or participation in his work’s development.

Well, it seems to be working a treat, there are multiple irons in the fire:

Stranger Than Fiction, with Dustin Hoffman and Will Ferrel
Mr. Magorium’s Emporium, with Natalie Portman
Thomas Johnson, a TV pilot
Good Canary, a play going to Off Broadway
And yet another film, The Disassociate

So, did Mr. Helm find the magic bullet with his manifesto? Yes and no. He declared exactly what his intentions, wants and needs are, and what he is no longer willing to do because it didn’t fulfill him. Bravo Mr. Helm. Bravo. Seriously.

I am a firm believer in expressing your needs to the universe and having the universe serve it up. Anyone can do this. There are only two rules to this: one is to be very clear in expressing those needs. It seems the universe needs succinct communication, “Just the facts Jack, we don’t need your stinking back-story.”, and second you must declare them aloud or at least write them down in black and white.

And lets get a couple things straight first ~ No, the universe does not fulfill your mean spirited requests. There is Karma to take care of that so toss your vendetta list. Also, please don’t confuse this with getting three wishes for letting the genie out of the lamp either. Seems the universe expects you to do your part and isn’t going to just deposit millions into your bank account or fill your in-box with offers from perfect, willing specimens of your preferred sexual type. And if you go that route first you are just prolonging your agony, but that’s okay. It means that universe is available to take my requests.

Would that make it easier; to think of it like calling in your song request to your favorite radio station? In the age of iPods, does that analogy even work?

(Okay, now my dark roots are beginning to ache.)

I had already been thinking of much the same thing before I read the piece in VF about Zach Helm’s manifesto. I had decided that I wanted my obituary short-listed.

Let me explain; one of my favorite sections in The New York Times is the obituary section. While everyday does not hold something fascinating, I actually have a file of clips just for obits that catch my eye.

Maybe that seems strange but I’m not the only one who is fascinated by them. Marilyn Johnson has recently had her book, The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs and the Perverse Pleasure of Obituaries, published by HarperCollins.

In the Times review of her book the last paragraph reads, “For Ms. Johnson, we are now ‘living in the Golden Age of the Obituary’: after earlier lulls in which the obituary desk was literally something of a dead beat, we have entered an age of ‘expansion, innovation, entertainment and world-class one-ups-manship’ in obituary writing.”

And apparently Ms. Johnson found differences in the style with which obits are written in The United States and across the pond in The United Kingdom.

“A great British obit doesn’t read like a prosaic resume. It’s an opinionated gem of a biography, informed by all kinds of history, high and low, including gossip. … In contrast to the obits written by Jim Nicholson, (an American Obit writer) - who said his ‘loyalty was to the family’ of the deceased and who tried hard to identify with his subjects – the quintessential British obit, in Mr. Johnson’s words, ‘doesn’t pull any punches in consideration of the dead’.”

Can you imagine? The local obit writer calls on family, friends and neighbors of the recently departed and puts all the juicy details in the paper. No more hiding behind the public persona. Mr. Lion’s Club president’s philanthropy as well as his philandering right there for all to see. Years of rumors making the rounds at the pub about good old Mitch Wexler and his fondness for wearing women’s knickers finally confirmed. Talk about your poetic justice, which sounds worth the price of a subscription to The Independent to me!

So you see where I am going with this?

I want my obit to be full of the life I have led. I want girls and young women to read it and be inspired. Not because I changed the world or even a few minds but because I never stopped believing that I could.

I want them to see that I was NOT, a victim of, or a survivor of, but a person who thrived despite childhood sexual abuse. That I learned to define myself by my actions and not the actions of others and a healthy sense of humour and the ability to laugh at yourself can save your life.

They will read that I kept a promise to my mother and finally learned to play the drums in my 40’s and continued to do so into my golden years and was known to join local bands to accompany them for a song or two. Especially after a couple pints of Guinness at her favorite pubs in her adopted country of Ireland.

That I left behind a healthy and happy eighty-one year old son, (grandchildren/great-grandchildren if he chooses to procreate) and a husband who still asserts that I was the greatest love and friend of his life after 70 + years of marriage.

They will read that my part-time neighborhood where we had a flat along Bleecker Street in Manhattan, my favorite writing escape, will miss my presence, generosity, wit and laughter in the restaurants, shops and cafes.

They will be intrigued that, during a time of financial struggle, I developed a moist, delicious, high protein/high fiber bread recipe intended to help pay the bills. The universe having other plans righted our position financially and I later turned that recipe over to struggling & battered women who used it to turn theirs and that of their children’s lives around.

And that I was found in our beloved country estate in Ulster County, with a good glass of robust red wine, The New York Times opened to a glowing review of my latest novel and a bar of partially eaten 90% dark chocolate was on my bedside table next to me where I was found to have died in my sleep with that mischievous grin I was known for, serenely planted on my now still face.

They will be amused to know that my family and friends, per my request, will gather for a weekend of great food, music, libations and celebration, culminating in a grand display of fireworks, in which my ashes are packed, over Shawangunk Ridge.

So if you’ll excuse me, I have a lot of living left to do.

Dedicated to yours truly for finally giving myself “permission.”

©2006 Dawn Marie Kelly, all rights reserved.
posted by Angel @ 10:00 PM | 11 comments


It nevers rains in California

I am refusing to be a tourist in So Cal with every fiber of my being. But why?

The Hubster asked me Wednesday night if I had been taking lots of pictures and I have not. Unless you count the ones for insurance purposes that I took when the back passenger tire on T’s car decided to spontaneously melt away.

On Thursday, T and I drove down into Malibu to have lunch on the point outside at Geoffrey’s, (pronounced JAWF-frees if you please). It was gloriously sunny and we enjoyed the three-hour window where the skies were crisp and blue over the Pacific waters. I didn’t even mind that Carmen Electric was ruining my view. The woman is tiny but somehow still manages to suck up a lot of space.

I shifted in my seat to alter the view, but when I looked a little too my right a certain aging rock star thought I was lusting after him so I turned behind me to wave my empty martini glass at our waiter, Ernesto, (the second Ernesto in as many days), the ancient soap diva sitting there thought I was toasting her and excitedly raised her glass and reached into her purse for an ever-ready glossy to sign, and I wondered whether it was getting hot or was I having a seizure brought on by the constant noise of construction vehicles backing up below us. I escaped to the ladies loo, nearly being smacked by a gesticulating 50 something actress who was doing her best to convince the producer she was meeting with that with just the right lighting and soft lens she could indeed pass for 30-ish and no, I wasn’t buying it either.

You know… maybe if the rich and infamous spent less time getting in the way of us lesser beings, they’d have more patience for the paparazzi. Hey. I’m just saying.

Which takes us back to New York. When I perambulate the streets of New York City I shoot so many pictures that as I view them later, on my computer, I wonder what possessed me. I believe its love. I take pictures of New York in the same manner I took pictures of my tiny to grown son and now take pictures of my cats.

As if their every stirring is monumental and priceless.

I am smitten with New York from the grimy sidewalks on up to the old water tanks that are still sprinkled on top of the older buildings in the skyline. We don’t choose whom we fall in love with and apparently this applies to locations as well.

I had a conversation with a friend of my host’s on Friday morning – Yes, St Patrick’s Day and we were in a pub – why I would not care to ever live in California. She looked at me in a perplexed manner while I tried to explain that it wasn’t any one thing, it just doesn’t appeal to me, at all. “But what have you got back on the East Coast that’s so much better?” She asked still struggling to understand the apparent incomprehensible notion of anyone not loving California as she does.

I didn’t have an answer for her. Not an answer wrapped up in nice succinct verbiage that she could make sense of. Try though I did, now at her house where our little group of happy revelers had moved on to and where her husband had been preparing our evening feast of Corned Beef, cabbage and all sorts.

Still I did not have an answer that was clearer than, “It just doesn’t appeal or speak to me in any way.” Or I think that’s what I said as the pub’s Guinness’ had given way to vodka when we arrived at her house. And that’s all I’m saying.

I’d like to tell you that we finally resolved the issue but alas, I can’t. Perhaps somewhere over the course of the evening we may have, but in the light of a sober Saturday afternoon, we couldn’t remember and it no longer seemed quite so important. All that mattered was that we could make each other laugh easily and that was more than enough of a common ground.

Despite my non-swaying stance on not living in California I was made an honorary member of the gated community they call home and I fly back east knowing that I look forward to future visits with a group of folk that became very fast friends indeed.

Dedicated to T, NJ & S who are no more desperate than I am ~ I tip my drink in your general direction! Please girls, keep in touch.

©2006 Dawn Marie Kelly, all rights reserved.
posted by Angel @ 5:29 PM | 16 comments


They are out there ~ or maybe just I am...

While I am running in circles and screaming "FIRE" in a crowded movie theatre while getting ready to fly to the west coast I will leave you with this interesting photo that I took while in our room at the Chelsea Savoy.

I was taking the pic because that room up there above the beam is the window to the room I stayed in last time.

BUT ~~~ tell me what you see in this pic.

I like to think it's Sid Vicous prepping for the Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

''I miss the Sex Pistols. I miss the lot of you,'' he said. ''But if anybody thinks it's a jolly good wheeze, it's not. It's hard work.''

John Lydon ~10March2006~ on Steve Jones' "Jonesy's Jukebox"
posted by Angel @ 2:02 PM | 12 comments


Can you hear me now?

One thing that is glaringly apparent when I roam from My Wasp-y Old-New England Township is the amazing range of faces that adorn this planet.

My references here all come from magazines and TV and they are skewed at best. It is whatever hyped form of beauty that is currently being pushed down our gullets.

As we walked through the streets of NYC I was given a broader perspective. It was a veritable cornucopia of all that beauty can be.

I walked for three blocks focusing on nothing but everyone’s faces coming towards me. (Thanks go out to The Hubster for leading me and keeping me from crashing.) Each face so different in structure, features and colouring and each one held a strength and quiet beauty.

Young, old and everything in-between, I wished I had a camera inside my eyes so that I could snap each face that I looked into.

I keep my media horizons, mind and perspective current by subscribing to the electronic version of The New York Times. A breath of much needed fresh air considering I actually live a near hermit like existence in NH, rarely venturing outside my home more than twice a week and only for needed errands and supplies.

That’ll change as the weather warms, but even my walks take me in a loop around my rural end of the city opposite the hustle and flow of Main Street, which is no longer than one NYC block at best and a Tour de Boring at worst.

This is an insular place with lofty ideals and a city council of old self-importance that marks it’s territory in pissing matches while losing sight of what could be changes for the better.

Take our cell phone tower for instance. It’s there in the distance above town, shooting up from the highest hill sprouting those ridiculous fake evergreen branches that draw more attention than hide anything. For the last 7 years they have voted down any plan that would add another 10 feet in height to that pole that would allow all major cell phone carriers coverage up into this area.

There are tiny little Podunk villages all around Keene that have access to any and all cell phone carriers, but not us, no, that extra 10 feet which is nearly indiscernible from most perspectives has been deemed unsightly. So Keene remains a black hole of non-coverage.

Keene does however hold the Guinness Book Record for “Most Lit Jack O Lanterns in One Place” for 14 years running, so we do have that going for us.

I look forward to moving on from this place as each time I come back it feels like there’s a little less air available to breathe and my mind feels constricted.

Mind you, when we settle on our parcel of land in Orange/Ulster County, we will be building the picture of a proper mini-farm/estate, complete with horses, sheep, chickens and walking beef. There is nothing like the taste of organically raised, chicken, eggs, lamb, beef and veggies.

A beef for wine exchange has already been broached with a local winery and I look forward to bartering/exchanges with other local merchants and producers.

While that doesn’t sound anymore cosmopolitan then the life I now lead the Hubster and I also came to another realization while in NYC this past weekend; there is a loft purchase in our future and much more time to be spent in a city we love a little more with each successive visit.

Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too? Or in fact, your cell phone and use it too.

I mean besides the windbags who are running this town.

©2006 Dawn Marie Kelly, all rights reserved.
posted by Angel @ 2:47 PM | 13 comments


Times and Times Again

While I am catching up with my writing and waiting for a couple pics to be sent from the Hubster (two cameras and one long weekend) I will leave you with this pic of Princess and her billboard that was taken Sunday morning.

Don't they look incredibly cute together?

Check back laters and I will have a proper post up ~~~ till then.............

posted by Angel @ 11:55 AM | 5 comments


It is the End of the World as we Know it

The dog that lives in my house has reached that very special time in his life where he is driving me out of my mind.

I say the dog because he is not my dog; he belongs to the Boy Wonder. Although you would never know it because I am the one who makes sure he has food and water and is still breathing.

The situation evolved over the course of a separation, a divorce, his father’s relocating out of state and the Boy Wonder’s coming of age; getting his driver’s license and a part time job. Throw in school, his night class and do the math. He’s not home long enough to really look after his dog.

The Hubster is of course still off in NY working and living six days a week so that leaves me.

So it’s nobody’s fault and just the situation as it is.

That being said, Zack, the dog, is 10 years old and these days is driving me to within inches of committing doggy homicide. It’s coming down to me or him and you can place your bets firmly on me.

The last six months I have been taking small but determined steps towards what I want to be and what I want to do in this next chapter of my journey. The Boy Wonder is graduating from High School and I need to move on too so I don’t become a crazy cat lady or something.

***It takes more than 3 cats to qualify, yes?***

Writing is where I’m going and since starting I just can’t imagine stopping. There are so many stories inside me, characters who are all talking at once and then there’s me in the background nattering on about all the ideas that keep popping up and the dog is staring at me from his bed in the kitchen.

Shouldn’t be a big deal right? Except when he stares at you he does it with every single fiber of his being. I kid you not, look at the picture.

Even through the sliders his powers are strong.

Now add whining and incontinence. Oh yeah, Zack now wears diapers. The vet says that they usually only see this in spayed, older females.

I always knew there was something lacking in Zack’s maleness. He once had to be treated for a urinary tract infection, which he acquired by humping the neighbor dogs ear during their play dates. Yeah, she wasn’t impressed either and stopped taking his calls.

So Zack now has to wear this diaper wrap for male dogs, which is more than humiliating enough, but I have to line them with a maxi pad so he doesn’t wet through it. If he had any male pride at all it disappeared the first time the diaper was put on him.

And he did use to soak through it every night until he started taking these huge pills three times a day, which I wrap, in soy nut butter to get him to swallow them. They were to hopefully stop the incontinence problem but Zack is so special that the pills only stem the flow enough that the maxi pads contain it. (For those who have to know he sports the Tan Pawprint wrap.)

So why am I still complaining?

Because today Zack has become Chicken Little and is quite sure the sky is falling and the world, as he knows it at least, is coming to an end.

What is actually happening is that the sun is shining brightly enough that the snow and ice is melting from the roof of the house and is sliding off in bits every ¼ hour or so. When that happens, diaper doggy leaps up and runs blindly across the kitchen and stands and stares at me.

I try to ignore him but his eyes are literally burning holes into the side of my head and there it is again.

Resentment and guilt for feeling resentful of a damn dog and there goes my creative life force seeping onto the floor and here comes the part of me that wishes I could make him disappear.

I know what you’re thinking:

He’s just a dog.

He’s a great dog.

You should be thankful for such a dog.

What kind of a person wants to make dogs disappear?

ME! The one trying so hard to reclaim that part of me that had to be stuffed down and buried away these past 13 years. If it comes down to my sanity or Zack’s, I will selfishly choose mine.

All I can say is thank goddess for laptops, wireless connections, iTunes, Madonna, noise canceling headphones and bedroom doors, which can close.

Chicken Little lives to see another day.
posted by Angel @ 12:26 PM | 13 comments