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Very happy to announce that my 2019 Big Break Screenwriting Contest entry has made the cut to Semifinalist! I just realized I’m smiling as I type. Screenwriting is such a cool thing to do. Being recognized for it is even cooler.

Grateful.

I’m very happy to announce that my drama feature entry is a 2019 Final Draft Big Break Screenwriting Contest Quarter-Finalist.

As I’ve written about in some previous posts, it’s difficult to deal with the years when nothing happens. In 2017 nothing happened, because I decided to sit out the screenwriting competitions to destress. It helped and this year I entered the Nicholl and Big Break. Not getting any positive reads in the Nicholl was disappointing and discouraging. So I seriously braced myself when the Big Break QF email came. It was such a wonderful feeling to get that reassuring, validating, thrilling moment of seeing my name and title as a Quarter-Finalist.

As the saying goes, I can dine on that for quite some time. I never stop believing in myself, but that belief gets shakey sometimes depending on how hard the winds of defeat try to blow me over. I really like this place where anything can happen and if I go right back into the doldrums that’s okay too. I’ve had the reminder that I know what I’m doing and love doing it. 

Now, I get to look forward to the upcoming Semifinals announcement. Whatever my result in that, I’m so proud to be a 2019 Big Break Quarter-Finalist.

I came across this little gem on Twitter and tried to post it directly from there. That did not go well. So, dear Purple Koalaers, I deleted it, dug the video up on YouTube, and am making another attempt. So sorry for the typical glitch and repost.

So. It’s Dick Van Dyke singing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in a restaurant, which has made my day. I only saw the movie once, a long time ago, but somehow bits of this song creep into earworm status to this day and I find myself singing what I remember of it. That is powerful entertainment.

Dick Van Dyke is a national treasure. He’s still got it. All the its. 

I’ll paste in the link at the bottom too, in case of further glitchiness.

Dick Van Dyke Singing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang In a Restaurant

​​A few weeks ago I was minding my own business, driving home from grocery shopping. I was almost home, when a song I’d never heard came on the radio. I was spellbound to the point that when it ended I kept repeating the artist’s name, in hope that I’d remember it long enough to look it up, which I did the minute I stopped the car in the driveway.

Lewis Capaldi was pretty easy to remember, actually, being so similar to Peter Capaldi, the actor who is my favorite Doctor Who.  I’d also loved him in The Hour. 

So as soon as my groceries were put away, I bought Lewis Capaldi’s debut album on Amazon. It even has a great title:  Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent.

Instead of starting to give it a full listen right away, I Googled around some more and ended up on YouTube. That’s where I discovered the very special Someone You Loved video that promotes awareness for heart transplants. It made me cry. It’s like a tiny movie, with Peter Capaldi playing a man with a dying wife who donates her heart. He meets the family who receives new life through that donation. The little girl missing her two front teeth, but still having her Mummy, will melt your heart. So will Peter Capaldi’s extremely expressive features. We watch him love, grieve, and finally find a measure of peace. His ever present ear buds are a lifeline to the not quite lost second heartbeat of his life. This is one of the most touching and poignant music videos I’ve ever seen.

That song has become something I listen to almost as much as he listens to his wife’s heart. It’s my understanding that Lewis Capaldi conceived it as a song about lost love, but as the video so beautifully illustrates, it can also be the soundtrack to a loss from death. July 15th was the third anniversary of my mom’s death, and Someone You Loved captures what she meant to me so personally. The theme of how it feels when the one person who can get you through such a profound loss is the person you’ve lost tells its own story. What do you do with that kind of pain? You learn how to stand alone and bear it. Sometimes, if you’re in the right moment at the right time, you find a song that makes it a little easier, if only in its reminder that deep pain from staggering loss is a universal experience. One that unites us with unseen strangers we’ll never meet and gives us all comfort from invisibly linked unknown friends.

I listen to the entire album every day still. Not just for that one special song, but for the remarkable combination of songwriting and unique singing that is Lewis Capaldi. I love that his Scottish accent comes through so clearly…to the point that I don’t always understand every word. Doesn’t matter, since I understand every song.

 Lewis Capaldi – Someone You Loved

Time heals all wounds.

A platitude.

They make us feel better and we cling to them in difficult times. The truth, though, is that that’s all they are. They aren’t pronouncements that foretell the future or promises that pain will cease to exist. They give us enough comfort to get us through, so that when the realization comes that pain is a steed we ride through time, we’re strong enough to keep our seat.

Today is the three year anniversary of my mother’s death. Time has actually done enough to make her loss easier for me. I still think of her every day. Many times. Her favorite foods remind me. TV shows she loved. Songs. I look at pictures a lot. I remember her hugs, as if I can still feel her arms around me. I look at images of her hands and think of how comforting their warmth against my hair and forehead always was when I was sick. So much of daily life carries her with it. 

But no matter how much time passes, it won’t heal the hole she’s left in my life. It gapes there, behind every moment, a rending wound. The rending pain fades, but the hole does not close. I think that when we love someone so much for our entire lives they leave an indelible mark. And that’s good. In her final years, her own mother was with her every day still, decades after she was lost to her. Alzheimer’s actually enhanced that. It brought her hallucinations that gave her mother back to her when she needed her most. So that she went from talking to me about her to talking to her. I’m glad all the time that passed wasn’t able to take that connection to her precious mother away from her. Some people are meant to transcend loss and time. The best mothers are our mothers forever.

So time serves the purpose of softening the hard, jagged edges of grief. It gives us a measure of peace. And once the grief is no longer so sharp, it opens the door to remembrance and grace. A measure of healing lies in that place, it’s just that the healing is a lifelong process, borne in the arms of love.

My mother was a beautiful young woman. These photos are evidence of that. She looked like a super model, before there were super models. I think these were taken when she was in her late teens and/or early twenties.

I recently came across this one. I kept looking at it, not entirely sure it was really her, in spite of the fact that she’d written her name and 40s on the back. Most of the hundreds of pictures she left for me to enjoy showed her beauty staying with her throughout her nearly century of life. I think this may be the worst of them all.

I just couldn’t understand how she could look so bad. Almost like a walking cadaver. Skin stretched across prominent facial bones, hollow eyes, accompanied by a haunted gaze. She looked as if she’d walked through hell.

Eventually I realized she had. The 1940s. That was the answer. She was living through World War II. This must be several years after the lovely, carefree images. She’s standing in Aunt Pearl’s yard, which means it was likely when she lived with Aunt Pearl and Uncle Dick, while the sisters worked at a nearby arsenal, making bombs. Risking their lives every day. A bus came to get them for the ride to what might have been the last day of their lives. One accident is all it would take. Living with that alone, though with such strength and courage, was enough to take a toll.

Even if it was before she worked at the arsenal, the general wartime was nightmarish. She told me that after Pearl Harbor was attacked, they were terrified that the Japanese would bomb even so far inland. So she was already accustomed to living in a state of high fear. 

Add the deprivation of food scarcity. Meat, butter, and sugar were rationed. They had to adjust to the butter substitute margarine, adding the yellow coloring that came with it to make it resemble real butter better than it did without it. They learned to make butterless, sugarless, eggless cakes and “apple” pies out of crackers, sacrificing every way they could think of to help the war effort. That would explain her newfound gaunt look. She didn’t eat a lot anyway, so paring down her natural diet would have been drastic.

Even her vibrant smile was different. The phrase “Carrying the weight of the world.” comes to mind. It’s said that the people who lived through World War II are a remarkable generation. They were. A few remain and still are. They always will be, preserved forever, I hope, in the amber of historical memory and generational family stories.

I’m happy to say that with her innate resillience she was regaining her natural beauty, by the time my parents were married several years after the war. This picture captured them in a solemn moment, perhaps trying to portray the importance of the occasion. They look strong and healthy, with a new layer of maturity brought to them by surviving such hardship, as they embark on their new life together 

I stumbled across this video on YouTube and found it stunning. I’m not familiar with the musician, but like the song. It’s the combination of the song and the visual that is so riveting, though. The also unfamiliar actress is phenomenal. So still. Spare. Stoic for so long and then the breaking of determination into despair. It makes you hurt to watch her face, body language, and progression of emotion. Such a stunning production. In a few brief minutes, it becomes unforgettable.

Keaton Henson–You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are