Some Link Love To Help My Friend

Since I began unobtrusive lucidity almost five years ago (wow, has it been that long?), I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve suggested that my readers give money to a cause, much less to a person. That’s just not the reason I have this space. However, there are occasional exceptions.

My friend, Cris, is in need of a critical back surgery very soon. Her condition risks serious complications, and the surgery is scheduled for the very near future. However, our health insurance system being as ludicrous as it is in the U.S., she must find some way to raise most of the six-figure cost of the surgery herself, as her insurance will not cover what may save her life (after all, only the wealthy deserve to be healthy here, right?).

She describes the procedure, her history, and provides a way to donate via PayPal at her site, which you can find here (for any of my readers who may ascribe to a different faith, I’ll let you know up front that this is an overtly Christian site). If you have some extra money and could assist my friend in affording what may literally be a life-saving surgery for her, I would be most appreciative. If you cannot, your prayers and thoughts will be most appreciated, as well.

You can also email Cris directly for more information if you’d like.



I once read a quote by one of my favorite playwrights, Beth Henley. She said that, to get a script moving, you take two characters, and you get them into an argument.

A couple of months ago, I was working on a script that had stalled. So, I took Henley’s advice. I put the protagonist and her sister into a fight that had been a long time brewing, and suddenly the protagonist found her voice for the first time. I could hear her in my head exactly the way she would sound! That’s one of those events that a writer hopes will happen in every project.

There’s something about a dramatic exchange motivated by frustration and hurt that removes the inhibitions we subject ourselves to under normative societal expectations, and permits what’s in our souls to pour out…the good, the bad, and the ugly, all of which would likely have been otherwise self-censored. Two people discover exactly what is on the other’s mind, and the elephant in the room is abruptly revealed in those “heated exchanges.” In the script of my life, I hate it when it comes to that point. Karen and I have experienced a few of these “heated exchanges” in our marriage. None of them have been pleasant, and, at least at first, were the result of small things that could have been talked out calmly instead. In more recent times, however, I’ve found these arguments to be catalysts. When you place two lives together, they move on a continuum. Ideally, they move forward together, and make progress. Sometimes, like my script, they stall. I’ve found a profound truth, however, in the fact that you never stay still on a continuum for very long. You either regain momentum, or begin to slide backward.

Karen and I had two ground-breaking discussions recently that have been incredibly healthy for our marriage. They were the result, at least in part, of an argument that occurred because a handful of issues had overheated. Now, ideally, those issues would have been handled individually before they reached that point. Not as dramatic, and it doesn’t make for nearly as good a script, but it’s better for my blood pressure when I’m the one arguing. This recent argument became a catalyst that propelled us forward, restoring momentum when we had began to drift backward.

I suppose that, when two people stall out, you can take them and put them into an argument…

I’m thinking of this tonight as I listen with a heavy heart to the sounds coming through the wall of our apartment. As well-constructed as our building is, you cannot help but hear when someone yells at a certain volume. That particular argument was punctuated by “blah blah blah” and “f***k you.” Not pleasant to hear. I’m aching for the people (I presume a couple) involved. I’m hoping that this serves as a catalyst to restore forward momentum for them, so that they won’t digress backward.

When an actor is preparing a script, two of the first questions that they ask themselves are: what does the character want, and what is keeping him from getting it? That is the motivation for our theatre of life, as well. These moments of friction occur because we are experiencing frustration at an inability to get what we feel we (sometimes desperately) need. Psychology tells us that behaviors are a way of getting what we want, or obtaining a desired result. Theatre calls this conflict, and it is the essence of a story. Without conflict, the plot doesn’t move. How unfortunate that, no matter how hard we endeavor to make it otherwise, we don’t seem to experience the positive until we’ve waded through the negative. As Buechner would have said, we have to experience the tragedy before the comedy, and both before the fairy tale.

I hope that your conflicts…these unfortunate flashpoints that ignite between us and those we love… always move you toward a more positive place.

And now, perhaps I should re-visit that script from a few months ago…

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Ocean View

I’ve groaned a lot about Spring in the Southeast lately. When I lived in the Northeastern U.S., winter was the season I dreaded most. I was excited to move south, because I knew that I would no longer have to dread the days on end with only the most obscure sunlight, endless slush and white landscapes, and dreary grey skies. I was right, of course. Those experiences are all but extinct here. What I didn’t expect was that winter would be replaced by spring as my most hated season, because I have never experienced allergies of this magnitude. The first time I saw my car yellow with pollen, I couldn’t fathom what was happening.

Such is life, right?

I remember my introduction to Florida well. While I didn’t grow up in a coastal area, the beach seduced me with its beauty on my first visit, and I’ve longed for it ever since. That evening, only slightly tired after a relatively normal travel day, I stood with a friend looking out off of the parking deck of the airport and was stunned by what I saw. Later, driving over the water, I nearly lost my breath. The following day, walking the white sand of Clearwater Beach and watching the sunset over the Gulf at the end of the day, I was so hopelessly in love with that place.

I’ve never been back to Florida, despite every intention to return. As summer nears, and I watch the change in the way the evening light falls over the streets and hills of Virginia, I find myself wishing desperately that I was back in Tampa. I think, also, that the place, as much as I loved the area, is somewhat metaphorical for where I otherwise find myself positioned in life; that is, somewhere I have tasted and in which I long to exist, yet find so incredibly elusive at the moment.

Career goals play into that discontent. I’ve lived the 9-5 grind, and I am so, so over that now. I no longer define my success by moving into the corner office (amazing how it doesn’t matter after you’ve achieved it). I’ve made moves forward: I continue to experience the addictive rush of theatrical magic when the lights warm the stage, and, while I haven’t sold the “Great American Novel,” I am not un-published for the last few years, either. Yet, I am longing to reach a place in life that I feel I should already have attained given the fact that I’m only a few years south of 40, and feel as though I haven’t been paying nearly enough attention to dreams and wishes along the journey.

Blah on professional wardrobes and corner offices, anyway.

I’ve tasted the ocean air with a scandalous passion, and yet have never been able to hold onto it for the long term. I’m just too stubborn, though, to give up hope, because I know that I will eventually wake up every morning to that metaphorical sand and ocean (hopefully with an identical geographical experience). Yet, I don’t want to call it achievement, because that makes everything, again, about success and material gain, which I’ve discovered to be worthless in and of themselves. This is about doing what I’ve realized is in my DNA, the piece of my soul I’ve discovered requires feeding to remain in possession of any sort of vitality…a “something greater” to which success must be attached if it is to have any significance.  I’m experiencing that in fleeting moments now, but am forcing myself to remain confident that the experience will be consistent in the future.

Until then, I cope with spring. Feel free to send me postcards of coastal sunsets. One day, I’ll be happy to return the favor when needed.