Please don’t tell anyone I owe any sort of script to, but by ‘going to hotel to write’ I actually mean ‘hiding in hotel room with room service watching cheerleading competitions wishing I could go back in time and be either a strong or portable person who cheered competitively in college.’
I can remove myself from my involvement with This is Us and say with confidence that this week’s episode, Memphis, is the one of the top saddest, most beautiful episodes I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen at least ten to fifteen episodes of television. Morrison and I cried so much that Cracker literally came over just to see if we were okay. You have to watch it to get the significance of these Ducks, which are heartbreaking and breathtaking when they appear at the end, in a way that regular old ducks never quite have been. Clearly it has gone to these ducks’ heads, as they now have a TWITTER PAGE.
There are plays you read in undergrad and grad school and watch scenes from and do scenes from, to the point where watching the play actually staged feels like a very long, hazy moment of deja vu. O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night is definitely one of those plays, and I even though I spent a summer at the O’Neill conference, did a three-night long, all playwright reading of it, visited the very house in which the play was set — I did not actually see the play until last night, at the Geffen (staring Alfred Molina and Jane Kaczmarek, who were both magnificent.) Even though I’ve read it so many times, last night it revealed itself to me as something new — not a play about brothers, about fathers, about grudges you can’t let go of — but a play about a very poetic addiction. It’s really Mary Tyrone’s play, the mother’s play. It’s actually about her withdrawing from and indulging in morphine, hiding it from her family. When she’s on morphine, she just talks and talks and talks, and says the saddest and most beautiful things:
None of us can help the things life has done to us. They’re done before you realize it, and once they’re done they make you do other things until at last everything comes between you and what you’d like to be, and you’ve lost your true self forever.
The past is the present. It’s the future, too.
Her addiction allows the playwright to speak through her. We have things we want our characters to say. They are the things that we want to say, but can’t. But you can’t just insert the things into the mouth of a character. You have to give them some profound reason to say them, a reason that ideally creates a story. This is something I already knew, but must be reminded of, every time I write a scene. A character is not a robot for your poetry. A character is a human being who must be cared for, who must be motivated, who is usually based on your mom (not really.) (but sometimes.) (HI MOM!)
Very pleased to announce that we have graduated from crappy, flammable Ikea furniture to sturdy, maybe slightly less flammable, moderately priced CB2 furniture. I am also proud to announce that the bookshelf contains a great many old issues of the Babysitter’s Club, and that Morrison plays video games on the TV. ARE WE GROWN UPS YET?
Morrison and I are working on our own version of a feel good sports movie, (the sports part NOT brought to you by me.) And so, as ‘research’ (read: reasons to not go anywhere on a Friday night when it’s raining 11 inches in a city with basically no gutters) we watched COOL RUNNINGS. REMEMBER IT? It’s hilarious, and so weird, and so colorful, and even poignant. And it’s not even about winning, per se. ‘A gold medal is a wonderful thing, but if you’re not enough without the medal, you’ll never be enough with it.’ JOHN CANDY YOU’RE SO RIGHT. We must first make peace with ourselves before receiving medals, if we are to receive medals at all. THANKS JAMAICAN BOBSLED TEAM!
Looking at my schedule for next week, I realize I’m meeting with four different people so that they might ‘pick my brain.’ As a classic Gemini, I’m of two minds about this. Mind Pt. 1: I am happy to do it, especially in honor of those who did it for me when I was just starting out. If I can offer any insight that might help a person get to where they want to be, then good on me, good on them, and good on kindness. Mind. Pt. 2: my brain is currently in a million places. It’s held together by frayed bits of old friendship bracelet and sour punch straws and the subpar bobby pins that really don’t hold any hair in place at all. If anyone were to, at this point, ‘pick my brain,’ it actually might lose its structure entirely.
Say, are you in a city you’ve never been to, surrounded by other theater people all wearing lanyards? You just might be at a New Play Festival! But don’t panic because they’re super fun. First let’s just confirm that you are, in fact, at a New Play Festival. Please label the following statements as True or False.
1.) You don’t fully understand where you are, where you’re supposed to be, even though it’s all been printed out and put in a nice folder for you. You’ve studied it many times, and yet you still don’t really get it it, and so you just wander around hoping someone will lead you to where you are supposed to go.
2.) You don’t fully understand where or when your next meal is coming from, and there doesn’t appear to be food anywhere, so when you spot a bowl of sad bananas on display at your hotel you take one and carry it around in your backpack and forget it’s there and only remember when everything starts to smell vaguely of banana.
3.) You see three to five plays a day, one of them which is usually a mind blowing hip hop musical that makes you question everything.
4.) Your own play that you are there to develop switches from being the best thing you have ever written to the worst thing you have ever written WITHIN SECONDS.
5.) You are making a lot of eye contact with strangers and learning a lot of life stories.
6.) You are uncharacteristically sweaty at all times.
7.) You allow your life to look like this:
ALL TRUE? HEY WAY TO GO, YOU’RE AT A NEW PLAY FESTIVAL! NOW GO HAVE SOME FUN! (Howdy from Houston / TX / Alley New Play Festival and also from my sad banana!)
I’m hearing lots of vitriol re: Betsy DeVos’ appointment and confirmation as Secretary of Education, but lets just try and find the positive and keep our minds there. UNDER BETSY’S LEADERSHIP NO CHILD WILL BE LEFT BEHIND OR LEFT BEHIND AND EATEN BY BEARS, which is a thing, because approximately three, I repeat THREE people each year are killed by bears, and 6 by dogs, and 9 by lightning, and 11,564 by guns. SORRY, BEARS! PERHAPS BLUE APRON?
On the way home from lunch yesterday, Morrison and I drove by some newly built, pretty rad looking condos for sale, and decided to casually pop into the open house, in a very low-stakes and Sunday sort of way. What followed was THE TWO OF US STOMPING AROUND THE BEAUTIFUL BRAND NEW PERECT AND AMAZING PLACE LIKE CHILDREN, HEARTS PALPITATING AS WE DISCOVERED EVEN MORE CLOSETS AND BATHROOMS AND A MYRIAD OF SINKS, excitedly declaring where we could put things like babies and desks. And turns out, we might actually be able to afford it. We were planning on staying put in our place for a while, but a casual look at a vacant spot has turned into an all out fantasy of dinner parties and balcony and (small, but adorable) yard. Who knows if it’s actually practical, financially and life-wise, and we are still investigating. Stay tuned to find out if we are people who buy property after looking at it for five minutes. (Maybe. But also maybe not.) WEEEE!
I was re-reading the Boxcar Children last night, like you do. I came across the part where the kids find the old broken dishes in the dump, take them home, clean them off, create a quick makeshift shelf in their boxcar, and arrange their new dishes on the shelf so that the boxcar might feel like home:
And it filled me with SUCH FEELING. I remember reading this part for the first time years and years ago. I remember how it made me long for a house with shelves that I could arrange things on. And I realize, that perhaps every time I can’t leave my house without making my bed or every time I put flowers on the table or stack dishes accordingly, and then do this psycho thing where I just kind of pause and look at the Order, appeased, I am living out this very boxcar children moment over and over.