Thursday, October 2, 2008

John McDaniel, Janette Barber and dreams of another time and place

Just when I am at my tipping point and begin to question why in God’s name I ever moved to New York in the first place, a day like today happens. Pure “spingle” as Rosie would say. And, ironically enough, the day had a Rosie theme in a way. Let me explain.

First I should go back in time to when I was 20 years old, living in Waco, Texas and a student at Baylor University. Let me repeat that slowly.

I was 20. Living in Waco. Student at Baylor.

Got it?

See, Baylor is a really conservative school in a really conservative town in a really conservative state. And I was doing my best at pretending to be a really conservative student with a really conservative girlfriend studying really conservative things. But I had a secret.

No, not that one! Another one.

Every afternoon I would rush home to my apartment just off campus to secretly watch The Rosie O’Donnell Show (TROS). I loved it. And I loved her. She seemed like a kindred spirit and I could not get enough of her love of Broadway, her love of Tom Cruise and her love of the simple, ordinary things…things a kid living some 1500 miles away could relate to.

I also had a crush on Rosie’s pianist and band leader, John McDaniel. I loved everything about him. His infectious smile, his warm personality and of course his cutey-patutie-ness.

But one day on TROS, Rosie welcomed the cast of Rent. I watched, knowing nothing about the musical at the time, and began to cry. I knew I related to the musical but I did not know what it was I was relating to. I just knew that at that moment my dream of moving to New York began. I wanted to be there, in that city, and see if I could make it.

I wanted to be Rosie’s best friend and John McD’s boyfriend. I wanted to travel beneath the ground and skate on Wollman Rink. I wanted to see if I was tough enough to make it in the toughest city in the world.

In just four years that kid from Waco did move to New York. And many of my dreams, as well as things I never could have imagined, came true. I skated Wollman Rink and I ride beneath the ground everyday. And nearly eight years later I can honestly say that I am tough enough – and blessed beyond measure – to live in the shadow of the greatest city in the world.

Today, after a stressful morning of figuring out how we are going to pay my husband’s rising health care bills, I headed out to see a friend in a table-reading of a musical that is trying to make it to Broadway. Though I was interested in seeing my friend, I did not particularly want to spend my afternoon watching a bunch of actors reading a script when I had a million other things I needed to be doing.

But today in a rehearsal room on the fifth floor of a theatre on 42nd Street I realized something. I realized that even though life never works the way you think it should, it still works. And even though dreams never play the way you dreamt, sometimes they play out exactly as they should.

As I sat down among the audience of maybe ten people, all family and friends of the actors, I looked over at the piano about five feet away and noticed John McDaniel. John wrote the music for this particular musical. There he was, my once-future boyfriend, at the piano laughing and making snarky comments under his breath. He was in his element and he was having a good time.

About that time a woman with a Flip camera in hand walked right in front of me. I noted how the Flip was ironic given Rosie’s love of all things Flip. And when I looked at the woman holding the Flip I realized it was Janette Barber, the Emmy-award winning head writer and supervising producer of TROS. Many may know Janette as the Ja in the JaHeRo vlogs on Rosie’s blog. She is also known for an antic involving a Sharpie and a picture during Rosie’s last day on The View, an antic that propelled her to rock-star status in my mind.

I found out that Janette is the co-writer for the musical. I should also note that the musical is fantastic, at least the reading and singing I saw. I had to leave at the break but I have no doubt it will be a success. I am hesitant to give much more information about the musical because I am not sure they are ready to announce anything yet.
And, though I had to leave, my friend told Janette that I loved her and Janette told him to tell me about her blog. Check it out if you’d like, and tell her I sent you.

But while I was there I thought about that kid in Waco so many years ago who would rush home to watch Rosie and John, and laugh at Janette’s jokes. And I wondered what that kid would say if I told him that one day, just off the beaten path in a theatre on 42nd Street, he would be where I was today.

I think I know what that kid would say.

The realist in him would say “Yeah but what about those medical bills?”

And the dreamer in him would respond “Sometimes your dreams never come true and they are put away to collect dust on the shelf of what might have been. And sometimes when the world seems so dark and the mountains seem so large and you are ready to give up and give in and cede your dreams to a younger you. Sometimes at just that moment… when hope seems like a distant memory…the dream of yesterday becomes the reality of today”


alan said...

You will never know how this brightened my morning!

That dreams should come back to life when least expected is something to truly look forward to!

I shall hope that next month your worries about other things will somehow find relief as well...


Anonymous said...

wow! just wow!

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