An Open Letter to My Dad

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I wish I could say I remember our moment that has now become family lore. The moment when baby Cassandra wouldn’t shut her wailing and crying no matter how many times you rocked me back and forth. The moment when another piercing scream would break your eardrums. The moment you couldn’t take it anymore and tossed me (a defenseless baby!) onto the bed.

To both our surprise, it worked. Baby Cassandra gaped at the gall of the man who dared to do that.

I suppose this isn’t the best way to begin what is supposed to be an open love letter to the first man I loved, but looking back that moment is quite definitive as to who you are. You find a million different ways to show your love, and just when I think you’ve run out of ideas you pull a million and one. You never give up on family or give up in your work, and though your ways are unconventional they somehow always work.

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You chanted rhymes of moons and rabbits until I fell asleep. Stood in long lines at Disneyland to see your daughter meet characters she had no interest in meeting (back then). Threw me into the pool before I knew how I learned to swim.

Perhaps you are why I tell stories even in my sleep. Why I so dearly love meeting Disney characters now. Why I don’t look before I leap. You’ve shown me that the distance to reach my dreams is only a heartbeat away. You’ve taught me to say yes to things I have no experience in and trust that I’ll figure it out along the way. After all, you had to navigate a whole new world with me when I was 11, one filled with A-listers and world-famous influencers.

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Attending premieres at red carpets can be very time-consuming. I couldn’t have done this without the support of my dad who drives me to the event, waits patiently for the press line to open, and captures all my moments with the stars on camera.

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Dad risks injury to ensure we get the best shot of the stars.

I first started calling myself “kid reporter” when I was 11. Without missing a beat, you went to Fry’s and picked up a video camera, a Nikon and a microphone. You learned when to zoom in on me and zoom in on the stars. You set up the tripod like a pro, and sacrificed hundreds of hours playing the waiting game like a true journalist. Together we’ve pilfered hotel tea bags, food, and press gifts at junkets. We’ve sweet-talked our way around grumpy security guards and memorized studio lots like the back of our hands. We’ve braved stormy weather in the name of a red carpet closing shot. 

Sometimes, my happiest moments are with you on the long car rides to these sometimes frivolous, sometimes deeply meaningful, and often heart-pounding fun events. I practice my questions with you, bounce them off you like handball.

“In the movie, your characters support and teach each other different things. What’s something you’ve learned from working with each other?” I’d ask, as if you were Chris Evans or Octavia Spencer or Mark Ruffalo.

You’d toss your head like a diva. “I don’t learn anything, I’m already the best,” you’d say. “Next question!”

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You’ve taken chances. Sometimes that means asking for a selfie with a celeb, which often works out in your favor. But sometimes taking chances doesn’t turn out too well.

Once you gambled your diminishing number of gallons in the engine against a forty minute drive to Segerstrom Hall for my most important performance of the year (in front of an audience of 3,000). You lost that bet, leaving me in a prom dress standing on a sidewalk midday, three blocks away from the theater. Luckily, a fairy godmother must have been watching and clucking her tongue, as a taxicab appeared out of nowhere. Now, you always make sure to get gas before a trip down the highway.

Only a couple weeks ago, you explained to me how street signs worked. That the sign facing our car was the street that ran from left to right, not the street that we were on. How I managed to get my license without knowing how to read signs has escaped me; but through it all you’ve patiently taught me how to navigate the roads of Walnut, the game of Mahjong, and life.

I may not know a single thing about freeway geography but I do know that you’ll guide me through it all. You may not know a single thing about fashion but I do know I’ll always be looking for that nod of approval on a new dress.

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Like you’ve done with Baby Cassandra, thank you for holding me so close even during the times I’ve become unbearable. Every passing hour draws us closer to the heartbreaking moment you’ll have to let go and toss me into this new life, but at least this time, it won’t take either of us by surprise. Instead, I’ll be smiling at the gall of the man who raised me to be everything I am today.

💕 💗 , your favorite daughter, 

Cassandra

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