“What are you?” she said, staring into the pool of pure, clear liquid/ It was her reflection, at least she thought, until a moment prior when she swore it had moved without her consent. Her mind raced, the way minds do when faced with immobilizing fear. Fueled by her recent tragedy, her fear of the puddle overcame her, nearly became her. It was like a dream, but more vivid and visceral than a dream ought to be. A thousand Benedryl couldn’t conjure a dream so real, and she was chained to it, somehow aware she would never wake up. Why was she dreaming? She wanted nothing more than to be in the world where she belonged. But that place was slipping away. Why?
“Why was she dreaming?”
She froze. It was the puddle. Her reflection- the her that wasn’t. And it had her voice. It was like someone had created a text-to-speech program to emulate her vocal timbre.
“She became the water- a ripple.”
A drop fell from the sky and landed in the pool.
One of the biggest challenges I’ve been facing with this project is how to structure it. I did a lot of experimenting in my journal. Here’s a sample.
A lot of us cast our eyes back to prohibition only to view it romantically. Maybe that’s because it’s so hard to break the habit of thinking about our interactions in terms of television shows and Hollywood films. The Capitol Theater throws a “Repeal Day” party every year, where people dress as flappers (even though prohibition ended in 1933 and austerity had already come back into fashion with the stock market crash) and drinks gin cocktails to “honor the past”. Film versions of The Great Gatsby and cheap Halloween costumes contribute to our perceptions of the past just as much as anything that actually happened.
It’s a weird appropriation of history, to drink cocktails from cheap plastic cups and pretend to dance the Lindy.
I suppose it’s romantic revisionism that leads us to believe that all the booze was taken away by boring religious fanatics. I mean, it was, but there’s more to it than that, I’m coming to find. There’s a bunch of factors at play- attitudes about sex (women hate it, but the men gotta release it somewhere!) So prostitution is legal in the West for way longer than a modern person would expect. But then the men are getting wasted and bringing home “V.D.” and beating their wives. So the wives and sympathetic men-folk suppose it’s about time to outlaw booze. If I was a booze-beaten wife in 1910 Olympia I’d probably call for it to be restricted, too.
Will I stick to this structure or try something else? What does prohibition have to do with this class? All these questions, and more, answered in my final project (hopefully!)
Where is it?
Where is it? Where did my notes go. The ones I took in class, about the book I was reading, my notes about a section of my project, an idea, a direction, something I need to look up. Where is it? I need to find my idea, I don’t want to lost the connections I made.
Did I put them on the computer, or the flash drive? On my ipad? Or phone? In the margins of the book or in a note pad- which one? Where is it?
Im working as a student and as a writer, reading, assimilating, researching, and trying to remember. I know this about myself- If I write it down I am more likely to remember- even if I don’t go back and read it again. But, what if I did, What if I followed up on all these threads of ideas, read the books I learn about: what if I knew where all those bits were written down.
So here it is, my Journal, my place to write everything, all the bits and threads and odd thoughts. I’ve tried before and struggled with keeping the categories neat and confined, only putting finished work in my journal. This time it will be in bits, and be some of everything, a place to write, conversations and interesting everyday events.
A Journal I can answer my question –Where is it? With Here! It is here. Messy, misspelled, incomplete or finished, it is here, where I can find it. A place to store my mind, the daily stuff, school and home, the trials of health and the odd things I think about. It is here. And from here I can take the details out, to explore research and write more.
I’ve never been the best at coming up with titles but I’m remarkable at captions, blurbs, band names, and innovative new slang. I love Tumblr because it let’s me think outside the box in a somewhat structured yet unstructured way. It’s like Evergreen in the sense that you do what you want but you have to do it right or it just doesn’t work.
It also just takes me out of my mind for a minute; numbs my brain so I can refresh. If you’re not familiar with Tumblr, it’s stuffed to the gills with images. Brain candy. Steamy erotic fan fiction is a guilty pleasure. It softens the blow of real life pain with dramatic, artistic expressions of pain. One can relate to the content and that sort of fills the void that reality drills into a person.
To avoid the pain of how I keep getting my heart broken over and over again exponentially, I ogle over fictitious men whom I can love with all my heart and though they’ll never love me back, I’ll never be rejected. Their airbrushed hyper masculine figures adorned with tattoos and facial hair melt my heart like butter on a fresh croissant.
I don’t think there’s a time or place in real life where I simultaneously love and loath myself so much and in such equal measure than when I’m scrolling through Tumblr.
*note: image unrelated… or is it?
Journaling is hard.
I have a few issues keeping up a journaling habit, attested to by the dozens of blank notebooks and diaries I collect during my more ambitious moments. I’ve tried a few times but it’s not a routine I keep up for long.
I’m a perfectionist, I guess. Which in my case is less about producing only polished and edited writing and more about being too paralyzed with self conscious indecision to get any actual writing done.
I also get a little too cerebral about how to go about journaling. Do I go the itinerary route and record my day’s schedule matter-of-factly? Go for a more stream of consciousness strategem? Ask and answer a question in each entry? I can almost guarantee this crisis has been manufactured by my lizard brain in a desperate effort to prolong the procrastination.
Sam said the difference between a diary and a journal is that a diary is private–a journal is meant to have an eventual audience. Well, thought I, that is a perfectly reasonable yet horrifying distinction. It makes a lot of sense. Historically, keeping a journal was very often like keeping a simple record for posterity. Governor Bradford of the Plimoth colony wrote a detailed if extraordinarily mundane record of literally every day with that intention. It was published not long after the colony began to flourish as a kind of subtle endorsement of the Great Migration. Like, look how boring and English everything is in America! On the other hand, we have Samuel Pepys, whose private diary was full of ten years worth of London society gossip, slander, and fart jokes. Both have been surprisingly significant, historically, sociologically, anthropologically, whatever.
I am including in my project proposal the goal of at least one journal entry per day. This is both sensible and feasible, and I am already dreading it. I’m a chronic oversharer but also offputtingly shy and private, which is a super fun and not at all infuriating set of personality traits to cram haphazardly into a person. This will be interesting.
**here is a sample from the script i have been drafting, which i think will be mostly if not entirely voiced-over monologue snippets, that align with the character’s moments of introspection. it will highlight her observations and thoughts, accentuating the fluctuation of the camera’s perspective – when the camera is her eyes and when the camera is watching her**
****edit: PS i am still open to collaboration with a lofty author to help me out with this aspect of the film. you would get to play around with memory and observation
bright light and rain
(what was my dream?)
*i feel another pimple forming where i help my cheek last night*
i still like to wake up and go to sleep staring at rain. when i was smaller where it almost never rained i would treat it like a ritual.
i sat at the window and could stare outside for hours watching the patterns made by light and water in the streets, in a trance.
[but i was often entranced as a child. like after school i would just sit in the back seat of our car parked in the driveway,
feeling the sun seep in through the windows until it was too hot to stay.] i loved the darkened sky. when the sun began to emerge
again i would feel a pit in my stomach. blue skies can be as monotonous as the gray here. i still like the rain, even though it is normal to me know.
what was my dream, another tooth loser?
sometimes i wake up right after but sometimes i ruminate in the dream on why my teeth are falling out,
and the worst part is the dread of having to admit to my parents that i’m not taking care of myself.
and going to the dentist. i don’t remember the last time i did that.
physical therapy today though
i should leave in two hours
i need to do my stretches.
Week Two Journal Entry
My Oma used to live in a little apartment tucked in behind a side street leading off of the main downtown area of Bainbridge Island. It was called Finch Place. It was small, with very few apartments, mostly consisting of elderly people. Most of the tenants had balconies covered in hanging flower pots or little figurines. My grandmother’s place was on the second floor and I distinctly remember waiting in the car outside looking up at her balcony window, waiting for my mom while she went to go get her. I remember walking into her apartment. It always had a distinct smell of curry or sambal hot sauce. Her little living room consisted of an old flower printed couch she had had for who knows how long. A small table beside it was covered in a white lace doily that always held her TV remote. The TV itself almost always had her favorite channel on, wrestling. Inside her bedroom she had simple white bed sheets and a pink stuffed animal cat lay perfectly in between the pillows, a cat that now sits in my room.
My Oma was always up to going anywhere. She loved when we’d call her and ask her to go to the mall, even walking around with us while we grocery shopped. But she really loved when we were all together as a family. We used to have such big celebrations, every holiday was celebrated with so much food and laughter. We’d all crowd around my Aunt’s dining room table during Thanksgiving, passing along all the fixings to a major feast. I remember jumping into the arms of my Uncle Bobby when he’d come to visit on special occasions after having been working on a cruise ship for the last several months. Uncle Rio would be the one making inappropriate jokes at the table and playing games with the younger cousins. Aunt Arisa and I were talking about the latest book she had read. My mom and Aunt Kerrie were usually gossiping in the kitchen while preparing the food for everyone. Oma would be sitting in the center of the table, smiling at all of us together.
Those are distant memories to me now. Several years later Oma was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and that’s when the family celebrations became fewer and fewer as her disease pressed on.
I have just completed my third theatrical production at Evergreen and, as always, I am going through withdrawals. It has struck me before how starkly different I process the closure of a theatre production as opposed to the culmination of other creative endeavors. Usually the completion of a creative project has some sort of product that testifies to the hours that were poured into it, at least to its creator. With theatre (certainly one of the most time demanding and collaborative endeavors I have undertaken outside of school) the fruits of all that work simply vanish after the last performance. All one is left with is the memories of the experience and hopefully the memories you have left the audience, for better or for worse. In live performance, everything about the work in the moment is so much more contingent than other forms of expression. It’s responsive and unrepeatable but so much more routine as well. All the rehearsals are primarily to make the words and actions second nature. Even the most poignant, funny, and moving moments become banal from the actor’s perspective, who has heard the same people in the same places a thousand times. In theatre, the challenge is to make the story new again, every time.
At this moment I am re-confronted with the intangibility of what it was all for. I don’t get the same luxury that I get from making films in which meaning can wait and there is time, after the work is done, to reflect.
Soon however, I will become re-acquainted with the surprise of how quickly my memories of this work will collapse into one another and the sense of contingency they convey will fade. Remarkably, the habit of the ordeal remains, its source has no coordinate, no single point of origin. In the place it wore its mark resides the process. It doesn’t live in me, for it has no conscious spark on which to live off of. It’s like dead dry kindling, and when I reconnect with my cast members, it can catch flame and new immediacy appears through body language, quips, and song.
A thought: perhaps forcing characters to look for closure is a good start to making them confront the context of shared memories.
Memories Fabricated by the mind, suggested through image.
My fabricated memories are always very short and there is never a face. There is gesture. A streak or a smear. Clothes. Feet. Pants. Pants that someone from the 60’s would wear, someone who cared about their appearance. Pressed Slacks.
The only way I’d ever seen my grandfather- in still frame. My grandparents wedding portraits hung majestically on the walls in art deco ivory plastic frames. Grandpa Patrick looks sort of like a Charlie Chaplin character. Not the Little Tramp but the actor. Happy, laughing, hair a bit mussed. Always in a suit and tie. Always. But still. Those I remember now because I’m trying. But there is that other photo, the one that immediately comes to mind if I think “grandfather.” It hung in the dining room of my grandmothers house against the white walls. All the walls in the house were white, so much light when the sun shone into the massive picture windows along the front of the house. Lace curtains would only mute the light into paisley like patterns over everything in the room.
There was a lot of looking out the window into the street in this town. See whose coming and going. Stick your head out the window to shout over to your neighbor or your cousin living a few doors down. And sitting outside all weekend long in summer. Too hot on the pavement to do much but sit in the shade. No central air in the 80’s. Good reason to have awnings over the front porch. Even the smallest porch had an awning. My grandmothers doorway also had a lamp on either side under the awning. Birds would nest there. I once thought I’d try and help the eggs hatch. Hurry it along. I raised the little baby bird for a few days before she disappeared from my bedroom one morning. My parents said she died. I didn’t believe them. But also, I knew. I should have been patient. She needed to stay in the nest much longer. Parents know these sorts of things. But sometimes they aren’t there to tell you. Grandma was near blind so it was easy to hide my experiments. I revisited that town, what was once her house before it was sold after death. They remodeled. The awning gone. The banisters gone. I suppose the new occupant isn’t an elderly grandmother and I suppose they don’t spend much time outside.
I think the photo was a 5 x 10. Black and white. Grandma Sadie on Grandpa Patricks arm walking toward the camera, framed by a large dark set of doors they must have just exited. You can see the movement in the photo with one or the other of each of their legs in half stride, so yes, this is not a posed picture. This is a picture taken by someone waiting outside the door, a safe distance away to capture the door itself and the people exiting it. To capture them fresh. Their gaze. As a boy looking at this picture. Studying my grandfather the ghost and my grandmother as a younger woman. They didn’t seem happy. Now I know. The portrait not of a party or a wedding. It was taken for a newspaper at the courthouse during the murder trial. The door in the frame to give it context, location. It sat framed, among the other family photos, non-descript but always there. And me always curious about it… or maybe I’m just imagining that. With all this white everywhere, anything related to Grandpa Patrick or Uncle Gary had it’s own shadow. Like the boogie man or the monster under the bed, even though my sister and I were born into loving these figures, we wouldn’t speak of them, or I should say ask more than what we were told. We knew early on what lingering pain looks like.
And then color.
It was when I began research for the film that I unearthed photos of my grandfather in color, these taken shortly before his death which was shortly before my birth. A wedding album that sat in a cupboard drawer for 30 years. His skin was not paper white with gray dotted shadows like a newspaper. It was similar to mine. His hair was more silky, not pulp. And his eyes were blue. But his smile – then and always seemed forced in all pictures. All but the early days. The ones when they were young, and he was an Italian Charlie Chaplin. I was shown a 10 second video clip recently. My family – mom, grandma, Grandfather and Uncle Gary, my aunt Patty 11 or 12, pirouetting for the camera. She liked the attention. It’s a brief moment but they are moving. I draw all I can from it. The moment when these ghosts break from their frozen postures. I can kind of see my uncles shrugged shoulders, what he looked like with a beer. It must have been within a year or two of his death. Was 21 the drinking age back then? My grandfather dancing and teasing the ladies. It moves. And so now I can remember one drinking a beer, one dancing. The rest I imagine. It’s all I’m going to get.