Friday, March 1, 2013

Eulogy for my Noble Dog


            Anyone who has ever met Wesley has been touched by him.  In fact, it was so common for people to stop their cars on the street to ask about him that it didn’t even seem strange to us anymore.  At times we had talked about investing in a set of autographed headshots for his many fans.  His unique appearance was certainly part of his charm.  He has been compared to Master Splinter from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a skeksi from The Dark Crystal, and Gandalf from Lord of the Rings.  One of our friends just called him Narnia.  But it was more than that.  There was something about his spirit, a certain gentleness in his eyes, that people responded to in a way that didn’t often happen with other dogs.  Or any other beings, really.  No one has ever forgotten meeting Wesley.
            Wesley began his life as a wild Irish rogue.  This little lurcher grew up as a Pikey dog, traveling across Ireland in a gypsy caravan.  Sometimes he was tied up to an old crate with a piece of wire, and the rest of the time he was racing through traffic, eating out of trash cans, and hunting rabbits.  His rescuers tried to catch him for six months, but he was so fast that they finally had to break down and buy him from the Pikeys so that they could treat his severe case of mange and take him to America. 
            I fell in love with Wesley from the moment I first saw him.  He was still recovering from his mange and had hardly any hair, but he was a handsome lad and so full of spirit.  On our first meeting he sprinted around the yard a few times, then ran right over to me for a belly rub. You could see that he loved life and wanted to live every full minute of it.  “Joyful” was always the first word that came to mind when I thought of Wesley.
            Wesley’s introduction to his new home was not easy.  He had never spent a moment in his life alone, so his initial separation anxiety was intense. The first two days he was with us he barked for hours, tore up two dog beds, and pooped all over himself.  I used to have to drive him to work with me and just leave him in the car all day because the car was the one place he felt relaxed and secure without me. Wesley stole food constantly, once snatching a freshly-iced birthday cake right off the table, another time eating an entire chicken carcass.  I would regularly find a combination of both treasure and trash hidden in his bed:  empty cottage cheese containers, my checkbook, a chewed-up Bluetooth, loaves of bread.  Once he ate a whole package of flour tortillas and didn’t poop for days.  It was not unusual to see Wesley scampering off with an open jar of peanut butter, or standing on top of the piano with a package of hot dogs in his mouth.
            In his youth, Wesley was always up for a scrap.   We were initially worried about this, but our trainer assured us that Wesley wasn’t dog-aggressive, he was just “Irish socialized.”  As the trainer put it, Wesley was basically running around the other dogs yelling, “Come on, everybody!  Let’s go blow some shit up!”  He was a known murderer of small animals and even tried to kill our own cat early on before he learned to treat her as one of the pack.  Even as he mellowed with age, he always carried a hint of the feisty rascal within. 
            Wesley loved being part of the pack.  He was devoted to his first sister, Lupe. Then after my first husband and I separated, Wesley and I moved into a duplex owned by the Dunmore-Hodge family, who welcomed us both into their pack.  Scott Dunmore is a gifted dog trainer, and Wesley spent as much time upstairs in their apartment as he did downstairs in mine.  On one occasion, Scott took a group of dogs out to try dock diving at a nearby pond.  Wesley was thrilled to tear along the dock with the other dogs and leap off the end.  However, as soon as he hit the water he gave Scott a look of instant regret as if to say, “Wow, I did not expect this to be so cold and wet.”  Scott fished him out, dried him off and warmed him up, and that was the end of Wesley’s dock-diving career.
            Wesley loved every person he ever met, and he was famous for leaning his full weight on you whenever you pet him.  He regularly hogged the couch and was not shy about putting his head in your lap whether he knew your or not.  He was incredibly  gentle and kind.  I once caught a toddler trying to pluck out Wesley’s eye as he lay patiently beside her.  He warmly and trustingly opened his home and heart to his new dad, his loving uncles, and any number of foster dogs, friends, and houseguests.  Wesley was a gracious host and a terrible watchdog.  One day I came home to find the house burglarized and Welsey lounging comfortably on the couch.  I have no doubt he had helpfully offered the burglars a fresh pot of coffee as they were ransacking our belongings.
            Sometimes Wesley could be aloof and he would sit like a pharaoh receiving tribute when you would come over to give him a cuddle.  One of the reasons we got a second dog was because I was worried that I loved Wesley too much, and it didn’t always feel like he had the same devotion to me.  However, I was proven wrong in that regard on the day he was attacked.  Wesley was in horrible pain, lying in a pool of his own blood, but as soon as he heard me pick up his leash, he stood up and came to me.  His wounds were so bad that I could not carry him, and so he slowly and painfully walked himself down a flight of stairs, in and out of the car, and into the vet’s office.  Simply because I asked him to.  On my last visit with him he stood up for me, ate from my hand, and shifted his body closer to me so he could put his head in my lap.  So while Wesley did not always carry his heart on his sleeve, no, I will never again doubt the devotion he held for me.  I will never again doubt that he loved me as loyally and as fiercely as I loved him.
            A friend once told me, “All animals dream, but dogs are the only animals who dream of us.”  Wesley’s life was an eventful one, and there were times over the past ten years that we were certain we were going to lose him.  He almost died of bloat in 2009, and last year a bad reaction to medication made us believe he was near the end.  However, he was always a fighter and he fought fiercely each and every time so that he could come home to us.  His people.  His pack.  We were always at the heart of Wesley’s dreams, and even in his last days, his dearest dream was to live and live and live so that he could return home to us.
            Wesley had the soul of a poet, the heart of a lion, and the iron will of Margaret Thatcher.  His gentleness, loyalty, and incredible courage will be forever unmatched.  Sir Walter Scott described his own deerhound as “a most perfect creature of Heaven,” and I can think of no more apt description for Wesley, my beloved and dearest heart’s companion.  Complicated and flawed, yes, but perfect, nevertheless.  No dog could be a greater blessing to his people than Wesley was to us.
            As human beings we always want to learn things.  We want to come out of an experience feeling wiser, feeling enriched.  We always say that our dogs teach us about things like loyalty and compassion and unconditional love, and all of those things are true.  But what else did Wesley teach me?  Wesley taught me about courage.  And grace.   He taught me to believe. To fight fiercely for what is dearest to your heart.  But Wesley also taught me that all things end.  That suffering is real, and unavoidable.  That our worst nightmares can and do come true. However, what I learned most from Wesley is that suffering, pain, loss…none of that really matters. Because everything that is worth doing will break your heart eventually, but you do it anyway.  Of course you do.
            And that, I think, is why dogs do dream of us.  Because dogs understand that we know they will leave us, that they will devastate us, that they will break our hearts, but they never doubt for a moment that we will love them even so. 
          And so it is in this spirit that I bid farewell to our Wesley, the most gentle, valiant, and gracious of creatures.  The joyful, blessed treasure of my heart.  Gypsy, thief, and soggy-bearded rogue. Dearest companion and cherished friend.  Our pack will forever mourn your loss, beloved one.  May we ever honor your memory. And when it is my turn to leave this earth, if our afterlife is truly a return to all those we have lost, I dream that it is you, precious one, who will come to lead me home.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Nine Years

            I recently came to the realization that I started trying to get pregnant nine years ago this month.  It is hard not to feel defeated when I realize that I have spent almost an entire decade putting time, money, and effort into something and still completely failing at it.  I hate the idea of having wasted my thirties on something so stupid and disappointing, but I feel comforted by the knowledge that at least I managed to rock my sexual prime in there somewhere, during the short but super-slutty interval between separating from my first husband and meeting my second.  Thank heaven I had some irresponsibility and wild abandon in there somewhere. 
            Coincidentally, my husband has spent nine years at his company pursuing his own goal:  producing a movie.  Like me, he has put in endless time, effort, and passion in the hopes that he, too, would be able to help create something.  And he hasn’t.   There are many times when hopes are high, numbers look good, a project is about to be greenlit…this is it.  He is sure of it.  And then the director has a conflict, someone doesn’t like the script, the studio gets a new head who hates the project.  Dream deferred, yet again. 
            As we both look towards the imminent arrival of another decade, it’s impossible not to ask ourselves the obvious questions.  At what point do you pack it all in?  When do you finally tell yourself that it’s time to try something else?  How much and how long do you sacrifice before you give up hope?  You don’t want to be the quitter who crawls away in failure, unable to stick it out.  But at the same time, you don’t want to be the sucker still standing at the door with a bouquet long after it’s clear you’ve been stood up.
            Living with hope doesn’t make things better or easier.  It’s awful, actually.  To be filled with the hope, over and over again, that this time feels different—that this time will be different—is exhausting.  Hope is supposed to comfort and sustain us, but hope unrealized fills us with shame.  It’s embarrassing to falsely believe in something.  It’s embarrassing to admit that you were wrong all along.  It’s embarrassing, almost ten years into it, to scrap your life plan and have to start imagining a different future.
            I honestly don’t know what this feels like for Eddie.  Admittedly, it is much harder to make a movie than it is to make a baby.  Being able to make a movie is basically like winning the lottery.  Any asshole can make a baby. (Just, you know, not this asshole.)  But in both cases the factors that lead to success seem entirely beyond our control. 
            Our friends are more optimistic.  They tell us stories about people who finally achieved success just as they were going to pack it all in.  “This is your year,” they say, “I can feel it.”  There are so many years that are supposed to have been our year that I have begun to dread New Year’s Eve.  We spent the last one in a Seattle hotel, eating pizza in bed and watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s like college students who had just been dumped.  I’m not saying it wasn’t fun.  But we weren’t exactly out there preparing to build an empire.
            And we’re happy for you.  Really we are.  We’re thrilled that you’re pregnant.  What a cute picture of your toddler.  And that is super-awesome news about your movie.  We know, truly know to the depth of our very bones what tremendous accomplishments these are.  We could never take your joys and successes for granted and we hope you don’t either.  You are right to see it as a miracle.  It is a miracle every single time.
            And foolish or not, we haven’t quite given up yet.  Eddie keeps hustling each day at his work.  I keep taking my prenatal vitamins, just in case.  And just this month we spontaneously decided to try a final round of IUI.  What are the chances of success?  Worse than terrible.  But stranger things have happened.  Haven’t they?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

More Sundance Parties...Seriously?

Sundance Day 4:  Everyone is Just So Tired

            The cast has spent the day doing photos and press, so by the time we see everyone at the party, they look a little wilted.  This is a small gathering, and after a long day of being “on,” the actors tuck hungrily into the buffet and talk quietly to one another, relaxing.  I am exhausted, too.  Eddie has to excuse himself to make some work calls, and  I simply don’t have it in me to carry on conversations with celebrities tonight.  Instead I sink down at the end of the table and shoot the breeze with Shannon’s husband, Dean.  It’s really, really hard to spend days on end chatting animatedly to people you don’t know.  I don’t envy actors.  No matter how excited and proud you may be of something, continuously demonstrating enthusiasm for anything is depleting.  Georgia King, who has only arrived in Park City today, heads home to put her feet up for a bit before heading out to more parties.
            Although the vibe is subdued, it is still a happy one.  Shannon dances and prances.  People laugh together.   Ricky tells wild stories and Jane hands me her phone so that I can text her daughter, who went to the same college as I did.  Emmy and I tell each other stories about moving; I explain what brought me to Los Angeles.  She says she feels the same pull to move to New York.  “You should do it,” I say.  I tell her we have lots of friends in New York and would be happy to help in any way we can.  We hug and want to talk more, but Ilan Eshkeri, the film’s composer, drags her away.  It’s time to go home.
            It’s only 8:30, but I’m ready for a bath and bed.  Surprisingly, Eddie is attending a midnight screening of Kink, so I try to keep him company for a while.  By 9:15 I give up and head back to the room.
Look who hitchhiked home with me.
            As we wait to board our plane, Eddie notices that both James Callis and Damian Lewis on our flight.  He also receives an email from our friend Patrick Fabian, who was filming in Park City this weekend.  The news is out:  Sony has picked up Austenland.  The film is due to release in the U.S. this summer.  Although I am not surprised it’s been picked up, I am nevertheless thrilled. So this is what it’s like when the process actually works. 

More Sundance Parties...Exotic!

Sundance Day 2:  The Second Party

            We head to Little Black Book’s mixer for young industry executives.  The party is in a suite in the Caledonian hotel.  I think it’s going to be fancy, but it’s a lot of shag carpeting and things with bears on them. Our coats get thrown into a pile in the corner and Eddie says hello to a few people he recognizes.  Whenever Eddie can’t remember someone’s name we play the game where I introduce myself in an effort to lure the other person into saying his name.  Then I secretly whisper the name to Eddie.  This only works about 50% of the time, since many people in Hollywood simply say, “Nice to meet you,” when you introduce yourself, leaving their own identities forever a mystery. 
            We are standing in a small group of APA agents and people seem a little bored, so Eddie brings up my outstanding shooting range performance.  Everyone perks up.  We are Americans, so talking about guns always interests us.  The talk turns to the difficulty of raising children in Hollywood, another favorite topic.  None of us actually has children, but we are all married and hope to have them someday, so we all anxiously share our potential solutions.  The consensus seems to be that moving to Santa Barbara is probably the best bet.  Either that or Sherman Oaks.
            Eddie has to take a call, so I find myself alone in a room full of hungry young execs who aren’t super-interested in chatting with someone who can’t directly help their careers.  As I am trying to squeeze through a crowd of people I meet Aaron, a young exec at Sony.   Not long into the conversation we discover that that he attended the same Boston school where I used to teach.  Although we didn’t overlap, we know teachers in common and this delights us.  As I am putting on my coat, I overhear him saying to his friends, “I mean, what are the odds?” 
            We head back to our friends’ house in Park City to quickly pick up our things so we can drop them off at our new lodging before the big dinner event.  Our friends are watching the History Channel and prepping ammunition shells.  It looks so relaxing that we are immediately drawn in, and several hours pass with me happily stretching out the brass as we talk animatedly about favorite books we have read, mostly history and presidential biographies.  This is by far my favorite part of the evening.

Sundance Day 3:  The Third Party

            Eddie drops me off at the High West Distillery, where Entertainment Weekly is hosting a dinner for Austenland.  While he is parking the car, I walk in and quickly realize this is a plated dinner with assigned tables.  I find Eddie’s name card at Shannon’s table but there is no seat for me.  I ask a lady in a furry vest, who looks flustered and says she will figure something out.  In the meantime, I sit in Eddie’s seat and wonder what I will do or where I could skulk if they can’t find any room for me.  Suddenly, the fur vest lady talks to the young woman seated next to me, and the girl gathers up her things to leave.  I discover that she has been asked to give up her chair for me.  I am horrified and insist that she stay, but she says sadly, “That’s OK.  All I did was arrange the transportation for the stars, so I don’t really need to be here.”  I think she might actually be leaving the party, and this fills me with a terrible guilt.   But short of making some weird scene or leaving myself, there isn’t really anything I can do.  Eddie arrives soon after and we enjoy a lively conversation with our tablemates, which include Jane Seymour, her sister Annie, and Sara, a young photographer from Entertainment Weekly.   Annie plays the role of “ugly maid” Patience in the movie, so they frizzed out her hair didn’t allow her to wear any make up for filming.  As a person who wears makeup daily, Annie was horrified.  She laughs as we praise her for her “brave performance.”
            The first reviews for the film have come in and they’re good ones.  Everyone keeps pulling out their phones to read the latest ones. There is a giddy buzz in the air.  Ricky wears his gorgeous suit, saying that if he had to clean it and carry it to Utah, he might as well wear it to something.  People wander from table to table, hugging and congratulating one another. Jennifer Coolidge, who wasn’t expected to make it, walks into the room and everyone breaks out in spontaneous applause. 

Tea with Famous Strangers

            Following the premiere, Austenland hosts a small tea for cast, crew, family and reps. It is a relaxed and intimate setting, and the cast is running around getting one another’s autographs on the small movie posters lying around.  We aren’t super jazzed about the poster design, but we discover that nobody knew they needed posters until yesterday, so this one was quickly thrown together and printed last night.  Classic Hollywood. 
See?  Boring.

            I made a promise several years ago, and it is here that I must fulfill it.  My dear friend Scott is a native New Zealander, and he made me promise that if ever I saw his hometown heroes from Flight of the Conchords, I would pass along his fondest regards.  Ignoring celebrities is much more my forte, but I gird myself and head over to Bret McKenzie for a quick chat.  Scott’s initial message to transmit has not been updated since 2009, so I make no mention of Bret’s performance in the movie we just saw, or any congratulations about his winning an Oscar last year.  (I later feel terrible about this.)  It quickly becomes apparent that neither of us knows where to take the conversation after this, and it limps along from charity stuff to asking what I do, which obviously gets us nowhere.  Finally, blessedly, he asks me where I live in Los Angeles, and it turns out we live in the same neighborhood.  With relief we talk about restaurants until Jane Seymour interrupts and I turn to chat with Eddie and Jared Hess, who are talking animatedly about a mutual friend.
            I am starving, so I carry a few tea sandwiches to our table, which is next to Stephenie Meyers’s.  Being gluten-free, I can’t actually eat the sandwiches normally, so I have to open them up and use my teeth to scrape off the filling.  I do this hurriedly, hoping no one notices.  This has garnered me approximately three tablespoons of food, so I just fill up on water.  I feel proud of myself for this, because it means I have followed the advice of my Sundance elders.  I think about my Mormon nieces, who worship Stephenie, and briefly entertain the idea of getting an autograph for them.  It is quickly jettisoned.  This is Shannon and Jerusha’s day, not Stephenie’s.  The focus should be on them.  Sorry, nieces. 
            Emmy the Great, who wrote and performed original songs for the film, does a charming set.  She is wearing an adorable cat ear headband.  After her set we keep awkwardly running into each other and smile shyly at one another as we pass.
            Shannon and her husband Dean come to join us and it is a thrill to see her so happy.  She says that her face hurts from smiling.  Shannon explains that as an author, you write books that people read and experience alone.  Your words enter someone’s mind silently and just sort of stay there.  This is wonderful, of course, but aside from letters from fans, you never really get the feedback of what impact your words have on someone, or how they felt reading a sentence that you worked particularly hard to craft.  Seeing your words in a film, and hearing the audience’s immediate reaction, is overwhelming in comparison.  Gratifying and moving and emotionally overwhelming.  Shannon remembers the give and take, the creative process of writing with another person.  Both she and Jerusha have the experience of thinking, “See, I knew that line would work!”  They are glad they fought one another for these lines.  They feel lucky that they work so well together.
            Later in the party we are talking to a group of people.  We look down to discover that almost all of us are wearing Sorel boots.  We laugh.  Ricky Whittle complains about dragging around all of the additional weight of winter gear.  “My legs are killing me!” he gripes.  Ricky reveals that this was his first premiere, so he packed a beautiful suit.  After arriving in Park City he did a google image search of Sundance premieres and realized his mistake.  He had to scramble to find an appropriately casual but attractive outfit to pull together.  He insists the boots are the most important part of the look, as it makes it seem “as if you didn’t try.” 
            With a few hours to kill before the next event, Eddie and I throw our coats back on and find food for me.  I am excited to check out the popup Udi’s Gluten-Free Table, only to find that it isn’t open.  In a haze of hunger, we wander into a barbeque place.  I order some kind of confusing potato skins with beans on top, and a margarita in a glass shaped like a cowboy boot.  I poked tiredly at my beans and lick the crust of salt from the glass rim like a farm animal.  I guzzle more water and remind myself to wash my hands more, although they are already so dry and chapped that my thumbs are forming cracks.  I mentally add hand lotion to the list of Sundance necessities and wonder why no one has mentioned it.  

Sundance Austenland Premiere

Sundance, Day 2:  The Premiere

Oh, Glory.  This is the good stuff.  Finally, a premiere.  This is the reason we are here.  Eddie’s client, the supremely talented Shannon Hale, is showing the film based on her novel Austenland.   Shannon co-wrote the script with Jerusha Hess, who made the film her directorial debut.   Instead of standing in line with the ticket holders, we are ushered into a special holding pen of sorts, where we relax and chat with Shannon’s family and her book agent, Barry Goldblatt, until a handler comes and ushers us into the theater.  We sit in a special reserved seating area for cast, crew, and family, so we are soon chatting with Jerusha’s parents and her husband Jared.  Further down our row is a shy, unassuming woman who seems close with Shannon and Jerusha.  We later discover this is Stephenie Meyer, part of the cadre of “little Mormon moms” who made this movie. 
In front us we see Jane Seymour quickly powdering her face before the photographers start shooting.  She is sitting with her sister, Annie Gould, who has one of my favorite roles in the film.  Keri Russell and Bret McKenzie are further down the row.  James Callis, Ricky Whittle, and JJ Feild sit a row or two behind.  Everyone is disappointed because Jennifer Coolidge and Georgia King are filming, so they have to miss the premiere.  It seems to be a tight-knit cast and crew.  Everyone is happy to see each other and seems a little giddy and giggly.
And then there’s the film.  When it was over, I turned to Eddie and gushed, “It’s everything I want in a romantic comedy!”  And it is.  I am very picky about my romantic comedies, but I unreservedly love this. It is so smart, and so funny.  Stellar performances, crackling dialogue, and wonderful chemistry and heart.  The audience absolutely eats it up, and we turn and see Shannon welling up with the immense joy that comes from hearing 1,200 people laughing the lines she wrote, the risky ones that she worried no one would get. 
When it’s over there is cheering, as well as a charming, goofy Q&A.  Jerusha is a gracious and confident speaker, inviting Shannon and Stephenie up to join her, as well as the cast.  Keri is shy and giggling and so it is Jerusha and Bret who take the lead.  Bret knows how to work a Q&A.  He’s funny and engaging and makes sure that everyone onstage gets a chance to say something.   Favorite moments of the Q&A:  Ricky Whittle’s audition story.  Jerusha’s deep embarrassment when her actors have to film kissing scenes.  And Bret and Keri are cousins?  A link to the Q&A is here.
We shuffle out of the theater and are normal people again, if a tiny bit more savvy.  We are learning to master the shortcuts.  Eying the packed shuttle stop, we walk a few blocks to a less crowded one.  I find myself chatting with an executive Eddie recognizes.  The conversation lags until I bring up real estate.  Angelenos always come alive when talk turns to housing or commuting.  I chide him when I discover he drives to work a half mile away from his house.  “You should know better,” I gently scold, then I feel bad.  Next to me Eddie is telling the story of a colleague who got scammed for Sundance housing last year.  After prepaying for his housing, he arrived to find that the address he had rented didn’t exist.  Other people on the bus chime into this conversation, in the same way people share their own versions of urban legends. 
Initially I was confused and frustrated by the entire concept of the festival.  Why would you host a film festival in the mountains in the middle of winter?  Why make it so difficult to get tickets?  Why all this unnecessary standing in line?  But I am starting to get it now.  In some ways, Sundance is a great equalizer.  Everyone stands in line, slogs through the snow, huddles under a heater to stay warm.  Even stars are hustling, trying to find financing or distribution for these films they believe in.  There is a sense of camaraderie that hardship brings, even if that hardship is simply slogging around with big boots and puffy coats. 

Sundance 2013: Day 1

Sundance, Day 1:

Because of the way Sundance is organized, nobody knows what has been selected until just a few weeks before the festival. By the time anyone realizes what’s going on, housing is already booked and there is a mad scramble to find a place to stay. Luckily, a friend from high school graciously invited us to stay with her and her family, even volunteering to drop us into town each day for various events. To start and end each day with this wonderful couple, their adorable son, and two enormous dogs is an incredibly grounding and relaxing counterpoint to the madness of the festival, and both Eddie and I find ourselves strangely emotional in our gratitude for this.

The night before the festival begins, Eddie takes me to his favorite restaurant in Park City, Chimayo. He has made the reservation weeks in advance, so we have a cozy little table next to the fireplace. We get to chatting with the waitress, who reveals that, like many businesses in Park City, Chimayo raises its prices during the festival, doubling their normal rates. We are relieved that our reservation was before the festival began. We finish our night with a final drink at the No Name Saloon, recommended by our hosts. The bar is a favorite of Park City locals, with great drink specials and a history dating back to 1903.

In the morning, our host Chris, an ex-Marine sniper, asks us if we’d like to go shooting with him at his gun club. Obviously, yes. What follows is an incredibly informative lesson on gun safety and proper shooting technique. With Chris’s patient teaching, we soon discover that I am, in fact, a naturally gifted marksman. Shockingly so. Shooting at paper targets is fun and I find the whole experience surprising similar to a tennis lesson.

We head downtown to the festival on a triumphant high with the realization of my newfound prowess with weaponry. I feel optimistic and ready to face the cold and line-standing, only to find that we don’t have to do any of that. In exchange for us picking up our friend’s pass for her, she allows us to use it until she arrives on Friday afternoon. This means we can buy tickets for films that are technically sold out, and it also means that we don’t have to get up at 5 AM to stand in line for anything. Not only does this mean that I actually get to attend the premiere of the movie that has brought us here in the first place; it means we actually get to see movies!  Many people come to Sundance and never see a single film, so this is hugely exciting. 

We run into Eddie’s client, a writer/director named Craig MacNeill, and his producer, Noah Greenberg. They showed a short film called HENLEY here last year, so they are now illustrious alumni. Their advice for first-timers: Drink lots of water. Use lots of hand sanitizer. And most importantly, don’t try to plan anything, because it’s impossible. Your best experiences at Sundance happen when you relax and roll with it. You run into someone on the street, your drinks run long, you suddenly get invited to a party. That’s when everything really happens. This is reinforced later in the evening when Eddie’s drinks with a producer he knows end up including me, a lawyer, and the producer’s writing partner. As we linger over drinks at Butcher’s, the producer tells us the story of last year’s Sundance, when he came to town looking for financing for a project, but could never get together with the potential financier. Finally, at the end of a party, the financier shows up at 4 AM, just a few short hours before the producer was set to fly home. Late night deals are made, the flight is cancelled, and the rest is history. “You just gotta roll with it,” he tells me, “Oh, and bring hand sanitizer."