Musings on my life as a busy opera singer, voice teacher, photographer and mom - not necessarily in that order! I consider myself immensely fortunate to have carved out a way of doing all of these things which mean so much to me - it may sometimes get a little crazy, but it's always worth it. Welcome to the madhouse!
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
A letter to my Dad on his 80th Birthday
Ok, so a day late - although I don't think a dollar short, and no less heartfelt.
Those endless hours at the typewriter in Los Angeles! You were determined that there were never going to be any real financial concerns to scare a kid into wondering if everything was going to be ok. To make sure that I really could keep up with the horses and the horseshows. That I could go back to the UK to study, first to reconnect with those important childhood years spent in England, and subsequently to complete my performance training at one of the most prestigious conservatories in the world without having to work 5 jobs just to pay the rent.
Strangely, one of the things I remember most of our LA years was the Sunday night family steak dinners at The Mainsail in Marina Del Rey (or was it Venice?). The dark-paneled, underlit gloom which they billed as "New York Steakhouse", somewhat California-ized by funky murals on the walls and typically Los Angeles servers who almost certainly were out-of-work actors picking up a few bob to make ends meet. But the foil-wrapped baked potatoes bursting with their melting pats of iced butter (why did that fascinate me?) and wonderful - and wonderfully diverse - conversations at the end of busy weekends where we all finally convened as a family without distractions were fascinating at the time and have stuck with me for all these years. Of all the places to remember!
Yeah, it's true that you were working every hour under the sun when I was a teenager, but you've always been there when it really mattered. Being on the spot 10 minutes after my first car crash (even if you didn't know what to do about the wasp sting that caused it, you sure talked the other driver out of his rage and got the insurance details sorted out!). Making sure that everything worked out when A was born, and giving us the freedom and support to re-establish ourselves here in the US happily and comfortably; it can't always have been easy, but you made it work. Being a valued professional ear when things get bumpy in the freelance world that is my own career, and truly understanding the sometimes delicate balance we in the entertainment industries have to find between personal loyalties, professional necessities and simply paying the bills; your advice is still invaluable.
I wish I'd been more interested in the Hollywood you worked in and paid more attention. At the time - since I was completely uninterested in anything that wasn't musical performance (more fool me!) - it didn't make much of an impression on me that you were interviewing and regularly working with the likes of Michael Cain, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, Chuck Jones, Jonathan Demme, Sean Penn, Dan Akroyd and many others. Talk about missing the boat! It gives me enormous pleasure now, though, to be able to understand just what an achievement it was. Not just because you were working at such a high level with the best-of-the-best, but sustaining a small business successfully for so many years in an industry as notable for knocking people down as building them up. No wonder your colleagues respected you as they did - you earned it.
And so, here we are, at your 80th birthday. In the last 10 years you've become as devoted to the internet as any 15 year old (even if the occasional computer crash still sends you into a panic!), finally jumped on the golf bandwagon, embraced Grandfatherhood in a way nobody could have imagined, and still found time and energy to take on the occasional writing or production gig. Quite an achievement for a guy who was convinced he wouldn't make it past 50!
With much love xoxoxo