Monthly Archives: January 2014

Snow Fight

IMG_2350It snowed finally.  A little late but it’s here and it’s beautiful.

I was thinking about you today — thought I’d write.  I’ve no reason to share with you, really, being that I do not know much about your life.  Only what I imagine of your life — that’s all I have to go on.

I imagine it’s winter where you are, cold, icy.  I imagine that like me, you have to shovel the stuff and it might make you think about the days when you had time to ski. Now skiing is in our heads, something we wonder if we’d have to relearn if we were to ever enjoy it again.  We. There is no “we,” but I like to write it anyway.

Today, I went over and secretly shoveled my dad’s driveway after shoveling mine.  The neighbor saw me and came over with his snow blower.  Dad hustled out of the house when he heard the blower, that’s how he knew I was there.  It embarrasses him, I think, to accept help when he feels perfectly healthy.  ( One little problem with not remembering ONE damned thing about having a heart attack; he still thinks he’s invincible.) Still, he went up to his neighbor, thanked him and told him “I can do it!”  He glanced at me and then added, “I tell her, but she won’t listen.”  He shook the guy’s hand, thanked him again.  I kept shoveling as they talked for a moment.  I could see by the way my dad shook hands and by the way he patted the neighbor on the back — a firm pat, that he refuses to let age get the best of him.  Not even a heart attack will stop him.  He is that determined.  He’s a man.  All that is good about the race of men, that’s who and what my dad is.  Maybe it’s a rare thing —  but he’s one of those guys who thinks the way John McClane* would.  I’d like to believe it is an acquired attitude, something learned over time.  It’s a form of grace.

So I am back here now, trying to get my external player to load up some stuff on my computer before hitting the keys hard.  I have 15 days to finish a screenplay.  Which means I should not spend time writing here or to you.

But I needed to note,  if to no one — not even you, that I’ve held true with my promise to myself.  To cut the distractions and conversations with people who bring me down from my focus and goal.   I am first on the list this year.   If I save myself, I can save others – just like on an airplane.  I am going to fix this thing, this “situation” we’re in (the kids and me).  I promised Nora.   If I don’t succeed, then clearly I will die trying.  Like my dad, I vow to be that determined.  And like my Dad, I believe I will need God’s help to pull it off.  As long as I don’t quit, I’ve got a chance.  My dad is living proof.

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* John McClane, the character from the DIE HARD films, played by Bruce Willis, who, incidentally has similar features to my father.  It’s the Italian in them.


Good Night Wine

Alice-in-Wonderland-Alice-001Tonight, I asked my writers group friends about focus, writing and how to get the work done, do it better and with fewer calories.

Many gave good advice.  But just like Alice in Wonderland, me in Dreamland will never listen to good advice.

So here’s some advice to myself:  Shut the feck up and get the job done.  Write until I can’t.  Hit the deadlines, submit the work and see if anything happens.

The alarm is set for 4 a.m.  — Good night my whiny child.  Stop making excuses.

Pouring myself another…


Strong Morning … Coffee

belcuore-flight-controllerJust like magic.  I woke up this morning with new vigor.  I did something new:  I did not tune in to listen to the news.

Today, went to http://www.withoutabox.com and found festival contests I need to enter.  Deadlines set.

Registered at http://www.producertoproducer.com and am checking out the free budgeting templates. I have had the book for a while now, this time I will finish it.

I’ve done this stuff before and usually about now is when it gets dicey.  I get excited and then prematurely make phone calls, spreading my excitement around before it becomes real on my end.

This time: vowing to shut my mouth and get the job (one at a time) done.

I said my prayers and declarations out loud and “wrote” to my imaginary friend(s) for muse support.  It couldn’t hurt.

Other good news: I stepped on the scale and I’ve lost 3 pounds — Whew!  Seven more to go!


Weak Night

imagesI wrote you a letter today.  A response to no questions asked.

I filled in as much as I dared.  During the day I feel right, correct, logical, strong.  But at night, now when I should go back to my pages and scenes, I feel so hollow and thin with my thoughts.  Like, I’ve hurt my best friend.  I suppose I have.

But I describe myself and my children as living in a pumpkin shell — So how am I wrong?  We are kept. Kept in limbo. Kept in poverty. Kept in a constant state of stress, fear and worry.  Only when I work do I feel a sense of hope.  I don’t work enough, clearly.

I feel the need to justify my decisions though my decisions are about self-preservation.  What is this guilt?  What makes me feel as though I owe everyone? Correction:  Not everyone.  Just one.  Why do I feel like I owe more? For nearly 25 years, I’ve tried to fix, cheer-lead, defend, argue for and against.  I’ve tried threats, tough love, and plain ol’ love, yet nothing changes.  I never change.  Things are the same as they were the first time he threatened to leave me.  I cried.  I thought he would do it, but it was as empty a threat as his promise to buy a home in Pacific Palisades.  I made my choice based on an idea of love and well-described dreams.  With collateral of good intentions and braggadocio, I promised forever.

I’ve boxed myself into a terrible situation. I have to find the way out of this box that I helped label, tape and ship too far north.

And yet… Let’s face it.  It’s easier to be beholden to another, to do as  they bid than it is to better one’s self.  The latter takes discipline.  The former takes a servant’s fear.

I’m about to get to work now.  I needed to talk to you, though I know you are not there.  I must work now.  It’s the only place that I might be able to free me.  I will pour myself a glass of wine and imagine you leaning back like a cowboy in the back of the bar.  You, perhaps a character similar to Sam Elliot, thin, easy-going, tall and confident.  A wry smile comes over your face as I tell you my stories, my plans.  You like them.  You finish your beer and study my expressions.  You’re on to me.  You know my record, my history.  You’re no fool.  And so, being a good friend, you tell me you hope I follow through —  and just like that —Pop!   The thought is gone.

I know that I’ve once again succeeded in killing more than time.


Sirens

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All frickin’ day, I sat on my ass reading scripts and writing.  I got up only to eat chips, make coffee, mix a drink, cook for my kids and wash an occasional dish or two while I listened — at least four times today —  to the disconcerting sound of sirens in the distance.

It was a beautiful day, or so the kids told me.  A very strange January.  Very little snow, but we’ve been left with a giant frozen pond in the horse pasture that my kids (wearing sneakers) skated upon, while I sat indoors, at my desk, on my ass.

I’d never noticed before how often sirens go off in my surrounding area.  I hear them as they whirl down the main four lane road, which is diagonally to the east of us as they hurry from the hospital or the fire department.  I hear them if they go down the street behind the pasture, behind our house. Obviously, I can hear them and see them if they drive right by our house.

But now, each time a siren wails past my house, I call my parents who live a short distance down the street from the kids and me. If I don’t get to the phone in time, my youngest (eight-years-old) will.

It’s ridiculous, but we do it anyway:

“Hi Grandma, we were just wondering if you and Grandpa are okay,” my daughter will say as I cook dinner or as I swipe medicine into the ear of my epileptic cat.  I wait to hear my mother’s laugh on the other end and to hear her say, “We’re fine. Don’t worry!”

What is ridiculous is that we did this before my father fell (that’s what I choose to call it now; “the day he fell.”  Not the day he had a heart attack.  I don’t like the sound of the words).  But in the past, before my father fell,  if an ambulance or fire engine drove past our house, I would occasionally call my folks and make sure everything was alright.  It always was.  It was an excuse to call, really, and say “Hello.  Just thinking of you,” to my mother.  I don’t take it for granted.  Over 8 years ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer, yet has been in remission since her “cure.”  I don’t know the technical, medical terms.  I don’t want to know them.  What I know is that she is fine.  She is healthy, well and relatively happy.  Her treatment and recovery was a miracle then. Had you heard the surgeon, with her worried, concerned face, how she described the tumor she removed, you’d know. My reaction was then as it is now to cry and pray louder and longer than the messenger of bad news.  Regardless, the point is, her remission, her life is a miracle and a blessing. I don’t discount it.

But again, what is ridiculous:  Since that day he fell, I also found out I am the person they call after they call the ambulance.  So I would know anyway.  I would know before I heard the sirens.  I don’t need to call them. I could, if I wanted, ignore the sirens.  It’s just superstition at this point.

Shhhh.

I hear one.

I wait to hear which way it turns. No, it’s behind the pasture, on 7th street, not mine.  I hear it moving further away.  Someone’s tragedy or miracle to be.  Today.

I don’t have to call, though I think I will.  Just to hear, “Hello?  Yes, we’re fine. Everything is fine.”

It’s music now.


You Should See My Desk

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If you were here, you could see my bookshelves, the clutter of sticky notes with my user Id’s and passwords.

You’d know all my secrets.

You’d see the hodgepodge of books, plays, CDs,  and the bedroom paraphernalia: earrings, cough drops, eye drops, eyeglass cases, sunglasses, Chapstick, thread, framed photos, necklaces, cameras, lotions, jewelry boxes and contact solution.  I have everything I need, from this morning’s cup of coffee to the night before last’s empty glass of wine.  You’d find my passport and stacks of photos, backup discs and printed screenplays, radios and scissors, pens (some that work), ceramic gifts crafted by my children at school, squeezy stress ball thingys, decorative boxes filled with receipts and sealed envelopes marked with the date, the child’s name, and a tooth inside. The tooth fairy gave them all to me.

The desk.  It’s covered with an open binder of work I need to do.  ( A script, blah, what else?)  I’m to write a query letter RIGHT NOW, but instead I am writing this.  Guess which is easier?  Guess who the child is in the room?  Yeah, and I am at her desk.  It’s a good size desk with poor storage options.  On this desk is a shiny, Hollywood gift shop gag of a fake Oscar.  The inscription:  Oscar Winning Screenwriter.  It was a second-hand gift from my husband.  He used it as a prop in one of his short student films over 10 years ago.  On this desk are quotes I copied from The Bible, quotes I copied of particularly inspiring acceptance speeches, and certain sections of Joel Osteen marketing letters.  Yes.  It’s true.  I should be embarrassed, but I’m not yet.

I even have good stuff underneath my desk.  Three external hardrives –  4.5 terabytes in all — stuffed to the gills (if hard drives had gills).  Also underneath my desk is a big box of Italian Language discs.  (I’ve wanted to learn another language for a long while now.) Another default gift.  My brother sent it here, but forgot to leave room in his suitcase when he went back to Japan.  I am not springing for the postage.

The WALL in front of my desk bursts with more INSPIRATIONAL STUFF.  My headshot photo which includes the following graphics: SAG-AFTRA, WGA.  (Some of it is true).   I put it there, and it will remain there until it is all true.  Also printed on cheap paper, a photo of a GIANT Oscar statue and the words The ACADEMY AWARDS.  I have note boards, magnetic boards, dry erase boards, all held with ticky tack, pins, nails and packing tape.  Calenders with contest deadlines, rejection letters,  an old birthday card from a former friend that says:  FOLLOW YOUR BLISS.  I have a check made out to myself for 1 Million dollars.  I signed it 3 years ago. I have a magazine cover page featuring myself as a filmmaker — I designed it, wrote it, printed it and taped it to the wall.   I have my current body weight (not going to say) and my goal weight.  Current goal weight is 117 pounds, but I’d really like to get down to 112 or so.  This too, has been up here for a while.  I have pamphlets from skin doctors of procedures and injections I’d like to try.

All of this done to keep myself inspired and encouraged.

It all helps a little, but not nearly as much as the feeling of getting to page 105 and typing THE END.  Nothing inspires as much as the weight and sound of my newest first draft,  holding a receipt from a contest submission, or seeing emails come in, requesting I send my screenplay.

Yes.  Those things inspire.

*    *   *   *    *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *  *  *

There.  That (See above) out-of-the-way.  Now on to write my query letter.  On to the rewrite of a short.  On to another frickin’ stab at a script of mine that I am SICK of looking at.  On to reading and reviewing another friend’s work.  On to reading THE WOLF OF WALL STREET.  Later tonight, after cooking for the kids, harping about homework and music practice, after feeding and cleaning and listening and hugging and saying, “Everything’s going to be alright…”  I will have my date with a bowl of buttered of popcorn and watch a screener of The Dallas Buyers Club.

If you were here, you’d know all of it, first hand, front and center, in your face, Full Monty, not gonna lie,  it ain’t pretty madness of the woman in this room. 

Consider yourself lucky.


Scared

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It’s bed time.  Past bed time.  It’s late, is what it is, but my fears are working over time.

I start imagining things.  Things like, What if it never gets better?  What if this is it?

Shit.

My hopes are nothing but day dreams.   Aren’t they?

:::crickets:::

(I hate the silence that remains after I ask questions like that.)

At night, all that seemed possible, all that seems worth fighting for, all that seemed important, all the little, daily tasks that I have to do before i can do the things I want to do — are bigger, more formidable and time-consuming than the work I must do before I will ever know if my “work” matters.   My hope, as if it is a platitude painted on an old crumbling wall begins to chip off.  The dried paint flakes away and the reveal underneath terrifies me.

What if he never comes back? What if he never finds his way?

What if I never find my way OUT?

What if I am still sitting here next year, with my list of plans, the same list of plans I’ve carried with me now since — forever?

What if he does  come back and we still only talk about our hope, but never see, touch, feel, know, smell, taste, wear or hear the results of all those hopes?  What if our children grow up, grow away and I am left here still hoping for something in my life that I know is my home, is my refuge, is my peace and is something that gives me the will to continue?

What if my children look at me one day and wonder what do we do with her?

Oh. My. God.  Cannot allow that.

Can Not.

It’s you and me, God.

Must kick fear in the fucking ass.

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