Monday, December 17, 2007

Writers I Run With and Into


Last weekend, the Silverlake Children’s Theatre performed Turbulence, written by 16 year old Olivia Russin, daughter of screenwriter Robin and arts administrator Sarah. The performance was attended with great difficulty by Robin’s frail 92 year old dad, Robert Russin, a renowned sculptor and one of those hunting and fishing tough manly Jews who settled in the most unlikely of Jewish bastions, Wyoming. Robert lived a long life. He saw films written by son Robin and a play written by granddaughter Olivia. Robert Russin died in his sleep two days after the performance. Sarah and Robin have been dear friends for over a decade and I reach out to them in their sorrow and hope they are comforted that Robert, famous artist and patriarch, was able to proudly drink in the extraordinary accomplishments of his children and grandchildren. I also suspect now that Sarah may forgive him for having nodded off for a few minutes during the show.

Yesterday Spuds and I took grandma out for lunch. She was more agitated than usual. I stopped at Petco briefly to pick up cat litter for her and left her in the car with Spuds. I got a hysterical cell phone call from Spuds indicating that he was unable to keep Grandma in the car. She was implicated several months ago in the cutting of phone wires in her boyfriend’s room in order to prevent annoying incoming calls from his daughter and all of her scissors have been confiscated. While I was shopping and Spuds was minding her, she’d located an advertisement for scissors she’d ripped from the newspaper in her purse and was absolutely determined they would have them available for sale at the veterinary clinic or the gun store adjacent to the Petco. I left my place in the long line and firmly escorted her back to the car. Just as I reached the register, I saw her spring out of the car again and run across the very busy parking lot. At that moment, Broderick Miller (also useful for the removal of dead cats and a screenwriter, playwright, and founder of the Silverlake Children’s Theatre ) suddenly appeared at the register inquiring about the purchase of a hamster and I screamed at him to go put my mother back in the car, which he accomplished swiftly and forcefully enough to make it stick. I thanked him for saving the day and received back from him a warm and comforting note.

Shopping for produce, I ran into Kim Jones, a weekly Hollywood Farmer’s Marketeer, writer and mother of teenager and we talked about how our family experiences can feed our writing and like Rashomon, the stories told by parents and their children would spin themselves out quite differently. This made me think immediately of another writer, Marion Siwek, whose famous writer mother actually did publish a memoir of intimate family details. I was chewing this around still when I got to Trader Joe’s and there was Marion, at the dairy case. Just like God sent Broderick to end the scissors debacle, there was Marion in the flesh to finish my thought and share fears, while we obstructed egg and yogurt buyers.

In many ways the weekend stank. We have teenager problems and a terrifying strike and I visited last night my dad’s house for the first time since his death. Monday now though, I sit here putting the words down. Writing. Maybe healing. And thanking God particularly for bringing into my life so many other clueless people compelled to string words together towards some sort of knowing.

2 comments:

FionnchĂș said...

Add me to your clueless list, after a weekend full of grading student research papers, so I have too been among long the clueless I teach and the clueless I am teaching them as if to write-- all in a mere ten weeks. Get some down time in your newly colossal kitchen. xxx me

harry said...

Clueless = the cloud of unknowing, eh? Although I do see Ms. Silverstone holding forth in fifth period geometry. She said: “I think there’s a huge crisis of belonging in postmodern culture. The institutions of religion have really diminished and fallen into the hands of frightened functionaries who are great custodians of the gateways but don’t really know what the landscapes are like further in towards the heart of the mystery. Politics has become synonymous with economics and the crudest form of pragmatism. Then there’s the whole homogenization of culture and consciousness in mass technology and media — although there’s a lot more interaction than there once was between people, but it’s all simulated, you know, and lacks the vitality and vigor and danger of a direct encounter with otherness. So these are some of the contexts which are creating a massive spiritual hunger.”