The Thanksgiving Day Story
It’s Thanksgiving day. I have spent the last 27 days reading the Facebook status messages of every single person determined to name something for which they are grateful, every day. Some people would skip a day or two here and there and then post two or three items at a time; others were quite prolific in their attempts and it has all been extremely heartwarming. I determined, on day one, that I would not do this exercise this year (though I do believe I did it last year) because I try to be grateful for my life 365 days a year. I noticed, though, that the closer we got to this holiday, the more notice I took of what, precisely, it is for which I am thankful. True to form, it seems only natural to jot down a few thoughts and share them with any blog readers out there, burning to know what makes me grateful, from the profound to the mundane.
Two-A: the place that Pat and I have called home for twenty years, our own private Grey Gardens or Number 3 Beekman Place, is as warm and as magical a Secret Garden as two artistic boyz with an imaginary daughter or eight could find to play out the adventure that is their life.
My job and the colleagues who make it a joy to come to work. As a child I did not say to myself “when I grow up I want to serve food to strangers and get them drunk” but when I stumbled upon this job I had no idea how good I would be at it or how happy I would be, knowing such fine people as those with whom I have the pleasure of working beside. Also: being gainfully employed in such times is something for which one should be grateful.
My bosses are the kind of people for whom I would want to work. They are good people with good hearts and good intentions and I am so happy and grateful to work beside them and to represent their company; and that is something an employer wants in an employee, let me tell you.
New York City is one of the loves of my life. Why, only yesterday, while walking home from a play, Pat said to me “it’s so cool that we live here” and I remarked that I think those very words with joyful frequency. After nearly thirty five years of communing with New York City and twenty years of calling it home, I am still excited and happy to be a resident of this magnificent and magical place.
The teachers and mentors: I’ve had some truly awful teachers and I’d love to be noble enough to say that I am grateful to them for some lesson that they taught me but I’m not that noble. I wouldn’t wish a bad teacher on anyone, especially the bad ones I have had. However, I have also had some ASTOUNDING teachers and mentors. I remember every one of them and, regularly, I whisper their names to myself and to God, as remembrance and praise for the mark they left (or are currently leaving) on my life.
The simple joys that people may, occasionally, take for granted. The fact that I have a roof over my head and food in the fridge, the joy that I get from the arts or a simple walk around the neighbourhood – just any old thing that comes along each day that isn’t extraordinary can be made extraordinary, if only a moment is taken to make it extraordinary.
The Idols. Where would I be without the artists, the people, the characters, to whom I look for inspiration and strength? Who would I be without Jason Bourne, Brian Kinney, Bobby Morrow, Charlie Baltimore, Leann Hunley, Angela Lansbury, Liza Minnelli, Gale Harold and all the other people who light the way for me as an artist and a person? My real name is Plain Jane Jones.
The struggles. It’s not some new age thing that I’m feeling here, being grateful for the trials and tribulations. The truth is I hate them; but without them, who would I be? I certainly wouldn’t be the guy who was nicknamed Bulldozer. Those horrible, awful struggles gave me the strength to do the things I need to do. They gave me a frame of reference for when things are bad and I need to be reminded that “I’m Stephen Mosher and I can do anything.” So whatever bitterness and regret I may, occasionally, have regarding the events of my life, I find it better for me to set them aside for a brighter, more optimistic, outlook. Cake and sunshine, Jello and pudding.
The Sweater Book. It didn’t change my life the way I wanted it to and I have joked, often, that nobody bought it. Certainly, I wish I had been able to parlay my work as a photographer into a life as the next Herb Ritts; but perhaps that wasn’t the journey I was meant to have. Instead, I got this journey, devoid of fame and financial security. What I walked away with, though, is a project of artistic integrity (something that I guard, closely) that allowed me to meet and work with some of the most extraordinary people for whom I have such admiration.
The cameras. Maximillian, Margaret, Maurice, Constance, Cameron and the little point and shoots who have afforded me the opportunities to make art are my colleagues, my co-workers and my collaborators. They are among my dearest friends. Without them, I would not have those days when I sit and look at the art I’ve made and mutter to myself “Cher.. Judi Dench.. Jennifer Holiday.. Anita Gillette.. Laura Linney.. Roddy McDowall.. Carol Burnett.. Donna Murphy.. Quentin Crisp… Joanna Gleason.. Danny Burstein.. Ann Miller.. Helen Reddy.. Angela Massett.. Maggie Smith.. Karen Mason…Marcia Gay Harden.. Lily Tomlin.. Sela Ward.. Kathleen Turner… DAMN, boy.. you DID something in your life. You did something.” Heady stuff, man. Humbling.
The collaborators: When someone picks you to make art with them it is a compliment that cannot be measured. When they come back over and over, it makes a bond that cannot be broken. When they are family, making art with you, well that’s just the end, isn’t it?
The sun. If you don’t know, then you don’t know. But without it, I am a shell of myself.
Austin Pendleton and The Shakespeare Forum. After seventeen years away from the world of acting, my husband went back to work. He began studying with Autin Pendleton and a host of other great teachers at HB Studio; a couple of years later, he discovered The Shakespeare Forum, where he found an artistic family and a place to grow as an artist. Together, these two entities, Austin and The Shakespeare Forum, have brought Pat back to life.
The body. It hasn’t been an easy road for me and my body. Some days are hellacious with back pain, joint pain, muscle spasm and the struggle to rid us of fat. So what? I have four working limbs and good, healthy, internal organs. I can still make it to the gym to train and work with that fat thing and, with each training session, the aches and pains ebb and flow, like an old friend who nourishes you and then irritates you. I will never complain about this old body because it is the only one I have and I’m content to cherish it and treat it nice.
The healers: I speak of them often. My GP, my chiropractor, my cranio-sacral therapist, my massage therapists, my head therapist.. there are a lot of people who heal me and keep me in working order. It’s a team. And I bless them each and every day.
Married and Counting, the little movie that could. Who’d have thought it? We didn’t get the widespread distribution we wanted and we didn’t reach the audiences we wished for. The story isn’t over yet, though, and the road that this film travels is filled with continual surprises and excitements. Strangers have told us, in person, and through internet messages, that they have been moved by our film. And we didn’t do the movie for the accolades – we did it to make a statement and to touch people, which we have done. The experience of making the movie and the people who made it with us – it’s just an unforgettable and beloved moment in my life.
Rachel, who keeps the magic at Two-A alive. I am so happy for that day that she came to us and came to life.
The children. There are children in my life everywhere. Pat and I have nieces and nephews, grand nephews and nieces, Godchildren, children of friends who call us Uncle Pat and Uncle Stephen, two surrogate sons and young people that we call friend and family. Some of the time, I get to act as benevolent older role model type but most of the time, I am their student; and what they teach me, each day, are the great lessons of my life.
My Alcoholism. I am not defined by my addiction. I don’t hide it from anyone and I am open to talking about it with anyone who feels that they can learn from my story. It’s been over three decades living with this constant companion and my recent decision to begin drinking again and the journey back to sobriety have been one of the most horrible, humiliating, embarrassing, humbling and rewarding experiences of my life. I am so grateful to my friend and spiritual brother, Danny Noval, for throwing me a lifeline, indeed, insisting on being the person who saved me and brought me back to a life that is authentic to who I am.
The Family. My mother and father are my friends; and a lot of people can’t say that. We love each other deeply and that is the foundation upon which my life has been built. They have taught me to love other people and to be there when they need you and anyone who is a part of the Two-A family will tell you that that is the philosophy upon which our home is built. I have taken these lessons and philosophies taught to me by my parents and built a family that reaches from the kinfolk with whom I share dna, to the good people who come into my life and to whom I say “we are now a family.” Without them I am nothing.
The husband. There is very little to say about my partner in crime and life that hasn’t been said in the movie Married and Counting, on my Facebook page, in my blogs or in front of all of the people who are the witnesses to our life. It usually all comes down to this: “And now you know that there was a person named Pat Dwyer; and that he saved me.. in every way that a person can be saved.” That’s my hooouuusbun’.
OB1. My constant companion.
Me. If you aren’t grateful to be who you are, well.. there it is, then. And I am. Thankful. It’s a fine, fine life.