Chris Kelly,

Chris Kelly,

A weeklong electronic journal.
May 7 1998 3:30 AM

Chris Kelly,

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       Lucky break with the monologue today. Some of the Swiss Guards shot each other, Middle East peace talks broke down, and some black children didn't get anything to eat at Denny's.
       Also, Anne Heche and Ellen DeGeneres announced they want to get married, Charlton Heston called Barbra Streisand a communist, and Chelsea Clinton has a boyfriend. It should have been easy, but it wasn't, and sometimes that's just the luck of the draw.
       We're also having trouble with a sketch we're working on for Friday's show. It's an award show sketch, and we need a TV mom to play it with Bill. Marion Ross, television's Mrs. Cunningham, has passed. Florence Henderson, television's Mrs. Brady, might do it, but we've already done a sketch with her this season and haven't had her on the panel since, so it's uncomfortable. Bill doesn't think some of the other TV moms we can get are recognizable, and he's right. That leaves Vicki Lawrence and Joan Rivers, who are both "friends of the show" (and have also been great in sketches for us), and Arianna Huffington, who sleeps in the parking lot.
       When the monologue doesn't work our issues meetings bog down, and it carries over into the next week's shows. It also means the writing staff starts researching issues later, which means they finish later, which means they're tired the next morning, which affects the monologue. Which affects morale.
       And my hours get longer, and my wife has to cook our daughters dinner, and give them baths, and read them "One Fish, Two Fish," and put them to bed by herself.
       My twins have colds. Last night, when I got home, my wife was sleeping on the floor between their cribs. Sean, who can almost hold her bottle, had her bottle propped in her mouth in her crib. Emma was wheezing and waking up and falling asleep again. I stood in the dark for a minute listening to so much gulping and sniffling and breathing in and out. It was like being inside a body. There was so much life there for just one small space.
       My oldest daughter, Lexie, was asleep, sideways, in my bed. Lexie is five. She sleeps in positions that suggest she was dropped from an aircraft. I didn't want to move her. Toys and clothes and markers and videotapes and typing paper were scattered around the rest of the house.
       Robert Capa was one of the first Allied cameramen in Rome at the end of the war. He said it looked like a wedding after the bride and groom had left. That's what my house looks like when I don't get home, night after night, until after everyone's asleep. Except, replace the Fascists with my children. And Patton with me. And what made the mess was something wonderful, not something awful. Or leave Rome out of it altogether. It looks like a place where I've missed everything but the picking up.