Tag Archives: writing

Does Anyone Even Want This Salad?

I’m boring lately. I hope it’s all for good.

My life right now consists of me getting as much writing done as possible. When I’m not writing, I give myself hell. I have about 90 pages of a first draft of a screenplay written so far. On some days, I imagine my Oscar acceptance speech and my 60-Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper. Those are the good days. The salad days.

And then, after a while, that salad turns into a soggy mush of unrecognizable, insubstantial nothing, as salad does. I don’t know what you’d call those days.

  • The Overcooked Spinach Days?
  • The Toothless Tapioca Days?
  • The Days of The Red Pen of Harsh Self-Reproachment?

typewriter reading: Bullshit.

Right now I’m in the middle of a salad time, and I’m trying to stay with it as long as I can. Let’s just get this thing written. And if it turns out to be insubstantial crap that leaves a bad taste in your mouth, so be it. At least I won’t have it over my head any more. I will go out and move on with my life, which is… wait. Who am I? What am I doing?

Maybe it’s bullshit. I can’t know at this point.

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The Year That Will Be

Screen Shot 2015-01-01 at 1.55.03 PM

Happy New Year. If you’re reading this, you’ve survived long enough to write “2015” on a document or check. [Note to self: Rent due today.]

I’m going to spend the day planning and writing a script that I am determined to finish this year. I wrote about 50 pages last year, which might seem impressive until you realize that that’s less than half of a full film script, and that I left off right at the end of the first act, leaving myself the whole meaty middle part of the story to complete. So that’s what I will be doing over the next 4 days. I have mapped out a plan of attack, and aim to have 20 more pages written by the end of Sunday.

Writing is a pain, and it’s not glamorous. But when I’m able to channel my thoughts into some sort of cohesive story and put the pieces together in a way that just might make sense — there’s something about that satisfying flow that just cannot be beat. I love taking a mass of strange, seemingly unrelated ideas and making them work. It’s like hosting a dinner party with friends from different parts of your life who are unfamiliar with one another, and marveling at the conversations that emerge between them. You pat yourself on the back for bringing them into the same room, but it then you step back, let go, and enjoy. It’s not yours any more.

So that’s my plan for days 1-4 of the new year. Then I’ll keep working on the script in a class that starts in late January. We’ll end the class with a scene reading in a local theater with real actors, which is fills me with 3 parts glee to 1 part terror. Then I’ll need to figure out what to do next, which flips the glee:terror ratio on its head.

“Obligatory inspirational happiness quote to ring in the new year.” ~Some Dead Famous Person

Welcome to the new year. It looks much like the old year, but it does have that new year smell.

 

 

This Train Has Jumped Its Track

dynamiteI’ve never been a great planner. No that’s not entirely true. I did plan one hell of a great wedding. After 2 years of planning, my wedding day went off beautifully, and without a hitch. Tah-DAH!! And then things fell apart. We both went to grad school, bought a house, money got tight, we disagreed about what to do with our future, he had an affair and problems with drugs and alcohol that I could not plan my way out of. I did try for a couple of years. But I finally had to conclude that I could not control everything, and I certainly could not control the actions of a person who seemed determined to self-destruct. I had to light a stick of dynamite under my plans and run.

I’m glad I ran. It was absolutely the right choice.

Even before everything in my marriage fell apart so spectacularly, I already felt as if I were marching forward mindlessly according to someone else’s plan. Whose plan? I don’t know. My ex-husband’s? Our family’s plan? Society’s plan? Married life for me was simultaneously surface-comfy yet terrifying, like a hug that from a reformed convict that continues for 2 beats longer than it should. I felt “on track,” and that was satisfying. I had checked off most of my shoulds, including college, job, marriage, mortgage, grad school. The whole world shouts “hooray” for the person who is on track. We love a track. Here comes the Predictable Safe Life Train! Choo-choo!

But, at the same time, the whole thing felt surreal. Like I was acting out a part in a children’s show. Absurdly wide smiles and choreography, and everything dumbed down. “Heyyy, Kids!! Let’s play with matches and LSD in this abandoned refrigerator!! Wheee!!”

When you fit into a comfortable, vanilla, predictable story — when you are “on track” — the world assumes all is well and smiles upon you. You make people comfortable by fitting in. You realize that making everyone comfortable is your job — and you do your job. You put on your uniform and smile for the camera. You bury your dreams if they aren’t Pinterest-ready. Your job is to shut up and be grateful for the nightmare wrapped in shiny paper.

Leaving my marriage put me off track. It was scary and interesting and weird. I could sense a discomfort from others that wasn’t there when my life was going according to plan. I went off-plan. Derailed. I blew up the happy narrative.

So, now I’m at a new crossroads. I work a day job that may no longer be a good match for me, though I don’t dislike the company or the people I work with. The job description has changed, and I have not. Or maybe I have. I’m feeling less comfortable in the corporate environment than I did a couple of years ago. Shifts in management have changed the landscape significantly, and I just do not fit in there now. I was always a little bit of an oddball in the office. Now I am just an anomaly. I do not belong.

It’s no one’s fault. I am this. They are that.

I’ve felt this before: this disconnected feeling — this need to be out of the confines of a school building or an office. It’s uncomfortable, and potentially self-destructive, because surely my days are numbered. It’s just a matter of how I want to handle it. Do I take a leap and leave of my own accord? And to where? Another corporate job sounds like a terrible trap, and I’d like to avoid it if I can. But I live in a world of commerce, alas. I need things like shelter and protein and coffee and wine.

This is your Life. This is it. How do you want to remember it? Do you want to regret not taking a chance? What does that chance look like? What do I want, exactly? How do I want to get there? What do I need to do it? Do I need a day job? Do I need this day job? What am I afraid of? (Failure. Poverty. The perception of others. Making the wrong choice and regretting it.)

Interesting. It mirrors the thought process that kept me in the marriage for so long, up to a point. I remember feeling desperately afraid of taking the wrong path and regretting it. I was afraid of what people would think of me. I was held back by the comfort of “the devil you know,” because the alternative seemed so unclear, so scary. And I stayed on the safe path, despite hating myself for it. Until finally I decided that I would rather take the leap than live a lie.

I’m afraid of my own mind. What if this is madness? What if this is the story that I tell myself while in caught in a temporary down cycle, and I later come out of it –filled with regret?

What if the fear and the lack of funds and the depression keep me from being productive with anything? What if I’m back to the state of mind I had in high school, in my marriage, in my last job? What if being on track is the key to everything, and I’m just a rambling, bumbling idiot with nothing to say — and I only realize that AFTER I throw myself off the track?

Let’s put that all aside for a moment. What do I want?

I want to write. I want to get off track in my own good, semi-controlled way. I want to be caught up in my work. I want to wake up each day excited to get back to work.

I want to collaborate with other creative people in a supportive environment. I want to be in a position in which I feel I have something to contribute. I want to help people achieve their goals and feel good when they succeed. I want to be at peace with my life as it is, and not feel the need to defend it.

Whatever track I’m on, I want to know that it is my track, and not some ancient trail that has been laid out for me. The new trail is difficult, it may lead me off a cliff, but at least it is my own.

offtrack

Ok, I will stop talking about tracks, now.

 

 

 

Never-Ending Thoughtstoppers

I need to write an absurdist comedy sketch this week for a class. You’d think this would be relatively easy for me, given my love of the absurd.

And yet. My brain is not cooperating again. I seem to have some sort of mental disorder that prevents me from doing the thing that I am supposed to do. So, when I have serious day-job work to get done, all kinds of wild ideas occur to me. My mind breaks open the floodgate of stupid ideas and I frolic in the Stupid like children let loose in the Candy Room at the Wonka factory.

I’m having a Wonka week. Just go with it.

Maybe if I try to create the opposite of what I’d like to create, my rebellious brain will be hoodwinked into spewing out something absurd. What is the opposite of absurd? Should I just write  an observational essay? A Wikipedia entry on gravity? Maybe I should work on updating my resume.

What to do?

 

Unfiltered Brain Warblings

Sometimes I sit and brainstorm lists of ideas for subjects to write about, either for this blog or for a sketch-writing class that I’m taking. Here’s a list I put together one night last week, just before falling asleep. I honestly don’t know what many of them mean. I feel like I found someone else’s diary entry, and I’m frankly concerned for the mental health of the writer.

IMG_0427Ideas:

Murder Channel Pitch Meeting

Terrible Idea Warehouse

Group Therapy

Culture Wars, Let’s Fight it Out

Penises are Ridiculous.

Oprah Something

Escalating Expressions of love

If Fronking You is Wrong, I Don’t Wanna Be Right

Pregnancy Pact

Dic Pics are the Cure for Strep throat

Speed, in Kindergarten

Project Runway Challenge: Prisoner of Fashion (Ambush and Kidnap people off the street to make them over. You have 2 days to forcibly kidnap a “muse” from the street, then make them over using the clothes on their back.)

Catholic Martyr Mom Versus Jewish Guilt Mom: Final Smackdown

Booze: It’s What Dreams are Made of

Boobs are For Everybody

You Be Ponch, I’ll Be John

Gretchen Pornackle, Publicist to the Unknown

A Seemingly Endless Loop of Stupid

melted-popsicleI wanted to write something brilliant and profound this weekend, but the heat and humidity in Boston was prohibitive. On Saturday, my apartment was 90 degrees Fahrenheit with a humidity of Oh-Who-Cares-Anyway? It was one of those days that meteorologist Dick Albert used to refer to as “a case of the muggies.” It’s a slow disaster. You envision tossing your less-than-useless warm-blooded body into the harbor, but that would take effort, so you just eat popsicles and watch the veins in your arms swell like firehoses.

I escaped for a couple of hours to a café to write. The place was packed tight with other heat refugees and their smells. I scored a small table, but was wedged between two couples. The couple on my left did not speak, but smiled into each other’s loving gazes as they entwined and then re-entwined their fingers endlessly. Endlessly. From the edge of my vision, I was witness to a good 45 minutes of finger entwinement. It was the manual equivalent of the “I love you more”/”No, I love you more” argument spun into an infinite, real-time, looping gif that can’t be closed, ever.

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 What do you do with that? There’s no law against being an insufferably adorable couple, apparently.

Well, you could turn and be distracted by the couple to the right. The guy was seated right next to me. I couldn’t catch a glance without being very obvious about it, so I can’t comment on him except to say that he had a tall-guy voice, and that he seemed to let the woman do the talking. And the woman – who was seated across from me, was talking non-stop, seemingly about the guy’s troubled relationship – with someone else.

Again – what can you do? As far as I know, I do not have the right to stand and condemn this blatantly obvious manipulation/seduction/ego-twaddling that was happening within arm’s length. I just know that when she twisted her hair around a finger and said “You know, you can definitely stay at my place for as long as you need to – to… clear your head,” that was my cue to knock back my latte and leg it out of there.

Back into the sweaty, hive-like busy streets of Back Bay. I bought new living room drapes. Then I went home, put the drapes up, took another shower, had a popsicle, watched the drapes drape. Because that’s all I had in me.