Monday, August 4, 2014

Water flowing underground (Act Three of "How Did I Get Here?")

I'm going to backtrack here just a little bit, I think.

BEFORE I got booked on Mad Men, I had somehow added doing "background work" to my repertoire of income-producing gigs.  I was cast in a children's show with the local theatre company, as Rosie, the "fabulous, gorgeous, big sister duck" to the "Ugly Duckling."  We had just opened the show and I had just gotten busy doing BG work when Mommy was killed.  She had called me from New Jersey, and asked whether she should make California part of her trip, after visiting Brett in Kentucky.  I was so busy, I told her "no."  I was afraid I wouldn't have time to "entertain" her.  She never needed us to entertain her; she only ever wanted to spend time with her babies.  After she was killed, I carried an extraordinary amount of guilt, thinking that if I had just said "yes," she'd have been on a different route and she'd still be with us.  Poppycock.  God called her into the Heavenly Choir when He was ready for her, and He had definitely spoken "you're next" to her soul (not her intellect), and she was ready for Him.  I had a friend on set with me, to "keep an eye" on me, for a "recall" day on the show "Desperate Housewives" after the weekend we learned of her death.  Then, later in that week, I went to a rehearsal of "The Ugly Duckling," both to help my understudy learn the part as well as to give me something to do before I had to go to Florida for Mommy's services, etc.  On my way home from the rehearsal, my mind blanked for just a moment (grief, you know?) and I totaled my car.  Good times! ... NOT.

That was the end of 2006.  Got back to LA and borrowed a manual transmission car for a couple months from my "little sister" (you know, the Ugly Duckling?) so I'd have to always think about the act of driving, while I waited for the insurance company to pay off my totaled automatic.  Threw myself back into work.  Got a copy of "The Book" from Daddy, and picked up his "mission" to start handing copies out to folks I encountered who could use a copy.  If you're grieving, get yourself a copy.  If you know folks who are grieving, start handing out copies.  It does a WORLD of good.  Got myself booked on Mad Men, and life seemed to return to "normal."

Then, in February of 2009, Stephen was in touch with folks from NC State University, where we had dated.  There was a reunion scheduled for September of that year, and a mutual friend tasked him with finding me.  Here's the backstory on "Our Hollywood Story:"

  • We dated in college, for four years (give or take), while we were both living in Raleigh, NC, and attending NC State, and in the first year that Stephen went on to the NC School of the Arts, in Winston-Salem.  The year he was in W-S, Mommy and Daddy had moved back to Charlotte, NC, so since W-S was equidistant to Raleigh and Charlotte, I transferred my degree to UNC Charlotte.  EVERY night that Stephen and I were together, he asked me to marry him.  My answer was always "yes."
  • After that first year of "long-distance" dating, we realized we were too young-and-stupid to maintain being apart by a two-hour drive, so we "broke up," amicably.  Stephen asked me to marry him; I said "maybe."
  • After MY degree was finally finished and I met and got engaged to someone else, I invited Stephen to my wedding.  He was dating a psycho-chick at the time, who was afraid I would steal him away from her at my wedding, and he was therefore prohibited from attending.  Turns out she was prescient, but in the wrong timeframe.
  • I ended up living my life in NC, being a step-Mommy and dealing with an ex-wife (she is now my "ex-step-ex-wife") who ended up brutalizing her own child and destroying my marriage.  At the end of my day, my family said, "Hey.  Let's get your ass to LA so you can be an actress."
  • Meanwhile, Stephen had finished a Speech-Communication degree, a Stage Management degree, and had started a Screenwriting degree, before his funds just ran completely out.  He (and quite a few of his School of the Arts compatriots) headed to LA to "make a go of it."
In February of 2009, at the urging of our mutual friend, Stephen did a Charlotte-based city-search on Daddy.  No dice (he'd already moved to Florida, with Mommy, many years prior to that).  So he tried Facebook, remembering that Daddy was a computer geek, and not remembering what my married name was.  No dice - too many pages of men who could be Daddy, with tiny profile pics to sort through.  So he went to MySpace, and found a man with a profile pic that had the right number of men and women of potentially-appropriate ages in it, with the following caption:
"J*** M*** (check), retired RN (check) from Charlotte, NC (oh, yeah).  My older daughter built this page for me (that's right, big sis is a computer geek, too) because my son was too lazy to do it (yup, younger brother also a nerd!).  MY YOUNGER DAUGHTER IS AN ACTRESS IN HOLLYWOOD - MAYBE YOU'VE SEEN HER?" (emphasis added by me here, because upon reading it, Stephen's jaw is on the floor)
So he sends Daddy a message through the system; waits two weeks, find's Cheryl's page as a link and immediately upon viewing her profile pic (on MySpace, mind you), says to himself, "I know that kid."  You see, I wasn't in Daddy's profile pic.  The young lady who should have been me, was, in fact, my grown niece.  In my sister's pic was the younger version of her, listening to her Mommy's heart with a toy stethoscope.  BAM!  So he sends her the message he'd sent Daddy; she forwards it to me; I get it and go "O.M.G. - he's been floating through my brain for the past two weeks!"

We discover we'd been living nine miles apart for the last seven years.  We start dating again.  We go, not only to the NC State reunion at the end of September, but also to my high school reunion at the beginning of October, which just happened to be one town away from the other one, and while we're making our travel arrangements, we inform our families, "we'll be in North Carolina this particular week.  If you'd like there to be a wedding, then please make it happen, and we'll be there."

Yes, I made him "ask me" One. More. Time.

... Into the Blue Again


  1. I never get tired of reading that story. <3

    1. Well, now that it's WRITTEN, you can read it to your heart's content! <3

  2. Wow...I need to comment in chronological order here...

    1) Mad Men and Desperate Housewives? That is awesome

    2) that is awful about your Mom. What a sad time that must have been, my heart goes out to you for this sadness there.

    3) but then an amazing tale of finding your Dad.

    This tale had me feeling up and down and I am glad things ultimately worked out for you. Xxx

    1. 1. "24" - stand-in and photo-double for Elisha Cuthbert (see, then a 3-ish year "pause," then single moments on shows like "Desperate Housewives," "Private Practice," "Medium," any Adam Sandler movie that shot in LA from 2006 - 2012, steady work in the first three seasons of "Mad Men," day-playing on other shows and movies. Background Acting is a fun, easy job, because while it IS acting, there are no lines, so there are no auditions and no pressure. Watch "Jack and Jill," and look for me in the dinner date scene behind Norm MacDonald. I hear that I'm VERY visible.
      2. I'll be posting the complete backstory of Mommy in October, on the anniversary. You can catch some of it in the archives here, but I don't have specific links, because I've only as yet told the whole thing in person. It'll be eight years this year. Thank you.
      3. Stephen finding me by way of my family is truly amazing, and we love telling it. It really is our "True Hollywood Story."

      ...I don't think things ever quite "ultimately work out" until we're dead, and I don't say that to be negative. We all have a journey, and I recognize that mine is really (mostly) a "joy-ney." I am blessed. I'm enjoying the blogging. I sometimes tear up a little when I relay the sad stuff, but I guess the fact that I'm just relaying it rather than TRYING to bring my readers up and down is why I don't consider myself "a writer." Maybe I'll "grow up" to be a memoirist! :)

  3. I do love your love story! I am so glad you found each other and that you are home.

    I didn't realize you wrecked your car. That surprised me.

    I look forward to reading your blog. Love you!

    1. It is such a cool story, and we do love telling it. I thought everyone knew I'd wrecked my car. It was a "nothing" of a car; a Kia that those rat-bastards at the Toyota dealership had somehow gotten me into. I wasn't at all crushed about losing the car. I had other grief to process; the car was just a "thing."

      I'm so glad to have regular readers, even if they are family! I know that family doesn't make up the bulk of my readership, so there's that, at least. Love you back!


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