Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Oxygen


When I last wrote about getting to the shame, I said how previous work had been more on the surface. That is not entirely fair.

Believing that I couldn't be loved and believing that it was because I was fat were more recent and closer to the surface than the underlying base of shame, but they still went pretty deep. It is possible that I couldn't have gotten here without going there first, though I can't swear to it.

Regardless, that base mattered, and continued to matter even when I was doing considerably better.

I recently finished Hope Edelman's Motherless Daughters. She refers to daughters' tendency to blame themselves for the death or abandonment as a kind of magical thinking. It's not that uncommon for children and teenagers to assume responsibility for bad things that happen. I'm sure some of that is not having enough maturity to understand all of the possible reasons that can lead to death and illness and divorce, but I think there can also be a hope that if you are the problem, then you can fix it. If that is the case, you get let down a lot.

I was not the reason that my father was unhappy with his life and family. Some factors may have made it seem more likely. One sibling felt very displaced by me, and managed to hold on to a lot of resentment about my birth for a long time. More than that, I was born in the wake of a family tragedy.

I had an uncle who was a pilot. He took his (and my father's) parents out for a flight in March 1971, and they crashed. My uncle survived, but with physical and emotional injuries. Both of my grandparents died.

A lot of cousins were born in the wake of that crash. I don't know how deliberate it was, but I believe there was a desire to cling to life and create new life. It was never really talked about, but it happened.

The last time my father saw his parents, he had fought with them, and had been giving them the silent treatment when they died. I was born ten months after they died, and it was on purpose. I did not make everything better.

That shouldn't have been my job anyway, but let's just say that there was some bad emotional baggage that I was not equipped to comprehend at the time. I developed into someone who always felt a need to do more and to fix things and to take care of others, and without strong motivation to take care of myself, or even openly acknowledge that I wasn't.

Getting back to The 9 Types of Lovers - it's not that it never hit home before; it always did - but it hit harder and deeper. Maybe that was because the issues that had been piled on top of it had already been cleared away. As it was, I was feeling like the poster child for People Pleasers. Even the examples and suggestions of ways to change certain patterns were things I had done or was thinking about trying to do.

There were two crystallizing events. The first one happened May 4th. I was feeling well, and I had meant to sleep some more, but for some reason I got online and I had a distress call from one of my girls.

I just wanted to cry. I cannot do this! And I didn't. I felt like a heel, but I got off the computer and lay down and I took the time I needed. Then I got on and reached out to her, and she was okay too.

It has been a pretty common thing for me to be working on something, and really need a break but I just want to get one more thing done. Then as I am almost ready to stop, someone has an emergency. I knew I needed to stop putting myself in that situation.

One thing I have had to accept is that I have put myself in a situation where emergencies do happen. Usually there is only one who will specifically ask me for help, but I spot people hitting low points all the time. I don't want to stop caring about that or helping, but I need stay functional too.

In this case, that means that I have to be ready before I go online. I pray, I read in my scriptures, I eat breakfast, I try and get sufficient sleep before I start any of those, and then I can be ready.

"Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others." I've even used that example before, more than once, but getting to where you own it for yourself is different. I am getting better.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Casting Dad Wars


Early on when I started writing screenplays, I read that the average screenwriter writes nine screenplays before they sell one. I was probably on my third then, so it seemed pretty far off.

Nine then became a magic number for me, and I got very specific about it. Television pilots didn't count, nor the collaboration on the adaptation. Obviously the month of 6-day scripts didn't count, and not Bigg City Heroes or the Binderspink contest submissions. The fan fiction didn't count, and not novels and blogging.

Even being very strict and only counting feature length screenplays written only by me and intended for sale, Dad Wars is number nine. The number was never so much magical as an indication that breaking in to the business is hard and there's a lot of failure. If you want to do it you are going to have to keep at it for a long time without any encouragement.

I have done that. I have written so much, and I have a better feel for it. I can predict things like eventual page length pretty well. Writer's block doesn't really last anymore. While I still haven't made any money from it, that does feel like an accomplishment, and I feel good about it.

And I feel good about what I have written. I am always most excited about the newest work, but I believe Dad Wars is funny while remaining pretty grounded, and it has heart. It will touch on emotions for some pretty common feelings, like dealing with aging and feeling like your life has purpose and parent-child relationships. I like it.

Dad Wars can be downloaded as a PDF and read at https://studios.amazon.com/projects/116363.

Now I am in the phase of thinking about getting it sold and how it will look. It helps to have casting in mind because this can give other people a better idea of the end result. It is also important to not be too rigid in that. You can't always get what you want, and that shouldn't devastate you.

For example, it would not be completely unreasonable for this to be an Adam Sandler film, with the neighborhood being filled out by Allen Covert, Rob Schneider, and Peter Dante. There is nothing wrong with that; I have enjoyed a lot of films with them, but it would probably change the tone some.

Writing it, I visualize Mike as Mark Hoppus and Tyler as Tyson Ritter (though he started as Gerard Way). Tyson Ritter does act, and would look adorable doing yoga with a baby. That is not impossible. I have seen Mark Hoppus do some acting, but it is probably not realistic for him to lead a movie. That's okay. I got the idea of Rob Lowe doing it and I really liked that.

Rob Lowe is very "dad" in his real life. He is a little older than Mike is supposed to be, but he can pass for younger pretty easily. It might not hurt to send him to Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp before starting filming, but who wouldn't want to do that?

It wouldn't be bad to have alternatives. I can also see Oscar Isaac as Tyler. He has musical experience and he is still in a good age range for it. He might be harder to get, but he might also enjoy the chance to do a comedy.

There are other clear pictures that are not feasible, but having the picture is a starting point. Of the neighbors, in my head Phil is Uncle Phil from "Fresh Prince". James Avery is dead, and would be more like Phil's father if he were still alive. Steve is Steve Wozniak; probably can't cast him. It is still a starting point.

My last idea is where I start to feel really good about casting in general.

For the counselor that Mike and Tyler visit, I had a very clear picture of Henry Rollins barking at them like a drill instructor. Rollins is an important part of punk history, he does act, and I know he could pull it off.

However, it also occurred to me that Grace Jones would be wonderful for that role. She would be intimidating in a different way than Rollins, but she could bring it.

(Obviously, all the guests on the "Little Drummer Boy" can be changed subject to availability- I was just naming people to give an idea.)

Thinking about Rollins versus Jones made me kind of want them both. That won't work, because there does need to be a choice and two counseling sessions would not be a reasonable choice, but it reminded me that there are many good ways to do scenes.  There can be bad casting, but good casting can encompass more than one choice. There might even be more than one choice that seems like perfect casting, even though you only see the one that happens.

So, it's okay to retain some optimism. And it's imperative to hold on to the work ethic.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Band Review: Punchline


Punchline is a band with a sense of humor, as the name implies.

Some humor can be seen in song titles. "Coyotes In B Major" on Delightfully Pleased is an interesting thought, but then on the next album (Politefully Dead) to have a song called "Coyotes in B Arthur", that builds on the first off kilter thought and adds punning.

That being said, they often achieve a sincere emotion on tracks. "Universe" feels very real, and essentially plays it straight. "No Significant Other" is very relatable, but the title gives you an interesting way of looking at it.

The band has a lot of material so there is a lot to listen to. It probably makes sense to start with their 2015 release Thrilled, but I also appreciated the tighter focus on their EPs.





Thursday, May 26, 2016

Band Review: The Phonographs


Listening to The Phonographs reminded me most of listening to early Beatles.

Not all of their songs sound like that, though "Number One Fan" is a good example of one that does. Overall, there is a devotion to rock from before it was even classic rock.

My favorite track was probably "I'm On You (You're My Drug)". The title implies an unhealthy relationship, but the song is quite lovely, with some unusual percussion choices.

The Phonographs are a four-member band from Woodstock, Illinois. That may not be the Woodstock that we associate with peace and love, but it still seems to fit.




Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Going way, way back


In this phase of my life, I can see very clearly how some things led to other things, and times when some things needed to happen first, and how that order mattered. That makes it seem valuable to trace histories.

There were 31 books on the long reading list that I knew I would go over, but there was another book that ended up being more influential for Everything Else, especially at the end. How I came to that book in the first place has its own story.

In March of 1996 - just over twenty years ago - I was getting ready to go on vacation with my mother and younger sisters. I stopped by the U of O student store, and the Psychology Today cover really grabbed my attention.

The actual article was about the 1995 sweaty T-shirt experiment (Major Histocompatibility Complex Dependent Mate Preference in Humans) by Claus Wedekind. It was fascinating to me because fairly recently there had been all this talk about pheromones, and people wanting to harness them but they weren't supposed to work on humans. Here they could be a factor, but there is so much variation in who was attracted to what - based on immune system - that there would be no point in making it a cologne. (Unless maybe you found someone with an unusually robust immune system that could appeal to anyone.)

So there was that, but also as still kind of a starry-eyed romantic with a tendency to fall in love at first sight (was it at first smell?), learning more about attraction was really interesting to me.

I don't know for sure when I read about the next thing. I did end up subscribing to Psychology Today for many years, and it would be hard to overstate how much I learned not just from the articles, but from further reading that was suggested through the articles and reviews. It was in 1997 that Arthur Aron published "The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness", so I would have read about it sometime after that. That's the one about two people falling in love through 36 questions. It fascinated me too.

At some point during my long stay in singles wards, I would think about these things and want to understand it all better (and help move it along). I really wanted to find more on Aron's work, but I didn't remember his name, and I couldn't find any traces of it. Still wanting something more led to me ordering three books. They were all about love, but there were so many books on love that I could have ordered, I can't explain why it ended up being these three. It just did.

A General Theory of Love, by Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini, and Richard Lannon, 2000.

This was much more neurological than I expected, but beautifully written -- much more literary than normally happens with scientific material.

The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, by Gary Chapman, 1992.

This was really helpful for me. When I say I am the oddball in my family, one of the differences is that physical expressions of affection are most important to me. Not only is that not how anyone else does it, they specifically don't like it. Deeper delving can be done there, and it's not anyone's fault, but it's there. Being able to frame the issue correctly was important.

The 9 Types of Lovers: Why We Love the People We Do and How They Make Us Crazy, by Daphne Rose Kingma, 1999.

I know the title indicates that it is about relationships, but it gets there through what your emotional wound and your coping strategy for it are, and it had me and the people who frustrate me the most pegged, and it all made sense.

I have loaned it to other people who found themselves in it. It is often a frame of reference for how I understand various people. I periodically go back to it.

The People Pleaser's emotional wound is feeling unworthy. Yes, I've done that. Her coping behavior is accommodation. All the time. The unconscious emotion that needs to be addressed is Shame. Even knowing it for years now, there was so much I didn't comprehend about it. Even though it came up very early in the process (11/23, pages 7 and 8), I needed to circle back to it before I could really be done.

I hadn't really understood how pervasive the shame was before. I had made progress before, and it mattered, but it was on the surface. Getting underneath was necessary, and going back to the book helped.

So, for my blogging next week, I'm probably going to start at the end of Everything Else.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Working on Everything Else


One thing that I have noticed when men disagree with me is that it is common for them to denigrate my blog at the same time that they expect to be in it: "Maybe I'll show up in a rant in your blog", "Now you'll just run me down in your little blog."

There is probably a lot to understand about how men see themselves and see women in their expectation of inclusion, but my point today is that I know what my blog is and what it's for. Implying that it's just ranting and raving shows little familiarity with my style or typical subject matter. (Only two Celebrity Hate-Extravaganzas in over ten years!)

Calling my blog "little" is telling me what I already know.

I check my stats. I know the audience I get. I generally only wish that it was bigger when I an reviewing a really good band that should be more known, and realistically I cannot give that to them.

My blog does not change minds. It does help some people who tend to agree with me have a better idea of how to say what they want to say. That wasn't a role that I expected, but I am glad to fill it. Words are my thing, and I value people having a voice.

Mainly, it is for me. I work out my thoughts here, among other places. At the same time, sometimes those thoughts have value to other people. As sometimes people do get helped, it's not unreasonable to be considerate of that.

I expect that there are going to be several posts on Everything Else. I referenced it yesterday, but blog-wise there are references there that go back to October, and beyond. Some people have been following along for a while, but it might not hurt to fill in some back story. That's what I want to do now.

First of all, if it is not already obvious, writing is an important means of sorting out my thoughts. I do keep a journal, which covers some things, but other things go in the blog or in both. Twice there has been something additional.

Many years ago I just wanted to try sorting everything in my head and my heart out. I started a document that I called Everything. I felt at the start that it would take 200 pages, and including the Table of Contents I added about midway through so I could find things, that was right. I believe I started it in 2007, but I didn't keep dates and I regretted that later.

A lot has happened since then, and it felt like time for another round. That's how Everything Else got started, and I knew it would be 100 pages.

When I started the Everything Else document, I made one page where I wrote down everything from the three lists (Problems, Wants, and To Do) blogged about in October, plus the sequence of wounds from the Overall Arc, plus all of the books from the Long Reading List.


I knew I would want to go over all of these areas, though it was certainly possible other things would come up. And they did. This topic had a completely unexpected section in Everything Else, and then in the blog:


(But because I noted dates this time, I can tell you that in Everything Else I wrote about in on December 13th, and I didn't blog about it until February 8th. That's not an unusual lead time.)

To track my progress, I changed them all to red print, and then as I finished a writing segment, I would change it back to the standard black. I finished the last of the red topics on May 2nd, though I had to write some new things that came up. (The actual completion date was May 5th.)

I also have all of those topics set up in a spreadsheet for blogging. With four arc sections, twelve problems, eleven wants, sixteen assignments to do, and thirty-one books, only fifteen have already been changed from red to black.

That's why this introduction can be helpful. This could be many blog posts. For some of them, there may not be much that needs to be said, but sometimes after the one writing you see new things, and then you have to evaluate it again. (Which also means that if in nine years I need to write 50 pages on my issues, it's fine.)

Also, for the To Do list, there are things that I have written about, but that I have not done yet. The year of selfies has been helpful already, but there is a lot left to it. I have not started transcribing my mission journal or taken any driving classes yet, though I have written about what I think they will accomplish.

Often I can see ahead for several weeks worth of blog posts. I had something completely different in mind for this week, and yet my feeling is to hold off on that, and focus on this. Maybe that is because I am in such a state of transition right now, and the healing that I was working on is going to be important in navigating the transition. Maybe I need to read some more before getting back to political topics. My blogging is often driven by feeling, and I am comfortable both with planning and changing plans.

This is me. I have no illusions about that and I'm not trying to fool anyone else. Frankly, one of the best things about the time I have spent at this is the comfort that comes with not needing anyone else to think or feel a certain way.

This is where I'm heading, and you are welcome to come along.

Monday, May 23, 2016

More selfies


While I've been writing about books and politics, a lot has been going on.

I've been having some really good conversations on the selfies. They do things for other people that I hadn't really thought of. For the intended purpose of becoming more accepting of my own appearance, there's a reason that you do it for a year. I am not quite one quarter of the way through, and there is still progress to be made. Still, there are other things that happened.

One is that I had some really bad days, where I could not work up a smile. If I wasn't committed to a daily selfie, I would not have taken pictures on those days, but I had this commitment, so there wasn't any hiding from it. There were some pretty sad pictures, and some gritting my teeth trying to get back to somewhere good pictures, and there was this:

May 9: #365feministselfie The past couple of weeks I have been exhausted, hurt, allergic, sick, and insulted. Still here.



Covering the things that went into that picture should give a pretty good update of what's going on in my life right now, and how it is has been going.

First off, my severance is done. I have now started getting serious about my job search, which I meant to start sooner, but the writing took longer than I wanted it to, and that is still my preferred method of earning a living. Putting off the job search may have repercussions, but one thing that was happening in those two weeks included ridiculous login problems with the state site, which was very discouraging. It required some long hold times, but login issues are resolved, and I am now being more organized in my search.

The last time I blogged about the writing, I had decided that I was going to work multiple projects, and also that I was going to post how much I had written each day to keep myself accountable. That was good to a point, but there were a couple of things that went wrong with it.

I was trying to do too much. I'm not saying that's what got me sick. That has happened before, but this particular illness was a cold that worked its way through the entire household (I was third). Even though I had allergy symptoms before it hit (and I still do) I felt the cold descend upon me with a sneezing fit that pretty much announced "This is different."

It may have been a helpful reminder that I have limitations. I have so much I want to get done, and it feels very important. I need to finish these scripts, and I probably can't write that one right until I finish these books, and then I need to do these things, and I didn't give myself the support I needed, nor was I getting it from anywhere else. The breakdown came around April 26th, which was also the last day I posted a writing page count.

I switched to focusing on finishing Everything Else, that document of self analysis and assignments that I have been working on since November. I finished it May 5th, which was really fortunate because the big insults came on May 6th. They stung less because of something that I realized when I was finishing up Everything Else.

I am still not functioning at the level that I want to. Like, at some point if I could have a day where I exercise, and provide enrichment activities for Mom, and cook a nutritious dinner, and make progress in a book and earn some money and write, that would be really amazing.

At the same time, I've learned a lot. I did finish one screenplay, and I only have one scene left on another, and the two events I was working on have come off. I even did some fun things. I finished some books.

One of the things I have been doing for job hunting is viewing various webinars and things, and part of that is remembering that I am good at stuff. Losing your job - no matter how nicely they break the news - feels like a rejection of your worth as an employee. I do have a lot to offer. When I work for you I do a good job. There is this process of building back up, and I am getting there.

And, just with where I am at in my efforts at personal growth, there is really nowhere to hide. This does not seem ideal for either job seeking or agent seeking, but it's where I'm at. Maybe that's okay. This here is the person who will work hard for you, and who plans hard and writes hard and maybe I'm just kind of intense. I'm at least intensely human.

But most of all, I'm still here.