Monday, April 30, 2007

I'm Amy The Writer

Okay, let’s do something proactive and fun? Anytime this particular blog entry starts detouring into mopey whining, I shall post pictures of indescribably cute things, so I will forcibly lift myself from the bog o’blah.

So I’m finally now just getting around to reading books that people have lent me. The sad part (bunnies! Cute fluffy bunnies! With twitchy noses!) is that they lent me these books last year, in like, August. I have a really hard time making time to read, because there’s always that nagging feeling of you should be writing! You should be writing!

But I was all excited to read “Epic: The Story God is telling and the role that is yours to play” by John Eldredge, because it started off really good, like this:

You seem stuck. Things fall apart. What does it all mean? Should you have chosen a different major after all ? Were you meant to take that teaching job? Are you going to find someone to spend your life with, and will he or she remain true?...and if crucial moments are about to happen, will you recognize them? Will you miss your cues?

Yes! Yes! I feel just like that! Oh boy, finally, a book that’s gonna reveal everything, or at the very least, point me in the right direction of what to do next.

For most of us, life feels like a movie we’ve arrived at forty-five minutes late. Something important seems to be going on…maybe. I mean, good things do happen, sometimes beautiful things. You meet someone, fall in love. You find that work that is yours alone to fulfill. But tragic things happen too. You fall out of love, or perhaps the other person falls out of love with you. Works begins to feel like a punishment. Everything starts to feel like an endless routine.

Yes! Exactly! Right there with you!

If there is meaning to this life, then why do our days seem so random? What is the drama we’ve been dropped into the middle of? If there is a God, what sort of story is he telling here?

Think about your favorite movies…The films you love are telling you something very important. Something essential about your heart.

Yeah? The films I love are Blade Runner, Memento, Se7en, Aliens, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, what’s that telling me? I’ve got a killer melancholy streak?

Next, I want you to notice that all the great stories pretty much follow the same story line. Things were once good, then something awful happened, and now a great battle must be fought or a journey taken. At just the right moment (which feels like the last possible moment), a hero comes and set things right, and life is found again.

Huh. In the stories I like, things weren’t once good. Things were kinda barely existing, chugging along on status quo and THEN something awful happens. Does that reveal something about my mindset, like an inkblot test? I mean, the movies I like , the characters mostly still come through relatively okay. A ragged hope. There’s no guarantee that things are gonna get better (certainly not in the case of Memento), but we’re gonna try and fumble along anyway, hopefully wiser, because of the journey we’ve just taken through the movie.

Unfortunately (cockapoos! Cockapoos are adorable!), the book veered off from there into telling the origins of Christianity through the classic storytelling elements of Joseph Campbell and his like, explaining the origins of God, the fall of Lucifer, there’s two worlds, a real one and a spiritual one, la la la.

And I’m thinking NO! I wanna know what my role is! ME! Specifically! Give me questions that I can ask these things for myself! Don’t need to see the Adam and Eve story again. I KNOW that story! I KNOW that God is pursuing me! Still can’t feel Him though. I’m trying to figure out what my role is here! HELP ME WITH THAT! HELP ME WITH THAT!

Finally, I get close to the end of this very slim book, and on page 100, it says,

Now, what is YOUR part? What is your role in the Story? In truth, the only one who can tell you that is the Author. To find our lives, we must turn to Jesus. We must yield our all to him and ask him to restore us as his own. We ask his forgiveness for our betrayal of him. We ask him to make us all he intended us to be – to tell us who we are and what we are now to do. We ask him to remove the veil from our eyes and from our hearts. It might be good to pause and do that right now.

Hmm. I’m not asking the question Who am I? I’m Amy The Writer. I always have been. Never wanted to be much else in terms of a profession. Emotionally is a whole other circus. Who am I emotionally? I’m someone who wants to love and be loved in return. I’m someone who wants to be married someday, (and it’s taken me YEARS to not be afraid to put that statement out there, because don’t you instantly get the image of some whiny clingy Please Please Please Don’t LEAVE Me Girl? That’s not me. THAT’S NOT ME. I want to be married someday because I want to love, I want to be loved, and I want to know that person is committed to doing that for the rest of our lives, as opposed to putting in three to five years and then taking off. My buddy Georgina wrote about it in an essay and described it as “diving off a cliff while praying you’re holding the hand of someone who’s not afraid to fly.”) I’m someone who wants to trust, and who continually gets that trust abused. That’s not new, that’s everyone. People let you down, especially people here in flaky Los Angeles. Move on, move on, nothing to mope about here. (puppies in casts are cute. Sad, but cute.)

But the Telling Me What I Am Now To Do. Well, that would sure be swell, and something I ask for every day. What am I supposed to do next? Is there something I’m overlooking? Some job opportunity I haven’t looked in the right place for? Am I really supposed to junk it all and go work in Legal, because at least it’s a paycheck with benefits and crap?

Man, that last section on page 100 just blows (Matthew Fox the actor is QUITE cute.) It’s just icky, smacking of “Accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior and all answers will be REVEALED!” What a bait and switch. Where’s the book that says “I asked and asked and asked and I’m still lost.”

But at least I know who I am. Maybe that’s more important than the next step. I suppose, if you had two doors on the game show, and you could pick between This Is Who You Are, and This Is The Next Step You Should Take, most people, hell, I’d probably even take the Next Step door. But it certainly feels like, in a crappy Lesson Learned In The Last Ten Minutes Of A Sitcom, that you should’ve gone for the Who Am I Door.

So I guess I’m ahead of the game. I hope.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Enforced Secret Joy # 37 – Japanese Irises

These days, whenever I’m feeling on the blue side, I make sure I seek out a flower. Maybe it’s a chick thing, maybe because it’s really easy to find them at work, as I think it’s mandated by somebody that when you put enough concrete to fill the Super Bowl, you have to balance it out with grass and flowers.

But this particular Japanese Iris is among many that grow in my front yard. They came with the house, we didn’t have to cultivate them or anything. And as usual, I am gobsmacked by everything that’s going on in the middle of them. Whenever you feel like God has left the building, look at the inside of a flower.

Dear Lord, thank you for Japanese Irises. Thank you that I get to see them every day in my front yard. Thank you for their delicate snowy white petals, the splashes of yellow on the petals, the inner purple blossoms, and the amazing tiger striped markings that cap the whole thing off. I know tiger striped probably isn’t the right word, but You know what I mean. Thank you for beauty. Thank you for your attention to detail. Thank you that something so jaw droppingly amazing grows in my front yard, not because I asked for it, but probably because I didn’t ask for it. You like to surprise me, don’t You. Thank you for turning my head with such gorgeousness. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Amen.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Still here

See, the problem with no holds barred blogging is that as soon as you start to gripe about something, 24 hours go by and it turns out to be nothing at all, so you look like a dumbass. So if I put up a post that says things are drop dead awful, and I’m not posting until Sunday, then things straighten themselves out so I COULD have posted Sunday.

If I wasn’t so tired.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, last week sucked on a variety of fronts. And the thought did hit me in the midst of the maelstrom that You know what? Life hasn’t been too peachy since you lost your job in August. You’ve been struggling for eight months now.

Even writing that sentence sags me down. Eight months. My God. I’ve been fighting for eight months to find a better job, to find a permanent job, to find a job I like. I’ve been fighting to write a script, to rewrite a script, to write a better script, one that I like (harder that it sounds, I don’t like a lot of the stuff I write.) I’ve been trying to change my life, to live a better life, to live a life I like.

Something has GOT to change, in the form of movement on the script, or a call about a job interview, something has to start to go right, it just HAS to. And maybe this is all eight months of laying groundwork, and a faboo opportunity is just around the corner, and won’t we all laugh about this a month from now.

I’ve never temped this long before. I’ve never had to, as God’s providence has funneled me into permanent jobs from temp agency placements from day one. There’s none of that here. I wonder what God’s trying to do here.

See, already I’m bumming myself out. I’ve been trying to be upbeat, to squash the nasty gnats of negativity. Trying to cheer myself up in unusual ways, such as singing “Possession” to Baby Hazel at Thursday night’s Small Group. The Duran Duran medley didn’t do it. Every Breath You Take didn’t do it. The Sarah McLachlan medley did it, put her right out. And I found a special perverse joy in singing these lyrics to her:

and I would be the one
to hold you down
kiss you so hard
I'll take your breath away
and after, I'd wipe away the tears
just close your eyes dear

This is gonna be one messed up kid when she grows up, and I can say I did my part, ha ha ha.

I’ve been reading Jane Espenson’s blog , and even though she talks mainly TV writing, I find it helpful when she talks about the different ways you can set up a joke. Jane is so cheery and positive, and reports what she’s had for lunch that day cradled in adjectives like Zing! Delish! Magnificent! I find myself wanting to be cheery and positive like her. She, of course, has the benefit of writing for Buffy The Vampire Slayer for five years. I’d be positive too if I just struck a new two year deal with a network. Wonder what she would’ve blogged about in the days before her career took off. Would she have been as worried as I worry I sound like now? (yeah, read that sentence again. I swear it makes sense.)

To try and quell the internal demons that have been throwing a kegger inside me Everybody in! We’re doing shots! I’ve tried to think Happy Religious Thoughts, about how God/Jesus is with me every step of the way. Literally, every step of the way as I make my way through this Dilbert environment of cubicles, Xerox machines, Sanjaya jokes on the kitchen whiteboard and powdered Crystal Delight. It’s not going so good, because I keep getting tripped up on Jesus in a New Testament robe, and wouldn’t He get a lot of stares from people and would He wait outside the bathroom for me, or if He’s with me everywhere, does He avert His gaze if He does come into the bathroom with me, because the bathroom’s where I’ve been having a lot of crying fits these days…

So I settled on angels. Angels surrounding me. C’mon, everyone likes angels. Even people who say they don’t believe in Jesus love the idea of angels. Everyone digs the whole Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest Shakespeare quote.

So I have been actively concentrating and dreaming up flights of angels surrounding me. Supporting me, cradling me in their fluffy wings. They’re guy angels, of course, so I can rest against their chiseled chests, and occasionally they’ll smooth back my hair. And though they’re angels, they’re not wearing white, because no guy looks good in white. They’re wearing muted earth tones, and they all look damn hot. They watch me as I type, but they don’t give editorial opinions, though I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re shooting each other know-it-all glances about what I’m writing.

I wouldn’t ask them to help me. They’re not God, and God’s the only one who can help me (and I’m sure He will, any day now, would love for it to be sooner, not later.) They’re kinda like my bodyguards, so I’m not walking alone these days. They hover protectively around me when I’m taking pictures like this one down at the Santa Monica beach today, and shield me from the bums (including the one who told me “God must’ve spent an extra fifteen minutes on you when he created you.” And no, don't even try to make the sappy parallel that the bum was an angel in disguise, because he still asked me for money.), the Boot Camp runners, and other assorted conventioneers. It may seem silly. But whatever gets me through the day, and right now, it’s them.

So to sum up: last week sucked, but I’m still alive, and my imaginary angels are hotter than yours. Onward.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

No posts this week

I'm strung out. Tired. Hanging by the proverbial thread, and I see it snapping.

Check back Sunday.

Send prayer, good thoughts, chocolate and cute puppies.


Amy The Writer

Sunday, April 15, 2007

On Deadline...

Today's post will be delayed to late tomorrow or possibly Tuesday as I work my ass off to finish the best draft of the Purple Monkey script, which is due at 6pm tomorrow.

Meanwhile, please enjoy this message from our favorite Happy Bunny...

Friday, April 13, 2007

Enforced Secret Joy #36 – The Orchids in the Lobby

The Temp Agency has funneled me to the very same Pay TV/Pay Per View division that I turned down a regular job at, because I said here that I didn’t have to settle. This assignment isn’t settling per se, it’s a month long, which is good (steady income) and bad (so boring I want to sandpaper my elbows for any kind of new experience.)

But there is one lovely thing about it, and that is the orchid plants that greet me in the lobby every day I arrive to take the elevator up to Hell – The Boring Circle.

The first time I saw these things I thought they were fake. Most times I see orchids they’re either fake, or they’re in the process of dying. Roomie Jekyll, in particular, has single handedly killed at least two on her own (she thought she didn’t have to water them. She probably thought they were fake.)

But no, these are indeed real. There’s some crazy miniature detail going on up close, the kind that makes you think they have to be fake, because there’s no real nature-like reason for this kind of intricacy. Yes, you can claim Natural Selection has prompted these plants to grow this kind of complexity so they will attract the birds and bees that’ll pollinate them and blah blah blah. Fi on that, I say. Because the maroon brush strokes would’ve been enough. The yellow pollen buds with maroon speckles would’ve been enough. And that ever so delicate tendril curling back in on itself would’ve been enough. But to put ALL of those things together on one single plant defies the law of Attraction/Pollination. It has to be God.

Dear God, thank you for the orchids in the lobby. Thank you that they’re real, thank you for their amazing beauty. Thank you for being a God that cares enough to provide a month long assignment for me (even if it’s a job I’d rather yack my liver out than do full time), as well as being a God who takes the time to clothe these orchid petals with jaw-dropping features. Nothing is overlooked in Your sight, God. From the earth, to the air, to the ground, to my scuffed up boots to these feather like petals. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Amen.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

I Am An Unfinished Metaphor

So yesterday, I skipped off to donate blood. My grand master plan had two parts to it – donating blood would get the Red Cross to stop calling me every week (Since I lost my job at Unnamed Movie Studio Number 1 last year, it’s been impossible to find a location convenient to me that would do a drive on the weekends), and I would also get to fulfill a lovely Easter metaphor. Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior shed His blood on the cross for me, so I would shed it for someone else. It’s a beautiful circle of life, it is: He did it for me, I do it for someone else, I write a blog entry about it and inspire others to do the same, and I get juice and COOKIES to boot.

And I’m all set. Got my camera, to take a picture of the full bag o’ me when it’s over, got my Bible, which is a comforting Teddy Bear like presence when being stuck with a sharp object.

With this kind of build up, you know something’s about to go horribly awry, right?

As I’m sitting there, reading Ephesians from the beginning, to properly understand Chapter 5 in full context, it occurs to me that, damn, I’ve been here awhile. Maybe it just feels like awhile. When you know there’s a needle in your arm, the seconds just DRAG. I don’t wanna be known as a Problem Patient, so I don’t say anything, and continue to read Chapter 2, But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. Uh-huh, blood shed for me, I shed for others, I’m not comparing myself to Jesus, but I can shed blood easily enough to help other people, check, check check,

The technician who did the initial needle stick has vanished, so another technician checks on my bag, and calls a second one over. Uh-oh. Never a good sign when a blood technician calls for a second opinion to check anything attached to you. My blood flow is still going, still going, just slowly…oh wait, it’s stopped all together. More looks passed between the technicians standing over me. Guys, I can totally see you. They ask me who the woman was that did the needle stick, and I describe her, though I don’t know her name. Someone else says she’s on break. So these current technicians shrug. “I don’t wanna adjust it,” one tells the other, “The blame doesn’t go on your record, it goes on the one who did the initial stick,” the other replies. Blame? Uh oh.

It’s here that I realize that the last name I donated at this location (the Crazy Koo Koo Church from last year) was the first time I ever gave blood, and that was where they stuck me in both arms, and gave me horrible bruises that made it look like I was on heroin. Here we are, over a year later, and it’s another bad needle job. People complain about bad customer service at banks, restaurants, insurance companies. But blood drives? Yes, Virginia, you too can get bad needle sticks.

They remove the needle, “It’s been in there for twenty minutes, and nothing’s happening,” he explains. He also calls for a bag of ice, and there’s already some bruising going on. He lifts up the bag, it’s half full. I ask him if he can use what’s been collected, he says no. “So you’re just gonna destroy it?” “Yep.” “But Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior shed his blood for me. I have to complete the Easter metaphor.” The technician laughs and says not to worry about it. Wraps the arm with ice and a bandage. Gives me the usual admonition not to lift anything heavy, or to exercise for 24 hours, and sends me off to the Juice and Cookie table.

And I’m sad. Not upset, I don’t get upset anymore, but I’m sad. I feel like I haven’t really EARNED this grape juice, I haven’t earned this bag of Famous Amos cookies, I haven’t earned the T-shirt they gave me that says Warning, Prone to Unexpected Acts of Heroism. I faced the dreaded needle, I sat there for 20 minutes, and it’s all for nothing. I save nobody today. My blood was shed…and will now be destroyed.

I am an unfinished metaphor on Easter weekend. This blows.

As I make my way to my car, I get to wondering whether every experience you have in life is SUPPOSED to have meaning attached to it. Are we supposed to attach deeper meaning to everything, be it getting out of a car, or watering plants in your back yard, or knee deep in your script rewrite, or giving blood? Or do you drive yourself crazy wondering why this, that and the other just happened. Is it really that some things in life just happen, and they have no meaning at all? If God is sovereign over all our lives, if there’s that cloying phrase that “God is in the details”, isn’t everything SUPPOSED to mean something? One of my Act One teachers sent an email recently saying “If you go looking for God in your daily experience, you’ll find him.” And here I was, reading Ephesians in the midst of a misbegotten blood draw, so where was He? I mean, I could cobble something bleggity like how I’m saved regardless of the works (i.e. donating blood) I do, but that would be an intellectual cobbling, not a present Whack Me Upside The Head Hey, There’s GOD! Experience.

It then occurs to me that um, Hellooooooo. You’re always gonna be a work in progress. You’re never gonna be done. If you WERE done, if you WERE a completed metaphor, you’d be dead. And you would never even know if the metaphor made sense, because you’d be gone.

Right. Right.

Well at the very least, I know I’m never giving blood at THIS location again. Maybe that was the meaning I was supposed to get.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Enforced Secret Joy #35 – Spike The Standup

It’s Easter week, a week that’s supposed to be filled with reverence, respect, and humbling gratitude. So let’s talk about Spike the Standup! (yes, yes, I know, and trust me, I am super thankful that Jesus Christ died for my sins on the cross, but what’s life without a little irreverence, eh?)

This is Spike the Standup. He’s from Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel . He can be the first thing I see in the morning, provided I wake up on my right side. He was a Christmas present a few years ago from Agatha and Bug, and the history of how Spike the Standup crossed the nation, and spent more than a few days in James Marsters trailer waiting for the authentic autograph (word is that James Marsters was upset that he blew the initial scrawl that results in the blob on the A in my name) is proof that Agatha and Bug are really devoted to getting me birthday presents, or are scarily single-minded in their quest to get things done.

He has also scared Roomie Jekyll a few times, when we have to move everything away from the walls when the pest control people come, and she won’t be paying attention as she passes by my room, and does a double take, thinking there’s a blond vampire in there. There are worse problems to have, ha ha ha.

Anyhow, Spike The Standup reigns in the corner of my room and makes me smile, because it’s impossible to look at him in the corner and NOT smile. He’s so serious looking, so oooh, look at me, I’m SMOLDERING, and he’s a Standup. (you can’t see it in the pictures, but he’s also sporting a half/boot half/sneaker shoes that suspiciously look like they came from Easy Spirit. HA!)

Dear God, thank you for Spike the Standup. Thank you for the generosity of Agatha and Bug. Thank you that not all presents have to be clothes, or socks, or whatever. Some presents can be silly fun. Thank you for the actor James Marsters. Thank you for Agatha’s friends that got the standup to him to sign. Thank you for silly poofy smoldering pouts that make me laugh first thing in the morning. Thank you for laughter. Thank you for the little things, in the midst of the Big Thing of Easter Week. Thank you for sending your Son to die for my sins, for Agatha’s sins, for Bug sins, and for James Marsters’ sins. Thank you that He died for ALL of our sins. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Amen.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Amy The Baby Whisperer

You guys see this? You guys see Baby Hazel, right? See how she’s sleeping? See how she’s sleeping in my arms? Guess what, when I first took her from her mom at Small Group last week, she was yowling her head off. Fretting and crying and sounding not unlike an exotic jungle bird AHHH! AHHH! AHHH!

Hazel was not having a good night at Small Group, and not because we’re going through Chapter 5 of Ephesians with its many list of don’ts. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk, or coarse joking…have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness…do not be foolish…do not get drunk on wine (doesn’t say anything about margaritas! Yay!)

I wanted to give Hazel’s mom a break, so I volunteered to hold Hazel to see if I could get her to calm down without stuffing a dishrag in her mouth. But I was also secretly wanting to hold her, she would be the youngest baby I’ve ever held (now up to 17 days old.)

So Hazel’s mom handed her over, and I did the standard walk and rock routine that’s probably genetically programmed into every woman, regardless if they want kids or not. Hazel’s maybe seven or eight pounds or so, and it was quite interesting to feel those tiny lungs expand underneath the grip of my hands as she AHHH! AHHH! AHHH! ed her frustration at, at, at, what? Diaper’s fine. She doesn’t want milk. She can see mom over my shoulder. Oh, it’s life. Trust me, I feel like AHHH! AHHH! AHHH! ing my way through life these days too, little one. Oh, yes I do.

So I started crooning 80s songs to her, in one of those half whisper, half singing styles. I started with my favorite 80s song to sing to a baby, which would be Til Tuesday’s “Voices Carry.” (I start with verse 2.)

I try so hard not to get upset.
Because I know all the trouble I’ll get
Oh, he tells me tears are something to hide
And something to fear
And I try so hard to keep it inside
So no one can hear

Hush, keep it down now. Voices carry.

I pulled this one on Winifred’s newborn over the Christmas holiday and it seemed to work out pretty well, though he was already in his baby chair. This is trying to soothe a cranky baby, which is quite the different story.

But she stopped fretting and started watching me sing. It’s the lipstick, I think. I have the penchant for wearing it 24/7, unless I’m at the gym. Or asleep. Or I forgot to take it off.

I took the walk and rock routine into the kitchen, where the light is off. I’m suspecting that she WANTS to go to sleep, she just needs the darkness to edge her along. Like throwing a blanket over the bird’s cage so it thinks it’s nighttime and time to go to sleep.

I switch to Big Country’s, “In A Big Country”

I’ve never seen you look like this without a reason
Another promise fallen through, another season passes by you.
I never took the smile away from anybody’s face
And that’s a desperate way to look for someone who is still a child.

In a big country dreams stay with you
Like a lover’s voice fires the mountainside
Stay alive

I thought that pain and truth were things that really mattered
But you can’t stay here with every single hope you had shattered.

See, I think Hazel needs to learn these things sooner rather than later, ha ha ha.

But soon, soon, sooner than soon, her little eyelids fluttered closed, and yes, she did fall asleep. Because of me! I did it! I sang and rocked that baby to sleep! I won the Baby Whisperer Game! Yay me!

I wanted to make sure she truly was asleep, so I kept rocking and walking in circles around the kitchen. Looking at this tiny thing asleep in my arms.

I LOVE being held. I dig it so much. If every day was Christmas in Amyland, I’d be carried around by a big strong man all day. I LOVE snuggling on the couch with a dude. I wouldn’t force him to watch Grey’s Anatomy, we could watch whatever, as long as I can curl up next to him. And yeah, it unfortunately has to be a guy. The girly thing where we get manicures and braid our hair, and hug each other in Girly Solidarity doesn’t do a thing for me. It has to be a guy. It’s the attraction to strength, I think.

But it’s such a primal thing, to want to be held. You feel safe, you feel secure. You feel like the person holding you will take care of you, or at least won’t drop you. Somebody else is in charge for a change, and that person knows exactly what’s going on, and that person is here for you, he’s got you, and he’s not going to let you fall.

And I know the obvious parallel, that what I’m describing is exactly what God the Father is supposed to be. Not supposed to be. He is. But again, the Great Agony of my life is that I don’t FEEL it. And if I’m supposed to feel God’s love through interactions with other people, I’m not getting that either.

But I can be it for Baby Hazel. I can be the things for other people that I want people to be for me. And hopefully it’ll come back around in some form or another and I will be nestled in somebody’s arms someday.

And as I walked back out into the living room, displaying the Sleeping Hazel like a triumphant hunting trophy, Hazel’s mom said yay and we took the picture to prove that it happened. And I was indeed a conquering hero, for about 20 minutes.

Until Hazel woke up again and started to cry. That’s when I left. HA!