i'm a white writer. in new york. original, no? i've been blogging since october 2002. this blog picks up in october 2008, when i moved from DC to NY...(and then I moved to Maine in 2012)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Juice.

I'm doing technical writing in my ninja temp job.

I do not like it, Sam I am.

It'd be different if the writing were somehow creative, but it's using up all my writing juice and disrupting my rhythm, my Charlie Brown Christmas rhythm of the four-fingered hands moving back and forth to decorate the dog house. For Reals, yo.

I do however, like Juice Beauty. All organic products and my skin has never looked better in six short days.

And I like peppermint hot chocolate. Twice in one weekend I like it I like it yes yes I do.

I took a private Pilates lesson today that spanked me hard. I fully expect to be unable to walk tomorrow. And Tuesday. And possibly Thursday.

Looking forward to my boss (aka The Olympian*) coming back from Japan tomorrow, so he can tell me how badly I'm screwing up this technical writing thing. (I'm writing a Console Administration User Manual for Social Tools linked to Domain Sites. You heard me.) I am doing a half-assed job not out of laziness, but because I have only half a clue.

I do not like sucking.

OH! A friend from DC was in town Friday so I hung out with her and her Sig-O. And I had a loverly two-hour-plus convo with another friend last night.

One of the best things about moving is that you hold on to the people who mean the most.

Today is the 10th of 10 days working from home. Looking forward to a giant salad tomorrow. Romaine, grilled chicken, black olives, corn, peas, cheddah, and a tangy anchovy chipotle dressing. $8. My main meal of the day, Monday through Friday.

RATS SPOTTED TODAY:
Eight, including a mother and baby. Mom chased off another rat that was in their way. By far the most rats I see are in Columbus Circle.

Why is Coldplay so damn catchy? (Rhetorical.)


*Seriously. An Olympian. Who is an epicure. Who sews his own clothes. Who is dating a burlesque dancer. She who happens to work with spies.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Stuck between a roach and a hard place.

Dozens. Still. Dozens. We're down to now about only 13 in the sink at any given time, from an all-time high of 24.

I do not prepare food in the house and I re-wash silverware before I use it. (I do not use glasses or dishes.)

The roommate is still gone. I'm feeding her cat, whose food is in a bag on the kitchen floor. Each time I go to feed the cat, dozens of roaches pile out of the folds of the bag.

It's awesome.

My roommate doesn't think it's so bad. She said, "It used to be there were roaches on the ceiling, so this is nothing."

You might recall that the day I scrubbed the crusty roach feces and corpses off the counter she was deeply shaken. She was thinking I was judging her. You'd think someone would be glad to have a roommate who cleans. And I wasn't making any comments about how gross it was, I was just cheerily cleaning. Not frantically, not passive-aggressively, not in front of her, not to shame her, just happy to do my part to clean. For this I was labeled aggressive, but when asked for details she could not say how I was aggressive. She did say she wants me to feel comfortable here, to which I replied I did not feel comfortable.

Now, I know that everyone has a way they were raised, everyone has a different tolerance for how bad the trash or recycling gets before taking them out, how often to vacuum and dust, how often (if ever) you clean the tub. And I respect that to have someone move in and want to clean can feel invasive, even if it's a good thing.

So now I am in a position where it would be against my nature to go ahead and clean when I know that it is something that will deeply upset my roommate. Like she was all excited that I would be contributing nice silverware to the household, but I can't bring myself to intermingle mine into the drawer that has several dead roaches in it. Problem is, I don't feel I can do what I want, which is to remove everything from the drawer, clean it, and put it all back because it would upset my roommate so much.

I can't live like this.

In an attempt to do something that I hope she doesn't notice, I pulled her cat food and cat dishes out and scrubbed the kitchen floor, sending about a dozen or so tiny roaches scurrying under the floor shelving. That's when I saw that there were about a dozen dead roaches on one of MY pristine shelves of canned goods and very clean dishes and tupperware.

Only the roaches weren't dead.

So I got the spray out. (We have two cats, so I've been avoiding this.)

I sprayed into the crevice beneath the shelving on the floor. Dozens more came scuttering out, gasping for air. Big ones. So I'm on the floor cleaning all this up. And I start tossing my now-dirty dishes, plasticware, and knives into the sink.

And I start to cry.

This is not okay.

So if you come to visit, stay out of the kitchen. We'll be eating out, or eating what I can keep in the house: apples, granola bars, yogurt, and cottage cheese. I have not seen the roaches anywhere else in the house and I am careful to not eat in my room or my office.

She's having a Christmas dinner party here in a few weeks and said I could come if I want because I live here.

Despite her oh-so-enthusiastic invitation, I think I'll pass.

Maybe I'll lose weight from all this.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

THURSDAY SLICE: I know why female playwrights aren't being produced.*

It's because we're fucking inarticulate.

Sigh.

So I got shuffled around six different cubes yesterday at work, all of them in what's referred to by everyone as The Pit of Despair, I kid you not. (I rechristened it the Bowels of Entropy, which seemed more lyrical.)

The highlight was being treated to a stellar lunch at Frickin' Olive ("Fig & Olive" but whatev, Trev) by a friend who was in town for an audition and who was quite irritable about it. (Is it so wrong that I love NY when so many of my friends hate it?)

So.

As you know, I've been running all over NY, seeing as many readings and shows as possible, learning which theatres do what plays. I've also been reading a play a day in my new role as Literary Manager, so I've really been in New Play Heaven.

Well, I got all bold and emailed an Artistic Director of one of the theaters I'm particularly taken with, introduced myself, and he emailed back. I ran into him last night and said howdy.

Oy.

I had no follow-up. I said the most trite shite. I said things like "smorgasboard" and "inspiring" while looking at the floor.

You heard me.

As if the floor could have helped me.

I may as well have said "Schreentklmmmphle," which is Yiddish I made up just now for "Have you seen my yellow helmet I must have misplaced it OH it's over there okay bye now."

.

.

.

I know we all have these moments, and I know that when they happen, they feel ten times worse than they actually are, but holy cow my head voice was screaming, "Evacuate! Evacuate!" while my outside voice kept trying to gain social traction, which of course just made it worse.

Part of the reason I've self-produced is because it's easier for me to produce my own plays than it is for me to ask someone else to do it. Also, I think it's just better if you just go ahead and do your thing, do your work, and if someone's interested, they'll find you, right? Even if it takes 'til you're 50, right?

I know.

I know I know I know.

I said I know!

Which is why I was trying something new, can you just listen for a minute before you start in? I just got a little too far outside of my comfort zone.

Speak on a panel? Sure! Teach a class? No problemo. Navigate a talkback? Easy peasy! Approach a director? I'm sorry, what EXACTLY makes you think anyone is remotely interested in anything you have to say, young lady. Or your little plays.

And so it all slammed back, stuff I didn't think still affected me, stuff I wish I could surgically excise from the deepest part of my wormy gut: being the new kid at 12 different schools and being ignored and ridiculed by my awesome family. Not actually speaking hardly at all. Ever. Until I started writing plays.

Yeah, this whole Late Bloomer Thing is awesome and Yes I'm going to read Malcolm Gladwell's new book so I'll feel all kinds of validated and all, and I know these experiences are my richest blessings as a writer, but they're also my biggest stumbling blocks to "fitting in." Which sometimes is all I want for Pete's sake.

And I realize I'm new here, I'm going to these things alone, and I have NO track record in this town, so I'm cutting myself a break. I just can't see very far down the road right now, and I want to find my way.

I think I'm a little lonely. Fuck if I just didn't type that out loud. But it's all good. I'm here to bring to bear all the beautiful recent changes in my life, to push myself to write better, and to claim a space somewhere.

I've been so high about moving here that I needed this little correction in the market of optimism.

But more to the point of this blog post's title...

I've said it before and I'll say it again, though someone once took me to task for blaming women for the sexism that exists in theatre...we are not socialized to promote ourselves. To make an "ask" is to step miles outside our comfort zone. To approach the demographic group of Men Who Have Power In This Business and to engage them in your work is something most of us are ill-equipped to do. So we are assistant directors, assistant artistic associates, literary managers, and dramaturgs. We help.

We are not in charge, though the argument could be made that we should be.

So it is easier to self-produce, something I am tired of doing. I want to play. I want to be a part of something, not an amateur auteur.

I believe in my work, even if I don't know how the hell to present it. I'm a conflicted mashup of "The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity." I think I'm two plays away from hitting my stride.

Luckily, I had a long subway ride home to sulk over all of this. I took the D to 59th, where I had thought I'd caught the A train, when in fact I had simply caught another D train, something I didn't realize until I got to 167th Street in the Bronx and had to turn around.

And, for a moment, for a beautiful, metaphorical, preSocratic moment, I became Zeno's famously immobile arrow.

RATS SPOTTED TODAY
Eight: a record, though I had hoped for more.


*I'm referencing the current discussion that's been chronicled in the Times about how women playwrights are demanding parity on main stages. (Parity is the wrong argument to make, but my argument is for another blog post.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I have loveliness to share...

...but right now I have to find my way to the Target in the Bronx.

For now, my roommate--who I kid you not was VERY upset that I cleaned the roach crud off the kitchen counter, like I mean so upset that she raised her voice and said I was aggressive and so now I'm all kinds of skrrt to clean the tub (which of course I'm dying to do)--sent me a nice card thanking me for taking care of her cat.

I think maybe she's high-strung, but means well. As I've been saying, she's not crazy and she pays her bills on time, which is GOLD in a NYC roommate. I am convinced good will on both our parts will prevail.

Anyway, I have the apartment to myself for the next few weeks, as she's out of town working on shows.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I need a magic spell, a sleep charm.

A week ago, I dreamt that my mother was dead. I did not witness her death, but there was an absolute certainty that she was dead. (Offstage, as it were.) Now, part of me knew I was dreaming, knew that she was dead in the dream only. I observed my reaction in the dream, which was a curious emotion I would not have anticipated.

I have wondered in recent years what my response will be when she does pass on. We've had such a troubled relationship, and I've moved from sorrow to anger and now pretty much I just feel compassion peppered with occasional frustration. I've known that her death will have a profound impact on me, I just don't know what it will be--guilty relief? a child's rage? a deep and wordless sorrow?

My response in the dream was curious to me because it was none of these. I can't put words to it other than to say that it was an emotion that I knew could only come when your mother dies; and that it was transforming.

I took the dream as a sign that something had shifted in me, something had let go. When we dream of death, it's said we're experiencing great change in our lives, shedding layers of ourselves, saying goodbye to parts of our psyche that are no longer useful.

I thought the dream's significance was that I were somehow finally free.

See, ever since I can remember, up until last week, every other day or so I'll have a nightmare involving my mother. I feel chased, caught, trapped, suffocated, frightened. I've watched murders, knowing my mother was in the house. I've watched houses crumble from the inside, knowing she was there. I've witnessed torture, unsure of which was more frightening--that or my mother. I've hidden in closets and run through strange homes, all the while feeling watched by her. I never see her in the dream, but I know she's there. They almost don't even qualify as nightmares anymore because I'm like, "Oh, I know this dream. Here we go again. Fuck."

Um, it's a little oppressive.

So I was excited to think I'd have new dreams.

She's baaaack.

Last night, in a dream about being unable to reach things physically; about watching a Rabbi friend have a sermon interrupted; about noticing that a dedicatory plaque in the synagogue had misspelled my name (well, had used my birth name instead of my chosen name [!]); about walking with several other people whose faces I could not see--all of us with rolly luggage--under a covered walkway that had coins flatly embedded in the sticky and uneven macadam; about my new pair of glasses having a broken nosepiece and me then having to wear old glasses through which I could not see clearly...

There she was. I could not see her, but she was there. Watching, judging, interfering energetically.

She is never a loving presence. I am always terrified.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I'm such a big girl now!

Tomorrow morning, I get to wake up to the birds singing, yawn and stretch, shower, dress, caffeinate, and then



I get



to go



to my very first rehearsal in NYC of a play of my very special own.

That's like an extra-special kind of thoughtfulness.

My roommate's cat shat on my bedroom floor.

Validation is delicious and encouraging.

Did I tell you? I don't think I did. Did I? No, I don't think so. It happened while I was moving, while I was staying at that place that was in between the place I left and this new place in which I find myself so incredibly happy and calm.

Sometime back in September, before the deadline, my latest play was nominated for the Susan Smith Blackburn prize. It is utterly ridiculous to even hope my play might be a finalist, something which would make it oh-so-easier to get an agent, but it's pretty darn awesome to be nominated.

Meant to tell you.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

THURSDAY SLICE: Please Make It Stop.

As some of you know, I'm Literary Manager for a small, bright theater in town as of about a month ago. Now, I'm the first Literary Manager this company has had, so I've been slogging through the three-year submission backlog at the rate of a script a day. Roughly. And I'm largely accomplishing this thanks to the ample reading time provided by my subway ride to and from Nosbleed, Manhattan to my Peacock Job.

Our mission statement is very specific. Along the lines of, "We produce plays written between 1928 and 1953, by female Polish amputee emigres with curly facial hair." Yes, I exaggerate, but still, 95% of the plays we get are way off-base.

Exemplia gratia:

Yesterday, on my way in, I read a submission about a family recovering from their daughter's attempted suicide. Not one moment of humor in the whole thing, just an inexorable succession of weepy regrets and carefully unfinished sentences, which of course meant that, once I reached my job at 30 Rock, I wanted to hurl myself from the parapets to accomplish what the play's hapless daughter could not.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The winds are sometimes strange in the big city.

First, today's statistics:

SUBWAY RATS SPOTTED
6 in 60 seconds--a new record

ROACHES SPOTTED (and not the good kind)
Subset: LIVE: a baker's dozen
Subset: DEAD: way more
Subset: KILLED BY ME: not nearly enough

Did you know that, if kitchen counters aren't kept clean, and roaches turn the back of the spice rack into a makeshift jungle gym, then the tiny feces they eject get all encrusted on the counter? Let me tell you, it takes gobs and gobs of disinfectant wipes to get that stuff off.

Bit by bit, people. Much as I'd like, I can't just hose the place down, 'cause that's like screaming THIS PLACE IS DISGUSTING. And my roommate has stepped up to do the dishes more, which is awesome. She's now gone for a month, so I have high hopes that deep inroads will be made, and new tactical lines drawn on the formica battlefield.

Today I cleaned her cat's food dishes.

No wonder I haven't had an appetite lately.

That's not true. Today I went to a famous Russian deli that's a few blocks from me, and bought some baklava, some cheese pierogi, and some chopped beet salad. I also continued with the carrots and hummus theme of the week.

Right.

So last night I went to The Public and saw a LABrynth reading of a David Bar Katz play, featuring Eric Bogosian as a prophesying Jew mad with grief, who gets a whole shul to go along with his morally and literally suicidal plans. It was pretty great. I kept almost crying, then laughing. Deep in Act 2 it's revealed what propels him--he watched his wife be raped, her baby taken from her belly, a cat placed inside her, her belly sewn up, and her slow death from being clawed apart from the inside. Then he watched the soldiers laugh because the cat is still trying to escape. True story.

It almost redeems him.

See, the main character tells of the messiah coming, and he says that for God to redeem them all, they must break every Jewish law known. They go along with this, for various reasons.

Human nature's way of believing what we need to believe.

It was at this point in the play that I was reminded of George W. and his special brand of fearmongering psychopathia, how he was so successful early on in mobilizing paranoia into an almost religious frenzy.

It took us eight years, but the masses finally wised up, unlike the people in the play, who die in a fire, waiting for God to show up.

At the talkback, the question was raised as to whether the play were too offensive to be produced. I was kind of like, "It's not offensive, but isn't that why we do theatre in the first place? To offend intelligently? To provoke?" But I kept it all on the inside. Y'know, 'cause I'm new here.

Anyway, I was going to go back tonight for another reading, because, once you pay $81 for your monthly subway card, everything that's free feels freer because it don't cost nothing to get there, yo.

BUT, at 6:00pm, the chopped beet salad and the carrots and the hummus joined forces to morph into an angry meerkat trapped in my colon. Nothing foul was actually leaving my person, other than an occasional loud "piyGOOORRRRRRRphwskskOOORRRRssth." It was the kind of sound that, if it happens while someone is telling you something, upon hearing your shrieking bowel, the speaker will stop mid-sentence and look at you with a mixture of disgust and alarm.

Now, I know at least one of you reading this has sat next to me at a play and endured these unstoppable, unmutable noises and my consequent sweating and straining not to laugh at the dirty horribleness of it all. Seeing as I'm new in town, and trying to make a good impression and all, I eschewed the reading in favor of a Big Salad with a spicy dressing. I forgot to get a drink, and so the salad became rather painful. Tried to remedy this with an iced skim chai (because caffeine is best consumed at night), and then walked to Columbus Circle, where a giant gay marriage march was happening. "No 8, No Hate, Separate, Church and State!"

Oh, and I got paid. FINALLY.

Monday, November 10, 2008

$11.60

Because I still have no paycheck, I cannot think of anything clever to tell you.

But I shall try.

I ate an entire pound of hummus. With carrots. And with my fingers, when I ran out of carrots.

Did I tell you I saw Michael Weller's "Fifty Words" at MCC? Barring the subject matter (white married couple arguing--yawn) it was great acting and direction, and I loved the shape of the dialogue.

Finally I saw something that was inspiring and technically thrilling.

I also saw a reading at Ensemble Studio Theater and another one at New York Theater Workshop. Both plays were fine but not quite my cup of tea. It's just great to start to see these fabled theaters up close. Going to The Public tomorrow.

(Note to self: Learn which theaters spell their names "re" and which spell them "er.")

And I just found out I'm going to see "Blasted" with one of my favoritest people on the planet and her lovely spouse, who is also one of my favoritest people.

Life can be damn good even when you're broke as fuck.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

American Sux-press

So last Monday, I couldn't enter my hours through the in-house payroll agency for my work the week of October 27.

After five days and nine emails, I was told there would be a manual check cut and ready for me on Friday (yesterday).

There was not.

Then I was told that it had gone in via direct deposit.

It had not.

Then I was told that it would go in via direct deposit on Saturday.

It did not.

AND, now I cannot enter my hours for my work the week of November 3, which is the same reason the problem above started.

SO.

I double-check my trusty American Express account, which I have been relying on through this move, figuring at least I've got that as backup until this gets straightened out. I have been a card member for 18 years. I have never had a late payment. My available credit is $3,000.

Not anymore. Due to the economy, they down-sized my credit limit to $2,000 without telling me.

So I call American Express.

And what do they tell me? They tell me the $150 check I wrote Kermit last week for helping me move bounced like a fat man on a trampoline. Because it would have put me $24--TWENTY-FOUR WHOLE DOLLARS--over my newly lowered limit.

REALLY?!?!

Did I mention I've never had a late payment in 18 years?

I hate American Express. And I hope they have a Google alert for "I hate American Express" that brings them here so they can read this and be ashamed of their ridiculous, short-sighted, panicky-ass selves.

And just for good measure, "American Express sucks."

Thursday, November 6, 2008

THURSDAY SLICE: The Oatmeal Edition

Wednesday didn't really exist.

Did you know that?

Well I'm a-telling you it's true.

Flirty-flirt, flirty-flirt, flirty-flirt flirt.

Digging the jay-oh-bee. I get to say these kinds of things: "I need an emergency ccp for ticket number 5687122 because they need to extend the change control window to complete the database index drops they couldn't finish offshore last night." I try to inflect my delivery with a Mametian sort of patter.

Then my boss buys me ice cream. Or an ice-cold chai. Or a salad. With peas.

It's great.

He literally said, "If you ever wake up with a hangover, just work from home."

Got comps for 50 WORDS on Saturday. Can't wait. I'm hoping it's going to be the first piece of NY theatre that really blows me away.

Oh yeah, and I'm stoked about our new Democratic regime. Totally turned on.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I can rock the vote!

Renting a cargo van and dragging Kermit to CT and paying him a lump sum to load the last of my crapola and help me unload in NY because I literally can't use my right arm because I injured it on Trip Five of I-Can-Do-This-Move-All-By-Myself-With-A-Borrowed-SUV-And-A-Hand-Truck.

By 7pm today I am done d-u-n done.

God willing, so is McCain.

Monday, November 3, 2008

It's not just a handful of friends reading this anymore.*

Found out Friday afternoon that my weekend was going to look something like this:

Subway to Grand Central. Hop train to CT. Get picked up at station. Stop at Target for cat litter. Pick up SUV and get it detailed and gassed. Drive to NYC. Drop off cat litter, pick up stenchified rug. Drive all night to the Eastern shore of MD. Arrive 2am. Turn clocks back. Sleep. Arise. Eat eleventy pieces of bacon. (I am not a Jew.) Return stenchified rug to Target, and in the process explain my incredibly chaotic but wonderful move to NY in answer to the question, "You live in NY but you bought the rug here?" Return SUV to its rightful owners. Hitch ride to Metro. Walk to bus stop. Arrive in NYC 10pm.

*Anyway, if you are one of the friends, please continue to keep this anonymous until I decide it's not. Thx. Oh, and some of you have yet to come up with clever pseudonyms.