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Posts Tagged ‘Essays’

Imagined Connectivity

In Essays, The Daily Drool on May 24, 2009 at 9:36 am

Communication these days is suffering from a sever case of the “Immediates.”  Email (the replacement letter) has been replaced with “tweets” – one sentence updates broadcast to anyone and everyone who “subscribes” to, well, to you.  Phone calls have been replaced with text messages – sometimes coded so heavily in abbreviation that the recipient has to stop the car, pull over, and call their younger, hipper sibling, for translation.   We’ve stopped making an effort, scraped past the bottom of the etiquette barrel, and jumped directly into “Narcism Central” – because that’s what it is, to refuse to take time to make contact with another human being- it’s become all about “ME.”  Time has become such a precious commodity that no one wants to share it, to give a person their full attention – so instead we get used to these technological meetings and their inherent shorthand, and everyone feels tuned in, but no one is really connected.

And I’m not excluding myself.  For the past couple months or so I’ve been pretty wrapped up in my own happenings and mountains – content to be briefed on my friends whereabouts and whatnots via my Facebook homepage – and they likewise.  What seemed a matter of ease in a time of much chaos has proven itself to be a path to isolation, as we haven’t all of us gotten together in so long that I can’t, without looking to my calendar, remember when it was we all last laughed.  I haven’t had shoulders to lean on, because I haven’t been able to tell them I needed leaning.  I have no idea what other friendly duties I may have been absent for, as no one has been contacting me directly either.  It’s really, in a word,  horrifying.

Add to this the fact that dating these days has developed it’s own nasty crutch – as if there weren’t enough mystery surrounding the other sex, now you have to scour emails and texts for sarcasm and innuendo, when Once Upon a Time you just had to decode your paramour’s voice.  Where once you had only to worry about whether or not they’d call, now you have to navigate the all too confusing waters of text, vs. email, vs. a cyber befriending…  And shouldn’t it all just come to whether or not the person considers you worth the time to pick up the phone and speak to you?  In my book, that’s what we all should be looking for – an admirer that values your attention enough to give you his/her own!  

How weak lie plants without the depth to stretch!  

Because that’s where the roots grow and take hold, and tie strong; in the giving and the sharing.  

We spend all this time making time to pour into endeavors designed to help us make enough money to be able to spend it doing things with the people we love… but what if the cost is that we no longer love as deeply due to the fact that we do everything in shorthand?  When everything is immediate, do we not lose the appreciation and respect a hard-won victory creates?  Do not our victories then become cheaper, tinny in some respects, when compared to those stolen moments of lovers long past?  Do five minutes today mean as much as they did ten years ago?   When does quality surpass quantity, and will we ever break free of our inter-lust long enough to pick up a pen, put it to paper, and send someone we love a love-letter?  

Because in our increasingly pre-packaged, disposable world, I fear that we ourselves are becoming disposable – loosing our humanity in our search for ever more immediate satisfaction, and thus wandering this digital earth, never truly satisfied, never truly making contact; lost in the battery powered illusion of connectedness.

Shower Cat

In Essays, The Daily Drool on May 20, 2009 at 2:10 pm

Two things that don’t go together – Cats and Water.

Well, meet Midnite, who’s shower obsession has got me turning on the tap for her eager tongue on an all too frequent basis.  I mean, it’s my own fault – she’s just so damn cute!  Sitting there, staring at the tap with such hungry intent… it breaks my heart to see the little wheels turning in her kitty brain, so desperately yearning for the thing to turn on, and not having a clue what makes it so.   Eventually, the smoke fogging her water-lust, she lets out that plaintive “MEEEOOW” and looks up to me, The Human, to come to her thirst-quenching rescue.  

Never mind the fact that there is water in the hall for her. 

Never mind the fact that she was just in the sink, licking that faucet. 

The tub water must be truly orgasmic, truly refreshing, truly The Best.  So I cave, and I let it drip, and she puts her little ears back happily as she laps it up. And I smile at her cute, simple pleasure.   It’s a shower, and she has no idea what it’s for, how it works, or why it’s there, other than to offer up a few licks of water.  

Makes me wonder what things in the this world we’re licking without understanding… er, metaphorically speaking.

Shower Cat

Stranger Than Fiction-ish

In Essays, Playwriting on May 18, 2009 at 8:55 am

I love this movie.  I’ve seen it several times, always remembering the incredible joy I felt at identifying with Emma Thompson’s character, and the deep quandary she finds herself in once Harold Crick becomes a real person.  Because what are we but the Watchmaker, the unsee-able Oz, to our scripts?  

Now, I don’t mean that in some weird, idolotrous manner, only that… as we create situations for our characters, we are steering their course in a way only we can.  They may speak to us from the pages, but it is our pen that puts them in hot water in order to see them climb out.  It is our imagination that invents serial killers for them to defeat, mountains for them to scale, debt collectors for them to escape…  We are the magic behind the curtain, and I’ve never been able to shake the feeling that sometimes… just sometimes… the similarity between being a character in a script and being a human being in the world is striking.

I mean, here we are, with naught to go on but our faith, pressing ever onward towards our goals and heart’s desires… and all of these obstacles get in the way!  And sometimes they are minor, their lessons easily absorbed, but sometimes, oh sometimes they are something fierce to wrestle with and, much like a child, we shout up at the heavens in anger at this horrible trick being played upon us.  

We don’t know the “Why” behind it… we may not ever figure it out.  But odds are it’s changed our course… set us towards a new path, a different direction, something more interesting than if we were to flounder ever onward in the “Easy”…

And it may all sound silly, but it’s something I can’t help but wonder at when I’m setting my character up for despair – are they going to pull through it?  Are they going to come out stronger in the end?  Or am I writing a tragedy of epic proportions?  And if they could – at “Curtain” – look up at me and speak, would they be fulfilled b y their own story, or would they tell me I could have done better?

Playing Janitor

In Essays, Playwriting, The Daily Drool on May 17, 2009 at 10:19 am

Rewriting… it’s not my favorite thing.  

In fact, I quite generally dislike it, greeting its obnoxious little face with all the enthusiasm of a cooked noodle; “But I just punched the last period!  Why can’t I be DONE?”  It’s the discovering of the story that is my favorite part.  I love puzzling my way along, ironing out kinks and solving mysteries… and there is nothing better than the high of reaching the end of a satisfied script.

But then the hard part begins… the readings and the discussion, the note taking, note disecting, and note applying.  Agh!  It’s enough to make you want to pull out your hair sometimes, as you strive to make what is good, even better.  And sometimes you just want to throw draft 2.5 at people with a firm “It’s finished!”

And some people do.

But it’s the cleaning it up that can make a good script fantastic.

So I dutifully don my janitor cap, and go to work cutting darlings, sharpening dialogue, and polishing rough edges.  

This past month I have been working on one script in particular, a script I was already quite pleased with.  I’ve been trying to raise the stakes, get my main character more active… It’s been rough going.  But I found that the more I asked myself “Is this the best you can do?”  I kept answering with a pouty “No.” and heading back to it.  And you know what?  I’m really glad I did.  Because today, as I look over the latest revisions, I can honestly say it is much more compelling than it was.  I did a massive rewrite, and it’s demonstrated to me the difference between pure inspiration and skill.

Because it’s hard to finish things.  

Some people have the idea and never act upon it.  Others act, but don’t follow through.  It’s a smaller fraction still that can see things al the way to the finish line, and that finish line is where the pay-offs are.  It’s that finish line that makes the difference between being a talented writer and being a talented working writer.

And I want to work!

So I’ve been developing this script for nearly a year now – from it’s inception to outline to first daft to current – and that’s a long time to spend with your creative babies, but I’m so happy I have because I can honestly say that it’s very nearly, maybe one more little polish away, from being ready to send out.

And for a girl who’s about to embark on her agent search, a kick-ass screenplay to go with all her playwriting experience is just what the doctor ordered!

Retail Therapy

In Essays, The Daily Drool on May 16, 2009 at 10:46 am

I’m sure I’ve spoken of this before… but there is something quite soothing, in the midst of a crisis, to buying yourself a new pair of shoes, or a shiny new handbag.  I can’t explain it, it’s almost like rewarding yourself for the trial of going through whatever it is you are going through.

Well, I went to Sam’s club while I was home, my intention to buy a jumbo sized box of garbage bags and some jumbo reusable bags for my groceries (since it’s so much easier to reuse bags and it’s better for the environment.  And you can fit more into them, making for fewer hikes between car and apartment)  So there I am, amidst the aisles and aisles, the towering aisles, just mesmerized by all of the stuff.  

And I start thinking about how easy it is to spend money on giant cartons of binder clips and brads… that the excitement over the price of a jumbosized box of Tide isn’t practical, but there it is anyway, rumbling inside my chest “Wow!  Only $10.99?”  I mean, I’ve got cookie pans in my cart and I only make cookies at Christmas time…  and then it hit me, I was retail-therapy-ing myself at SAM’S CLUB!   Which I then decided was maybe better than going to the mall and buying more shoes, because at least I will make good use out of that giant box of detergent.  And the binder clips.

But I put the cookie pans back.

Mortal, Mortal, We

In Essays, The Daily Drool on May 11, 2009 at 4:31 pm

No one ever thinks they are going to get old, or infirm.  Oh, we know alright that it will, eventually happen.  But we think of it in broad terms, like “I hope my kids never stick me in a nursing home.” Or “God, it must really suck to loose your teeth.”  But eventually time it makes its descent and although this body you inhabit may be creaking and faded, the spirit – the you – is as hungry to be here as ever it was.  For this is what struck me yesterday as my father was talking to me – a man who has fought many a difficult battle for that prize called life – that we never really ever sit up all ready for doctors and hospitals – we just wind up in their midst, minds reeling from the suddenness of it all.

And it’s got me thinking – this most recent battle that has catapulted my family into the world of medicine and insurance that grows eerily more familiar if less and less understandable – it’s got me thinking about how we live.  How I live.  How I want to live – and the difference between.

I’ve always had a sort of decision breaker when faced with a paralyzing choice: “Will I regret not doing this?  Will I spend precious final moments bemoaning my lack of action, or is this an inconsequential quandary?”  Most often the really big decisions are met with a little pipsqueak of bravery from my deepest self “Yes!  You will regret letting your fear stall this course.  Take a deep breath and Leap!”  

I’m sure someone much more famous and well read than I has already said this, but I currently find myself at the helm of the sentiment – We are naught but our accumulated experiences.

We walk this Earth mostly so wrapped up in our daily trivials that we seldom remember how freakin’ blessed we are to be here.  Envision if you will the line of souls just flickering with anticipation at the possibilities to once more dip their toes into Earth’s cool grass, wrap their lips around the crisp fruity freshness of a ripened strawberry, to breathe in the scent of a lover, or to laugh, to cry, to feel it all.  Because life is a gift and we must celebrate it!  It’s the only way to live… to make the most of every moment, stare down the fears that get in your way, and live like you mean it!

And sure, it’s a tough thing to remember the joy of the miracle of life every second of every day… we are human after all.  And humans love drama and conflict, we love to climb mountains or build mountains to climb.  And we love to fill our time with gadgets and gizmos, making the pursuit of happiness mistakenly aligned with the pursuit of money – but I’m pretty confident no one gets to the end of the line only to sigh with regret over not having purchased enough stuff…  No, it’s the things you allowed yourself to put off, to ignore, to molder on an internal shelf of regrets that haunt you, and it’s the things you did, the dreams you realized, the love you shared, that offer up a cool antidote 

I suppose none of you are disagreeing with me – it’s hardly an incendiary argument.  But I’m not writing to you in the hopes of causing a revelation.  Rather, I am exploring the possibility that sometimes we need a little nudge to remind us to take a breath and live it up…  To boldly step forward into the place where you hold your passions and dance.

Because I promise you, it’s a dance you’ll never forget. 

And when you’ve gotten to that dusty place of old age and disuse, you will not cry over a life unrealized, but smile at the sunset with eyes content, soul soaring, and a heart full with the knowledge that Win, or Fail, you played the hell out of this game!

Me, Myself, and I, LLC.

In Essays, The Daily Drool on May 7, 2009 at 9:18 am

It was another odd night.  I had eaten hot dogs at 10:30, stayed up till 1 a.m. working on rewrites, and for some reason the cats decided they needed to sleep ON TOP OF MY CHEST.  No wonder I was tossing and turning.  But the dream that stuck in my mental craw upon waking was so deliciously odd that I’m still mulling it over two days later.

You see, it started it with my eyes.  In my dream I mean.  I was staring into a gigantic mirror, into my own eye’s reflection.  And they were huge.  And green, of course.  And it was weird, this staring into my own soul’s windows… And as I stared, I started to get pulled towards them – like I was in a vacuum.  And it totally freaked me out, so I looked away for a moment, caught my breathe, and tried again.  And then I was off, twisting and turning as I was pulled along and into these huge green eyes of mine, landing in a big swirly haze of eye-space (for in dreams these things make sense).  

There was a typewriter there – in the basement of my soul – A very large, life-sized (dream-sized) typewriter.  Pressed between the metal bits was a gigantic piece of white paper headed with the name of some legal group.  As I stared at the sight before me, it became obvious that I was supposed to press the keys… but to what end?  That’s when the typewriter started typing on it’s own, instructing me (as I read its type) to ask it whatever I wanted.  

Ha!  The inner skeptic in me scoffed.  I hopped onto the keys, asking it a “test” question that now escapes me, and awaited the answer.  Well, the typewriter typed something satisfactory right back to me, flooding me with a sudden awareness of where I was… I was in the belly of my own self!  I was touching base with something deeper, wiser and more in tune than the everyday me, and I was being invited to ask it questions!  I suddenly got very excited, another more personal, genuine quandary rushing to my thoughts.  And just as I was about to ask, the excitememnt bubbled, and roared, and spat me right out of the dream, so that I awoke with this silly but personal question on my lips, unanswered.

And perhaps that is best – for the everyday self cannot walk this earth with the secrets to the universe on its shoulders…  It would be too much, wouldn’t it?  To pay bills, and sit in traffic, when you are cosmically tuned in to your own inner God/Goddess?  The silliness of it all, the petty worries… they would be even more so, unbearably so, with the truth of the universe to compare it to.  Perhaps that is why we are instead allowed only the briefest of glimpses -in the laughter of a good friend, in the souls recognition and love of another, in a beautiful spring day… we experience these moments of the divine in order to be reminded that we are but a glimmer amongst it all – that this world and this life is much more than our human minds can fathom, yet we are here to make the most of it – to relish those moments when we are truly present.  And we are not doing it blind.  

But how cool that my soul’s avatar is a giant typewriter?

Another one bites the dust

In Dating, Essays, The Daily Drool on May 3, 2009 at 3:46 pm

I uttered a strange phrase this week.  I didn’t know it was coming until it jumped, hair straight up and crazy-like, from my lips.  You see, cute-as-a-button turned out to be his only trick, and as he earnestly told me he didn’t want to break my heart, my heart let out a hearty laugh and my lips chucked forth something akin to this:  “Trust me, you are dizzyingly incapable of wreaking that kind of damage on this heart.”  

I don’t know if it was the confidence with which he confessed his concern, or my own newly installed steel fence, but somewhere in all his chatter a guffaw of mighty proportions was building.  I mean, who says that?  After four dates?  And what does that even mean?  

And what does it mean that my heart thinks it’s wearing some sort of steel plated armor?

Because although I’m not about to remove the titanium shell currently keeping things safe, I’m certainly not certain it’s healthy to stroll around so guarded… then again I have always been quite selective when it comes to my mates.  I’ve always been cautious… the flip side being that once I make up my mind as to a suitors… suitability… I generally tend to shed all armor, give them a key to the castle, and then wonder how it was the man got such a hold over me in the first place.  

So, maybe this is a good thing.  That I feel no hurt or insult…  Maybe it’s due to my holding of the reigns that I feel only surprise.  And perhaps this is a good time to start playing like the men do – to keep the power and the control in my court – and in order to do that, I need to keep the keys to this castle in my own pocket.

Do/Give/Be

In Essays, The Daily Drool on May 1, 2009 at 12:06 pm

There is an oft devised means of creative/emotional survival floating amongst us dreamers and lovers… It isn’t something planned out, most of are not even cognizant of it’s implementation.  It just sort of settles over us like a cloud, absorbing our days, masking us in a false warmth we like to call “Trying”.  I call it bullshit.  Either way, it’s insidious in it’s attack.  

What am I talking about?  Well….

It’s the 99% rule.  It’s a really clever device for avoiding failure.  See, you put on your game face and go, go, go… putting on a good show of the efforts you are expending… reveling in the sweat and sunshine… but when it comes time to clinch the deal, you hold back.  Why?  Because as long as you don’t ever go ALL IN, you don’t have “ALL” to lose.  

It’s about preserving the illusion that if you had gone in with 100%, you would have won… (the game, the girl, the movie deal)… so as long as you are failing at 99%, you can still walk the earth knowing that it was your choice – not “Thier’s”.  That if “They” had really seen what you were capeable of, “They” would have hired you/fallen in love with you/given you the keys to the kingdom/you name it, you’d have it in the palm of your hand.

So you don’t make the call because there’s always tomorrow, and as long as there is tomorrow, you haven’t been hung up on yet.

You don’t finish the rewrites because as long as there is more to be done, you can claim it’s “Going to be…” anything you want.

You don’t open your heart because as long as it’s closed someone else is doing the knocking, and you get to take comfort in the potential without fear of the collapse.

So we walk around… never really giving our “All” for fear that our “All” might not be good enough.  We hold back in an effort to shade our fragile egos.  We give less, and we get less, and we rail against the inadequacy of it all… but we rarely look to ourselves to see what more we can do/give/be.

For who wants to wander this earth hiding beneath a security blanket built of one’s fears?  It’s a far better thing to look up to the sun, spread our wings and attempt flight… every time… than to shiver in the shadows of those soaring above us.

Flying Solo

In Essays, The Daily Drool on April 29, 2009 at 3:44 pm

Ahh, the life of a writer.  We sit in solitude, tap, tap, tapping away at the keys, laboring over the birth of our creative babies – whether we do it in our basement, a library’s nook, or amongst the hubub of our local cafe- it’s a pretty lonely road.  Especially when you’re the kind who doesn’t remember to come up for air very often.

But how long can you go without socially breathing?  I remember a time in grad school where I would even eat at my desk, merrily toiling away at the hours, naught for worries as long as I was working.  Then, when the thing was (miraculously) finished, I would look around at my quiet little apartment and wonder where everybody went.  

Now that I’m no longer fighting deadlines on a quarterly basis, my schedule has opened up to the possibility of a more refined social life… I say possibility because although I have the availability, I find myself stuck in some similar patterns.  Sometimes it is much easier (and familiar) to stay at home, redecorating the kitchen cupboards or some other non-writing nonsense, than it is to suddenly break out into the fast and frenzy of “The World”. And this staying in… it can get to you.  

I recently spoke with a friend about this very thing – about our propensity as writers to relish in the monkishness – to hide behind our laptops and furious imaginations – to the point where we start to forget that we aren’t the only ones fighting the creative monsters.  We forget that there is a whole ‘nother world outside those of our imagination, and that this world is a very important place to visit.  

We need to touch base with the people around us, to share time with them, to laugh with them, to remember that we too are human and breathing.  That skin is meant to be touched, that arms are meant to be snuggled into, that a breath shared can reinvigorate even the most weary of souls.  We need to remember that we are not alone, that this world is ours to enjoy as much as anything else.  Because what happens when you bunk down for too long is that you start to feel very isolated, and then you run the risk of having that beautiful imagination turn on you.  You run the risk of going a little more batty than you (probably) already are.  

So get out!  Get out of the house today. Take a walk on the beach, or go bowling, or go catch a silly movie.  Just make sure you do it with a friend.  And listen to them.  Let them remind you why you write.  Let them remind you that you are human.