I normally write my Christmas letter in about August and in August of this year, I really wasnít in any mood for it and decided not to do a letter. However, as the Christmas letters have started coming in, Iíve been feeling sad that I didnít do one...and feeling a little more like it now, so Iíve just been sending out letters as I receive cards. There are just a few days to go before Christmas. No tree yet, but Iíve finally started buying Christmas gifts and I think we might be able to make it through the holiday. We will be at the cemetery at midnight on Christmas eve, drink a toast to David and Paul, and leave a little Christmas tree. I guess itís our new weird Christmas tradition that Paul helped us start last year.
In all honesty, I canít really remember anything that happened in our year prior to Paulís death. Itís all become a blur. The months from April 20 have flown by. I canít believe itís been almost 8 months already. But they have been full months. And we have had many positive experiences, some of which would never have happened if it hadnít been for Paulís death. But to hold true to form, hereís a capsule report on what people are doing:
JERI is now living in Boston, attending Berklee School of Music. She hopes to do music arranging, but nobody knows quite how she should start doing that. Sheís been out here several times, sometimes for a good reason. She has done work both in theatre tech and, for the first time, clerical work on campus to help pay for her tuition. She drove coast to coast this year. Her truck has had a good workout. She also was lighting designer at Weathervane Theatre in Ohio again this summer...her last year there.
NED started a new job in February. He is now the producer of a morning show on KXOA radio in Sacra mento). Itís fun to wake up in the morning and listen to Ned (since heís the third voice in the booth, with the ďtalent,Ē Sander Walker and Jennifer Doran). He and Marta went camping for their vacation, in their new SUV, and Ned has found a few gigs where he can still play his drum. He organized a wonderful Lawsuit reunion as a memorial to Paul.
TOM also started a new job, after several years with Santa Barbara Bank & Trust. He was offered the chance to work for a software development company and so has traded his suit and tie for jeans and a goatee and heís loving learning all this computer stuff. He has a wonderful girlfriend named Laurel, who has joined us in a lot of family activities this year. Tom gave a fantastic barbecue for his and MartaĎs birthdays on the beach in Santa Barbara.
The city honored both David and Paul this year. The Davis Art Center used funds donated after Davidís death to build an extension of its building, a weather shelter for kids. It has a lovely ceramic sign which calls it ďDavidís placeĒ and they tell me they are installing a plaque soon. And when Davis built its new downtown plaza, the city council voted to dedicate a performing area to Paul. There is a lovely bronze plaque and then ~100 engraved bricks, about 1/4 of which contain messages about either Paul or David. The thing is kind of humbling, actually. I hope somehow both boys know how the town felt about them.
Walt and I did a lot of traveling this year. It helped to be out of town after Paul died. In April, just before he died, we had gone to Austin for a meeting with some friends from CompuServe. It was like being in the land of Oz, since we hit it at the peak of wildflower season and I never dreamed Texas could be so beautiful.
In May we took a trip that has changed my life. We went to Los Angeles to see a show called The Last Session. It is about a singer/songwriter with AIDS, written by a singer/songwriter with AIDS. In spite of the serious subject matter, itís really about relationships with people, the gay/Christian debate, and an affirmation of life--itís also a musical comedy/drama. I met the writer/lyricist, Steve Schalchlin (ďSHACK-linĒ) in June and was so impressed with him that I became his publicist, a job which I am thoroughly enjoying. He travels around the country appearing in productions of The Last Session or giving his one-man show, Living in the Bonus Round for high schools, colleges, medical organizations, educators and he was even asked to participate in an American Bar Association panel on hate crimes (he may have been the first person to ever sing on CNN!)
In June, Walt and I went with my mother to visit Jeri in Newark, Ohio. We were also able to spend a day with my goddaughter Colleen in Kentucky (about 2 hours from Newark), and a day with my CompuServe boss, Georgia Griffith, ďthe Helen Keller of the millennium.Ē We also spent a week end in Denver with fans of The Last Session and I saw the show two more times and met some wonderful fans of the show.
In July I flew back to Houston to bake a pie. When I spent a month with Mike & Bill following Billís hospitalization last year, we celebrated his birthday and he mentioned afterwards that his mother had always made him a cherry pie on his birthday. So I promised him a pie this year, an affirmation of his return to health. He celebrated his birthday and I made good my promise.
In early August we had a wonderful family reunion, at which my mother was crowned queen of the family. We flew Jeri out from Boston for the weekend as a surprise for her grandmother. In late August, David Gerroldís son Sean spent a few days here with us and then we drove him home and met with David and several members of the Gerrold Forum on CompuServe for a day at Universal Studios.
In October, we went first to Baltimore to see The Last Session yet again (and I finally had the chance to meet Steveís husband, playwright Jim Brochu) and do some visiting, and then we met my mother in Boston to spend some time with Jeri. We had a lovely weekend on Cape Cod and a few days investigating the area around Boston and taking in the incredible New England fall color. Paulís widow, Audra, was in Columbus, Ohio at the time and drove to Boston to have dinner with us because she was ďin the neighborhood.Ē
In November I flew to LA to see Steveís one man show and stayed for the Ovation Theatre Awards, where I had the opportunity to meet Steve & Jimmyís good friend, Carol Channing. November also brought David and Sean back to Davis for a weekend, and to say their goodbyes to our dog, Benjy, whom they had given to us a year and a half before. Benjy had developed lymphoma and had to be put to sleep about 2 weeks after their visit. He was my doggie and I miss him a lot.
At the start of December, I agreed to start doing publicity for The Lamplighters, bringing my life full circle. But unfortunately the big event for December was that our car was stolen from the Orinda BART lot while we were seeing a show in San Francisco. We are now looking at having to go car shopping.
Can anybody tell that weíll all be very happy to see this year end? In January I remember sitting with my friends RoseMarie and Lynn and reading about what was in store for us in the year 1999. The horoscope said that 1999 was going to be a particular good year for us Aquarians. Well, it was the year our second son died, our dog died, and our car was stolen. I donít think I believe in astrology.
I wish the century were coming to the end on a positive note.
In some respects it is. We are pulling together after Paulís death.
I am excited about the work Iím doing for Steve in the coming year and
feel that his work at educating kids about AIDS and putting a face to homophobia
is a positive thing and Iím proud to be on his ďteam.Ē Iím also continuing
to work with PFLAG and an AIDS outreach center, and, with Ned (the town
curmudgeon), I write letters to the editor about the injustices in the
I hope this is a happy holiday season for you and your family.