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I love mornings.

There, I said it. I work nights, I have a fondness for staying up late, I am often at my most creative at the end of the day. My whole life is structured so that I encounter mornings as infrequently as possible. So what the what am I talking about?

I love the mornings where my eyes open at 5 or 6 am on their own, without the help of the cats or the alarm. I love laying in the dark next to R, listening to him breathe, and thinking about the day to come. I like to get up and drink coffee, work on quiet things so as not to wake the boy, and watch the sun come up. This time of day makes me contemplative in a way that early mornings from the other direction do not. When I see 5 am because I’m still awake, I’m usually tired, grumpy, and only there because I have to be. When I see 5 am because I can, it’s a little glimpse into the spirituality of a world that I usually miss out on. Between my natural predilections and my sleeping medications, this doesn’t happen often. It’s always a treat when it does.

Because of the show, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about Judy Garland lately – particularly the tragic end of her life. Judy died of a drug overdose in 1969, and it was a long time coming. Looking at the last years of her life, as she grew progressively more and more erratic and slid ever deeper into depression and addiction, it seems inevitable that she would pass either by OD or suicide. She spent her whole life on stage or in front of a camera. From the outside it looks like a charmed existence, with fame coming easily and fortune not all that far behind. We look at the 16-year-old girl in living Technicolor and see poise, grace, talent, and beauty, and think “I wish I could be like her.” What we don’t see is the immense pressure she was under from family, producers, and studio executives always to be perfect; to work harder, longer, and better while being beautiful at the same time. She never believed she was good-looking, and no wonder – the film producers she worked for made her wear prosthetics and caps on her teeth, and frequently dyed her hair to make her more “traditionally pretty.” She was given amphetamines to keep up with the busy production schedules and barbiturates to help her sleep. In this light, it doesn’t seem strange that she ended up depressed, suicidal, insecure, and addicted to alcohol and drugs. What is remarkable is that she kept going for so long.

End of the Rainbow takes place during her last London engagement at the Talk of the Town nightclub in the winter of 1969. Today I’ll leave you with a clip from one of those concerts. The sound quality is sketchy, but the voice is inimitably Judy.

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