Under Construction

This blog is going to look pretty funky for a few days–or maybe weeks or months.  I’m in the process of trying to build a website around the blog, which seems like a good idea–but I’m not exactly sure how.  So I’ll be experimenting with the whole thing, and hopefully not deleting seven years’ worth of blog posts in the process!

 It’s been on my list to have a writer’s website for awhile, but it came to a head recently. As I’ve mentioned, I  have this staged reading coming up…

(Wait–I need to insert an announcement here:

MPW Stage and Screen Festival
Staged Readings of Three One Acts
1416 Electric Avenue
Venice, CA 90291

Note that if I had an “events” section or page it would be there, but I don’t, so it’s not…yet)

I have this reading coming up, and the director asked me, “do you have any actors you want to recommend?”

There was a time, when I belonged to small a theater company here in LA, that I would have had twenty actors I had worked with directly and would love to use.  Nowadays, I have some friends, and friends of friends, who are actors.  They are not “Wow, I know this person would be absolutely perfect.”  They’re more like, “I think they could be good–they seem the right type, and speak in complete sentences at parties.”  But I haven’t worked with them.  Also, I don’t know the director very well,  he may have actors that he works with and really likes working with already, which, in these circumstances, seem ideal. So, basically, I have a small group of folks that I’d like to have the opportunity, if there are some openings, but I’m not ready to be solely responsible for casting them.  In this town, that happens A LOT. 

In this case my thought was, “I’ll send their websites to said director. Then he can look at their headshots and reels, evaluate their training, experience etc”

The trouble was NONE of them had a website.  I ended up sending pictures from Facebook, IMDB links (one had a link with no picture) or their bios from posted play or film sites.  I still put them out there, but it was harder, and they don’t look as serious.  

And I have to wonder, is that happening to me?  I doubt I’m missing out on a feature film assignment, but I meet a lot of people who have projects.  If they happen to idly think of me, am I making it easier for them to give me an opportunity, or mention me to someone else who might?

Not so much.

So it’s time for a website–and as loyal blog readers, you’ll get to witness its growing pains!

What’s Going On Now…I’m Okay

When I first understood I had endometrial cancer, the first place I turned was the internet. Before  I reached out to friends or family in the 3-D world, I reached for my computer.  Granted, I was sitting in a room with no people and a computer–but regardless–the internet was where I took my fears–searching for answers, for comfort, for someone who had taken the path I was suddenly being pushed down.

And in those moments, when I stumbled upon material that said things that are hard to say and answered questions I couldn’t yet ask out loud, I was so GRATEFUL for those people–those writers–on the forums, or on blogs–that they were braver, or more outgoing than I generally am–that they would “put it out there” so someone like me could read about their lives and feel less alone.

When I felt that gratitude, I decided that regardless of outcome, I wanted to give back to the internet, that I was going to write the kind of posts that I found myself looking for–unflinching and close to the bone. I wasn’t ready to “go live” yet–the emotions were too raw…and the writing was too crappy.  As a writer, even if I were dying, I’d be ashamed to publish prose that was completely as unshaped as my real journal entries are.

But I’m NOT DYING–that’s the main thrust of this post.  I’ve been journaling in the present on this particular subject, and blogging–based on those journals– from the past.  So my blog posts are about a month old. This won’t matter to the the young woman a year from now who hears the words You have cancer and starts looking for blogs on the topic and finds all these posts after the fact under one label in the archives.

But I’ve just realized that for people who actually know me, but whom I haven’t spoken to personally it probably does matter.  You might be reading these posts without knowing what’s going on now–which is that I am okay.  The end of this story is a happy one.  As of yesterday’s lab reports I can officially say the cancer is gone.  I won’t have to do chemo.  I’m already walking around, and am about to be driving.

So, I wanted you to know that. And to thank you for your caring comments, and in one case–FLOWERS!

(BTW, if I haven’t mentioned it to you, it’s not that I wouldn’t. I’m not a secretive person, but it feels weird to mention at every opportunity:  “Oh sorry, I can’t come to your birthday/karaoke party/baby shower because I have to deal with my cancer.”  Way to take someones happy occasion and make it all sad and about me, y’know?  And I emailed about a dozen people and told them, and can say that in about half those cases, it already seemed weird. It’s hard to know exactly what to do, and nothing feels exactly right, but fortunately, you can just kind of let it go by saying, whatever, I have cancer, okay?)

Farewell, More of This…

One of my favorite blogs came to an end today. It’s not listed in my sidebar, because…well actually I’m not sure why… Maybe it wasn’t public? If you follow this link, does it take you anywhere? If so, that’s her blog, you should check out a few entries while it’s still up.

I read this article from the New York Times the other day about how the word “authentic” has become a catchphrase that doesn’t mean very much anymore. My friend V, in the “about me” section of her blog, talks about “trying to live a more authentic life”–and you can tell from her writing that it does mean something when she says it. Maybe because many of her posts–just about her life–her goals, academic, professional, relationship, fashion-related–never obscured the trying.
As a writer who has spent a fair amount of time browsing job listings, I see that a lot of blogs out there want “content creators.” I get it. It’s a blog about fashion or technology or celebrity mishaps. Writing has to know what it is, and have focus, and, to be successful, it has to attract readers who don’t care at all about the writer. But a result of that a lot of blogs out there have “content” about recipes or pop-culture, and not so many have “writing” about the human condition. This blog was about the human condition. The writer talked about the struggles of living with disability, trying to be healthier and happier, trying to construct a beautiful environment conducive to being healthier and happier. She talked about being queer, she talked about being fat, she talked about sexuality and clothes and making professional decisions…but whatever she talked about, it was thoughtful. There was often an element that went beyond reportage, slipped beneath the surface, and revealed a bit of her. It was a generous blog.
Although I seldom think to leave comments on blogs, I did leave one in response to her farewell post. In it I talked about how that C.S. Lewis adage that “we read to know we are not alone.” I think it would be fair to change the words a bit and say reading helps us feel less alone. But to me, that feels almost flipped on its head today. Particularly if I am reading on the internet, I can end up feeling more alone. But reading her blog was definitely the former experience–less alone feeling, all the way.
It is on my mind today, because V is not the first of my writer friends to bring her personal blog to an end for professional reasons–both because such exposure of one’s personal life can be detrimental, and because, let’s face it–if you are blogging, that means you are not writing material that can be published and will contribute to your success as a professional writer, which is the goal, is it not? Eyes on the prize. I’m writing this right now–and I am NOT working on my novel, and I really need to be working on the novel. (I haven’t been blogging much recently, because I HAVE been working on my novel, so, “yay me” for that.)
My friends who have left behind their journals and personal blogs are, pretty much across the board, achieving more success and publications than I am. I genuinely love seeing that, and I genuinely want that for myself. But this doesn’t change the fact that the professional websites they’ve created, while necessary for their pursuits, are not a replacement for what I have lost– the pleasure of hearing their voices in my head as I read these less important words on my computer screen, of having little insights into their daily lives and inner lives–insights that are somehow different from those I gain with an email or phone call, or, when we lived in the same town, even meeting in person. The stuff that one “throws out there” in a blog has a different energy to it. Maybe because when we speak to a faceless readership, there’s some part of us that ends up just speaking to ourselves, and the readers are just listening in?
I keep coming back to this blog, my blog. I’m not sure all the reasons why. I think one is that I don’t just read to fell less alone, but I write to feel less alone. And while I occasionally check my readership numbers, at least some of the less-aloneness comes from somewhere else…from the sense that out in the world, other people are also thinking and writing, and reveling in the feel of reflecting on their lives. I find that a comfort. I don’t feel the same camaraderie when I’m writing a screenplay and I think of all the other glowing MacBooks across Los Angeles.
This has dissolved into a ramble, hasn’t it? I could try to shape it–but I have to get back to that novel. But to summarize: Farewell to V’s blog. And, for the moment I continue. Stop by. I’ll try to be here.

Just a Sunday Afternoon

I think I’ve made an unconscious but very deliberate decision to blow off most of the things I should be doing today. Things like looking high and low for a lost paycheck (I’ll probably still do that), gathering and copying a dozen different documents required for a loan application to refinance my little condo (maybe I’ll try to do one or two today) and writing (this is as close as I’m going to get.) Strangely, once I’ve decided what I’m NOT going to to–primarily write– the day feels much longer than it usually does. it’s kind of nice. I’ve spend much of it puttering around, trying to figure out how to do a few things to this blog. Notice how I’ve added a new drop down menu for the chronological archives, and a new “by topic” archive as well, although going back and tagging all my old posts is going to be an ongoing project. I’ve also updated my links so they all work again, and updated my roster of “Other Blogs.”

The day has also been made longer by the fact that I’m not going to work out today. Just not. I actually have a bit of a sore two which is more of a drag than you might think. It’s weird how damage to such a small part of your body can be so incapacitating.

Soon I’m going to return some clothes to Loehmann’s with my friend Christine–In a last minute flurry, I bought four possible shirts for my reading a couple weeks ago, and chose one–I don’t need the others. I’ve heard that buying things gives you a little rush of endorphins, maybe like eating. I might be a little bit of a shopping bulimic. I like that rush of buying something, but afterwards, I’m usually happy enough to take it back.

Mostly I’m trying not to be stressed out by a business decision I need to make this week regarding one of my scripts. It’s something that is very secret apparently, so I’m not allowed to discuss it with anyone “not even your significant other.” So I won’t say anything revealing here, except to say that no one is buying it or making a movie out of it next week or anything. It’s just something that could be a good opportunity, or could one of those things that could also go wrong in so many ways. If I choose to do it, I have to take it out of the running–so much as it is in the running–with the people who have expressed interest in it–who are few and informal, but who have been generous with their time and their notes, and whom I really appreciate. The fact that I’m not supposed to talk about it is hard for me. There are good and logical reasons why, but it means I have to make a decision in a vacuum, without much advice–and whenever people want me to do things and not tell anyone, it just feels shady. I mean, have you ever watched a movie where someone wants the protagonist to do something, but not tell anyone, where the surrounding circumstances weren’t shady? I mean except for ransom and spy scenarios–and really, those are still shady, it’s just that they have good reasons. So anyway, in a couple of weeks I’ll fill you in on that.

Tomorrow morning, I go to observe classes at the California International University, where I am going to be on the substitute roster to teach ESL (English as a Second Language.)


Best thing anyone has ever said about this blog: “it makes me feel less alone in the world.”

The least best, but somewhat thought-provoking thing anyone has said about this blog lately: “I don’t want you to quote things I say on your blog.”
Which I kind of just did–but I paraphrased. And I won’t be quoting the things he said next, which apparently were the items of concern. Nor anything he says in the future about anything, because–I get it.
Really it is a composite quote, of this guy as well as others who maybe haven’t, but I know might like to say the same thing, in various ways. I do occasionally run into folks who emits a real antipathy toward, if not my blog, the idea of a personal blog in general. And somehow, their expression of antipathy hurts my feelings. Which is ridiculous–because it is not about me–exactly. I am not a blog. I am not the general idea of a blog.
But I keep a blog. And my sense is that the judgement I feel is not aesthetic. It’s moral. And maybe kind of aesthetic–because we live in a world where who you are as a person is defined by your taste. If you like Christian Rock–you get put in a box–the world assumes they know something about you as a person. If you wear high-waisted mom-jeans, or love Justin Beiber, or Avatar was your favorite movie last year–these are signs of who you are.
So it’s hard to have either your moral or your aesthetic behavior questioned–at least for me. And the less secure you are in your own beliefs, the harder it is to be judged on things. The whole thing makes me very very sympathetic to individuals and groups who have to create their own code (moral or fashion) in the face of a generous amount of public opposition. Like the civil rights movement, the LGBT community…and Bjork.
People judging inter-racial marriage: I don’t care. Because the idea seems so antiquated, and wrong, and almost everyone I know personally would never think about that, so that criticism would only come from a stranger anyway.
People judging my taste in clothes: I care a little. It’s hard to let go of fourth grade. And watching Project Runway doesn’t help.
People judging my actions that I write about, motivations for writing in public, discretion in protecting or using people in the world around me as subject matter: It’s food for thought.
As I consider limiting my subject matter more and more, I should say that I’ve been fortunate that Paul loves to be talked about, written about, blogged about. He’s really perfect for me in this way. In Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods. It’s been a topic of debate whether the character of Stephen Katz –the book’s strong personality and comic foil, was real.
I have my own personal Katz.