Wednesday, August 25, 2004


Time out. Had a really, really lovely Sunday. A friend of my ex-boyfriend-before-last's girlfriend sent out a totally crazy email saying that she had $1.5 million dollars to spend making a movie, and did anybody have a decent screenplay? Hello. My ex-boyfriend forwarded it, saying that perhaps I'd read a book that would make such a screenplay. Hello. I have actual friends who write actual decent screenplays, and forwarded and recommended forthwith. Then I called the film producer and asked if she wanted to do brunch on Sunday. Time out.

Sunday was a day just like nearly all the days in Mexico, bright and hot but not too hot, balmy beautiful Sunday. I biked to the East Village, and basked on a corner listening to live jazz. The film producer was a thin person who, at the last minute, wanted to meet an hour later, because she had gone running in order to make herself thinner, but I liked her anyway. We had eggs Florentine in the sun and talked about film and travel and ex-boyfriends, and the fact that at age thirty-seven, neither of us ever wants to work for somebody else again. Someone I could be myself around.

The film producer had a stack of screenplays to plow through, so I planned on biking off again after brunch. But she had this one she wanted a second opinion on. I figured she wanted the opinion of someone with actual power and experience in filmmaking, but no, she just wanted the opinion of someone with the time and inclination to read it. Which would be me. There was a garden near her apartment, left over seemingly from when there were slacker hippie types living in the East Village, instead of hypercaffeinated filmmakers paying $3000 per. We found ourselves seats amongst the little rosebushes and tomato plants and pathways tiled with broken bottles, and read and read. Some of the ancient slacker hippie types invited us to a barbeque; I was foolish enough to accept, and narrowly escaped being shanghai'd into political activism and false eyelashes. The filmmaker prudently avoided them.

After a couple of halcyon hours, and a tense half-hour on my part hanging out with the hippies and wishing I hadn't, we decamped to a tea shop for script debriefing. I obligingly eviscerated my screenplay, complete with sarcastic renditions of bad dialogue, and penetrating assessments of structural weaknesses. She said I "nailed" it, and thanked me.

No problem. What a relief, to get out of my own miserable mind for a day. I biked home in the sunshine turning from gold to rose to lavender, feeling present for the first time in months. Living in the now is peace. No horrible past with former loves blasting me and my livelihood to shreds, no dank future schlepping press releases for crappy galleries and paying $3000 for inappropriately trendy housing. Just the breeze on my sunburn and dappled leaf shadows in Cobble Hill.

When I got home, I planned to watch an old ex-friend in a bit part on "Charmed." Saturday night I did my semi-annual bit of Web-stalking of various former associates, and discovered that my ex-friend the wannabe actress finally got on something. Not only that, but the rerun was airing actually tonight! I turned on the TV 45 minutes in advance, just to make sure that WB network came in okay. I don't watch the TV very often. During the preview, I caught a one-second glimpse of my old ex-friend, in the part of "female temple demon," hair all bouffed out, a familiar goofy leer on her dear familiar face.

Then the cat got sick. He'd been scratching in the litter box a bit too much lately, and I'd taken him to the vet a week ago, and he seemed to get better on his own. But twenty minutes into "Charmed," before my ex-friend's bit part took hold, he decided that he was in sufficient horrendous misery to claw urgently at stray papers all over the house, and strain for long periods over the litter box, and occasionally howl piteously. This was impossible to endure. I remembered, suddenly, that when this ex-friend was my roommate, she once dislocated a rib, and was in stark staring agony for hours and hours, and I couldn't stand it. I gave her massages, and hot honey lemon whiskey, and aspirin, and when none of that helped I moved heaven and earth and personal connections to get some illegal codeine out of a friend of a friend's apartment in the middle of the night, just so she wouldn't hurt so badly anymore. I knew that if the cat had a kidney stone, and his bladder burst while I was watching "Charmed," I would never ever forgive myself.

So I called the emergency vet, packed him into the carrier, and sat with him for three hours in the vet's office before getting attended to. Strangely, once he was in the carrier he stopped acting sick; it was as though he knew the problem was being addressed, and didn't have to complain about it any longer. He had a UTI but, thankfully, no blockage. Now TWO of my cats take pills twice a day. I am turning into a geriatric cat nurse.

My Zen glow from the biking and the screenplays even lasted through three fluorescent hours and a $200 vet bill. I felt at peace with my ex-friend the wannabe actress, for no reason, for the first time since we had our falling-out in 1999. We fell out, I always maintained, because the MFA program in drama at Columbia University turned my darling, goofy, supportive former roommate into a tearing bitch. She stopped being able to see the humor in things; she stopped moving her face when I was talking to her. Someone told me that monkeys throw feces at people who do that. It was horrendously unnerving; I felt as though my personality were continually bombing an audition. Later I realized that her professors must have been treating her that way, to toughen her up for the big leagues, but the friendship didn't survive it. I was upset about it for years.

Somewhere in the midst of my beautiful Zen Sunday, I came to a bit of clarity about my job/home/relationship/life dilemma; I realized that if the community I have been nurturing for the last two years is my true home, it ought to nurture me back. For the last two years I have given the best massage therapy in Brooklyn for the lowest price; I have thrown seven art openings without asking for drink donations; I have given my local art community free publicity, postcards, web design, and patient sympathy unlimited. I have paid New York City rents, broker's fees, car insurance, utilities, $10 movie tickets and $5 beers without (much) complaint. If my community loves me back, it will hold me up without draining me dry. If not, I can and must leave without regret.

Forthwith I sent out an email to my gallery mailing list, ditto a posting on craigslist, asking for a live/work, cat-friendly, affordable home with humans. So far I have gotten a few well-meaning but ineffectual notes, and one phone call from a bloodsucker. In my Zen state I am already convincing myself that Jersey City might not be so bad.

1 comment:

k said...

...if the community I have been nurturing for the last two years is my true home, it ought to nurture me back.