The Sunset Sisters: A Family Interlude

Remember when I showed you my friend Deb’s feet and promised you would see my own? Well, be careful what you wish for. . .

These are my five left toes. I know, I know, this mani needs a pedi. So, who’s gonna fund that? Just click the button on my home page. . .

One boring morning a few months ago, when the New England weather was doing its thing, I idly suggested to my younger daughter that we have a sleepover-style party — you know, braid each others’ hair, paint our nails, etc. Well, this hair ain’t for braiding, but my younger daughter gamely suggested that she could at least paint my toe nails. And she did. It’s now one for every journey (I’m about to start my 5th), and we face the awesome dilemma of where to go next. Do we move to my hands? Switch feet? Should I have called this blog “Of Feet and Fatherhood”? Decisions, decisions. . .

This is my older daughter doing her best Rosie the Riveter, just moments after getting her first shot of the Pfizer COVID vaccine, the only one currently authorized for her age group. Even with the mask, you can tell she’s pretty psyched.

Because fatherhood is indeed what I want to talk about today. You see, something truly awesome happened while I was in LA: my older daughter got her shot, only one day after Massachusetts expanded its age eligibility! She and my wife had to drive to a Walgreens in Fall River, which is not next door, but it all went smoothly, and I was so happy that 3,000 miles away, tears came to my eyes.

This is my younger daughter with a model boat that my uncle Anthony asked her to paint. She decided, entirely on her own, to do it in the Memphis Group style. Look it up: I had to. But she just decided this on her own. Wow.

I have my failings as a man, but I can earnestly and honestly say that I was put on this earth to be a father. It is that thing which gives me the greatest joy. And it doesn’t hurt that I have two tremendously talented daughters. In between trips, I try to spend as much time with them as possible, and since this past week was school vacation in MA, the three of us went down the Cape for an overnight.

This is the house on Cape Cod that my grandfather (re)built after World War II and where we still stay. Believe it or not, this used to be an army barracks! More on that in a minute. . .

I have always felt that kids need only hear three things from their parents: I love you, I believe in you, and it’s going to be okay. I have always believed in my daughters, but the older they get, the more I just sit and marvel at their many accomplishments.

The Sunset Sisters were more like the Windswept Sisters on this particular afternoon.

Just as an example, my older daughter is writing her second novel, creates epic poems to celebrate family trips, and recently composed a song inspired by the periodic table (which she can recite from memory) worthy of “They Might Be Giants.”

Yes, I’ve already logged thousands of travel miles in my first month, but there’s still no place like (summer) home.

Not to be outdone, my younger daughter creates visual art astonishing in its intensity (check out her drawing of George Floyd on my twitter profile; it was praised by none other than Alyssa Milano!). When a neighbor recently had surgery, as a get well card she painted a version of one of his watercolors that took our collective breath away. She also brings a sly sense of humor to her work (and conversation) that makes me want to write down everything she says. And that’s what’s so cool. While my talents are principally verbal, and my wife’s visual, our kids combine the best of both worlds.

I mean, I do call them the Sunset Sisters, so we headed to the beach at their time of day.

It’s true that when they were younger, my older daughter principally worked with words, while my younger drew and painted. But now my older daughter draws great anthropomorphic depictions of every single element on the periodic table, while my younger writes poetry that Billie Eilish could use. I couldn’t be more proud, though I suspect I soon will be!

The Sun Sets while the Sisters Stroll.

Having daughters has also helped me better understand the corrosive effects of the patriarchy on younger minds and bodies, and it has made my feminism in Hollywood take on even greater urgency.

What can I say, I’m a sucker for sunsets.

You see, in addition to their other talents, both my daughters want to eventually create movies and TV shows. I already spend a lot of time bolstering female screenwriters. But my daughters’ dreams have given those efforts a greater impetus. There’s no other way to say it : Hollywood is still run principally by white men for the benefit of other white men, and we’ve got to break that shit down. If you’re a male screenwriter, one great step is to join #StartWith8Hollywood on Twitter. I’ve already mentored 16 incredible emerging WOC screenwriters, and I can’t wait for more.

Now we’ve got the Sunset Sisters ready for their close-ups!

One final bit of praise: in addition to their many other talents, my daughters are great sounding boards, and so the following day we discussed which scripts I should write next while taking a walk to the little hill overlooking the ocean where I proposed to my wife, and my dad proposed to my mom (using the ring his dad had given to his mom!). It was also a submarine watch post in World War II, and the house where we stay (and which you saw in a prior picture) was a barracks at the base of the the hill.

Maybe one day my daughters will propose here to the man of their dreams, or the woman, or just to themselves. Because, as Big Sean says, “If you love yourself, just know you’ll never be alone.” And it is my fondest hope that my daughters will learn to love themselves as much as I do!

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