I just returned from a vacation of two weeks that included a week in Hawaii and a week in Los Angeles.
I'll explain the reason for the title as I go along. As many of you know I lost my wife and best friend of 32 years to Leukemia just over 6 months ago.
l know that those of you that have lost loved ones have and are experiencing the same feelings.
I thought if I took this time off it might help. It didn't until I experienced the BOX. My nieces, Jill and Faith Soloway, the creators of the hit Amazon show "Transparent" could not attend the funeral but thought it would be nice to send me an all expense paid trip to Hollywood.
To try and truly explain my trip would really be an impossible task, but I'll try my best. I'll just say unbelievable or maybe outstanding or indescribable, but what they did was treat me like a movie star.
Picking me up at the airport in a limo, taking me to the Hilton at Universal Studios hotel and putting me in a beautiful room overlooking the city. They also gave me a small speaking part in Episode One of Season Four.
Explanation of the title of this blog will follow shortly. My scene was being shot on location at a church, inside and out.
Arriving there, I was escorted back to a trailer with my character's name on it. I was then brought clothes I was to wear for my scene. Then onto makeup and hair. I couldn't believe what I was experiencing, I was actually getting the star treatment.
My nieces introduced me to everyone as Uncle Ronnie and that stuck with me during the whole week. Amy Landecker, Gaby Hoffmann and Jay Duplass were three of the main characters that I met who would also appear in my brief but exciting scene that was being shot that day.
Now this, those of you that know me might get a kick out of what my character is taking part in: a meeting for sex and love addicts and I had to talk about my addiction. OK, stop it, I can hear the smirks, it was a part in the show.
They had food catered the entire day available to all that were part of the production. Practically anything you wanted was available. I was also provided a driver that was at my disposal for the entire week of my stay. She was a very pretty young lady whose name is Lee and was waiting on me like a mother hen. "Can I get you something to eat or drink?"-- she couldn't do enough for me.
The next day Lee drove me to Paramount Studios where the show is being shot on various stages. Now comes the BOX. I believe it's something originated by my niece Jill and I'll try my best to describe what it is.
Anyone on the crew, from the actors, writers, producers, grips, sound people, everyone is included. Instead of handshaking, hugs are recommended and you can choose to stand on this actual box surrounded by 100 or more people and say what's on your mind.
I could actually feel the bonding that was going on. They spoke of personal things that were going on in their families, words of thankfulness and words of encouragement. At the end, they clapped, hugged and went back to work.
The remainder of the day was spent watching my niece Jill directing every aspect of the shooting with help from her assistant directors; that alone was worth seeing. Never in my life did I ever think about the work that goes into a production.
I also met the great Jeffrey Tambor, the main character of the show and the most beautiful person, Judith Light.
The next day I was asked to get on the BOX. I did with very little hesitation. I wanted to tell everyone there how they had made me feel. I'll try my best to repeat what I said at the time but it went something like this:
"My wife and best friend Norma was stricken with Leukemia and passed away this last August. I've been trying everything to keep busy, from writing my second book to watching sports and going to work every day, and thank goodness for all of my close friends and family that try to keep me occupied. You always believe that the male will go first but it was not to be, when the cancer is too far along you do the best you can to make your partner comfortable.
"But I've been in this dark fog, not knowing my direction, until this week when I met all of you. I believe this week has taken me out of the fog and back into the sun and I can't thank you enough. My healing has taken a giant step forward.
"I had no intention of making anybody cry but I know that you feel my pain and wish me the best. It doesn't get easier but maybe you can slow it down, I'm trying."
It seemed as if being a part of this group that accepts everyone regardless of who they are was a wonderful thing to watch and to be included. After getting off the BOX, I was hugged by many in the circle that thanked me for sharing.
There is no way that I can thank Jill and Faith for giving me the opportunity to be a part of their production and have a smile from ear to ear during the whole week. Nieces, when and if you are in need of my meager talent, I'm available.
I honestly believe that Jill and Faith, by doing "Transparent" have changed the way that many people think. Acceptance may hopefully become the norm.
Before Los Angeles, I spent a week of my vacation on the island of Oahu in Waikiki Beach, just steps from my apartment where I lived over 30 years ago. I visited Schofield Barracks where I was stationed during my service time in the 50s, the Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, the north shore to watch some amazing surfers, the Pali lookout, and every other major attraction on the island.
I went deep sea fishing and caught, but could not bring in, an 80- pound yellowfin tuna. My arms and shoulders gave out after 15 or so minutes and the crew had to finish the job. Age and replacement parts had taken their toll.
Hawaii is as beautiful as I remembered and I still have fond memories of my time in the islands.
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