Friday, July 29, 2022

Our Missing Hearts (book)

Pengo's 2022 Summer Book Club
“All the King’s Screenwriters, 1946: A drama of how Fascism might even come to this country.”
- Firesign Theatre, "Dear Friends"
First, a quick update on my health; I’m good. It’s difficult to see out of my left eye, which looks like a disgusting bloody mess, but it feels fine, a little sore for the additional use. A friend came over yesterday and we watched Magnolia. Man, does that thing hit different once your parents are dead.

But, okay. So. On June 24, 2022, the day Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court, a playwright on Twitter recommended all those who were moved to write about this disastrous historical event concentrate on the future, not the present. Two wit; write about the effects this will have on people in the future, not about what is happening today.

Which is to say, speculate. Speculative fiction.

Recently, my fourteen year-old niece was reading The Handmaid’s Tale, the 1984 novel that surged with attention after the 2016 election and the Hulu television adaptation that followed. Author Margaret Atwood created an America in the not-too-distant future in which conservative politics and a very real calamity in the human birthrate combine to create a nation where women are regarded primarily as chattel for breeding.

If you could imagine such a thing.

The success of her work, and stories like this, is in its believability. It is grounded in a reality based on laws which have passed, behaviors which have been exhibited, things that have happened.

Dystopian fictions like 1984 (1949, or did I just confuse you) are extreme in their depiction of the future and so lean more into the realm of science fiction, with their guesses at future technologies. As if you can imagine a world where there are screens in every room which watch you just as you watch them, or that screaming at one would be limited to two minutes a day.

With It Can’t Happen Here (1935), novelist Sinclair Lewis set the events of an authoritarian America in his present. With Mussolini’s reign firmly established and Hitler on the ascendant, Lewis sought to shake the United States from the naïve assumption that our democratic systems take care of themselves and that we would never willingly elect a tyrant.

Art: Hartley Lin
The New Yorker, July 31, 2022
Philip Roth put a spin on Lewis’s novel with The Plot Against America (2004), a revisionist history in which the charming hero and Christian Nationalist Charles Lindbergh runs for President in 1940 and wins.

Imagining an alternate Roth family based on his own, this tale centers on an American family that suffers under the Antisemitism which, previous expressed in more subtle and one might say normative manner, is unleashed in naked fury by an American populace emboldened by their new leader.

If you could imagine such a thing.

This summer I had the opportunity to read an ARC (advance review copy) of Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng, which will be released in October. As described in advance promotional materials, Ng has created an America which has been “governed by laws written to preserve ‘American culture’ in the wake of years of economic instability and violence.” 

Reading this on the beach in North Carolina the the days immediately following Dobbs v. Jackson, in a season when inflation and gas prices may have more effect at the polls than the daily revelations of just how far our former President went to subvert the 2020 election, her work might also have the more immediate title, It Is Happening Here. Or that it has.

It’s the kind of book I would like to imagine being added to the middle school curriculum of every middle school in the nation, if we weren’t living in a land where the reading lists are currently being culled rather than expanded.

Penguin Random House releases "Our Missing Hearts", a new novel by Celeste Ng, on October 4, 2022.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Letterman's Final Morning Show

Merrill Markoe & David Letterman
"The David Letterman Show"
October 24, 1980
(NBC TV)
Had some folks over last night to celebrate my birthday. I thought it would be good to have several people over so they could talk to each other and I would just listen. As it happened, I feel like I did most of the talking. I felt more normal than I have in a week.

Sleeping is still very uncomfortable. In the middle of the night, I watched a YouTube video of the last episode of David Letterman‘s morning program. His first shot at stardom was a daytime television program which was part David Letterman humor, and part… morning program. Who greenlit this, I cannot fathom.

It lasted six months, even that long is crazy when you think of it, over the summer and early fall of 1980. I actually saw this show, because you know, it was summer, I was 12, and it was on television.

For this last episode of what he at that time probably considered the end of his career, he introduced and had a brief interview with the entire company. Announcers, musicians, video editors, crew, etc. He tried to give everybody a little time and also keep it entertaining.

Each staff writer had the opportunity to come out and do one bit. One by one, a white man in a corduroy blazer would step out and make a joke.

At last, he introduced Merrill Markoe. The only female writer on his staff. She was the only one who looked cool. Like, she didn’t care what she looked like, which was on point in 1980. She was wearing a show T-shirt and jeans. She looked like a rock star. She looked like Patti Smith.

Her bit involved explaining to Dave, in the audience, how the show was probably getting canceled because it didn’t have enough sex and violence. To rectify this omission, she brought out a copy of Playboy, and also Playguy (?), set them on a table in the middle of the stage, and offered a tiny peek of each to Dave. That was the sex.

Got my birthday cake.
For the violence, she ushered Dave to the side, put on dagger goggles, undid a rope that was tied to the wall, blew a whistle, and a very heavy weight dropped straight down from the ceiling onto the (pre-scored) table, destroying that — and the pornography she had left sitting on it.

Three or four dudes came out and told their little joke, then Markoe pulled a stunt that worked on many levels.

Did I mention she was the only female writer on the staff? She was also the head writer. Merrill Markoe is such a boss.

Had my follow-up with the eye doctor later in the morning, and things are progressing well. The tear has been repaired, it is healing, I no longer have to keep my head down, and I can sleep normally so long as it is on my right side. This is such excellent news.

I may not resume running for a month, but you know. I can deal with that.

Monday, July 25, 2022

The Maine Videos

Last night I slept for about five hours, set up and watch TV for an hour or so, then slept for another hour and a half.

I have terrible pain in my neck and shoulders, holding my head in the correct position. Also, into a position where I can sleep in my head tilt of the way it supposed to be.

Hopes of offer to come by and keep me company, but I’m not really into that. With my head in this position, I feel underwater.

But I’m eating well, dear friend from high school brought me ice cream the other day. Did I blog about that already? I can’t remember.

My dreams, what dreams I have are very strange. In one, the cat got out. Okay, that’s not strange at all. In another, I had to put this blue go on my shoulders and chest to get home safely.

Other people’s dreams are boring.



Ten years ago I had a new laptop and was playing with various video features. I chose to document our trip to Maine, making one video a day.

It’s hard to describe a place that is so familiar, and yet not really your own. It’s about the setting, of course. It’s perfect. The cabin we stay in, it’s set back from the others, affording more privacy, but it has this excellent view of the water. And it’s best when every room is occupied because it’s full of family and friends.



I’m still not used to my grandparents no longer being there. I’ll never be used to my own parents never being there again. But it’s the vivid memory of them that makes it a joyful place to return to.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Under the Banner of Heaven (miniseries)

Gil Birmingham & Andrew Garfield
"Under the Banner of Heaven"
(FX, 2022)
It’s that second day after a major procedure, when you can feel the worst. That’s where I am right now. Tried to sleep sitting up, tried to sleep lying on my chest. Around four in the morning I curled up on my side with my head twisted to the right and I was finally able to get a couple hours rest.

Meantime, I have been burning through the FX miniseries, Under the Banner of Heaven, Based on the true crime novel by Jon Krakauer.

My father first shared Krakauer with me. The summer my wife and I got married, I read Into Thin Air, his account of the 1996 Chomolungma (Everest) Disaster, while sitting on my porch in 90° weather, and it literally made me chilly. On our honeymoon, she was reading Into the Wild on the patio of a hotel room at Denali, not even 20 miles from where Christopher McCandless died.

Under the Banner of Heaven begins with a double murder which just happened to take place thirty-eight years ago today, July 24, 1984. A pious young woman and her child were killed by men who felt their actions were justified by God. Victim and assailants thought of themselves as Mormon, but had different ideas of what that meant. But women dying at the hands of men in a quest for dominance is universal, and not unique to any one belief system.

I haven’t read the book this series is based on. Father did, an amateur historian and devout Christian. I can only imagine how he may have judged each of the individuals represented in the book, those who are members of the Mormon faith.

I feel however, that this miniseries adaptation, like the musical The Book of Mormon, is not a critique or condemnation of this one Christian religion, but of all religion. In this case, it is also a metaphor for the United States as a whole. Watching this show, which follows the murder investigation and also depicts the historical origins of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I believe that the Mormon church is possibly the most American thing ever created.

I believe that Americans are essentially good, and that the American experiment has allowed us the freedom to live independently from strictures of the past. But it has also allowed for a minority of white men to pursue paths of complete selfishness which they defend through a mutating set of beliefs which they call righteous but are always a means to whatever end they desire.

So it is with the LDS, and also the Supreme Court.

Heavenly Father wants us to do this is a common phrase throughout the series, and it is as mutable as the assertion Founding Fathers want us to do this. Interpreting and perverting their unknowable wills has become its own religion.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

On Sight (Recovery)

Had my morning after, follow up exam. Things look pretty good, except they reevaluated the way I have to hold my head.

See, there’s a gas bubble in my eye. They put it there, I even have a green wristband to let any potential EMT know there’s a gas bubble in my eye. It’s there to keep fluid away from my now repaired retinal tear to allow healing.

The tear is in the back of my eye, gas rises, therefore I need to keep my head down to keep the bubble up. Yesterday, they thought I just needed to tilt my head to the right side, today it is a bit more extreme.

I will literally need to sleep like Joseph Merrick, propped up with pillows, my head hanging down.

It’s funny, people kept texting me yesterday, checking in, asking how I am, if I need anything. But texting was a real pain, because I had to keep my head up and to the side.

Now that I’ve been told to look down and slightly to the right, I have been texting all day. More than I’ve ever texted before. Long, hour long text conversations with people in Idaho, colleagues working the BorderLight Festival, offers to bring meals turn into recollections of thirty year old productions, I’m getting updates on how well last night‘s premiere performance of The Learned Ladies (Cleveland Shakespeare Festival) went. Just texting people I feel more social than I have in weeks.

Liz Mikel (center) as John Hancock in "1776"
(American Repertory Theatre, 2022)
Last night my family gave me their assessment of the A.R.T production of 1776. All three of them thought it was absolutely amazing. Just beautifully and powerfully performed, and heartbreakingly timely. And I’m heartbroken to have missed it. This was my idea! When tickets went on sale I expressed my deep desire to see this production, of a musical which I have loved since I was a child, reinterpreted in just this way.

So, when my wife assumed they would stay home, at least until my surgery was through, I insisted that they not. I wanted all of us to see it. All of us not seeing it would’ve been so much worse.

And it’s going to Broadway! So, you know what? I’m going to Broadway. Because God knows, I want to travel.

Friday, July 22, 2022

On Sight (Post-Operative)

Whose is that face in the mask?
When my son suffered a head injury shortly after his first birthday, the one silver lining I could hang onto was that I was glad we live in Cleveland. Say whatever else you want about the Forest City, it is the home to two medical institutions, both of which people come to from around the world for treatment.

That, and that we have insurance.

The procedure itself was remarkable in that it was utterly unremarkable. In the day or so before hand I started to develop fears of what might actually occur. I had agreed to “twilight“ anesthesia, meaning I would be alert, or at least conscious.

Did that also mean that I would be aware of what was happening, even if there was no pain? They would put a gas bubble into my eye. With a needle? They would put a band around the back of my eye to hold the retina in place, did that mean they would be removing my eye from its socket?

With or without a sense of feeling, these things are discomfiting, even traumatizing to think about.

And yet, I can’t tell you what happened. I was awake the whole time, but I have no idea what they were doing. My right eye was covered for protection, so I could see light. As for my left eye, the one being worked on, I couldn’t see anything at all.

A good friend drove me to and from the hospital, other friends brought me pizza for dinner. I need to move as little as possible lying on my right side, so I’m catching up on a lot of television.

Yesterday I watched all of The Bear. last night I watched Good Luck to You, Leo Grande. That one could’ve been a play. Two people in a hotel room. Folks have suggested all kinds of comedies, I’m not really up for that.

So I’m gonna watch Under the Banner of Heaven. Dad liked the book and my son has really gotten me into Andrew Garfield.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

On Sight (Pre-Operative)

Image of my Future Foretold
Self as Kent in "King Lear"
(Beck Center, 2019)
The good news is I will now be in town for the Borderlight Festival!

That’s a joke. I was going out of town for the week, now I am staying home to have surgery to repair a detached retina, so I’m not going anywhere. Jokes really do suffer when you explain them.

The Borderlight Festival, for those of you who are unaware, is an international theater and performing arts festival that takes place in downtown Cleveland and the only reason you haven’t read anything about it here is because it has always taken place when I am out of town.

I can’t tell you how much it pains me that there is now an international theater and performing arts festival in Cleveland, Ohio and that I am not part of it. But my family comes first, and I have no regrets about that. I have tried this year to flog a few of their offerings on social media, and hope someday to attend or even submit a production.

And up until yesterday afternoon, I was planning to leave town. A week long vacay with the entire family. They were ready to suspend travel, at least until I had undergone surgery, but I insisted they go. My son has a college trip schedule for tomorrow morning in upstate New York, and we have tickets to see the A.R.T. revival of 1776. That was my idea, I so wanted to see this production. But it would be a shame for everyone to miss it, I need them to report back to me how it plays.

Then onto Maine. My family vacation spot. My brother’s family is coming, my eldest will be joined by their partner – whose parents are also joining us (I mean them) ostensibly for my birthday, which is Tuesday. And the cousins, the cove, the view from the deck of the Barnstable.

One week out of the year, every year. Not this year, not for me. Having them miss it too would have made me even more miserable than I currently am.

Yesterday a doctor examined my eyes, prodding them with a medal stick. It was very painful. She remarked at how well I managed, so calm. My blood pressure, my pulse were normal, better than normal. My wife said she watched me breathe during this examination, that my hands and arms were relaxed. I was practicing my breathing. But it hurt. It hurt a lot. I did my crying later.

Today I am lying on my left side, so the damage doesn’t increase. After the procedure, I am to lie on my right side for the week. This is not a vacation. I cannot do anything.

So, I am depressed about not being with my family. I am extremely apprehensive about the procedure itself. I am anxious about not being able to run for the foreseeable future. 

And I am very, very worried about being alone with my thoughts for an entire week. Because I do not like being alone. I do not like being alone at all.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

On Abortion

"The atmosphere is tense," said Robert Corlett, a spokesman for Planned Parenthood of Greater Cleveland. "But we are prepared."
- Washington Post, July 9, 1993  
Rich "Torque" Weiss & Shelly "Gooch" Bishop
The Plain Dealer, 7/14/1993
Photo: Roadell Hickman
Mainstream Democrats, those who have supported legislation to preserve abortion rights, have also contributed to the entirely unnecessary sense of shame that has long been associated with this vital reproductive health procedure.

“Safe and accessible but rare,” they would say. Why rare? As if it is something which should not happen. Safe and accessible and legal, now and forever. That was all that needed to be said. The rest is judgment.

I bristled in 1992, in 1996 and in 2000, as candidates Bill Clinton and Al Gore would firmly but dispassionately assert their support for a "woman’s right to choose.”

To choose what? A new bath mat? To choose the chicken tempura? How can you defend a thing if you cannot say it? They made it clear, the very word abortion could not be spoken. It was unspeakable.
unspeakable, adj.
1a. Incapable of being expressed in words
1b. inexpressibly bad: horrendous
Abortion is neither of those things. In words, abortion is the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy, and while you may ascribe negative feelings to that, that is entirely subjective.

So, not unspeakable. However, by ceding the definition of abortion to those who would seek to abolish it, those who would preserve it have waited until far too late to embrace it.

Twenty-nine years ago this week, during the summer of 1993, an organization calling itself Operation Rescue set out to stage protests in nine cities across the country, outside clinics that provided reproductive health procedures (including abortion) and also the homes of doctors who perform such procedures.

This was only four months after Dr. David Gunn, an OB/GYN and provider of abortion services, was shot to death outside of his clinic in Pensacola, Florida.

Members of Guerrilla Theater Co. joined a coalition of abortion rights advocates, attending seminars on ways to keep ourselves from getting arrested during counter-protests. Planned Parenthood and other organizations taught us to keep our cool, but put pressure on more radical groups, like Refuse and Resist, not to be confrontational. We were all instructed to make nice with the Cleveland Police.

We needed to keep close to the street, but never step into the street or we would be arrested. We needed to keep a clear path to the door and keep the sidewalk clear or we would be arrested. And most important of all, we were told not to face nor antagonize the opposition.

Each faction was expected to keep on one side of the street, facing the street, side by side. We could not look at each other, speak to each other, nor antagonize each other. We were to face the street, wave our signs, chant our slogans to the general public, but not to each other, and not towards the clinic. If the Police felt one side was confronting the other, we would be arrested.

We, the members of Guerrilla, met to throw around ideas for performance-based stunts, but didn’t think it was appropriate to attract that kind of attention to ourselves. It wasn’t about us. Besides, we had all been explicitly warned not to stir things up.

So, we just made sure we were on the line, bright and early. We held up signs that had been made by others and responded to passing, honking cars as though they were our supporters regardless of whether they were.

Things passed without incident for us on that first day. Early the second day, however, a tall, stocky, middle-aged man wearing a suit stood with his toes on the line facing our side of the sidewalk, and began addressing us. He was balding with a gray beard. Not a bad look.

He called out, "God sayeth blah blah blah blah blah!" or something to that effect.

"You're not supposed to be facing us, sir," someone said politely.

"God will blah blah blah the unrighteous," he called out -- he wasn't screaming or yelling, he was obviously used to projecting his voice long distances.

One of us went to a policeman and pointed out what should have been obvious, this guy was antagonizing us and that he shouldn't be doing that. The policeman walked over to the Tall Man, and asked him to please face the street. The Tall Man made a brief objection as re: freedom of speech, yadda yadda and faced the street again. For about five minutes.

Soon he was back to facing us. "God holds sway over the wicked," he yelled, "you cannot hide from the judgment of the Lord."

As this was the second day, our fear and adrenaline had subsided a bit. Our minds were clearer, but it was hot and we were tired ... and it was only noon.

"You cannot hide from the judgment of The Lord," he said again.

The Plain Dealer, 7/13/1993
Photo: Robin Layton Kinsley
Torque and I walked up to the line to face him. A few of our cohorts saw us making this bee-line towards him and tried to stop us, not knowing what we were up to.

We stood at the line, facing him, smiling a little. He looked us in the eye. He was taller than we were, and I am tall. We said nothing. The police did nothing.

"The Lord shall smite his enemies!” he said to us, so everyone could hear.

Then slowly, and with great care, standing side by side, looking straight at the Tall Man, we raised our arms and put our hands onto the domes of our own heads. He continued to stare at us.

In unison we moved our hands down onto our own shoulders. Maintaining eye-contact as long as we could, we bent down to touch our own knees.

And finally, breaking eye contact for a moment, we touched our toes. Then we stood up straight and stared at the Tall Man, and waited.

"The Lord --" he started, and as he did so, so did we.

Head, shoulders, knees and toes.

The police walked nearer to where a conflict appeared imminent.

"The Lord Our Father will save you from --"

Heads, shoulders, knees and toes. Knees and toes.

After it became apparent that that was all we were going to do, and that we weren't going to stop until he shut up, he wandered away, and so did we.

It was only perhaps five minutes before the Tall Man was once again standing perpendicular to the street, his toes on the line, facing our side, pontificating.

"God will honor the virtuous life!" he called. Torque and I exchanged a brief glance and sped back to our positions in front of him. But we had already discussed a change in tactic.

We touched our own heads, side in front of him, and then our shoulders. We touched our knees and our toes.

"The Lord sayeth I will be vengeful upon those --"

"YES!" we shouted together as we stood up straight. His mouth closed. We touched our heads.

Shoulders. Knees. Toes.

"The Lord Our Father --"

"YES!" we cried, orgasmically as we stood back up.

"YOUR STRANGE RITUALS WILL NOT SAVE YOU!" he yelled, and defiantly shrunk away from the line.

Our satisfaction was short-lived, however. It is impossible to know whether or not our confrontation embarrassed the officers who failed to act but very shortly a few members of Refuse & Resist were arrested for being a “traffic hazard during rush hour” as well as “taunting people and refusing the adhere to police rules” when all they were actually doing was crossing a side street, not the main thoroughfare, across from the protest.

We were once more tense and angry, our end of the sidewalk chanting “PEACE, officer! PEACE, officer!”

The next day Beemer, Torque and I brought our own signs, and stood with the crowd on the Operation Rescue side of the street. We had signs that read:

EVERY EGG DESERVES A NAME

SAVE A LIFE, SHOOT A DOCTOR

THOU SHALT NOT SACRIFICE ANIMALS WITH DAMAGED GENITALS
Leviticus. 22:24

Because everyone was facing the same direction, it took a while before anyone realized what our signs read. There were some murmurings and finally a young man said to me, “Hey, friend, you’re making us look bad.”

I said to him what so many evangelicals have told me throughout the years: “You’re almost there.”

The Plain Dealer, 7/12/1993
Photo: Roadell Hickman
Recalling the events of July 1993, it was clear even then that Roe was a house built on sand. (Matthew 7:26) Organizers from Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice wrung their hands over the positive optics that were generated by Operation Rescue, and the more confusing message sent by activists like those members of Refuse & Resist.

The associate director of Greater Cleveland Planned Parenthood said that “some of the stuff (Refuse & Resist has done) is disgusting,” referring to stunts such as when one protester arrived as a crucified woman wrapped in a bloodied American flag. “It’s harmful to the Pro-Choice movement.”

Meanwhile the media was marveling at how passive and meek the Operation Rescue protestors were behaving while at the same time reporting on their protesting outside of the private homes of doctors, which in light of the recent murder of Dr. Gunn must have been absolutely terrifying to those inside.

Since 1993 Operation Rescue has branded itself Operation Save America and has expanded its efforts into harassing school districts into banning gay-straight alliance student groups and even ceremoniously burning non-Christian religious texts. 

Defenders of reproductive freedom were wrong to believe that a soft message maintaining the status quo could ever remain successful. With Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization effectively ending the national right to safe and legal abortion, we have shifted the language from “a woman’s right to choose” to one of “bodily autonomy” which is stronger and punchier, but we must also not be shamed from using the word abortion.

In the few weeks since Dobbs, and the implementation in Ohio of a law prohibiting abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy, we have already learned of a ten year old who has gone to Indiana to receive an abortion. A cancer patient who could not receive chemotherapy while pregnant who has gone to Indiana to receive an abortion.

I can only imagine my own wife, suffering from preeclampsia, our unborn child already dead, having to travel to Indiana to receive the abortifacient drugs to induce labor, drugs which quite possibly saved her life.

Also? Early in our relationship, my wife Toni I had an elective abortion. We have never regretted that decision, and we would have made the same decision today. Looking back, that decision made the rest of our lives together possible.

It was our legal right to do so, and it will be again.

Sources:

“Operation Rescue to Begin Antiabortion Demonstrations Today in Seven Cities” by Gary Lee, The Washington Post, 7/9/1993 

“4 Arrested at Abortion Protests at Two Clinics” by Joe Frolik, Plain Dealer, 7/12/1993

“Anti-abortionists' burning of Quran called 'hateful'” The Jackson Clarion-Ledger, 7/20/2006

"Man Charged With Rape of 10-Year-Old Ohio Girl Whose Abortion Story Dave Yost, Other Republicans Called a Fabrication" by Vince Grzegorek, Cleveland Scene, 7/13/2022

Saturday, July 9, 2022

"Forget About Me (The Breakfast Club Play)" reading at Purple Rose Theatre Company

Next weekend, the Purple Rose Theatre Company in Chelsea, MI, will present a concert reading of my new script Forget About Me (The Breakfast Club Play) via Zoom on Saturday, July 16 at 10:30am. This reading will be directed by Rachel Keown, Purple Rose Artistic Associate, and feature Rhiannon Ragland & Skylar Causey.

This will be the first opportunity to share the work with a larger audience. The piece has only been read twice before, for a small, invite-only audience of friends and shortly after for our NEMOFA playwriting workshop in late 2020. These were also, of course, presented online.

The working title was John Bender Is the Villain, a play on the title of Kimberly Belflower’s John Proctor Is the Villain, a contemporary (and very popular) takedown of Arthur Miller’s sainted protagonist from The Crucible.

As with that play, two generations have very different opinions about the message sent by beloved classics. In the case of Forget About Me, a mother and teenage child discuss their recent trip to the local drive-in to see The Breakfast Club. They went to a drive-in because it is late 2020 and there’s a pandemic quarantine going on.
Brief Synopsis: A Gen X Mom and her high-achieving, high school senior spend a night together at home. Cake is baked, drugs are consumed, and lines are crossed, while they debate teen movies, whether or not John Bender is the villain, and wait for that thick envelope.
So, my play is like No Exit only there are a lot more laughs, pop culture references, and they get cake.

The pandemic has been hard on everyone, the quarantine was something different. Did that actually happen? I was lucky, my work continued, I even started grad school which was easier because I did not need to travel an hour (both ways) to get to my classes. But I watched as my high school age children struggled to maintain a sense of self as events were first canceled then never scheduled.

Our eldest lost their senior year, no plays, no concerts, no special celebrations of achievement. All that time and effort, building reputation and honing their skills, to at last work alone in their room on college application projects and materials that might or might not carry them away from us and onto an uncertain future.

Then there is us, the Generation they called X,  raised in the shadow of the Boomers, our own childhoods making us very different parents with very different children. It’s funny, it’s as though the Strauss-Howe Theory of American Generations has failed its first test. The Millennials are as “Recessive” as we are, it’s Gen Z who are the new “Dominant” generation.

Or maybe that just seems to be the case in my house.