December 25, 2011
I received a Christmas card the other day by mistake. It was delivered here to the attention of a certain Sue who ostensibly lived here before. I've lived here off and on since 1998 and no Sue has lived here in the last 13 years. So naturally, I opened the envelope. In arthritic scribble, Ruthann from Atchison wrote:
"Our family is not doing well. Margie has osteoporosis and is bent double. She can't walk without a walker and then needs help. Lisa and Larri have to lift her in and out of the car. Skeet has Oldsheimer's and has trouble funcheoning. He does pretty well other than asking you over and over the same thing. They have 24 hour care but are still at home. Vickie comes every other week and stays from Sunday to Tuesday. They won't let me do much because of my shoulders.
Don't get old, Sue--it's HELL. ha
I can't believe your grandkids are the age they are.
(I doubt if you can read my writing.)"
I'm glad to report that life has been better for me this year than Ruthann's but still. It reminds me that we age, we decay. I felt older this year. The only hair I grew this year either came out of my nose or seemed to be gray. My eyesight weakened to the need for bifocals (they call them progressives--what? progressively worse?). My second great-niece was born this year. If I think about it too much, it makes me feel like Methuselah--at age 39. That's the bad news I guess.
Aging as it was/is, I think I will look back on 2011 as one of my favorite years, a year that seemed to contain many years. It was a full and cinematic year rife with lovely weddings, unexpected deaths, births, a handful of accomplishments and a few firsts.
Off the top, The Ripcord at Worlds of Fun was the very best thing I did for myself this year.
Though I have never had the thrill-pang to bunjee jump-anything, I woke up on Father's Day and the first words out of my mouth were "I'm going to do the Ripcord."
According to the WOF website, "the RipCord features a 180-foot tethered free-fall. Guests wear a full body harness that supports the flyer in a prone position. The scale of flight is so dramatic that flyers accelerate to 60 - 80 miles per hour and achieve the sensation of hang gliding."
I paid my $30-some dollars and waited to be called and strapped onto what amounted to a dangling string. I was pulled up hydraulically suspended flat facing the pond below. A girl's electronic voice called out 1-2-3-FLY! On FLY, I've been instructed to pull the cord. My own cord. I do it in a sturdy tug and free fall downward in a sudden exhilirating jerk and then fly across the water. It felt good to let go and simultaneously made me feel powerful and in-control.
It was metaphor for the year. One of letting go. After the Ripcord, I felt emboldened to throw myself into other carefree pursuits. I sustained a mechanical bull. I rode shotgun next to the pilot in a helicopter perusing the mountainous formations over breathtaking and kindred Sedona, AZ. Taking the bull by the horns, getting a bird's eye view.
I went to Los Angeles in April for my friend, April's birthday even though her birthday is in March. Spent Thanksgiving with friends in New York. Took business trips to Uncasville, CT and Topeka, KS! (What what?!) Spent some time in a friend's condo in Phoenix. I borrowed his convertible and went for a drive into the mountains. On the way up the mountain at dusk, I fist-pumped the sky and said "This. Is. Living!"
It was also a very theatre-y year. I reprised my role of the Schoolmaster in the reprisal of Pink Floyd's The Wall.
And then I spent an obsessive amount of time and the bulk of my year writing, directing, producing Mother Trucker 2: Ride On, the sequel to my 2004 show, Mother Trucker. I was fortunate to receive an Inspiration Grant from the Arts Council of Metropolitan Kansas City to build the set for the show. With additional support from the Charlotte Street Foundation, throng of support from the Kickstarter campaign as well as emotional support from a talented cast/crew, Mother Trucker 2: Ride On drove into La Esquina on July 15 and played for 12 performances.
MT2: Ride On. Photo by Matthew Collins
"Imagine John Waters writing and directing a musical that blends the hiinks of the Smokey and the Bandit movies with parodies of "Hee Haw" and "Dukes of Hazzard" and you'll have an idea of what Reed and his cast are pulling off." --Timothy Finn, KC Star
"Surprisingly touching and every bit as funny as you'd expect."--Grace Suh, Pitch Weekly
I played Slim Jenkins, the Bird Man. In the excerpt below, Slim eulogizes his dead bird, Cletus.
Angel Flyin Too Close To The Ground **Also, I have DVDs for sale. Contact me if you want one.
For the month and a half that I was in rehearsals and performances, I took in a Swedish roommate. Why not? Then, not even two months later, I gained another roommate, this time my friend, Jessie from Spain. Seemingly and without intent, I began operating a hostel for wayward international girls.
My family held a Bean Feed on the farm. It was a gorgeous and unseasonably warm day for open-fire roasted beans and a hayride at sunset.
The Pitch Weekly gave me another kindness in their Best of 2011 issue for White Nose Christmas. "Writer-performers Heidi Van, Bess Wallerstein and David Wayne Reed deserve year-round kudos for this tragicomic hot mess." In November, we created another hot mess with the sequel, Bump. This time working with Heidi's actual pregnancy as the new premise.
|"Wallerstein and Reed are very good comic actors, and they are arguably at their best as a team of "spiritual birth guides" who with a series of bizarre rituals prepare Brindsay for motherhood."|
--Robert Trussell, KC Star
Good friends were married and their weddings were highlights of the year. Congratulations to Heidi and Dan, Venus and Keenan, and Vanessa and John. Their weddings were beautiful and everything I'd imagine to want for my own.
I'm sad to say that I can't recollect all of the people from our community who passed this year. Death was a dark cloud that sat over our city for too long and took too many too early. At a funeral in the Spring, the service let out and we were handed bubbles to blow outside as we left. I blew a bubble and it floated for a moment before being tamped out by a raindrop from the ongoing thunderstorm. How like life--bubbles in a rainstorm.
As many deaths as there were, there were an infinite amount of new births. My God, the babies this year. Be careful drinking the water.
I spent Christmas Eve with my family and we took up 3 1/2 pews at church. Mom said that other people commented today at church that "we really filled up the pews!" She sounded proud. Gifts dwarfed the Christmas tree and we are fortunate and full.
I have about a week left of work before I leave for the Escape to Create artist residency in Seaside, FL. I'm honored to have been accepted and I'm looking forward to the entire month of January nestled between the forest and sea where I will complete a collection of short stories.
I'm so grateful for this year--for the friends I call family and the family I call friends. For the opportunities, the thrills, the fullness of the human experience.
Hope you're having a wonderful holiday and cheers to an auspicious new year.
With love and tidings of joy,