Category Archives: To My Imaginary Friend

Letter

I waited all day and night for this glass of wine.  Now that I finally have it, the plans to write, whatever, have drifted from me.  I had several thoughts in my head — I meant to write them down — but two out of four kids are sick, three out of five, if I count my daughter way over Thar in Ohio.  I had to herd the cats, medicate another, tidy up the lair a bit and by the time I  finished, the glass of wine nearly felt like a chore itself.  Time to unwind, to dream, to relax turned very quickly into anxiousness.

 The Olympics are on.

Assad is still killing his people.

Hollywood is on its crescendo toward The Big Night — the capper of award season.

Folks at home still can’t get work, can’t get enough work, and yet — fuck you folks —  bills are creeping higher.

the snow is deep and lofty outside my door.  and it’s lovely.  It smells so wonderful.

I can’t wait until spring.

But.  I must wait. And wait.

Oh My God, there are nights that I feel like I’m not going to survive this.  I wake up better, generally willing to fight another day.  I recite my phrases — like trying to tie my head back on straight.  Say the words.  Speak the affirmations.  Declare victory.  Move on in faith.  Deny the circumstance.  Never ever, ever give up.

But my God — and seriously, I am talking to Him and not you when I say that — My God — when will there be some relief?  Some joy?  Some moment that I feel as though… there was a reason for this?

I watched CAPTAIN PHILLIPS  tonight along with my 8-year-old (who has a cold) and my 11-year-old, who couldn’t help but tell spoilers to relieve me of anxiety.  It’s a stressful film.  (He saw the film before). Before tonight, we also watched 12 YEARS A SLAVE, THE BUTLER,  DALLAS BUYERS CLUB  — all of which, interestingly enough, are based on true stories.  Those stories — for the suffering they endured, I can’t help but wonder if they felt sickened by the meaningless of it all?  Who would care about their stories until it was heard, rewritten into a tightly woven drama, filmed, edited, packaged and sold as a PRODUCT — was it only then that their stories mattered?  Did they matter as the events unfolded?  If they had died — would it have been a non-starter and not worth telling?  I suppose the answer is yes.  Dead men tell no tales.  (Who coined that phrase?  Black Beard or Disney?) And for the people who die along the way — are they just the spoils of a Hollywood block buster?  Did they matter to anyone at all?  For the people who loved the dead — does that love do anything but cause deep, deep sorrow?

I will be better in the a.m.  I always am.  I have such good intentions at night, most emotional hours of the day — the hours I should write and find my way with what I purport to do — but no — I am here writing a letter.  The desire to connect with another human being on some level beyond basic, “responsible” functionality.  And that connection eludes me completely.  No talks like that.  no.  No friendships like that, not ever.  I suppose it is why I am drawn to theater and drama and religion — I crave the mysticism. And it’s not meant for this earth, only on stage or in a Theater Near You.

I watched a couple of YOUTUBE videos before stopping over to write here.  One was a panel discussion about the filming of THE DALLAS BUYERS CLUB.  I don’t have the exact quote, but the moderator asked Jared Leto (who, by the way, I am in love with), what his process included as he interviewed other transgender individuals to prepare for the part of Rayon.  Anyway — he said (in part) that he saw a particular bravery within the transgender community.  People who chose to live the life they dream for themselves rather than taking “as is” the one they were given.  His words gave me chills.  He uses that observation in the film, too.  Near the end of the film, he says one line that provoked in me a similar reaction. Rayon knows that she/he is dying and she looks in the mirror and says as a prayer to God that when she meets Him in heaven she hopes to finally be beautiful — And there —  oh My God, yes. There, God — that’s where some of us are.  Is there a point in our life that we finally become the vision we hold in our minds? But until then, we can only fake it, work it, paint it, write it, inebriate it or construct it out of leftover scraps and second-hand shit that no else wants.

I should go to bed.  My cat is bugging me.  She sits on my desk, near my keyboard and won’t quit cleaning. My mobile just alerted me that more SNOW is on the way.  yay.  15 inches hasn’t been enough I suppose.

I need some prayers said — ’cause the ones I say are not apparently LOUD ENOUGH.

I want a cure for my son’s autism.

I want a cure for my life.

I want to find my way out of this box.

I want my children not to follow my footsteps.

I want God to fix me, cure me, change me. Make me better than this.

I want God to make me fearless, brave.

I want to not be an idiot.

I want to throw every fucking object out of my house and start over.  Hold on. Wait.  That thought does not include my children, or my camera, or the photographs and videos. See?  SEE how incredibly strong the 12 disciples were?  They left everything — even their wives.  Oh wait — That sort of sucks, doesn’t it?

I will try to ignore that last little fact….^

God saved my dad.  He saved my mother, too.  He saved my son 20 years ago when the Doc gave him and 11% chance of pulling through ( but then the surgeries, the autism).  God saved My friend, many times, (though her afflictions have not ceased, she is a constant inspiration).  God gave my brother new love…  Dear God — when will you save me? …   …   …   Fine.  I am willing to wait — but please help my son. Only say the word and he will be healed… Say the word. Heal him.

Then me.

Amen.

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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.


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.


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.


A Morning Before Christmas Eve

Two days before Christmas Eve, and it all begins.

I have been foggy with another bout of Vertigo.   I’ve done the things expected of me: wrapping, baking, cooking, cleaning, yelling, helping, shopping — things I must do because if I seem steady and capable, it calms everyone else.  They (my children, my family) know better, of course.  I am not a calm person.  But as long as I hold it together, everyone will be okay.  That’s what I believe anyway.

I woke at 3 a.m., troubled.  I may have had a dream.  Yes, I can feel it.  I can almost remember it, but I know it woke me and the subject was something I did not want to remember.  But awake, I began reading articles from my cell phone, “liked” a few things on Facebook, and then what?  Sleep would not comfort me now.

I think I am a somewhat reliable person.  I hope so.  I strive to be real, truthful, honest.  I strive to look at what is real around me, to call it what it is.  For all the sadness that creeps around me, I know the sadness does not belong here. It is an intruder, but I am not quite sure how to get rid of it, other than to brew a cup of coffee, boot up this machine and try to make some sense of it.

Two nights ago I wept and said out loud:  “I’m scared of growing old.  I miss being pretty.  I miss feeling like I matter.  I miss feeling hope.”  My husband heard me, said nothing, made love to me anyway as though that would cure-all.  Angry, I stomped away as far as the sofa, throwing expletives at his head and feet.  In the end, my venomous, but blessed, Italian temper saved me from my melancholy.  I don’t often receive comfort or soothing wise words of understanding.  Who does?  That’s what wine, beer and sleep are for.   Tonight (or this morning) I hear the rhythm of my husband’s breathing a few feet away.  I hear him sigh.  There is a separation between us.  Literally, figuratively, mentally, emotionally — all those –lys.  There is a separation between us.  Usually the distance is of miles since he works so many states away, but this a.m., it’s a folding screen.  My marriage teeters on an edge of sweet romance and delusional wishes.  Both options could be nice, unless I fall off that edge. But I love him.  He is the one I chose and even with all that is wrong, I know what love is.

Right now, my cat Molly purrs in my ear as she sits on my desk, near my left arm as I type.  She wants my attention. We bump foreheads together.  I admire the way she holds her dainty two front paws together.  Such dignity.  So feminine.  Always gorgeous.  My cat is an inspiration.  But as I pet her long fur, I feel the matted clumps near her hind end. I’ve tried to brush her. She doesn’t like it much, but I try.  Even she, as beautiful as she is, has areas that are not so hot.  She’s still beautiful and her matted fur doesn’t seem to detract from all that is right with her.

It is Christmas time.  I am one of those people who begins listening to familiar chestnuts of Christmas music before Thanksgiving because it makes me feel warm, young and hopeful.  I like the music others complain about.  I like listening to Nat King Cole and Andy Williams.  I like hearing John and Yoko sing, “So this is Christmas…”  My kids and I put up the tree the day after Thanksgiving.   I bake cookies I shouldn’t eat.  I look forward to snow just as much as my kids.  During this season,  there is always something to look forward to, always something I must do.  Like in a box of Cracker Jacks, there is the possibility of a surprise and of something good and unexpected.

Usually the beginning of the Christmas season sends me into a state of despair.   The money is always tight, the bills always more than my husband and I can truly pay.  I have been perpetually “broke” for as long as I can remember — and yet, somehow I manage to keep going, to keep an illusion awake and fueled for my kids’ sake and for my childish sake. I buy presents for my children because their joy gives me joy. I want them to feel hope and the excitement of wishes fulfilled even if  I cannot.   On the name tags I write either “from Santa” or “Love Mom and Dad.”  Santa doesn’t love them, but I do.

But when Christmas arrives, my mood usually improves. You may not believe it — at times, I don’t — but this season always gives me hope.  It’s in the waiting.  I wait to hear the first Christmas song, to watch an old Christmas movie, to take the first ornament out of the box.  I wait, along with my kids, for the first snow and look forward to the first time I pull on my Sorels, my hat, my gloves.  I love to see the evidence of tracks of all the deer, rabbit and raccoons that crept through my yard without me knowing.  I love seeing my kids play in the sugary snow and the sound of their stomping boots as they come inside, cold and wanting hot chocolate.  It’s in the moment I push the switch and see the tree light up like a giant electric gumdrop.  I love crossing the street on a dark snowy night, just to see how pretty the house looks, decorated with a couple of cheap strings of Made-in-China-lights.  (I take pictures, but the photos never turn out as lovely and ethereal as my version of reality).  I love seeing my children open their presents.  Even more, we all love seeing how excited our dog and cats are to open their presents!  I love the exhaustion that sets in as I begin collecting bows to use again for next year, the sound of the crunching wrapping paper as we shove it into garbage bags.  One child will look under the tree, hoping for one more.  Maybe he or she will find one.  Things like that happen.

After the melee, the messy house cannot provoke me to clean or to care.  Let it be.  Let it rot.  Enjoy another brandied eggnog.  Dressed in my old robe, I will fall asleep on the sofa and let the kids yell, play, make sound effects and destroy the house with all their new STUFF.  It’s Christmas, doggone it.  This year my father survived a heart attack — nothing can stop the joy that brings me.  It’s Christmas.  It’s messy.  It’s noisy, unorganized and fun.

And if it’s not?  If it’s sad?  If someone I loved didn’t make it? (Not this year, thank you!).  But if my truck broke and died?  (It did).  If I am too broke to leave the house to go skiing, sledding or to church (I am) or too sorrowful and glum to bake Fattigmand?   Then it’s just one of those years I’ll write about later.  And when I write about it later I will find something beautiful about it anyway.  In spite of all that is wrong, I will find something that is beautiful and brings me hope.

The stories of my faith retell the story of one precious child born in a stable.    There were witnesses to the event, I suppose, but perhaps many saw it as ordinary and common.  I’m sure His birthplace reeked of animal dung, dirty fur and moldy feed. I imagine it was cold and that the only twinkling lights were the stars above. But the beauty of the event, the hope it inspired is what people (like me) remember.   The child, the retelling of His story brought a promise and created a faith that keeps many of us going through all that goes wrong, right, or otherwise, as we wait for yet more promises.  Some saw it in a star.  Some saw it in a child.  Some saw it because they were searching for a prophecy to come to pass. And others, many others, saw nothing at all.

I believe in the promise of Jesus Christ.  I believe.  Mock it. Belittle it.  Jump on it.  Laugh at it.  Throw sticks and stones.  It won’t matter.  I feel the truth of it, the hope and beauty yet to come.  I feel the truth there, just as I am able to feel that bad dream that woke me a few hours ago.  What I dreamed doesn’t matter.  What matters is that it woke me and something good, something beyond me made me get up again to write.


Back Again

Hey — I am RIGHT in the middle of a good writing day — but I felt the urge to pop on over here. Hmmm..

Weird.

Why?

Back tracking my thoughts… WHY would I break away from my script to write here right now?

Oh yeah. Now I remember.

I put some Tito’s vodka in my Diet Rite, read the first pages of JURASSIC PARK to my eleven-year-old son as a means to entice him to keep reading (It worked — that book reads GREAT out loud), and then I went back to my desk. This is where I am supposed to be, cranking out pages.

I slapped on a pair of headphones and turned on some tunes, (Vampire Weekend, specifically) and what happened?

I became distracted by my wistful, romantic side. Don’t laugh. I have one. Anyway… I started thinking the kind of thoughts that turn me into my sad, lost, fifteen-year-old self. The part of me who showed up at keggers hoping for magic instead of a bunch of drunk redneck cowboys burning down trees and yelling, “WHOAAAAAAAAAFUCKKK” while their drunk cheerleader girlfriends giggled in the back of Chevys and Fords. It’s the me who remembers river-rock beaches, midwestern lakes, Seal Beach and Malibu, beer — more beer, the green-eyed boy with long hair and tight abs — and the hope that he would be in love with me instead of her. It’s the same me who now goes to church thinking that the people gathered for coffee hour would like to talk about God and His power instead of quilting, veiled politics or a new brownie recipe.

I don’t quilt. I’m a celiac and always on a diet. I’m sick of policy and politics — it only seem to get worse. WHERE IS GOD? Let’s talk about God and the promises. Let’s discuss movies, the paranormal, ghosts, myths and where they come from, where we come from — and how is it that we’re still here? Let’s talk about all the magical things I can’t touch. The moon, space aliens, Jodie Foster in CONTACT and how did she not totally fall in love with Matthew McConaughey? I marvel and crave the emotion that makes me feel so — beautiful and young. Real love — the stuff that makes us invincible, stunning and supernatural and gorgeous.

I suppose it is love. Whatever the hell LOVE is. I feel it, sense it. It makes me dance to Vampire Weekend’s percussion, melt at the The Shins lyrics and rock out to anything Freddie* sings. It makes me write foolish, affectionate letters to people I no longer know and who no longer want to remember me. Sometimes I write those letters anyway. It feels so good as I write — but feels so horrible the moment I hit “send.”

Bah. Reality. Shit, shit, shit and shut up — would you?

It’s just childish nostalgia, the spirit of youth long past. It is my Super-hero Magical Self who has a Super Hot body and reminisces about times of passion, love and magic that only existed within me and … Blink. Who? It had to be someone. There had to be, because I was sure that someone loved me back.

It must have been my imaginary friend. Yes, I suppose it was you.

Okay.

The break is over. Back to writing the script. Back to my heroine’s struggle to defeat evil and prevent the end of the world. Yes. The feet are firmly back on squishy, wishy, oozy ground. 🙂

*Freddie Mercury of Queen.


Long day…

Today was not a good writing day.  I produced nothing.

I made some notes.  I made more notes, etched out the scenes that won’t turn or shift as I’d like them, but…still, I produced nothing.

Moving forward.  I tell myself things like, “If so-and-so can write a first draft in a weeks time, then certainly I can accomplish a rewrite in that time.”  And I think, “if a gun was put to my head, and the threat was ‘finish it or die’ — would I?”

Well?  Would I?

Sighing.  This is not what is bothering me.  It’s other stuff.  More childish stuff.  Unrequited love stuff from a long ago past that even then was strictly within the confines of my imagination and not at all a real possibility.  Ridiculous to admit, but I’m still pining over what can never be, what would never be, what could never have happened — not ever.

So dumb.

But since I can’t shake it, I think I want to write a story about it.  I’d like to start on it now, but — I have to finish this rewrite first.  And I want to do it well, not half-assed.

The day is not over.  I must finish this script.

To the left, she reaches for her glass of cheap wine atop of the old filing cabinet serving as a side table.  She clicks on “publish” and closes the site.  All that remains is her open file of a story.  She stares blankly at the tangled mess of a so-called script.   She thinks to herself, “who the fuck cares?  Then answers herself, “No one.  Not one fuck.”  Yet another self-absorbed blogger with nothing of interest to disclose, teach or advise.

Now. Get back to it.