Saturday, August 20, 2005

Another Part of the Journey

"Everything is on its way to becoming something else."
-John Travolta, Phenomenon

Last night, a dearly beloved member of the Richmond Theatre Community left us as she continued her journey, becoming one with the light that makes up everything. Mary Sue Carroll had a long and difficult experience with cancer.

The tendency in these times is always to frame it in terms of 'winning' and 'losing' a 'Battle', but Mary Sue didn't see it that way. She bravely faced the inevitable truth which lies before all of us; She chose to investigate, to learn, what life was trying to say to her. She is so special, so warm, so incredibly, irrepresibly herself. Possesed of a childlike openness, and a firm belief in the miracle of being alive to every moment, Mary Sue Laughed, Cried, Lived, Loved, held on and then, when it was time, let go.

The last time I saw her was the night of the Dress Rehearsal for MSND at Agecroft Hall. I was at the Starbucks at Willow Lawn and running late (as usual) for my 5:30 call. I saw her sitting at an outside table with her caregiver and I immediately felt so blessed to see her. We hugged for a long time-- and we cried as she told me there were now seven tumors in her brain.

I tried to say something profound or sage-like, but there was nothing I could do or say. I stammered and couldn't look directly at her. But Mary Sue let me know that just being there was enough. She watched me with a mother's patient eyes. She said wordlessly that Just being myself--- in all my clumsy, goofy humanity-- in that moment with her, was enough. No need for answers.

The spectre of death was there, yes, but also the vibrance of life-- Burning brightly. In everything. Bouncing off of her and feeding her. In the birds hopping around the mall parking lot looking for food, in the sounds of conversations at the adjacent tables, kids in strollers, in the beautiful blue sky overhead. In her eyes. In our tears.

And then, improbably, in our uproarious, uncontrollable laughter.

I was an hour late for my call that day, but I thank whoever or whatever brought me to that moment-- to have a chance to be with her; For her to let me know that sometimes it is okay to not know. It is enough to be right here, right now, in this moment, to not fight the way things are. To see the beauty of what we are in our most open, unguarded self. To do that, and to be that, in the face of death, takes a deep courage of the heart. To face and accept the fear-- to dive into the heart of it with acceptance and wonder. What fearlessness. What beauty. What grace.

I have so much respect and admiration for my friend, Mary Sue Carroll. My heart is with her many friends, as well as her family.

Here is our last email exchange, just to preserve her strength and bravery for everyone to see.

----- Original Message -----

Sent: Monday, January 10, 2005 10:02 PM

Subject: Thinking of you!!

Mary Sue,

Robyn O'Neil sent word about the wave of experience you are riding on right now, and I just want you to know that you are in my prayers. I think it is incredibly brave of you to even consider trying to 'learn' from what you have characterized as your 'Tutor tumor...' Most people would simply close down and let fear rule the day. This is not to suggest that you aren't afraid at times, but I find your openness and curiosity incredibly inspiring. Keep looking and learning.

Every day, I recite the prayer of metta:

"May all living beings be happy.
May they live in safety and joy.
May all living beings, whether weak or strong,
tall, stout, average or short,
near or far,
seen or unseen,
Born or to be born:
May they all be happy.
May they have peace and the cause of peace.
May they have happinessand the cause of happiness.
May they be free from suffering and the root of suffering."

You are in that prayer. I love you, Mary Sue.
Please call if you need anything.

Scott Wichmann

Here is her response:

What a wonderful prayer I am honored and delighted to be included. Prayers are powerful medicine and I thank you for sharing yours. It does mean a lot to me.

Things are going good. I just finished round two of Chemo and am halfway through the radiation. So far I have gained 12 pounds !! I have really been trying to pack on some weight as an insurance policy for the esophagal burnout the oncologist assures me will come in about another 10 days. At any rate I am working with a healer as well who is helping me clear my electromagnetic fields on a daily basis ... and I feel confident that standard side effects will be minimil (sp?)

So far no nausea at all, energy levels vary...I've developed a routine with the trips and the naps and can't believe it took something like this to give myself permission to take naps. A practice I highly recommend !

I am learning so much about myself and truly feel like I have been given an incredible gift from the universe. Besides I am collecting great material for a new one woman show... I couldn't make some of this stuff up the old truth is stranger than fiction or at least funnier
Us actors...we'll do anything for material.

Thank you again for your prayers. Please keep em' comin' and stay in touch.

Yours in Love and Light
Mary Sue

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Schill is gone...

What's up with Curt Schilling??

Last night he blew a 2-run lead in the ninth against the Tigers, halting (at least temporarily anyway) the runaway train-esque momentum of those badass beantown baseball boys. Hopefully he gets that nasty splitter back and makes it into the starting rotation in september. The Sox need bullpen help, that's for certain. ...and if Mr. Foulke can regain his mojo in the coming weeks, both he and Pawtucket call-up John Papelbon could be just what the doctor ordered. Fingers crossed-- GO SOX!!!


I Just got a confirmation for a Booking in Luray, VA on february 4th, 2006... Time to drag out the Penguin suit again & swing away with Jazz Pianist Bob Hallahan & the cats. I always love to do these gigs, and I'm really finding a comfortable groove and my own style at the microphone. I'll post details as they come in. You can check out Bob Hallahan's appearance schedule and much more at

My wife Jennifer has been dipping her fingers & toes into all manner of creative waters-- Her paintings will be on display at Crossroads coffee & Ice Cream starting next tuesday. da joint is located at 3600 Forest Hill Ave, Richmond, 23225 - (804) 231-2030. This is also the last weekend to see her in Hank Williams: Lost Highway at Swift Creek Mill theatre.
To view her performance schedule & to see some samples of her artwork, go to her new site at

Ekoji Buddhist sangha of Richmond's Vipassana meditation group meets every monday at 7:30 pm and every Friday at 5:30 pm. We are located at 3411 Grove Avenue. If you've ever been interested in meditation, come check it out. There's no religious ceremony or any of that; Just a cool group of people trying to slow down for an hour or so & let the mind settle. You can find information about other the other Ekoji Buddhist groups (Zen, Vajrayana, Pureland) by logging onto

Random Blasts...
Having a great time rehearsing Where's My Money? at the Firehouse Theatre Project-- Rusty Wilson is a great director & a real solid additon to the development of good theatre in this town... Watched Inherit the Wind with Spencer Tracy last night (I had never seen the film before) I still have goosebumps... Jesse Rabinowitz (Cry OUT!!) has written a new two-character play that is really great, called Three Week Shoot.... I read about the stampede at the Richmond raceway Complex-- The county was selling ibooks for fifty bucks a pop & the crowd of Henrico residents trampled one another to get at them when the gates opened-- Everybody CHILL!!...I am wearing a hawaiian shirt right now... The VBC Championship game is this weekend-- Go to .... I'll be in a softball league in the fall... Know who kicks ass?? The DEAD MILKMEN.

That's all I got-- Peace & Prosperity to all beings everywhere (Yes, Even Steinbrenner.)



Monday, August 08, 2005

Yes Yes Y'all-- And I don't Stop....

So this is what the blogosphere looks like!!

I feel really trendy right now, seeing as how I don't have an ipod, a blackberry, Or for that matter a cellphone, cable tee-vee or a PSP. Heck, I don't even posess a set of POPEET, the collapsible tupperware in five fashion colors-- and in the picture, I don't even have HAIR.
But doggone it, I went and got me a BLOG. Color me hip.
...Now what in the name of Avalokiteshvara do I write?? I could spout off on politics; I could talk about re-runs of 'The Greatest American Hero', or I could geek out on Star Wars or Baseball or Buddhism orthe fact that yes, ma'am that IS me going bonkers in the VA Lottery Texas Hold-'em TV ad. (I get that a lot in the grocery store-- it is usually followed by a COLLOSAL loss of interest on the part of those inquiring.) I'll discuss all types of stuff-- all in good time. But Right now-- some good old fashion PUB. Gotta pay the bills, yo.
Upcoming Shows/Appearances:

John Patrick Shanley's Where's My Money? at the Firehouse Theatre Project, Sept 8-Oct 1, 2005. Directed by Rusty Wilson. “(a) semi-surrealist comedy about revenge, retribution and the emotional and physical scars of modern relationships … Shanley’s gift for acid-laced one-liners and emotionally tumescent exchanges is certainly potent … Where’s My Money? suggests some intriguing ideas about the dangerous way men and women work out humiliations and frustrations from their past on their current partners.” Hmm. Veddy Eeen-Terestink. Call 804-355-2001 for details, or log onto
I will be performing the title role in Scapino! at Barksdale Theatre Nov 25, 2005-Jan 22, 2006. (I did the same role in the same show fifteen years ago as a junior in High School; Like you care...) Catch this madcap update of Moliere's classic comedy, Les Fourberies de Scapin (Or 'The Tricks of Scapin' for those of you who were lookin' at Green Lantern comics during 9th grade french class, like I was) Come to the Barksdale for a laugh-out loud respite from holiday chaos. Call 282-2620 or log onto for more.
I can also be seen this coming spring in Rounding Third By Richard Dresser. Directed by my good buddy Rick St. Peter, at Actor's Guild of Lexington, KY, April 20 - May 14, 2006. The soft sell: "Playwright Richard Dresser turns his sardonic with towards one of America's most treasured institutions: Little League baseball. Michael and Don are two mismatched Little League coaches thrown together to embark on their own season to remember. What happens when "It's not whether you win or lose but how you play the game" colides with "winning isn't everything, it's the only thing?" The hard sell: Call 859-233-0663 or log onto NOW!! PICK UP THAT PHONE AND/OR MOUSE!!!!!LET'S SEE SOME HUSTLE!!!