Tuesday, March 31, 2009

And All I Wanted Was Mountain Dew

Don’t you hate it when board meetings run so late you can’t make your Monday deadline posting? I know I do, ho ho ho.

Last week, as I was walking to the gym (#1 of things I try to enjoy while unemployed – walking to my gym and taking classes at 9:45am in the morning, when I’d normally be at work already) I talked with God and said something like “Whatever happens today, please let my actions and reactions be pleasing in your sight.”

Is it just me, or do sometimes we (okay, me, but hoping for a “we” here) fall into the trap where we think if only we can put together the right sentences, we’ll somehow unlock the storehouse of God’s blessings – like a verbal Open Sesame. Like He’s been up there pacing, going, Did she pray for other people first? Did she pray for How To Be instead of Give Me Stuff? Did she say “Please let my actions and reactions be pleasing in your sight.” YES! FINALLY! Now I’ll bless her with a job, a future husband and a script sale! Yaaaaaaa-woooooo!

Later that day, I was in the grocery store, armed with the tools of the Unemployed – coupons and a strict grocery list (caffeine, milk, celery.) I was in a reasonable mood, as I’ve discovered 100.3’s “10 at 10” (#2 of things I try to enjoy while unemployed) and the theme today was songs from 1992, which was hilarious.

And so here I am in the soda aisle, trying to calculate which Mountain Dew is fiscally a better choice when you calculate coupons vs. ounces vs. carbon imprints (is a 2 liter bottle less damaging on the environment than a six pack.) when all of the sudden, an overweight woman dressed in dark layers, a hat, with a cane and her purse in her empty cart, blocks the way out of the aisle.

She asks me if I could spare some money.

This is unusual in the fact that people like her are not so brazen in their begging. They normally stay outside the store, I’m sure there’s a rule against it, you can’t harass people inside the store. If the security guard was walking by, I’m sure he’d tell her to move along. And yet, here she is harassing me.

Not harassing in, “Give me money or I’m not going to get out of your way.” But harassing in, “I’m going to stand here and keep talking to you and guilt you into this.”

She’s talking about how she’s staying at the shelter, and it’s so hard, and all she’s trying to do is buy some chicken and bread, and “God told me to ask you for money” and starts pulling tattered pages of a bible for, for, I don’t know what for.

And I’m furious that this is happening. It’s not like I can claim I don’t have any money, because obviously I do, I’m trying to buy my Mountain Dew. I’m furious that she’s targeted me. I always get targeted like this, because I’m a single woman. Homeless men will target me because I’m cute. Homeless women will target me because I’m a woman. Strange men will target me because I’m cute. Strange women will target me because I’m alone. You know she wouldn’t have picked me had I been walking the aisles with ANYONE, male or female.

My fingers are clenched around this basket. I feel like snarling, “God’s telling me to tell you you need to be going to social services to learn skills to get some kind of job as opposed to harassing people in grocery stores for money,” like the snotty privileged class of which I am a member would say. But even though I have a feral need to make this woman understand just how much she’s pissing me off, to make her feel awful for asking me for money, I don’t do it. I frown as I reach into the wallet and give her all the money I have, which is something like $12 in singles. “Are you sure you have enough to do your shopping?” She asks, as she money swiftly disappears into her pocket. “Yeah, I’m fine,” I snap back, wanting this conversation to be over already. “God bless you,” she says as she shoves on.

And the feral part of me wants to track her, to see if she’s going to harass anyone else, so I can swoop in and stop her, saying I gave her enough money. But I’m so angry I don’t, I just grab my items and try to get out of there as quick as I can.

And I’m pissed off at myself, that my reaction, which I had just prayed to God this morning about, wasn’t more Godlike. This may have been a test. She could’ve been one of those angels you hear about in sappy stories sold in Southern Christian Bookstores. I should have parted with the money gladly. I should have taken her to lunch, heard her whole life story, driven her down to some sort of social services place, taught her how to type, taken all her burdens upon myself to solve. Or at the very least parted with the money gladly.

But I’m not that kind of person. I’m an angry cranky bitch who’s pissed off that you’re using God to guilt me into giving you money. I almost halfway hope I run into someone ELSE who asks me for money, just so I can say, “Oh, I’m sorry, I already gave everything I had to some other homeless person. You’re just too late.” Because I have this anger ball in my stomach, and I must pass it on.

I did see the woman outside the store as I was leaving, munching on the chicken wings that she purchased with the money I gave her. So it’s not as though she went and bought booze with it, as many of us would have thought. She nods at me in acknowledgement and again says, “God bless you.” And all I can think of is Yeah, right.

I’m an angry cranky bitch, but I keep it inside, instead of taking it out on other people. But there’s a part of me that very much wants to take it out on other people, and that’s what’s so dismaying about being me.

Obviously, God still loves me if I’m a angry cranky bitch, because He’s God and He’s required to (and yeah, required is the word that comes to mind when I’m acting as bratty as I was with the homeless woman.) But I’m dismayed that there’s been no softening of my spirit. What’s up with THAT? I can’t imagine that God doesn’t want me to change that part of myself. I’ve asked him for a softer heart, a softer spirit, a more tender and compassionate, um, um, um nature?

And yet if He DID give me those things, it wouldn’t be me. I’m not sure my friends would recognize me with a softer heart, one who gaily befriends homeless women and works in a soup kitchen and tutors underprivileged kids in math or something.

But would it be a better me? And if it would, shouldn’t I be trying hard to change? Shouldn’t God be trying harder to help me change?

Unless I’m supposed to be exactly like this, forever cranky. Which doesn’t make sense either. Ugh.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Foul Mouthed Prayer For Wella.

My good friends Stella and Wella are going through some really crappy things lately. Wella was first diagnosed with a case of Bell’s Palsy about two weeks ago, then the diagnosis got changed to Ramsey Hunt Syndrome, which is considerably worse.

To cheer them up, I wrote them the following email, addressed to God. I enclose it here, because, well, my head’s still spinning. It would be disingenuous to say that what Stella and Wella are dealing with is not occupying a major amount of my brain space. And since Stella and Wella aren’t their real names, I don’t feel I’m disclosing something they would prefer to keep private. They’ve already sent out a lot of emails calling for prayer, and they need all the prayer they can get. If any of you would like to take two seconds out to pray for people you don’t know, go for it. I sometimes wonder if maybe those prayers count more, as there’s no subconscious agendas attached to them.

Dear God...

Um, okay to be perfectly honest, God, I'm gritting my teeth here. Why hide it, right? It's not like You don't know these things. It's never been hard to be drop dead honest with You.

So through these gritted teeth, I say thanks. A sincere thank through gritted teeth can still be sincere, methinks.

Thank you that Wella does not have a brain tumor. Thank you that the drugs he needed to be taking were exactly the drugs he was taking. Thank you that they have health insurance. Thank you that they have doctors (although I'm still pissed about the misdiagnosis, but at least they got him on the drugs he needed to be on.) Thank you thank you thank you that he has the amazing Stella at his side.

But, um, God, here's the thing, HE STILL NEEDS FIXING! It's like when they lower the paralytic from the roof and Jesus looks up and says "Your sins are forgiven!" and I'm absolutely positive somebody in that house called back, "Great! How 'bout fixing his legs!?"

Ramsey Hunt Syndrome, God? Really? Seriously? I know the uselessness of asking "why" questions, because Your answer is always, "Because." But seriously, God, this sucks. This fucking fucking sucks, and yeah, that's me saying the F word for Wella, he said I could. This fucking fucking sucks, God, and I know You know this, but I still need to express myself or else I'm going to go kick the bed, choke my roommate, or yell at my director for not returning my emails (okay, I might still do that.)

Oh bllllllllllllllllaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh! I know what I'm supposed to do. I'm supposed to be the good little Christian who trusts in Your purpose and plan that just happens to involve great big heaping gobs of Scary News and Anxiety and Potential Future Physical Pain for some of my dearest friends. I'm supposed to pray every day, and ask all my small groups to pray, and email The Phone Harpy Whom I Love Very Very Much in Alabama and get the church there to pray.

And I will absolutely do all of that, God, don't get me wrong. But, seriously, this fucking fucking sucks. I know absolutely that You're in control. I know absolutely that You've got a plan. But I will be DAMMED if I don't express my anger here to You. Don't ask me to be a Happy Chipper Christian about this one.

Because there was a point in my life where I thought that if I expressed the slightly bit of dismay at any bad news in life, I had somehow failed a God test, and that if ONLY I had kept a stiff upper lip and remained kind, gentle, and good in an Attracting Small Animals Who Would Clean My House In A Disney Movie kind of way, the bad news would magically dissipate, or better news would come leaping over the mountains and hills to sweep me away to a better life.

I know better now, God. I know that's a type of superstition that has no place in our relationship. And it's unrealistic.

Just as the walrus looking guy said, "I am the Lorax! I speak for the trees!" I'm Amy The Writer, and I'm speaking for all the Happy Chipper Christians (or not Happy Chipper, or not even Christian) in this situation who really wanna blow it out, but aren't quite as comfortable with the ways you can use the English language to comedic profane effect (I'm sure that's not what The Phone Harpy Whom I Love Very Very Much had in mind for me to learn when she raised me, but oh well with that one.)

So on behalf of all of us, we're saying THIS FUCKING FUCKING SUCKS! WHAT'S YOUR PROBLEM!?

In Happy Chipper Christian terms (just so I can prove that I can do it), we're saying "What are You trying to teach us here, God?" We're saying, "What lessons are You, Wonderful You, trying to impart? Could there perhaps be a less painful option?"

Did you really need to have Stella and Wella draw THAT MUCH CLOSER to You? To rely on You MORE!? Because, y'know, given what You've put them through the past twelve months, I think there were already there. Just sayin'.

I think they're due for a windfall of good news, Lord. I really do. They're fucking OVERDUE.

(deep breath.)

Stella and Wella are much better people than I am, Lord. They're more Godly, more devout, and more spiritual, and much more knowledgeable about You than I am, which is why it pains me to see them go through this. Whatever Your plan is from here, it's pretty fucking nuts, God. Unless the plan was to demonstrate a modern day miracle of spectacular healing, in which case...cool beans! Go for it! Thy will be done!

I know I'm a foul mouthed brattykins, and You don't have to listen to one second more of this (and I wouldn't have blamed You if You had left the building at the first round of "this fucking fucking sucks.") I'm just so livid that Your plan is going this way, that I had to let You know.

And now, as I coast on the downside of emotion, I do please please please fucking PLEASE beg You to heal Wella completely and utterly. Erase the virus. Restore his face. Let his pain be manageable. Stop the ringing ears. Stop the drug withdrawals. Give him rest. Give him nice dreams, instead of hallucinogenic ones. Let Wella and Stella be strength and hope to each other. Let them be each other's biggest fans (well second biggest, because You're the first biggest fan of them, and if You are, why are You allowing this to happen...never mind, I'm shutting up now.)

Just please please please fix this quickly. For the better. (I feel I have to clarify that lest You think "Fix this quickly" somehow means "Make it worse." I know You don't. I'm just a spazz right now.)

thank You thank You thank You, in Jesus' name, Amen.

Amy The Writer

Monday, March 16, 2009

It's My Birthday!

Yes, today, March 16th. How fortuitous that it falls on my blogging day!

And sure, there's tons of stuff I could ask for - a well paying job doing something I love for people I like, the man of my dreams, a huge spec sale, or for Striped Tiger to find financing tout suite.

But you know, I ask for those things every day.

And then I was going to be all altruistic and crap, and ask for things for everyone else, as so many of my friends are out of work, dealing with health issues and health scares, stress, family issues and film festivals of their own.

But you know, I ask for those things every day too.

So maybe today, I say to God, "Lead on, Buddy. Where you want me to go is where I'll go. I'm trusting You." And hopefully that'll start a good habit that He'll approve of.

And true, maybe it's not God leading me to the spa today. But I have to use the gift certificate at SOME point, ha ha ha.

I shall close my eyes, and pretend I'm back here, at Trunk Bay. Maybe I already got my birthday present early by going on that cruise. Yeah, I probably did. :)

Monday, March 09, 2009

The Mighty Construction Truck

Behold the mighty construction truck:

When I used to have a job (heh), I would see this truck every day on my way in to work. (I think there’s more than one.) I’m not sure what it was transporting, possibly rocks, cement, small animals, but invariably I’d get stuck behind it on La Brea and Santa Monica Blvd.

You can’t really get around him. As you can see, he’s taking up both lanes, and woe to the driver trying to skinny on up his right side to make a right hand turn onto Santa Monica Blvd. It does not work, you are doomed, you are at the mercy of the Mighty Construction Truck, and you cannot move until he wants to.

It used to be annoying, and I used to take alternate routes to avoid the La Brea / Santa Monica intersection altogether. But as I became more beaten down by the events of the past few months, I just couldn’t care enough to get my brain into Alternate Route mode, and so would just sit behind Mighty Construction Truck. I stopped caring that I was behind him around the start of February, actually.

One morning not so long ago, another driver was caught behind Mighty Construction Truck. And he was FURIOUS. Honking his horn, angry gestures, the whole nine yards. But Mighty Construction Truck did not move. Mighty Construction Truck probably didn’t even see him, Angry Driver was so small, a buzzing gnat upon Mighty Construction Truck’s metal and mud flap haunches. Mighty Construction Truck does what he wants, a mechanical mammal swimming slowly through the seas of Los Angeles streets.

And in that moment, when Angry Driver was so pissed off, and Mighty Construction Truck’s red brake lights calmly blinked at Angry Driver, I had a breakthrough of sorts. I need to be more like Mighty Construction Truck. I need to be slow, methodical, I’m taking my time, I don’t care if I’m in your way, you’re not important enough to me that I stay in one lane to make this turn. I CAN’T make this turn from one lane, and I know that. You do not. I do not have the time to explain it to you. You simply have to trust me that there’s a very good reason that I am taking up both lanes right now. Chill out. Relax. It’s early still. You’ll get it later.

I appreciated Mighty Construction Truck that day in a way that I’ve never appreciated vehicular transport before. And while I’m working on the slowing down bit, the anxiety gnats still constantly gnaw on my brain you need a job, you need to sell a script, you need to get to the gym, you need to organize your desk drawer, you need to clean our your bathroom drawer, go read sixty six chapters of Isaiah, HEY! How about an anxiety dream where you’re still working at that job you hated! BOO YAH, there ya go! Wake up and start working already!

But I flash back to this seemingly idiotic picture of a Mighty Construction Truck. And take a breath.

One breath at a time.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


Okay, here I am. Sorry about that. My taxes still aren’t done, but the first whack at them is.

So fair enough to say, the past month and a half have left me with a severe case of whiplash. Some of which I alluded to here on the blog, but didn’t come outright and say because my family reads this, and some things you should tell your parents over the phone.

Like if you’re losing your job.

And if you’ve received that information a week or so before you’re supposed to join the family on a week long cruise at the end of January, you don’t tell them, because the cruise is supposed to be a fun fun relaxing time, and My Mother The Phone Harpy has a habit of worrying endlessly about things, especially if you don’t have neat answers of Don’t Worry, Mom, I’m Doing This Next. I didn’t know what that would be, and that would just make her worry more when we’re supposed to be enjoying tequila and martini tastings and three dollar beers on Trunk Bay in St. John.

So I didn’t tell her. I didn’t tell her, or my dad, The Great Stoic Wonder (he probably would’ve been able to handle it, but no fair making him keep a secret from his own wife.) I did tell sister Agatha, who told Mr. Agatha, and thank goodness nobody told niece Bug, because she can’t keep ANY secrets at age six.

And we all traipsed along on the boat as a hip hip happy family, which was great except for the anxiety dreams I had most every night, but at least I got to have them in my own stateroom, with a different towel animal every night (behold, Towel Monkey.)

This is why I was hoping that God would show up amid the waves and stuff. But it was amazing, I’d look at a beautiful beach, or a beautiful sunset, and my mind was a total blank. I couldn’t think about the future, or plans for the future. I couldn’t think up great dreams for my future, I couldn’t think up great new ideas for future scripts involving sea people who could skate on waves or anything (and that’s a little obvious right there.)

Some of you might say that a Blank Mind is exactly a gift from God, that He didn’t want me to do anything but appreciate the beauty of the moment in front of me. But my mind was SO blank, that I could barely do that. It truly was yeah. That’s a sunset. Great. Every time I couldn’t think, I took a picture instead, so at least I could document what I was looking at. Because my mind was SO blank, it could neither fret about the future, nor process the beauty of the present. But at least I have pictures.

So we did all have a great time on the cruise, and I returned back to the hell that is my life had become (even more than usual) in Los Angeles. It was a good three weeks of awkwardness back on the job: I’m firing you because I’m your new boss and I want my own people in your position, but I still need you to be here until the Better Than You replacement can show up. Roomie Heckle and Jekyll had all sorts of suggestions about how I should not so politely tell them to fuck off, but that kind of bitter isn’t in my work ethic, and plus I wanted to amass as many paychecks as possible, which is why, when they called me the day before I was supposed to leave and asked me to stay another week, I said okay. Because I am a doormat, no because I was making some serious bank at that job.

The job had me so beaten down mentally, that I could barely muster up emotion at the turn of events against me. The day I was told I was being let go, I cried for five minutes in the parking garage, and cried with a few wonderful friends who didn’t mind that I was calling the boss all sorts of horrible very Un-Christian names, but then I kinda plunged into this cloudy grey emotion-free zone from which I’m not so sure I’ve emerged from yet.

Because I’ve done this before. See? Getting The Bad News. Crying. Copious Amounts of Alcohol (last time was White Russians. Now I’ve moved to drinking tequila straight as my drink of choice. Thanks Disney Cruise!) Picking Up The Pieces. Moving On.

There’s nothing new to feel here, not even playing up the role of martyr that this is happening AGAIN, how can it be happening AGAIN. And telling myself that this is all for the best, that God is leading me somewhere else, somewhere better, that’s not sticking either, because what does that mean? In 2004, God allegedly led me from one job with a Crazy Boss to another job that folded in 2006. God allegedly led me from that job to this one, where I’ve been fired for not being better than me. Can God not lead me to a job that will pay all my bills and has great benefits, and is a job I love that I will never ever get fired from for the rest of my life!?

I write the all caps, I write the exclamation points, and it does all the exclaiming for me, because I’m just here, sapped of any kind of energy to get upset, get annoyed, shake a fist at the boss, the job, God, my life, whatever. Of course you’re not going to stay in a job forever. My dad did, but it’s a different time now. It doesn’t matter to get upset about it. Because getting upset doesn’t make a difference.

And, because God has a sense of humor, He arranged events so that the day after I left the job, I jumped on a plane to Film Festival C, where Pink Piggy was world premiering in Narrative Competition.

(I realize I have a few new readers, here are the rules of the blog: I post usually on Mondays except when I don’t, I don’t comment on comments, you can send me an email if you want to until I get shy again and turn it off, and with precious few exceptions, everyone goes by an Assumed Name here. That includes my friends, my family, my former jobs, my scripts, and the film festivals they get into.)

It’s my first film! It’s my first film festival! Look at all the exclamation points!!!! They do the excitement for me! Because I’m mentally battered and I can barely focus on what’s going on!!! What’s going on!!!???

Pink Piggy is what’s going on. Interviews about Pink Piggy are what’s going on. This isn’t real, is it? Someone is not shoving a microphone under my nose and asking me how I got the idea for Pink Piggy, are they?

Oh, they are.

This is fuckin’ hilarious. Because I got the idea for Pink Piggy when I was at rock bottom YET had plenty of energy to act out in very masochistic ways. (new people can go here and here for a recap) Now here I am, again at rock bottom for different reasons, and I don’t have any energy to act out in any way, masochistically or not. Do you all know I could’ve taken a waiter back to my room if I had wanted to? He was pretty enough in a generic way, he was young, and strong, and impressed that I was a screenwriter with a film in competition (the fact that he was impressed by a writer indicates he was dumb too, so I most definitely could’ve taken him where ever I wanted to go.)

But I just didn’t care. I’m looking for more than that, I’ve been in the land of Meaningless Sex before (Hi Mom! Hiiiii! Yes, your daughter is talking about inappropriate things again! Wheeeeeeee!), and while I still ache to be touched, to be held, to have someone stroke my damn hair and whisper how everything’s going to be fine just fine, I know that a college waiter is not gonna be the best person to get that from.

And I could go on and on about where the hell is THAT guy anyway, but what’s the point? It’s all things I’ve said before. On this blog before, in private conversations with God before. No answers are forthcoming. Or is it answers are still not forthcoming? Either or, I guess.

(By the way, I get no bonus points for not taking home the waiter. I feel just as blah as I would have if I had taken him home, just for different reasons. You would think if you’re able to withstand a temptation, you should get a reward or something, right? More than the film premiere, since that would’ve happened regardless if I woke up in bed with someone. But couldn’t I have gotten, I dunno, a check in the mail? Inspiration for a new script? An early Easter Basket filled with assorted goodies and Cadbury eggs?)

But what the hell am I bitchin’ for, right? Pink Piggy is about to premiere! Sit your ass down and experience the film with an audience of 200 – 300 people! Cause that’s new, isn’t it?

It is. I spent the entire film pinching my fingers and my palm, a nervous habit I don’t remember picking up, but there it is. My chief fear was would the audience stay with us throughout the film, because the first 30 to 40 minutes do zip by, and then it starts to sag in the middle. But the audience stayed with us. They laughed in places that they were supposed to laugh at, the film moves faster when you have an auditorium of people laughing at it.

And at the Q&A afterwards, as I’m standing up there with the director and the cast, and looking at an auditorium of people and thinking to myself how are you all here if I don’t know who any of you are, and therefore you’re not here to fulfill your duty as a Friend Of Amy, one of the questions asked is “How did you get the idea for the film.”

Sigh. The ideal situation is that this is only our first film festival, not our last. The ideal situation is that this is just one of a million Q&As and a million interviews that we will do and the ideal situation is that I will be asked this very question a million times.

And I will have to talk a million times about a time when I was younger, dumber, and full of emotion that I don’t have anymore.

I’ve got it down to an amusing anecdote length, not too long, not too short, and it gets laughs where its supposed to.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful. I’m thankful we’re here in an auditorium of people. I’m thankful there’s a Q&A that I get to participate in, I’m thankful that there are questions asked of me. I’m thankful we get another screening on Sunday, and the same things happen – people show up to watch the film and I don’t know who they are, the screening goes well, and they ask the same questions at the Q&A afterwards.

And I’m thankful for all of it. I just feel oddly detached. I’m unemployed, I should be destroyed! I should be manic, I should be masochistically brimming with all sorts of Bad Ideas That Will Be Great Scripts Later! I just made it through my first film festival! I should be happy, I should be ecstatic! I should be fulfilled!

And I still have a Blank Mind.

While the whole weekend was pretty surreal, this picture capped it off: at opening night, some guy in the audience took a picture of all our feet and posted it on his flicker stream. He could be a fetisher or not, though I seem to remember him posting a nice review of the film somewhere. So here are my tootsies in a pair of battered stilettos and a crappy pedicure that I did about two hours before the premiere. Nice. Next time I need to wear a skirt.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Soon soon

I know, I know, but it will be a big post, and I have to gear up for it. But my taxes come first. Must prep my taxes.

back later.