Saturday, December 12, 2009

Holiday Letter 2009

Dear Friends and Family,

They say that the years go by faster as you get older--well I must be getting younger because this past year has felt like a decade.—like Dickens, the best of times, the worst of times. 2009.

I started off the New Year on a train bound for St. Louis. Old friends, City Museum and it’s 7 story slide, wine and dim sum. It was a superb start to the new year but other than that, I can’t recall anything else about January.

In February, I was chosen to be featured in Ink Magazine for basically what amounted to a full-page singles ad. Each week, they ask people to list their essential items for living and then come to your house and take pictures of you and your stuff. I listed: Indoor grill, designer eyewear, Metro bus pass, books, Blackberry, desk, vintage tuxedo and 50in flatscreen TV (that I won last year in a raffle in Reno!). This is how I get by.

Shortly thereafter, an episode of Check, Please, a local restaurant review show on KCPT aired. I was on a panel that included an HR Director and a Lawyer and me, “Media Darling.” Why not? Naturally, I held a viewing party (what with my 50in and all). It was fun—and I didn’t cringe watching myself. I heard well into the summer that this episode aired multiple times. This reminded me that there were no residuals.

Uncharacteristically and capriciously, I entered the March Madness pool at work. I’ve never followed sports but this year, (with a vested interest) I watched the basketball games fervently, even jumping off the sofa and screaming at the TV at times. I’m not proud of this. I didn’t win the pool but didn’t too that poorly considering how I laid out my brackets. Choosing the teams reminded me of my approach to the math section of the ACT test in high school. Willy-nilly.

I entered a screenwriting competition with a friend. It was a TV pilot called Gravity Falls—a melodrama set in small town Kansas. We didn’t win but honestly the reward was in the journey and the satisfaction in the completion. Eh, better luck next year.

I am lucky in that I get free tickets to a lot of shows in town. I love this. In April, Venus called me because she ended up getting some free tickets to the Britney Spears concert at Sprint Center. I know, I know—Britney Spears? Yes. Britney didn’t sing but she danced her little heart out.

As an added bonus we were given some backstage passes for a meet and greet with the opening act, The Pussycat Dolls. We stood with other teen fans and one by one each of the P. Dolls came out and shook our hands and talked with each of us. The lead singer, Nicole S. spent a lot of time talking to me and not letting go of my hand. Venus later said “She was totally meat-gazing you.” Thereafter, some security guards closed in near us and a golf-cart drove by carrying Britney Spears, incognito in large sunglasses with her hand in a bag of nacho cheese Doritos. She looked Venus and I squarely in the eyes before she bit a chip. It really was like seeing a unicorn.

A week later and I ended up getting 8 free tickets to see Morrissey at the Midland. He was exceptional and I squealed like a teen fan when I happened to get a piece of one of the 5 or 6 shirts he threw out into the audience. Yeah, I smelled it.

Immediately following a business trip to Ocean City, MD, I flew to Paris, France to see a friend there currently in school for fashion design. The bad economy gifted me with a ridiculously low fare ($575 r/t) and I was able to stay with Hadley in her apt. directly across the street from the Louvre! We played ultimate tourists visiting museums, parks, the Eiffel Tower, a river-boat cruise down the Seine, Montmartre, Versailles, et al. Truly unforgettable. J’taime, Hadley.

Shortly after being House Manager for the 18th St. Fashion Show, I was cast in the 30th Anniversary stage adaptation of Bette Midler movie, The Rose. (No, I didn’t play Rose.) I played the ruthless manager and had to grow out my hair—ha, I know, my facial hair. I needed to grow a 70s beard or else face the prospect of spirit gum adhesion. I opted for the former. Who knew I could grow out a beard? I guess all of my hair went south for the summer.

I celebrated my birthday in dental pain! I was supposed to attend Catherine’s wedding but couldn’t go because I needed an emergency root canal. I was/am bummed to miss her wedding but the Vicodin helped assuage the gloom.

The Rose ran for 3 weeks, all to congratulating crowds. Spencer Brown was fantastic as the Rose and to give myself my due, I was pretty fantastic, too. For 2 hours each night, my character preened while berating Rose in every passive/aggressive way imaginable. It was exhausting and kind of therapeutic.
I could’ve shaved off my beard in one fell swoop but instead documented the shearing—all the way down from a goatee to a fu Manchu to the a mustache and soul patch. I looked like a cross between a porn star and a science teacher. And I liked it.

I hosted the Pitch Music Awards for the 2nd year in a row (and though hosting that after an 2 hour-long open bar is like herding cats and hypnotizing chickens), it was fun, mildly out-of-control and an honor. The biggest highlight for me was being serenaded by 93 year old jazz legend, Myra Taylor who accepted the award for Best Jazz Ensemble on behalf of her group, The Wild Women of Kansas City. I beamed like a child at Christmas as she sang directly to me from her wheelchair. I was overwhelmed and joyful.

A week later and I hosted a fashion show for my friend, Jon Fulton Adams and his fashion line Queen’s Rocket. I entered the runway from below with an arising fog. It was very.

I’ve never been a pet person. That is until I met my kitty, Miss Neely O’Hara. My friend, Georgianna posted on Facebook that she had a lynx-point Siamese show up at their house after a neighboring family “abruptly left.” She was fixed, had her shots and was free to a good home. On a whim, I decided to go over and meet her. Well, I left with her and we have been BFFs since. I didn’t know how much I could love a kitty or what I did pre-Neely. I’m a changed man because of this cat. Seriously.

Soon after I got her, I had to go to a conference in Louisville. It was a really great time and I felt right at home there. I was surprised by how much I loved Kentucky, in fact. The regal homes, the greenness, the hospitality, the bourbon—wonderful. From Louisville, I took a small weekend trip to Denver. It’d been ages since I’d been there and was glad to stay with another friend, Anne and her family there. (Thanks, Coates family!) We drove one afternoon to (almost) the top of Mt. Evans, a 14k ft. mountain. Driving up without guardrails gave me heart palpitations and clammy hands but it was worth it for that panorama view and short breaths of clean mountain air.

I shot a scene in a movie starring my co-worker, Aaron. It’s called The Brothers Krong 2 and I play a Swedish Terrorist. Wearing a blond man-wig with a mustache that doesn’t match the drapes +firing off 2 MK47s=Comedy gold. Speaking of comedy gold, I received a couple of free tickets to see David Sedaris (one of my favorite writers) at the Midland. He was hilarious per usual and signed my book while we talked about H1N1. He offered me hand sanitizer while he nibbled on sushi.

I didn’t win anything in the Pitch Best of 2009 like I did last year—but I did get an honorable mention in Kelly Allen’s win for Best Karaoke Host. I was listed as “DWR, a one-man classic rock circus.” I liked this.

(Warning: Heavy) I was set for my annual review at work the afternoon that my boss instead committed suicide. It was as shocking and miserable as it sounds. I celebrated my 4 year anniversary with IAAO a week later.

Her funeral was the first time I’d ever thought of my own funeral— I thought of what I’d want people to say about me,. I thought of what I want my obituary to look like. It made me want to be a better person, a more giving person. It made me acutely thankful for the life I’ve been blessed to lead.

Thankful. Meaningful. These became key words for me—I focused on the joys of living: seeing several friends having babies, other friends becoming engaged, new friends coming into my life, spending meaningful times with age-old friends and family—this is what mattered. This is what I took solace in.

I hosted Thanksgiving at my apt. My family came up and as we dined, I asked my family the following question:

What was the highlight of your year?

I began and said that taking the elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower was an amazing flash of exhilaration as I launched above Paris marveling at the city’s awesome landscape. Dad was proud that he no longer needs a walker after healing from his hip surgery. Mom is thankful for family—so is Aunt Orpha. My brother, Steve’s highlight was giving $400 to Toys for Tots sat a fundraiser with other motorcycle enthusiasts. My sister loved spending time with her grandchildren. My great-niece, who’s two and change, just repeated “Shoes, shoes, shoes!” My nephew, Lenny was glad that a friend of his rebounded from Leukemia. Some of us shed tears of joy and in thanks. It was a beautiful moment of mutual emotional philanthropy. For that, I felt bliss.

My final column with KC Magazine appeared in the December issue. After 2 1/2 years as a monthly columnist, I decided to leave and work on other projects; namely, a book.

I’m as excited for 2010 as I was exhausted by 2009.

Hope you have a great holiday season and a wonderful new year.

Much love,