I’m looking for a United Way poster from the past. I’ve been searching the Internet trying to gain access to archives, but I’m turning up nothing. It’s also possible that it’s not United Way, but it’s March of Dimes. It’s from the late 1950′s, possibly the early 1960′s, and it’s one of those posters featuring an attractive, smiling Poster Child who is either thanking you for your support or reminding you of where your donations are going. It’s possible that it’s specific to Stratford, Connecticut.
The Poster Child is my dad.
He did not have polio, nor did he have cerebral palsy. But at one time he was a budding child star with a burgeoning singing career, going by the name of “Little Johnny Ribon.” He told me he used to occasionally appear on a popular radio show singing alongside a young Wayne Newton.
And yes, this does sound like another one of Dad’s tall tales, like when he told me there were landsharks in Palm Springs, or how the reflective bumps on the road were so the blind could drive, or how he once told my sister the number of spots on a dalmatian puppy signify the number of months it has to live, but Mom insists she once saw this poster, many many years ago.
Dad told me a few times about the photo session, and I remember always being skeptical, but now that Mom swears she once saw the thing, I’d love to find a way to locate it. I have to imagine the poster is in somebody’s archives somewhere. If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them.
My name is Robyn and I’m a young aspiring TV writer in L.A. who found your blog after it was linked from Jezebel. Your post “The Magical Vulva of Opportunity” really struck a chord with me because between parents encouraging me to “go back to school and became a professional naval-gazer in a safe environment like a college campus” and the snippets I hear every day about struggling, unhappy TV writers, I’m starting to wonder if I’m setting myself for a life of disappointment. This sentence in particular made my stomach drop:
“There have been shows I was almost on, shows I was on, shows I almost created, shows I wrote but nobody read. There have been proposals and pitches and meetings and punch-ups and “I don’t understand; they said you had the job, but now they just don’t have the budget for your level.” I’ve been singled out, recommended, read and “adored.” I’ve been pitched to, passed over, rescheduled and abandoned. I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve written even more. I’m a couple of credits away from being elevated higher than “mid-level female writer,” and I can’t wait to find out what new, terrible, miserable problems the next level brings.”
I know I’m 22 and still outside of that skyscraper looking up at its enormity, and I know it’s not your job to reassure some kid who graduated from college and moved to L.A. the next day with no tangible career prospects except a dream to write for television and maybe movies, but I want to know that you’re happy and that guy and his agent are just (albeit unconsciously) sexist jerks. I want to know that this is the only thing you’d ever want to do and could do. I want to convince myself that if you feel a richness in your life from this career, then my anxiety is for naught. I know it’s a lot to ask, haha.
I currently work in an entry-level job at a tech/marketing company, work on endless revisions to my sitcom spec and half-hour pilot and sometimes send out that Very Dramatic play I wrote last year to theater company’s reading committees. I presume you’ve been there and I’m curious what you would say to your past self knowing what you know now.
Thanks for being an inspiration to young women like me (neurotic as we are.)
All the best,
I’ve mentioned before how my dreams are annoyingly literal. I rarely have to spend any time pondering, “I wonder what that meant.” Yes, even REMpam is a Wonder Killer.
How literal? Well, to be extremely graphic, I once had a dream in college where a notoriously tough professor was butt-raping me in front of the entire class to prove a point about the importance of authenticity in acting technique.
IT IS NOT FUN TO BE DREAM ME.
INTERIOR DOCTOR’S OFFICE — BEVERLY HILLS — AFTERNOON
Okay, so how’s your knee?
Well, it feels really wonky. And after some consultations with Dr. Google, I think it might be my PCL.
Look, I know. I know. But my knee was injured here, like this, with the kneepad, and that’s like a dashboard injury. And I just, in my defense, need to say that the last time I self-diagnosed, I had to go all the way to a specialist putting a camera inside my urethra before they would admit that perhaps I had been right the entire time that the marathon training had caused internal damage, and that people shouldn’t mock me when my research includes the Internet and the consultants on House.
Then what do you need me for, right?
Alright. I get it. I’m sorry. Go ahead.
[MONTAGE OF QUICK PHYSICAL TESTS, MOST OF WHICH INVOLVE ME RESPONDING EITHER "I CAN'T" OR "OW"]
Okay, well, let’s schedule your MRI for next week. I want to see exactly what we’re dealing with here. The good news is I don’t think you’ll have to have surgery. But I have to hand it to you. I think it’s your PCL.
If it is, I’m going to be impressed, because that’s not an easy thing to diagnose.
My dad would be so proud of me right now. Suck it, Med School!
I bet that move looks more impressive when you have two working legs.
(Hooray for probably no surgery!)
It’s that time again. I’m skating in another bout. This time I’m co-captain of my team. It has tapped into all of my dormant director skills and –unpredictably– has resulted in me jonesing to get back on stage. It has also resulted in me giving some long-winded, overly-emotional locker room speeches about teamwork and dedication. No, it really has. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I think my dad made me watch Hoosiers too many times growing up.
When I think about the fact that it’s been exactly seven years since you died, I don’t get sad. I get angry. I get this ball of fury under my ribcage that causes me to tremble and pace and wish there was something I could do. This helpless rage is not over how much I miss you — which is an immeasurable amount that only seems to grow even larger with every day — but rather over just how much you’ve missed.
You’re missing everything.
One of our last moments together, seven years ago plus some change, you were standing and I was helping you get dressed, maneuvering your oxygen tube around your flannel top while you stood, arms outstretched and wide, and you wailed, not to me, but to something not in the room. You said, “I’m so useless!”
But I was the one who was useless right then, because once the word “hospice” is said, it doesn’t matter what comes next. There is no stopping the end of things. Cancer doesn’t care. It doesn’t care that we had just started to talk to each other like real people, that you had just started to have regrets in life, that there were still so many things left for you to do, for you to see. Cancer doesn’t care, especially when you didn’t care about it first, and now you’re missing everything.
And I’m sorry, I know it makes me a terrible daughter. I’m sorry, because I know I’m not supposed to say it. I’m sorry, because it’s such a useless thing to feel, but today, I’m just so fucking mad at you.
For the first time since the Nixon Administration, my mother has registered to vote.
My mom, who actively tries to avoid knowing news because it upsets her too much, has HAD ENOUGH. She is voting for change and is on my sister’s ass to get registered by tonight’s deadline so they can vote for Obama two times. Obama made my mom a political activist! Do you have any idea how many years I tried to get her to vote for something, anything?
I can’t even imagine what my dad would have thought of that. My mom and sister, getting their American rights on, because they want their voices to count, so they can stand up and say: “No more.”
I’m so proud of them.
I really miss you.
Mom. Mom! Richard Grieco just walked into this coffeeshop.
Who? Oh. From 90210.
21 Jump Street.
Which one was he, again?
Booker. He’s the one who was not Johnny Depp. … Which I bet he hears all the time, including in his nightmares. He had the spin-off, remember? Booker?
I don’t think I watched that show.
Oh, you know who would have loved this? Dad. Remember he used to always tease me for watching that show. Well, I don’t know if he was teasing, or if he really just liked saying Booker over and over again in that weird voice.
Yeah, I didn’t watch it. I don’t like Shatner.
… No, Mom, that’s… that’s TJ Hooker.
Well, what did you say?
I said Booker.
Why are you saying it like that?
Because he’s standing right next to me! I’m trying to be quiet!
I can’t stand Shatner.
Not TJ Hooker, Ma. Booker.
I remember now. I didn’t watch that show, either.
No, you didn’t. Anyway, that dude’s standing right next to me.
I just don’t know why anybody likes Shatner.