Author Archives: Fringe Details

About Fringe Details

I write spec screenplays. Mum of five awesome people and caretaker of 6 chickens, five cats and one smelly dog.


Stephen Pressfield calls it resistance.

It’s been a while since I read his book, WAR OF ART, but I think he also refers to it as evil.

His view: Resistance is the thing which prevents  a person from creating art.  It shows up when a person sits down to write (or anything a person desires to create or change).  For me, resistance looks like the need to do dishes, yard work, TV, life crisis, email, sleep, things for or with my kids, etc. — all legit seeming excuses which prevent me from fulfilling my soul’s desires to create.

Five a.m.  I am resisting the urge to get up.

As I lay here,  I think about Pressfield’s feeling that resistance is evil.  Then I recall all the people I know who have said that they “love” writing or even worse the people who say writing is “easy.”

I used to love writing, too.  That was when I had no discernment, before I realized that most of what I write is crap.  I also thought it was easy — when journal entries of my day’s thoughts were all that I wrote. I never allowed anyone to read what I wrote.  First clue.

Yesterday, I received an analysis of my current entry into the Bluecat Screenwriting Contest.  For the first time that I can recall, it was generally very positive.  The analysis is divided into two parts: what the reader liked and what the reader thinks needs work.  The last line of the analysis ended, in part, “you’re a wonderful writer…”

Still laying in bed, the time now 5:09, I think about that for a long while.  The script I entered had not only been through several complete page 1 rewrites, but required nearly 7 years to ruminate.

7 years.

Yes, I worked on other things in between, but, seven years before it was worthy of positive analysis and, though this year I also received some relatively positive feedback from the Academy Nicholl Fellowship, I still was not good enough to place as a quarter finalist  in that contest, either.


This isn’t resistance I feel as I pull myself out of bed.  It’s the knowledge of how hard it is (for me) to be a good writer, let alone a winning writer.

Yet, here I am.

This is this a.m.’s warm up.

Wish me luck.


No Return

trapezeGo back.

That’s the thought that rolls on through my brain this morning like a steam engine, black, sooty and old.   Usually it comes when I am tired or weak, before sleep or as I wake:  Is it possible to go back?  The answer comes quickly:  No.  No, I can’t.

For centuries people have told stories that at their core are about returning to What Was Once.  Probably before stories of Hera renewing her virginity, time travel stories have intrigued us.  The desire to go back and fix our mistakes or to relive what we remember as “wonderful” is not uncommon.  The Time Machine, Groundhog day, The Navigator; A Medieval Odyssey, Back to the Future, 12 Monkeys, A Christmas Carol — the list of time travel tales is endless.   All are stories searching for that one moment the fatal flaw was committed, with the hope it can be changed, avoided or relived in the future.

But what about the moments when we sense being on the cusp of change and “know” that our one act, one willful choice, will change it all?  Warnings pop off in the head. Quick visions see beyond the now and we choose, sometimes within seconds.  Wrong or right, we choose.

It makes me think of Judas.  Poor guy had no choice, or did he?  He was driven to his infamous, predestined decision.  After the kiss, did he know the regret instantly? Was there another choice he could have made to redeem himself?  I wonder how many times he wished to turn back time. When he let the rope snap — did he wish then that he could take steps back?

Maybe it’s more like an accident and not a choice, say, when you cut your finger, crash your car, or when your foot slips and you see yourself fall down the stairs as though watching, while at the same time enduring the pain of it.  And the strange part is — it’s like you saw it coming, but you did it anyway.   It’s at that moment you become so aware of the seconds before that thought you had just as you did the wrong thing.  Too late.  And you KNEW, but despite the warning in your head…

You did it anyway.

The finger is cut, the blood flows and as the search for the bandage ensues, you curse at yourself for being an idiot.  You knew it was going to be this way and your mind trips backwards thinking about that moment when it you could have avoided it. Damn it.

I have countless moments when I could have chosen differently, but didn’t.

I could have said, “Yes.” I could have brought the cat inside.  I could have gone to the doctor.  I could have saved the money.  I could have gotten up earlier.  I could have drank tea instead of wine.  I could have turned off Facebook.  I could have stayed home.  I could have bought the ticket.  I could have accepted that scholarship. I could have stayed in college (the first time).  I could have studied my ass off.   I could have exercised. I could have eaten right.  I could have stayed out of that bar.  I could have kept my temper.  I could have worked harder. I could have stayed in Hollywood.  I could have left the relationship.  I could have organized my time.  I could have said, “no.”  I could have not sent that email.  I could have kept my mouth shut.  I could have yelled for help.  I could have told the boy, “No.” And the other boy, “no.”  I could have been brave.  I could have been smart.

But I wasn’t and I didn’t.

Though something in my mind told me, warned me, yelled at me in a whisper:  “You are really going to regret this….  just sayin’…”   I heard pain was coming, but…  I saw in a flash of clarity what might happen and — well — you know.  You’ve been there.  We’ve all done it.  Not that there is any comfort knowing that.

Then I wonder, and maybe you do, too — Did I want it to happen? Faced with the moment of no return — did I choose to take that step so that I could reach something beyond what I couldn’t yet see, beyond my visions, but felt was there?

I feel it.  It’s as real as this floor under my feet, more relative than this chair under my ass.  Do I choose my mistakes in an attempt to teeter forward with the hope I’ll catch “it” (whatever comes next) like a cold, a pop-fly, or a trapeze bar?  Sometimes, it’s as if I can feel (whatever it is)  swinging toward me and yet untrained as a circus acrobat, all I can do stumble and hope that if I fall just right, I might catch hold, grab that bar and fly! But if I fall — damn it,  I fall.

There might be a net, but I never know.  I think I knit the net as I go along.  That part is all in slow motion. Regardless, the knitting of a false sense of safety is not the same idea as time travel.  I still can’t go back.  There is no return.

Even if 95% of me wanted to stay on the side of time I know — where it seems safe, where I have adapted — I can’t change that moment I made up my mind.  Within a millisecond, after years of trying to not let myself face my own thoughts, I made that choice.

Fate.  Damned fate.

Or Faith?  Blessed faith?  Either way — neither changes the truth.

Falling now …



I need to get to work.

Trying to remind myself to stop thinking about what I cannot change, and instead get to work on what I can.

Also, reminding  myself that it’s not always going to be like this.  I will laugh again.  I will know joy again.  But it won’t happen until I forget that I miss it so much.

The only way I know how to forget is to work.


Long Time Ago

BigBadBill“Never take shit from a man,” he said.

I can hear the inflection in his voice, his dead calm seriousness.  I remember nodding my head, agreeing, and trying not to think too much, careful not to ask if that included him or my brother.

I’m not exactly sure how old I was. I was in high school. Probably 16-years-old, maybe 15.  I’m guessing 15 because my dad was willing to talk to me without yelling.

By then, the beatings from him had subsided and the beatings from my brother began in earnest. That’s also about the time the worst of the shit started happening — which would become My Family vs. Me —  escalating until the day they told me to pack my things and get out.

Now — as a caveat — I call them “beatings” but neither my father or my brother saw it that way.  I don’t think my mother did either.  I don’t know, but I think they saw it as I “had it coming,” or “for my own good,” or in my brother’s case, he may have said, “it was self-defense.”  (My brother was a body-builder.  Two years older and quite a bit larger than me, but… I did fight back.) In my father’s case, he dealt with me the same way his mother raised him.  It works like that.

And maybe I did have it coming.  I drove them crazy, that’s for sure.  They considered me rebellious by their 1950s good-girl standards — though I never once felt rebellious.   I didn’t do what I did out of spite or anger.  I wanted acceptance by other kids in school, (which wasn’t going to happen).  I recall doing things to escape or to find comfort, like finding the misfit boys who liked me, but who would never be approved of by my parents.  I wasn’t a drug user or a drinker, but I felt a desperate need to feel loved and maybe — crazy notion —  understood and appreciated.

I felt scared and very alone.  I told a Christian friend of mine that I didn’t believe God loved me much.  (I didn’t tell her that I thought a poltergeist or a demon was following me —  that’s a story for another day).  I thought there was something very wrong with me – but I didn’t know what.

That’s when the constant thoughts of suicide began.  I plotted various tried and true methods.   1. Pills:  but how many would I need? Would aspirin work? My folks didn’t have anything interesting beyond that in the medicine cabinet.  2. Jumping out the top floor window at Hellgate, my aptly named high school. Only three stories.  Would that kill me or only paralyze me?  Being paralyzed would suck.  3. Knives:  pain and blood.  I was a coward, ultimately.  4. Starvation, bulimia.  I tried that for a while.  I wasn’t able to get my weight any lower than 93 pounds.  And since I was a “dancer” no one noticed anyway.  I was at 105 pounds for a while.  Pretty average for a 5’2″ female.  I admired the girls who could do it.  I remember one girl in high school who was so sick with anorexia she looked like a skeleton with clothes on.  Regardless, I didn’t have the will-power to pull it off.

My father found a poem I’d written.  I don’t know if he took it out of my pack or how he found it.  But I can see him reading it in the living room chair under the lamplight.  He read silently, his legs crossed, his face frowning.  He didn’t say if it was good or bad.  But he asked, “Do you think about killing yourself?”

“No, it’s just a poem,” I said.

I felt embarrassed because I knew the poem wasn’t that good and I felt like I’d been caught.  Caught again.  I can’t remember if he said more.  He might have, but he didn’t yell or lecture, that much I remember. He simply acknowledged what I wrote and understood. And for that night, that was enough to deflate the urge to die.  A good thing from a small moment in time.


Now that I made the decision, I’m not angry anymore.  It’s funny.  All the anger just went away.

I am sad now.

Sad it has to be this way.  Sad it couldn’t have worked out differently.  Sad I never thought we’d go this far.   Sad we seemed like a such a good pair.  I’m sad that I know I am doing the right thing.  I’m sad that I’m hurting someone I loved for a very long time.  I’m sad that I feel guilt and a bit of shame for trying to save myself.  I found out after seven plus years, I still have a touch of survival instinct.

And I feel bad about it.  I reached a limit and even now I cannot define that limit.

It’s going to take a lot of wine and a lot of writing to get through this.  I have to make something of this pain.  Otherwise, I’m going to experience a whole new level of crazy.





Imagined Conversation #1


Future Ex:  There’s someone else, isn’t there?

Me: What are you talking about?

Future Ex:  Who is it?  There must be someone you’re leaving me for.

Me:  Well… (Funny comics by Natalie Dee)

Future Ex:  I knew it!  I knew it! 

Shrugs her shoulders, looks the other way. Wonders when she can go get a cup of coffee.

Future Ex:  I can see it in your face!  You’re in love with someone else!

Me: Yeah. You’re right.  Feel better?

Future Ex:  Who is it?  Tell me who it is!

Me:  You really want to know?

Future Ex: Yes, dammit!  Who is this guy?  I want to see him!  I’ll lay him flat!

Me: Great…

Future Ex:  Tell me who it is! Who is it you’re in love with?

Me:  Me.

He blinks, comprehending.

Future Ex: What?

Me:  The other person is me.  I love myself more than you.

He blinks, flustered, angry, hurt.

She digs in her jeans pocket for a couple of bucks — really  needs some coffee.

Me:  I gotta go.


Over and Done

the why love dies

I have to get a divorce.

I’ve known it for too long.

I don’t know where to begin or how this is going to go.  It will get worse before it gets better, that I can count on.  I haven’t told him yet.

Last time, he went wacko.  When will a man learn the best thing he can do is walk away?  Begging is so gross.  But it must have worked because I caved.  We tried to work things out and he went back to doing what he had always done.  I stayed here, waited, for four more years.


Yes, in 2010 I told him I wanted a divorce — three months after my grandmother died.  I didn’t want to be taken down by my husband the same way my grandmother was.  Slowly, year after year, my grandfather continued to suck the life out her.  We all knew it was a terrible marriage.  But she stayed.  Worried about him, fretted and coddled him.  She fought him too, but they were only words.  In the end, he only cared about himself.  He would try to steal attention away from my grandmother, in need of physical assistance, from the nursing aide.  He wanted the attention.  He always did.

When my grandmother died, her great granddaughter sang Ava Maria in the Catholic Church, followed by a sad burial in the rain.

When My grandfather died, the funeral home played recorded country music,  followed by a Marine Corps burial.  They gave him a 21- gun salute.  This weekend is Memorial Day.  My grandfather soured any respect for the military I might have had. I am sure there are some good troops out there, but from what I saw, it’s just another good ol’ boys club.

But us?  Our union has slowly shredded into nothing. I loved him, I did, when I married him. But there were many signs I chose to ignore before our wedding. I figured no one is perfect.  Least of all me.  And he was beautiful.  It kills me to think about the story of our beginning.  It’s always been a good story, fun to tell, until now.

We tried to work things out, but December, during Christmas, my mind simply snapped closed and said, “No.”

“No more.”

By January, I quit taking his calls. Unplugged the phone before he dialed in his usual, annoying as hell call at 8:30 p.m. Instead, I refocused and went to work on my script.  It kept me distracted and guilt free. I justified my silence with the need to work.  The more I worked, the  more I noticed:  I am happier without him.

I talked with my online friends about “the situation.”  The more I talked about it, the clearer things became.

There is no turning back.

I must not focus on the loneliness. For years, I’ve tried to not allow loneliness a place in the room, but I think he’s going to be here for some time.   I’ve been sucker-punched by loneliness, tricked into a pathetic existence for too long.  He’s unavoidable, until I find a way to sit him in a corner and not feed him until he shrivels up and dies.

Next in line: Guilt.  Guilt will be be tough to deal with; he’s sitting over there, grinning.  But I must defeat him this time, too.  This time, guilt, fear or any other emotion that works against me better sit down and shut up.

For my sake.  For my kids’ sake too.  Though I am scared and have no clue how to proceed, I know

I cannot go back.