In September we began the march toward publishing Jimmie’s book; I was obsessed with publishing by Jimmie’s 90th birthday. I explored several different self-publication routes, and discovered that several other publishers might help us, but not until mid-February. Click. Sorry. We have a goal, people!
And so, as we sent off the book to Createspace.com, it was a nail biter as to whether we’d make the December 1 date. I took Jimmie out for his birthday dinner on December 1st at a local Italian restaurant and during dinner looked on my phone to see if the book was for sale yet on Amazon.com. Sure enough, sometime between the salad course and the entrée, right on December 1st, the book went live. It was a pretty special moment for both of us. For Jimmie, who’d been working on this book for twenty plus years. For me, who had embarked upon the autodidact’s path, learn editing, indexing, etc., and for us, as the shared pleasure of creating the physical object that was now winging its way toward us in a box of 25 copies. Now for the celebration.
Planning a landmark birthday for a 90-year-old is stressful. The stakes are high. I asked Jimmie whether he thought he’d have made it to his 90th birthday when he was younger. He told me he’d always thought he would die young, which kind of broke my heart and I was glad I hadn’t known that before. For Jimmie, eighty was a landmark birthday, that, and outliving Richard Nixon. When Tricky Dicky passed, I remember getting panicky, and telling Jimmie he needed to set a new goal and quick. We are currently in negotiations to set another one – 110 sounds pretty good to me.
Party planning for the 90th is one of the more stressful things I’ve had to do socially since Jimmie and I planned our wedding thirty plus years ago. I know I owe apologies to those who felt left out off the invitation list.
The venue held fifty people, and our budget held fewer than that. I turned to my colleague Marissa for consulting. She steered us toward City Fare Catering, which was a great decision. I highly recommend them, as Fabio was able to stay within our budget and provide delicious food in a beautiful setting. Flowers were by Della Robbia.
I learned a ton about event planning in the process as well. With the right vendors, you can do it!
At 6:15 or so, the guests started to arrive, trickling into the room with anticipation, the usual nerves.
Who will I know here? Will there be anyone to talk to?
Watching old friends greeting old friends, and old friends meeting new friends was such a treat. The tapestry of one’s long life in the theatre so rich and so many of the folks in the room both Jimmie and I have worked with on many separate projects. Many have been friends for 30-50 years. Collectively, there were some heavy hitters in the room, notably Hal Holbrook, who’s foreword kicks off the book; Charlotte Rae and Alan Mandell, with whom Jimmie had acted in Endgame last May at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. We had some family there, our nieces Elizabeth and Martha. It was a very special night.
After dinner, Jimmie read two excerpts from the book to the appreciative group; I tried to video tape them but my phone abruptly informed me it was full. Fortunately throughout the evening, one of our guests, Stella, was taking pictures and video taped the reading.
Afterwards, several people encouraged us to record Jimmie reading the book, which we plan to do soon. Aha! The next goal! And then, it was time for cake. The most beautiful cake I’ve had the privilege of eating. Graced with the cover of A View from the Wings, a cover designed by Bob Stern, one of my dearest friends from college, the cake emerged from the kitchen for Jimmie to extinguish it’s representative candles.
As the party guests trickled back out into the chilly December night, we retired to our condo with niece Martha, and our intrepid photographer, Stella, where we sat and dissected the evening while Stella “gave her auntie a foot rub.” Life is pretty special sometimes, especially a life in the theatre.
A View from the Wings is available on Amazon.com and is, for the moment, the #1 New Release in Theatre Biographies. We welcome your purchase of the book, as well as your reviews on Amazon!