Rest In Peace Nichelle Nichols

Well… damn. Nichelle Nichols, the legendary Lieutenant Uhura from Star Trek has passed away at the age of 89.

As a big Star Trek fan, this makes me sad. She was a woman who was a terrific actress and singer, of course, but who also changed a lot of lives as a representative of what the future should bring – acceptance, diversity, inclusion: In the 1960’s she showed a strong Black woman onscreen in a position of authority. To quote the article below: She portrayed “A capable officer who could man other stations on the bridge when the need arose, she was one of the first African American women to be featured in a non-menial role on television.” The article has many more details, and I encourage you to read a little about this wonderful woman.

Here’s the link to the Variety article!

There’s a ton more to say but, honestly, whenever one of the Original Seven from the Star Trek Universe passes, I get emotional. I love the show, and the subsequent franchise, for tons of reasons – the sci-fi, the characters and stories, the optimistic (usually) look at what the future could hold, and because I have such memories of sitting on the floor of our living room, watching the reruns with my Dad.

Instead of rambling on and being sad at her passing, though, I want to share something I wrote on Facebook about 7 years ago – in 2015 – when I had the most wonderful chance encounter, a moment that any great fan of something can understand and appreciate. A moment that left me a little stunned, with my son asking “You okay?” and me not even being able to answer him:

July 13, 2015: “Sometimes you’re at the airport, and suddenly Nichelle Nichols is there. 2 feet from you. And you lock eyes with her and your whole mind freezes up. And she smiles warmly at you and recognizes the look of stunned adoration, and says “Hello” and and gives you a smiling, loving wink and nod that says “yes, it’s me, you’ll be okay, just keep breathing” and she continues on her way. And after she’s gone, you feel lighter, and taller, and like you’ve been touched by a power of goodness and light from a time long ago, spoken of now only in song and legend.”

Rest in peace, Ms. Nichols. Thanks for the wonderfulness that you brought to the world. And thanks for that 10 seconds of kindness you showed to a nerd that you saw get overwhelmed by your very presence.

A time to be both thankful and helpful.

This week I wound up spending time at Beaumont Hospital in Trenton with an ailing family member.  All is well, everyone is back home and doing well, but times like that are stressful, and worrisome, and one of the things that stands out the most when you look back is the giant amount of HELP and KINDNESS given by so many people.  A big THANK YOU to the wonderful staff at Beaumont Trenton, you guys rock.

Between that event, and Thanksgiving and the holidays coming up, it’s a time of year that we all start thinking of others.  Probably we start thinking of them in a way that we should think all year.  I know I do.  I look around and I think about how amazingly fortunate I am, how lucky I am to be loved by people, to have friends and family I can count on, and to still be here in my very own Bonus Levels.  I also, though, am very aware that I could be doing more for others.  Does anyone else feel this?  The kindness of the Beaumont Hospital staff reminded me that a little effort can go a long way when people are in need, and sometimes it’s the smallest of gestures that makes a difference.

Everyone is busy, we’re all working too much and overwhelmed with life and plans and challenges and politics and that’s just the way our lives ARE nowadays.  One of the ways to help slow down, make OUR lives better, is to help someone else.  I don’t do enough of that, but I’m going to try to do more.  If anyone wants to join me, here are some resources that a colleague recently shared with me:

  • To volunteer at your local soup kitchen, click here
  • To donate a meal to food-insecure senior citizens, click here
Got any other suggestions on ways we could all, even in our over-scheduled lives, help make a difference?  Let me know, share them with all of us in the comments.

Monday Monday

Every day is filled with things to be grateful for. 

Is the world perfect?  Nope. The rampant racism, divisiveness and hate-speech happening is a clear sign of that. Still – we have to embrace the good things in our lives, and not allow ourselves, our loved ones and our world to be swallowed up in negativity. 

Today is a day I’m really grateful for.  This beautiful Autumn weather, and I’m working on a new play. 2 plays, in fact! Not only did we have a great first weekend of previews at Williamston Theatre, where I’m directing Pulp, but tonight I start rehearsals for Rights Of Passage at the Jewish Ensemble Theatre.  2 new plays, back to back (overlapping!), makes for a happy, tired director, grateful to be alive and working in the American Theatre. And when you add in the wonderful caliber of the casts and production staffs I get to work with? Truly, I’m a lucky man. 

Plus, today the care package that my wife and I mailed to our exchange-student daughter made it to Helsinki and she got some treats from home. The only damper on the day is that Jeanne is fighting a miserable cold, but she’s feeling a little bit better today than yesterday, so even that is in a positive trajectory! 

So, I sit here drinking an iced coffee (cream only, no sugar, since my wife and daughter and I made a “no sugar for a week” pact), and I make notes in a script, and the sun shines in.  I know Max and Tommaso are about to finish their day of school, and Max will go straight to rehearsal for 42nd Street, and Tommaso will go to his tennis match. Maggie prepares for bed 1/2 a planet away, surrounded by some love from home, and Jeanne rests in a warm blanket with a cup of tea. 

I wish so much that the negativity in the world could be fixed by simply reminding people to embrace the Joy around them, to spread that, and help others do the same. Such a simple idea…. if only it would work.  Still – today, I will be grateful for the things in my life that make today beautiful. And I will share that gratefulness, and hope that it inspires others to do the same. 

Happy Monday everyone – take a moment to find your happiness today.