Wanting to be heard.

Standard

I had the story brewing in my netherspheres (it’s what I call the back burners of my brain), and it was coming to me like laser tag blasts — BAM BAM ZAP ZIP (ok, pew! pew! pew!), and, naturally, i was in my car on a long drive from Ashland to the bay area on one of my breaks from school. This is the perfect time for the creative juices to flow because then they just spill all over my car and there is no way for me to really write them down. Every once in a while, I would pull over to try to type something up, but as fast as they came, so fast would they go. I tried different approaches — type faster, tell Siri (which was always a disaster, because, well, have you ever tried dictating to Siri? She’s useless. hilarious and entertaining, but completely useless.) Then I tried a voice recorder, only to find out I really had no idea how those worked. Again – the same result, every time: the second I started recording these amazing (so I thought) ideas, they would all go straight out the window. Apparently, my characters only want to be travelling at 80+ miles an hour on a freeway.

But this story is one that I’ve come back to a few times. I’ve written little bits of it – moments, really – conversations, or thoughts, fleeting, like a dream or a memory. The main girl, Emily, has had bits of her story already written down, but they’re so scattered around at this point, that I don’t even know where they are. I don’t know if they’re all the same story, but it’s something I’m willing to investigate. Something I want to discover. So here is this journey — through Meditative Writing, I will find out more about Emily and her former lover/ex-boyfriend/childhood crush (?), Adam – see? i don’t even remember if that’s his name – and we’ll unlock their secrets ….. together.

I’ve actually already shared a bit of their story on here. When she slips and almost falls off a cliff and he shows up to warn her that shit is going down. At that point, I didn’t know what that shit was, but I think I do now, finally.

It’s a beautiful process, finding out your characters’ stories as they do. For it’s my belief that their stories already exist. They’re happening – always happening – living within me, and all they need is for somebody to tell it. Their stories are aching to be told, aching to be heard. Screaming at me – following me around, trapped in my subconscious – trying to break through in dreams and fleeting thoughts.

They’re there. They’re ready. and so am I.

We Just Need Your Birth Certificate

Standard

Let me tell you about my day. Let me preface it by saying that I lost my California Driver’s License when I moved from the Upper East Side in Manhattan to Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, and I’ve been venturing around New York City sans ID for the past two months. This is not a safe practice for many reasons.
1. You never know when you may be attacked or murdered, and it is always helpful for law enforcement if you have an ID on you.
2. You never know if you’ll be served in a bar when you go out, so you need to pick your establishments with precise, which generally means you can’t frequent the more uppity of lieux.

So, finally, after much deliberation and a few overnighted FedEx packages from my mother in California, I finally went out to procure a new ID. I’ve been living in New York for a year and three months, so I am long overdue for a state-issued ID card. (after 90 days, you’re considered a resident of New York…) I went on the website, printed the application form, filled it out to perfection, and collected my necessary paperwork to prove identity: Birth Certificate and Social Security Card (thanks, Mom), health insurance card, and bank-issued debit card. The website says I only needed “4” points: 2 pts for my social security card, and one point each for the debit card and health insurance card. The Birth Certificate doesn’t actually hold any point value, but is useful to provide evidence of my birth – which is just ridiculous because look at me: I’m here; I’ve been born. And before any of you throw out that it’s proving that I was born in this country, halt! Because it’s not! They don’t care if you were born in this country or not.

Anyway, so all my paperwork neatly stacked, clipped, and stowed, I went to the DMV in Midtown Manhattan. I walk in and announce my business to the bored-looking man near the information kiosk.
“You need six points.” he says with a drawl.
“The website said four.” Me.
“You need six,” he repeats.
Then he starts listing off other options, and when he gets to “pay stub” and “credit card,” I say “YES! I HAVE THOSE! Thank you! See you tomorrow!”
And I run out of there and text my mother immediately to recount my failure.
“Why don’t you renew your passport?” She texts. “You can fly with that.”
“Where do you get a passport?” I text back, passing the beautiful monstrosity that is the New York Post Office.
“The Post Office.” Her.
“PERFECT!” and I run inside.

The colossal foyer of the New York Post Office is marble and echoing. It feels so regal with its gold bars at the teller windows, its impressive American Flags hanging at each end, and the seal of the State of New York in the center on the ground. I wait in line with a few impatient customers, dancing to and fro, tapping their feet and fingers on their packages. After 20 minutes, I approach the bench when called and ask “How do I get a passport?” The guy directs me to the opposite end of the long, narrow foyer, where I find a young guy at a podium.

After a series of seemingly non-sequitur questions, he gives me a few forms to fill out and lets me know he’ll be available to help me when I’m done. Ten minutes later, having finished my forms, I look around me for this young guy, and he’s nowhere in sight. I walk up and down along the closed windows in the passport section, walk out into the foyer, walk back into the passport section, trying to peer through any cracks in the windows. Nothing. Nobody.

After a few passes stalking around, looking for anyone who could possibly help me, a slightly older gentleman surfaces from a door in the passport section. He comes up to me and asks me if I’ve been helped. I affirm and proceed to explain my situation again. He was very accommodating and helpful. He offered to copy my paperwork (for $0.50/ea) and looked through everything to be sure I have all the information I need. He then asked for my picture ID, at which point I explained that I didn’t have one, and that is precisely why I’m here looking for a passport. He told me that’s no problem, I just need somebody to come down and sign witness to my existence – somebody who has known me for two years. I chuckle to myself at the absurdity of that, and call my roommate and ask him if he can make it down here before work at 5pm. He obliges, kind guy that he is.

Once he arrives, I try to get somebody’s attention again, because – once again – the podium attendant, my dear older friend who was so helpful, has disappeared. I catch a middle-aged woman with a caribbean accent behind the window where the camera is. I ask her if the attendant can come back out – I’m in need of assistance. She says someone will be right out. I say “We’re in a slight hurry.”
“Yes, ma’am, someone will be right out,” she repeats, same tone.
“Terrific.” Brandon and I walk back to the podium and wait.

And wait.
And wait.

We help two other people who are looking for the passport center.
“Yes, it’s right here.”
“great.”
“No, ma’am. behind us, please. we’re in line.’
“Ah, ok.”
“Yes, sir. It’s right here.”

And we wait.

Finally that same Caribbean woman of small stature comes waddling out and sits down at the podium.
“How may I help you?”
“Well, I was being helped by two of your colleagues. They know that’s going on. Are they back there?”
“No.”
“Okay. Well I’m trying to get a new passport – and I don’t have a photo ID, so I have my friend here to give witness. He just needs to sign the witness form so he can go.”
“No, ma’am. What do you have? Show me what you have.”
“Yes, here it is. I have the application form, my birth certificate, and my friend here to sign the witness form –”
“Ma’am, you’re reporting your passport as lost.”
“Yes, I am. I don’t have my old, expired passport, and don’t know where it is. So your colleague said I should report it stolen first, and then apply for a new passport.”
“Do you have your pictures?”
“Yes, ma’am, your colleague took my picture.”
“You have to have your pictures.”
“Right. your colleague took my picture about 30 minutes ago.”
“You have to make copies of these papers.”
“Yes, your colleague did that — really, ma’am, your colleague already knows my case, it would be easier if you could just find him, please, and you can help the people behind me.”
“No, ma’am.”
“I’m sorry?”
“I need a photo ID.”
“As I explained to the two gentlemen who helped me before you, I don’t have one. My roommate is here to give witness to my existence.”
“I still need a form of ID with a picture.”
“Ma’am, I explained to your colleagues that I don’t have one. That’s why I’m here. To get one. I have other forms of ID iwth no picture. My health insurance card, credit cards, bank cards, bank statements…” and I lay out all those forms.
“No, ma’am. I need a form of ID with your picture.”
“I’m sorry; I just don’t have one.”
“High school ID –”
“Don’t have one.”
“College ID with your picture–”
“Don’t have that, either.”
“Driver’s license–”
“I really don’t have an ID with a picture of it.”
“Ma’am, I need –”
“I understand that you need that,” I say, my patience wearing thin. “Your colleagues said all I needed was my roommate-” I point to Brandon “-to testify my continued existence.” People are starting to stare.
“Ma’am–” She began again, shaking her head.
“Oh! You have my expired passport on record! My picture is on that. Use that!”
“We don’t have that.”
“You have my passport on record,” I say, a bit bitingly, my patience wearing more and more thin as the moments pass on, my ears getting hot.
“At the state department, ma’am.”
“My mom has a picture of my passport! If she texts me the picture, can I just show that to you?”
“Yes, ma’am.” (!!!) Terrific!

I step aside with Brandon to let the people behind me get some help. I text my mom with a few profanities and a lot of angst, and she responds very quickly with two pictures of my passport book, opened to my information page.

I then step forward again and wait for the current customer to finish with her business. After many questions that had nothing to do with passports, I slide my phone under the attendant’s nose. “Here!” I say, triumphantly.
“Terrific,” she says, with a smile. “Now go across the street to Kinko’s and print it.”
“ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!”

And I leave.

My Life in Craft Services

Standard

Idea for a new book, developed via conversation with a lovely lady with whom I work. Or maybe a blog, on its own … called “My Life in Craft Services”. First entry: “‘-Ey! You want a meatball?” ….

It was a normal day in the west village, a bit brisk, but we were outside on the stoop, taking a little peanut butter and jelly break, and we noticed a drool-worthy smell wafting from a tin truck parked in front of the church, and, both of us having worked on a film set before, we recognized it immediately: Catering at Crafty! Oohh, how scrumptious the scents, how penetrating — we were both Buggs Bunny, floating along the current of cooking meats and roasting vegetables.

This started a spattering of stories between us — that one time she was on set for Stuart Little, the other time I was on set for a few of the projects I’ve worked on, and then we moved on to my first few months in New York, when I was traveling among different film sets, asking people if they needed a hand.

“Did you actually get work?”
“Yeah.”
“Paid?”
“Yeah.”

She and her crew couldn’t believe it. (to be honest, neither could I, really, but there you have it.)

So, that led to us riffing about how to score four breakfast burritos from the cart tomorrow morning. We landed with dressing up our second carpenter in my tool belt, equipping him with my gaff tape, a radio in his ear, and a big ring of keys. For anybody who actually works on set, it’s sort of amusing to make a caricature out of a gaffer or an AD. We were throwing out things for him to say — we’d have to find out which TV show was filming down the street, then have him go up to the chef and start making small talk. “Chilly weather we’re having, huh? Freaking Crazy. Those poor guys are on fire watch and I’m sent over to grab ’em some breakfast burritos. BUt, let’s be real, a little fire would totally toast us up! Lucky you, in that oven of a tin truck!” and, then, come back with four breakfast burritos and extra guac, and four coffees …….

So that’s the idea for my next book. I’m going to go around to different shoots and eat only from craft services. How does that sound to you??

Overheard New York (1st Edition)

Standard

This is a collection I’ve started, and I’d like to call it “Overheard New York.” 

They’re bits and pieces of conversational gems I’ve collected over the last eight months living in New York. Enjoy.

 

Basket of apples in front of the register. Guy Walks up.
Guy: I’ll just take an apple.
Cashier: We don’t sell apples.
He picks one up and shows her
Guy: They’re right here.
Cashier: We don’t sell those.
Guy: Then why the fuck are they sitting here?
Another employee whispers to cashier. (“we do sell those”)
Silence.
Cashier: That’ll be 75 cents, sir.       –  May 16, 2014, Chelsea

 

“I don’t know if I’m staying. I don’t have cash. I only have card.”
“We are a cash-only establishment, sir.”
“You know the presence of good cannot exist without the present of evil.” And he leaves.– Caffe Reggio, Greenwich Village

 

Patron: “What’s on tap?”
Bartender: “Me”
Patron: “Great. I’ll have 2 Merlots & a pitcher of you.” – Dec 6, 2013, Upper East Side

 

New Yorker: What am I saying? I grew up in NY. Idk what a lawn mower is. – Oct 14, 2013, Greenwich Village

 

“I mean, you’re so right. Everything’s, like, connected. The brain to the stomach, ya know, the heart, the brain … the stomach.” – May 9, 2014, West Village

 

“There’s someone for you. Like what you used to tell me when I was young: when I wanted the white pony with the blonde mane? ‘There’s someone out there for everyone.’” – bald middle-aged Russian man on a phone in Central Park (overheard NY)

“You don’t have to be congress to pass a bill.” – homeless man, panhandling, 6 train.

 

“Those girls? Nah, all the only recommendation I’d take from them is ice cream shops in Brooklyn.” – June 3, 2014, West Village

 

“The Path Train”
“The what?”
“The PATH train. It’s like the subway, but less glamorous.” May 21, 2014 (Brendan Comfort’s facebook)

intro v.3

Standard

I was absolutely sure about what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to be a writer. Then a psychologist. Then an actor. Then a director. Then a stage manager. Then a first assistant director in film. Then a personal assistant. Then a screenwriter. But the most important thing about all of this was, among these definitive and very possible career paths, there lived within me a million other lives I wanted to live. The simple farm girl who takes care of her father’s farm after he passes away, and nobody thinks she can do it. The city-girl-to-farm transplant who can’t cut it in the sticks until a heart-wrenching experience shows her what real work, love, and family actually means. A summer that teaches her about loyalty, love, and accomplishment. The wickedly-smart frou-frou California earth-loving, tree-hugging, hippie-type girl who hikes and climbs trees, composts, doesn’t mind getting dirty, rides her bike everywhere, knows everything about all the environmental wars in the world, and does mushrooms and LSD because: mind expansion.

The white-picket fence lady with a husband and a few children, the Kansas family, the Florida surfer, the Vermont snowboarding chick, the upper class Manhattanite who was Nanny’d since birth, sent to boarding school in Europe, has six houses all around the world, and has a business relationship with the parents whom she never sees.

Even the sweet white girl who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. The girl who is well-mannered, intelligent, studious, but vastly talented and quick, and understands everything she needs to know to survive on the streets and own her life – the kind of girl who does parcour and is a cheerleader, but also valedictorian. The girl who would be picked on until those assholes realized who it was they were really messing with –

I digress. The point I’m making with more than a few words here, is that I realized at some point that the main theme among all those career paths was Storytelling, and living every day with thousands of voices in my head, trying desperately to be heard, the only way I could – and can – find peace is by telling their stories. Each one of those voices belongs to a story, aching to be given life, and they’re rooted deep within my soul, something I only recently discovered. They won’t rest until they’re heard – meaning I won’t rest until I listen.

So, this is where their stories will be heard. This is the page onto which I’ll pour their lifeblood.
This will be raw, I warn you. I may edit or revise a few times, but consider this first draft work. You’ll be uncovering the secrets of these lives along with me. Typos, thoughts non-sequitur, lies and whole-hearted truths included. We’re in for a ride, here, hopefully, and we’re in it together!

[ i n d i g o ]

War in a post-war building.

Standard

Last night around midnight, my lovely neighbor-to-the-north decided it was the best time to declare war on her dusties. So she plugged in the vacuum and scraped it across her floor (read: my ceiling) for 45 minutes.

If you’ve never been in this lucky position, it sounds like someone is taking a saw to your piping while simultaneously scratching nails on all the chalkboards. I’d gone to bed at nine, knowing I’d have to be awake at the ungodly hour of 7o’clock, and you can imagine how frustrated I was at this.

So, naturally, I did what any rational adult would do and stomped and banged on the walls and screamed “shut the fuck up; I’ll kill you.” until I was satisfied that she’d heard me.

Maybe I’ll put a sign on the front door…

[glimpse]

Standard

I have two jobs.  One of them is this glorious job as a sort-of assistant in a semi-fulltime-capacity, with a really, very cool person who does terrific work.  That’s all I’m allowed to say about that. 

 

The other job is a grimy position as a cleaning lady in Manhattan.  I don’t like to talk about it for obvious reasons, but this one night last week, I found myself in the offices of this other job – a place I avoid with all purpose.  But, there I am in this room with a bunch of fat Latina women with an attitude and a Bronx haircut , and the people who work there are children. All of them. My age, Harvard graduates – ALL WHITE and all beautiful – an office full of Sorority Girls and Frat Boys. As someone who fits more snugly within the grouping of the latter, I was quite uncomfortable.

 

 

[ i n d i g o ]