Order of the Good Write

That Magic Feeling When the Words Flow. A Blog by Debi Rotmil


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The Smell of a Snow Day

I’m writing now in order to capture a moment I’m currently experiencing.

snowday1

The office days are dwindling down in my place of business. Two glorious weeks off as we scramble these last two days to get things done, send out client Christmas cards, give and receive little prezzies from our colleagues.

And someone in the pantry of our office has made toast. The golden warm aroma is floating past my nose and it brings me back to snow days.

Toast, coffee, bacon and baking cookies are my favorite smells in the world. They transport me to mornings waking up to the sound of parents in the kitchen, quiet weekends of freedom or, when I became an adult,  mornings in an office building in New York City or in Los Angeles where the day begins and so much is ahead.

Even though the lush aroma of toast is hitting me in the middle of a chilly Los Angeles studio office, the smell is the smell of snow days. The sight of thick, fluffy piled high snow mounting up. The thrash of ice flecks ramming into the window with waves of gale forced winds. The cozy warmth of home.  The thrill of the local radio or television station announcing school closures.

Sweet hot tea and the gold aroma of toasting bread for breakfast on those mornings. It makes me feel happy, carefree and brings me back to to the moments of putting on snow coats and pants, layered socks, boots, mittens, hats and bound into the fresh cold snow, breaking down a yet un- shoveled path with my legs until I made way to the road, where the plow truck barrel through, creating walls of snow drifts on both sides of the street.

One friend would come out of his house. Then another and another. A pow wow at the foot of my front path, now buried in two feet of snow. Sleds were fetched. Then an organized sleigh ride down the steepest driveway on Wilmoth Avenue would commence. That steepest driveway was my driveway.

Although the snow was high, we’d try to make our way down the winding drive to my backyard. We’d get stuck. With our bodies and legs, we’d pound the snow into a reasonably flat terrain, allowing our sleighs to get through the height.

It took a while. Our finger and toes went numb. We’d park our sleighs in front of my house. The snow would be lightening up by now. Not as windy. We’d break for a hot chocolate in my mother’s kitchen. Then – an hour later, pull on all our snow clothes and head out again for another round.

We’d sleigh one by one down the hill passing underneath the bending feather branches of our weeping willow, weighed down with the weight of snow. We stopped at the bottom where the untouched parameters of snow broke our speed.

After a while, we’d link our sled with our hands and feet, making a human sleigh ride chain. The excitement of creating a human train down the steep drive was like magic, a daisy chain of kids coming together to make a long locomotive.

On and on, the afternoon, as so many like these would, continued. With every turn of the rides, more snow was crushed and beaten down into tight, flat, slippery roadway.

A snow day was like a new project – a job. We Sleigh rode until our fingers grew numb or the white steely grey sky turned clear with blue and then grew into a sunset purples and shades of orange.

And it all started off with the aroma of toast, promising so much on this snow-free day. It takes me back to my home in Ardsley, NY.

 

Edited for tense.

 


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Autobiography of a Resume

resumejumble

When you think of it, your resume is the outline of your autobiography. Each job you’ve held over the years contains a story of where you’ve been, what you did and where you were going.

Think of where you were living during a particular job. Who did you know? Whom were your dating? Did you get married and have children during that particular stint?  Who were the people you encountered every day? What were the mistakes made and the lessons earned? What personalities did you encounter? Were they toxic? Inspirational? Life changing?

Years of experience listed on a piece of paper used to define who you are to a perspective employer packs a bunch of stories between margins. It’s the outline of life that shows them if you’re made for the job, perfect for the role, and will lend all that wonderful experience, skill and story into their culture to nourish a whole new outlook on their world.

This applies to any life path, whether writer, artist or office worker – we all have accomplishments we list on paper to share, to prove to others we have what it takes. It’s our calling card.

So, next time you’re scouring your brain for a writing prompt about your life, take a look at your resume. You’re life story is laid out before you.


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Live From Broadway

ddll photo by Jeremy

Photo by Jeremy Daniel

I am absolutely smitten this morning. Smitten with technology and live performance converging into new ways of bringing theater into the comfort and convenience of your own home.

Last night (depending on where you live), the off-Broadway show ‘Daddy Long Legs’ streamed a live performance straight from the Davenport Theater in New York City. The show stars real life (and adorable) husband and wife Megan McGinnis and Adam Halpin who are just damn delightful.

As a New Yorker living on the west coast, it’s difficult for me to make it back to see shows. Although I did see this wonderful performance just a month and a half ago on my whirlwind ‘World Series Halloween Marathon’ weekend, there are many shows I wanted to see that were unaffordable, sold out or did not have time for, such as  ‘Something Rotten’, ‘An American in Paris’ and ‘Hamilton’ (cough…cough..sold out until the sun becomes extinct).

Sadly, as with the case of 2006’s ‘Sweeney Todd’, a superb show I allowed to pass me by, so many great performances close and thousands of hopefuls with no access to New York Public Library’s Lincoln Center Branch’s Broadway video archives, never get to see them. Instead, they are tempted to view them on bootlegs via YouTube, where one feels dirty watching an illegal cut, shot through someone’s coat buttonhole. (I imagine the hateful glare of Patti LuPone on my shoulder as she watches me watch her duet with Michael Cerveris on “A Little Priest”,  recorded on a jiggly Flip camera one hundred feet from  stage.)

Yes, a cast recording is very nice, but how great would it be to see a staged show recorded for posterity? They did it with Sondheim. They did it with ‘Elaine Stritch Live at Liberty’. The National Theater in London has been doing NTLive for a while now, where Hamlet with Benedict Cumberbatch was just recently seen in select movie theaters. Network television is redefining the live staged experience by broadcasting  ‘Sound of Music’ and ‘The Wiz’ live, the ‘Grease’ to follow on Fox.

But for actual off/on Broadway shows – think of the coverage. Think of the continuous revenue flow that will continue to contribute to a show’s ledger long after it has closed. Think of how amazing it would be to see ‘Fun Home’ or ‘An American in Paris’ in your pajamas when you are never going to get to New York in that season?

Some purists scoff at the idea of digitally streamed Broadway. Being in a theater and feeling the energy come off the stage as you join hundreds of other people watching the same story unfold before you is a magical experience. The smell of the plush seats, the greasepaint, the velvet ropes and hushed or crackling energy you feel from actors breathing the same air.

But let’s face it, for those who can’t afford this experience, seeing in the comfort of your own home for a nominal fee is better than not seeing it at all.

broadwayhd

Ken Davenport, Producer of ‘Daddy Long Legs’ and owner of The Davenport Theater, where the show lives, is a staunch supporter of bringing live Broadway to the 21st Century by use of streaming technology. He facilitated, along with BroadwayHD, the debut of last night’s streaming of ‘Daddy Long Leg’, and it was indeed a major breakthrough, a step in the right digital direction. Twitter was alive with “Daddy”. The hastag #DaddyLongLegsLive was trending nationally on Twitter and commentary, weighing both pros and cons, were bandied about on the internet. Imagine an SVOD platform to house these live shows…

Thanks to BroadwayHD, a new Netflix type company created by Broadway producers Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley, live streaming Broadway is slowly becoming real and lucrative. The fledgling company has already acquired 100 titles to stream on their SVOD platform.  Not all titles are new nor particularly desirable. Most are already available on DVD and other online sources, but it’s a solid start.Remember iTunes and Netflix started out with limited supply and built their library over time.

Once Broadway understands the need for digital streaming, there will be more fresh material to subscribe to, making this venture a successful one to Broadway nerds out there.

Read more about digital Broadway:

http://thinkprogress.org/culture/2015/10/27/3716292/broadwayhd-netflix-for-theater/

http://variety.com/2015/legit/news/daddy-long-legs-live-stream-1201657841/

http://mashable.com/2015/12/10/off-broadway-live-stream/#Ka0jsbvtGqqN

Check out ‘Daddy Long Legs’ – http://www.daddylonglegsmusical.com/watch/

Explore BroadwayHD — https://www.broadwayhd.com/


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Divide and Dissolve

trees

How does one write when the feel they have nothing left? Sometimes the world weighs heavily, and the energy is gone. Whether the news of the day has paralyzed you or the amount of money in your dwindling bank account steals your focus, resistance will easily rob you the desire to write. It will allow fear and frustration to slow the process. You just succumb to the weight of it. You fall under the waterline. You loose creation.

This is when the mind needs to empty. Look within. Know that when we have problems everyday that stunt our desire to write or to grow, the toil only fortifies what you will create down the road.

I’m currently going through some challenges. My writing is not where it should be. But as Rumi once wrote: “If all you can do is crawl…start crawling.”


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The “hangman’s elm” of Washington Square Park

I’ve always been fascinated by the Hanging Tree in Washington Square park.

Ephemeral New York

Was the gorgeous elm tree at the northwest corner of Washington Square Park (at left in 1936) used for public executions?

It’s a legend passed down over the years.

On one hand, a Parks Department web link seems to imply that people were indeed hanged from the 110-foot tree, estimated to be at least 300 years old.

“The [sic] English elm (Ulmus procera) at the corner of Waverly Place and MacDougal Street acquired its reputation during the American Revolutionary War,” the site explains. “According to legend, traitors were hung from its branches.”

In 1797, the city acquired the land for a potter’s field. “The field was also used for public executions, giving rise to the tale of the Hangman’s Elm. . . ” another Parks Department link states.

In 1824, the Marquis de Lafayette, visiting from France, supposedly witnessed the hanging of 20 highwaymen here in 1824.

Newgate…

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Winnie the Pooh Wisdom

winniethepooh

Do loved ones who have passed send messages from the beyond?

One night, I was thinking of my mom and dad very deeply. There were memories and tears. Since they both passed (Mom in 2009 and dad in 2010) I’ve always hoped (and perhaps…sensed?) they were watching over me.

Then, sometimes – it feels like they are not. Like they have moved on into deep space, where things are so awesome, psychedelic and divine, that they couldn’t give a damn about hovering over me like Casper the Ghost.

Or, maybe they’re in the middle of a nothing dream. Nowhere.

It felt that way that night. There was a sense of being…alone. Really alone. I never feel “really feel alone”. Even before my parents’ death, there’s been a lingering sensation that a presence, some unknown angel or decease relative, has been with me.

Maybe it’s an old imaginary friend I never gave up as a child.

Or maybe it’s a real other worldly being assigned to me, as some believe happens before birth. (I’m on the fence about these beliefs.)

After my folks died, there was a feeling that this lingering presence was joined by them.

My dad, comes through strongly. Although I love my mother, my father was the closest connection to me. We were cut from the same cloth.  I was born the day after his birthday. We were/are both Sagittarius. I was daddy’s girl.

That night, feeling like I was flapping in the cosmic wind, I went to bed with my iPad and went on Facebook to see what was up.

Then I saw the Winnie The Pooh quote above.

I adored Winnie The Pooh as a child, and still hold the character dear to my heart. I even own a series of Milne’s rough sketches.

Maybe it was a sign from Dad telling me he was still around? Who knows. Until it’s my time to leave, maybe these notes and the belief they appeared at the right moment, is enough for me to believe.


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Thanksgiving Post-Mortem

thanksgivingfood

So I cooked this past holiday weekend.

I’m pooped.

I’ve ingested more calories in three days than I have in a month, which forced me to go to spin class almost every day of the weekend to burn 600 calories each spin to get ahead of the game. Luckily, I had no problem with the fuel to get me through it.

However, the sense of accomplishment won the day since I cooked a little outside of the box for me. Instead of reaching for the canned yams and cranberry sauce,  I decided to forgo the pre-made stuff in a tin in favor of the real-from-scratch way. And it was incredibly enlightening to know that various side dishes in which we usually cut corners are so damn easy to make.

Here’s what I did:

Cranberry Sauce (recipe found from the back of the bag of cranberries):

Two cups fresh cranberries (you can easily find them in the veggie section)

3/4 brown sugar

1 cup apple juice or cider

1 tsp of All Spice

1 tsp of Cinnamon for a little extra kick

Place everything in a small sauce pot and let those bad boy ingredients simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes until the cranberries start to pop and develop into the consistency of jam.

Put in fridge to chill a bit, but you can serve warm. It’s up to you.

 

Then, I went nuts with candied yams. I took some of the ingredients from the cranberry sauce above and applied it to this. The recipe was so insanely good, I could have made pie crust and filled it with this goodness I whipped up. It was incredible. A bit too sweet for some. But once a year? Who cares?

Allspice Candied Yams

2-3 large yams peeled and chopped into squares

1 cup of brown sugar

One bag of mini marshmallows (About two cups, but add according to preference)

1 cup apple juice or cider

1 tbs all spice

1 tbs cinnamon

In a bowl, begin to layer the ingredients

-one handful of yams

-a sprinkle of all spice

-a splash of apple juice

-a sprinkle of brown sugar

-a handful of marshmallows

Second layer….

Do the same as above.

Then top the layers with another handful of marshmallows and sprinkle some cinnamon on top.

Bake at 350 for 45minutes to one hour.

There you go…two delicious dishes you might buy already made that you can do yourself.

And no – this blog is not becoming a recipe site. With the holidays on our radar, food tends to be an important element toward the festivities. Food offers an outlet for creativity that can please others, provide nourishment, warmth and make memories for years to come.

Sometimes food tells stories, sustains traditions and stirs flavors and feelings that come from the heart, the mind and the hands of a loved one who may no longer be alive to create these familiar dishes for you.

Food is a great story teller, and the listed ingredients are the components to that story.

If only telling that kind of story didn’t make me want to live without pants for the weekend.