Like most kids who grow up in the suburbs, when I was a kid, I fetishized the mall, like just so deeply and badly needed to get a ride there so I could get my cartilage pierced at Claires or eat a cookie the size of my face or just walk through racks of low-rise pants that didn’t fit me. It’s not my favorite thing about myself, but I am somehow calmed by rows and shelves of Things, organized neatly by color and size. Since I fixated on Malls so much when I was young, I am really disturbed by the fact that they are now dying, so much so that there is now a term for the abandoned or nearly abandoned spaces, ‘dead mall.’ There’s even a term for the abandoned large hub of the mall, the JCPenney’s or Dillards or Sears: that gaping pit emptiness is called a ‘ghostbox.’ There needs to be a word for what I’m feeling — this sense that I am inside of slowly changing world — a world that is moving so fast I barely notice the changes — but every now and then, when I pause, I glimpse the change and it makes my skin buzz and my stomach sink. What is this feeling? Futuresense? Changefeel? DEADMALL?
I’m in the middle of re-working a movie I wrote a few years ago. Rewriting pulls out the lose threads of my brain and makes everything, my Face, my Self, the World, feel unstable and wrong. WERE I TO SELECT AN IMAGE, IT IN FACT LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE THIS:
Imagine each piece of yarn is either a character or moment or my own self-loathing and doubt or a TIGHT FRENCH BRAID OF ALL OF IT. The goal, of course, after a certain amount of wading through and tripping over and choking on the mess, is this:
And then naturally, this.
I would just like to formally apologize to every actor who came to callbacks for The Cake last night for how much I was frantically writing during every read. If I were you, I would of course assume that I was making a long list of everything that was annoying about my body and voice and just me as a human, in general. But actually, when a playwright sits in on auditions for their play, suddenly all of the emotional holes in the scenes become clear, and the playwright must frantically write these holes downs along with any ideas re: how to fix them before they escape. Unfortunately sometimes this must happen while an actor is beautifully emoting. Basically La La Land is a documentary, and sometimes, I AM THE VILLAIN IN THE ROOM I’M SORRY.
Sometimes I forget that Morrison can dance his face off like a love interest in an movie a la good ol’ Bing Crosby days. He studied ballroom dance in high school, and so when the right song is on, he morphs from gentle giant who prefers to not draw attention to himself, to SLICK AND ALLURING DANCING SWAN MAN. The footwork alone is insane and he busts it out at dance parties like a secret trick. People tend to watch. And when this happens, sometimes I just watch him, too, with a big stupid smile on my face, as it’s sort of a thing from a dream, having a man who not only CAN dance, but WANTS to. I can usually get away with a bit of objective staring, until he pulls me up to dance with him, at which point I promptly step on his feet, at which point he spins me around, and which point I fall on my face laughing like a kid on one of those spinny things, at which point he catches me.
1.) Research place.
2.) Purchase tickets.
3.) RESEARCH EVERY POSSIBLE THING THAT COULD GO WRONG IN SAID PLACE, OR JUST IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY IN GENERAL, AND THOROUGHLY CONVINCE YOURSELF THAT EACH OF THESE THINGS WILL HAPPEN TO YOU AS IF YOUR LIFE IS ACTUALLY A MOVIE WRITTEN BY AN GRADUATE SCREENWRITING STUDENT WHO BELIEVES THAT SOMETHING TERRIBLE MUST HAPPEN ON EVERY PAGE BUT WHO ALSO HAS A KEEN SENSE OF IRONY AND SO THE CHARACTER GOES INTO THE SITUATION BELIEVING THAT EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE BUT THEN BAM THEY ARE PUNISHED FOR THEIR IGNORANCE VIA LOST PASSPORTS AND FLOODS!
4. Hey, take a breath. Remember you are lucky to go at all, and that this is what life is for. Experiencing another culture broadens your understanding of humans and
5. REMIND YOURSELF NOT TO RE-APPROPRIATE OTHER PEOPLES’ CULTURES FOR YOUR OWN GROWTH
6. Buy an absurd amount of gum as if gum does not exist in other countries.
7. GO ON YOUR TRIP, PSYCHO.
I woke up REALLY needing to find a picture of the book I learned words from as a kid, and HERE IT BE:
I think this was all of elementary school, opening this owl and shoving its contents into my head. I was always good at memorizing, not so much internalizing. And so when my vocabulary sort of froze at the age, of, what, 24? Is that when the brain stops growing? I ended up with a moderate but far from impressive collection of words. I know no fancy synonyms for moderate or impressive. For a writer, my arsenal is limited. When I read I do so with Dictionary. But every now and then, I meet a word that I like, and it sticks in my head like gum I can’t see. And so I try and trot it out, and it’s usually awkward like trying to make a friend as a grown up, HOW IS YOUR LIFE TODAY, PERSON? But if I persevere (a word that I know ONLY because I have a cousin named Perseverance) I can normalize it and stop saying it surrounded by question marks, like I’m on stage at a spelling bee. And so today, I declare to you, I will use my new words with alacrity, which is just a sharp and beautiful little word that I always say in my normal life, by which I mean, with willingness and cheerfulness.
Tucked somewhere south east of LA that I still don’t fully understand but I am Here so hats off to that — We find Temecula, another beautiful wine country, as if California did not have enough already. Here, a girl can escape to write and actually sleep ON a vineyard and allow her panic to meet relaxation and sample their wines until the Malbec flicks her off to sleep, safely tucked inside of one of her own ideas which will change completely by the time she wakes up.
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?
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.
We are still on the jet lag struggle bus and keep waking up at 4 AM, like COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY AWAKE but also deeply tired but also desperately in need of toast. You lie there, convincing yourself you’re tired enough to sleep as opposed to just theoretically tired. You think of plays about pillows. You tell stories and make up songs. Here’s a selection from this morning, 5:45 AM, after we’d been just laying there in a hellish in-between for 2 hours:
Me: HOW’S IT GOING?
Me: You awake?
Morrison: I am now. But I’m trying to sleep.
Me: Me too.
A few moments of pretend rest.
Me: (SO LOUD): THE SUN’LL COME OUT / RIGHT NOWWWW / BET YOUR BOTTOM DOLLAR THAT RIGHT NOW / THERE’S THE SUN
Me: RIGHT NOW! RIGHT NOWWWW! THERE’S ALWAYS RIGHT NOW / THERE’S ALWAYS RIGHT NOW, RIGHT NOWWWWWW
Morrison: are you done?
Me: (HYSTERICAL LAUGHTER)