Monday, December 10, 2007

And Sutton Foster singing "Astonishing' begins to play...

I am starting to think that those old adages "Everything happens for a reason!" and "Everything works out in the end...and it doesn't, then it's not the end!" (an old high school friend of mine used to say that all the time) are more than just things people say to make you feel better when things aren't going so well. (Kind of like the "you find love when you least expect it..." expression. I mean, would people ever actually say to you, "Nope, you're probably going to be alone's a few cats for 'ya!")

At this point in my life, I am starting to notice how things magically DO end-up falling into place, despite how hopeless situations might feel and I find it extremely comforting.

In April, a show I wrote with a friend will make its world premiere in a 900-seat theatre. (900 seats is a lot! The Helen Hayes, where my current favorite show Xanadu is playing...see will have absolutely no problems for ninety minutes...only has 500 seats.) It is a show built on an unusual premise (a musical comedy about Anne Frank's much-forgotten older sister who ALSO kept a diary which was never found...Margot Frank.) We have been working on this show for about three years.


I met this friend when I was chosen to write for Teen People magazine almost eight years ago. I never would have applied to write for that magazine had my older sister not constantly reminded me to send my stuff in. When I finally did send writing samples in, I included a rather long and, apparently, well-written, story I had published in the Asbury Park Press when John F. Kennedy, Jr. died. Now, when John F. Kennedy, Jr. was killed, I really felt like somebody I had known had just died. This was due to a combination of the fact that I had always been pretty fascinated by the Kennedy family, and my dad died a couple of months before John did.

I was in quite a "life stinks" mentality, and the deaths of these three young people seemed all the more tragic. I remember 1999 as a pretty bleak year and welcomed the new millenium. As usual in times of darkness, I wrote to comfort myself, to distract myself...wrote about my dad, wrote about John F. Kennedy, Jr...and shipped them off to Teen People without a second thought.

On my high school graduation day, I got the call that I was chosen, from among 600 applicants, to write for the magazine for one year as part of the "teen newsteam." There were 35 other kids from all over the country. One was my now-cowriter. When the "newsteam" was told to introduce ourselves to each other via email before we met in person, I told my "Frank Sinatra Access Hollywood" story. (This story:

This fellow newsteamer/now good friend and cowriter was so fascinated by my "Frank Sinatra Access Hollywood" story that she sought me out and wanted to sit next to me at our first Teen People meeting. A friendship was born, which was based on things like similar interests and odd obsessions (such as Anne Frank!)

Had I not met her, this show would most likely never have been thought-up or written. (Well, if either one of us had come-up with it completely without the other, it would only be half as clever and witty and unique as we like to believe it is!)

So...I guess you just never know. In a few months, I get to watch something I helped create come to life in a big theatre. I can invite friends and relatives and old teachers! I am excited and proud of what we have done. Had I not had that Teen People experience, which was indirectly related to the trauma of losing my dad and even being so saddened over a public figure's death. It's weird how things connect.

When I had a 2-year jobhunt after graduation, at the time, I was frustrated and depressed and walked around crying and asking "WHY ME!?" Plus, my feet often hurt. Interviewing heels are lethal. I finally got a great job. (Or at least, what sounded like one.) I was laid-off after a year, and felt like I was back to square one...but I really wasn't. I have something that my many friends who got great-paying jobs right after graduation do not have!

I have got STORIES. I have got CRAZY STORIES about things that go on in interviews that I would never BELIEVE had they not happened to myself! I got to be inside the buildings of most of the major publishing houses and magazines and TV stations. I even interviewed at a bowling alley nightclut! (At 10 AM. It was dark, and I was a lone for a while. It rather felt like the beginning of an episode of Law and Order: SVU.) I even met a lot of really nice people at interviews, and I am still planning on one day, when I really feel like I am in a great place in my life, to throw a really big PARTY and invite ALL of them (yes, I have saved businesscards) for being a part of my road to success and total happiness! (Okay. Maybe that is a stretch...but it might be fun!)

I had another (what felt like at the time) great disappointment a few weeks ago...lots of tears and lost sleep and the same old familiar frustrated and insecure feelings I have had much too often. As I was telling a friend about it on the phone, we both just started giggling, and I realized that it was really quite amusing...then suddenly I was really, really laughing to the point that I couldn't even get my words out. The whole situation was suddenly completely hilarious.

Just another blessing in disguise...

After all, Woody Allen...most likely a comic and literary genius...failed out of English class. James Earl Jones used to stutter! And Shari Lewis grew interested in puppets when she was sick and bedridden and her dad gave her a puppet to keep herself amused. You really absolutely NEVER KNOW.

Above everything else, I have learned that even if something seems to be the most devestating thing in the world one moment...odds are very good that in the not-so-distant future, it will merely be something to write about...and to laugh about. To laugh about A LOT.

Diana Rissetto