Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Holiday Season & Job Search

This Christmas will be the first time in many years that Granny will not hold court from the corner of her living room sofa. She survived past Thanksgiving despite a sobering diagnosis from her doctor and hospice nurse. She waited until family returned from Sunday church service and took her last breath. I was miles away in New York when she passed away. My mother called immediately to relay the news. We went back and forth on the phone, my insisting that Granny hadn't died, she insisting that I'd have to return to help lay Granny to rest.

I was overwhelmed by the news that I'd no longer see Granny in that familiar spot, wearing her housecoat and fuzzy slippers she favored later in life when indoors.

My new job search has been ego-deflating since I returned from Houston for Granny Gums' wake and funeral. I've had no energy or desire to look for a job. I'm having difficulty watching anything on TV that deals with death. I recently watched Steel Magnolias and teared up during cemetery scene. I've never been emotional when watching funerals or death on TV and in movies. I am a big fan of Six Feet Under on HBO.

What is New Year's Eve and New Year's Day without Granny's reminding us to eat black-eyed peas for good luck?

I'm reminded of the play Death Comes To Us All, Mary Agnes, if only for the title that I'm not excluded from the death and mourning. I know the wounds will eventually heal, but it seems just like yesterday that I spoke to Granny on the phone.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Fallen From Grace - Indie Film Casting Call

CornerStone Pictures and Keneritz Media are casting for an independent feature film - Fallen From Grace

Fallen From Grace is the story of a married immigrant's spiritual separation from his Christian beliefs as he navigates the sometimes turbulent terrain of married life, immigration, and life in the metro New York City area as he pursues the sometimes elusive American Dream. Along the way, he meets and interacts with an assortment of characters that tests his emotional and physical resolve as he works a variety of jobs to remain afloat while pursuing his creative dreams and American citizenship.

This film deals with adult themes, ethnic identity, and contains brief nudity.

We are seeking a diverse, talented, flexible, and reliable cast for principle, supporting, and featured extra roles.

This is a low-budget/no-budget/non-union film. All actors will receive film credit, copy of the DVD, and a free personal photo session valued at $400.

Interested actors please forward a recent headshot,resume, and the role that you feel best suited for. Additionally, there are a few supporting and featured extras.

If you have previously submitted for our casting call, there is no need to resubmit. All headshots/resumes will be kept on file for up to one year.

For more information refer to the film's website:

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Dispatch from Texas - Granny's Funeral

I traveled earlier to Houston to help one of my aunts tweak the wake and funeral programs for my granny's funeral this weekend. I had thought I'd also collect some of granny's belongings to take back to New York with me, but I couldn't walk into her bedroom. I haven't found the strength to step inside the room where she died.

The best intentions sometimes fall short when in the midst of things; when faced with what we planned from hundreds of miles away, we clam up or alter plans.

The last time I was in Houston was for another funeral, my aunt who succumbed to cancer. I know that death is a part of life. I'd say that while reading online newspapers of tragic events near and far, or the local news. It's not until death takes a loved one from your reach that the philosophizing and emotional distance is no longer enough to shield you from the grief. The television or computer monitor is a buffer from the pain others undoubtedly feel as they're distraught on camera or video.

My two flights to Houston were fraught with wind turbulence. The aircraft felt like a crop duster or toy plane as it bobbed and weaved at various altitudes in attempt to find calm air. I clawed the armrest, sure that the airplane would spiral to the ground. It wasn't as if I wished for death, but a thought occurred to me that I wouldn't have to walk into granny's house without her sitting on the sofa, phone pressed into her lap waiting for a call. I wouldn't have had to put on a suit and polish my shoes this Friday evening before the wake at the family church. I wouldn't have had to stand in front of the congregation and reminiscence about Granny Gums without collapsing to the floor, making a spectacle of myself.

I erased images of an angry mythological Greek god or goddess standing in front of the plane gently blowing against the craft for amusement. I remember praying to God to calm the wind and allow the plane safe passage into Houston. I was en route to eulogize my Granny, and nothing would prevent that from taking place. My cousin Carl picked me up from the airport. We didn't fall apart in the airport when we saw each other, and I don't know that I thought we would. There's usually drama in our family, so we occupied our travel time poring over various relatives' hiccups and disasters.

There's a marked absence in Granny's house, one that was once filled with nine daughters, two sons, and countless other neighborhood children.
Each bedroom was a protective chamber for its slumbering inhabitants. The kitchen where the girls and women in the family sat alongside the stove to get their hair pressed with a straightening comb has changed and now doesn't feel as warm or vibrant. The living room, or meeting room as it seemed to me, where everyone filtered through like a revolving door, is now void of Granny's voice.

Carl and I have been scanning pictures since Monday night. We Were The Williamses. We Were The Party Family! There are so many pictures in various photo albums of us hosting birthday parties, at banquets, at house parties, or picnics. My family was large back then, and even larger now that we're into our fifth generation. One of the biggest tragedies of Granny's death is that she was the glue that held this family together. Now that she'll no longer be physically on earth, I think everyone will scatter to the four winds. Each one of us will leave the funeral and accompanying family dinner changed -- reflective, remorseful, or regretful.

Death comes to us all, but we're never prepared even if it's preceded by a prolonged illness. Death comes to us all, and we're left to think about things left unsaid or undone. Flipping through the various photo albums, I know that granny lived a full and rewarding life. Rarely was she without a brilliant smile, head tilted to one side, with her signature poise radiating from the picture.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

New Book - The Brief History of The Dead

I have started reading a book, The Brief History of the Dead, by Kevin Brockmeier, for a different take on life after death. I know my granny is in a better place, perhaps one similar to "The City" in the novel, where inhabitants remain until the last person who remembers them dies. We are into our fifth generation, so I imagine that Granny Gums will be remembered for quite a while.