My fictional relatives are often played by Alan Alda and Diane Keaton in my head. I don't know exactly how this got started, but I can tell you that they are often mulling around my fictional spacious New York City apartment, specifically the kitchen table that highlights a wooden minimalist artsy feeling when lit at night with low track lighting.
Here's an example scenerio:
1. Alan Alda, who is playing Dr. Frair, a retired snake handler, and Diane Keaton, who is playing Miss. Annabelle, a first grade teacher nearing retirement, and myself, playing myself at age 32, are all getting drunk on red wine. I am in a great unemployed depression. How can I even think about retirement when I still owe the student loan company 35,000 dollars? My life is nowhere.
They tell me knock knock jokes to try and cheer me up. Keaton always has the punchline, and although Alda is quite generous initially with this parlay, towards the end of the jokes, he grows frustrated with her hogging the spotlight. Now we are all depressed. Keaton cries, beautifully in a revealing way. Alda turns warm again, embarrassed.
Keaton says that everyday someone new runs her over. Everyday is one more day of devastating.
Suddenly, my own issues are irrelevant. We want to get more involved in Keaton's life, lift up the pain. We brainstorm.
After much debate and several silly laughs, mostly thanks to Alda and his crummy cooking. It's decided. We will turn the popular children's book Miss Nelson Is Missing into real life. Keaton loves this, so does Alda.
Alda immediately gets going on costume ideas. I coach Keaton on how to "act angry and mean."
And then, just like that, a project is born. We focus on the building of something and forget about the stillness of it all.