Thursday, February 24, 2005

Eavesdropping Exercise

I'm in the UCLA Professional Program in Screenwriting (more on this soon...I've got a humdinger of a story from last week).

So the post below is an eavesdropping exercise I just completed tonight. It's pretty simple really. Hal wanted us to go anywhere and write it all down the way we hear it. We weren't really even supposed to make characters out of it, just listen to the cadence of real speech. Which is interesting, but actually moot since you have to turn real dialogue into reel dialogue anyway.

"Overheard" was an actual conversation, as best as I remembered it after I ran out of the room laughing and wrote it down. There was a third character, but I condensed him in with the daughter for clarity (and because they had the same want in the scene).

Anyway, thought the scene was apropos.

And yes, I am aware that's not quite proper screenwriting format. I just haven't worked out the kinks in blogging format yet :)

Thank you all for allowing me another wonderful blogging excuse to procrastinate finishing my real screenplay. Grumble grumble grumble.




DAUGHTER (40s) surfs on the Internet. MOM (65) leans over her shoulder peering at the computer screen.

We can leave at four AM and drive straight through. We’ll make it.

I don’t want to be tired.

It’s an MRI. You just lay there.

It’s too early. Let’s spend the night before in a hotel.

You’re paying for it.

This time we need to stay in an inexpensive hotel.

Jesus. Last time we stayed in a sixty dollar rathole. How much cheaper can it get?

A card board box. The room service is knocking on the box next to you and they pass you the Ripple. Just remember to wipe the lip off with your shirt.

I don’t understand what you’re thinking.

You don’t have to pay my medical bills. You should have seen the credit card statements from those $249 a night hotels.

We’ve never stayed in a nice hotel.

Yes we have.

When? Last time we were at the Coronet where our feet stuck to the ground. The time before that we were a block from the hospital at that scary one they said they didn’t recommend.

At least we heard the ambulances were close.

We couldn’t hear ambulances.

No, but it would have been funny. The Westin! Now that was expensive.

We were only there one night! And in my defense, we thought you were dying. Remember, we also had the lobster at Trader Vic’s?


Well what? You’d rather have stayed in a one star hotel the night before a life-threatening procedure?

So if I hurry up and die then I can stay at nice hotels. Boy are you going to be disappointed in your inheritance.

I’m only getting fifteen dollars anyway. I think you’ve reached the station in life where you can spring for the two star hotel.

Check if there’s any one star Hiltons. Some name brand hotel that’s still cheap. They’d have to be okay, right?

I don’t know, mom. I can’t do this right now. We’ll find a place when we get there.

Does anyone know how to use Hello software to post this photo to my profile section? Posted by Hello

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Do Nothing

"I am convinced that there are times in everybody's experience when there is so much to be done, that the only way to do it is to sit down and do nothing." - fanny fern

The hollywood household of Nurse Sis, Mom and moi have had issues this past winter. Basically, everything that could go wrong has. Our beautiful new house has been ruined by a leaky roof that should have been disclosed during the sale. Nurse Sis, during a nursing shortage, has not been able to find a doable job. I've been depressed and overwhelmed by my list of things to do, and had my car wrecked last month in yet another car accident that was not my fault (really!). And now Mom is experiencing paralysis on her right hand side and is having difficulty having any independence, already a huge issue in her life.

Basically, my philosophy for the winter was right there with fanny fern. I cried, I avoided, and I hung out with my friend Tivo. Not to say I did nothing; I've helped take care of Mom, taken her to appointments, written another film script, and done some of the numerous household chores. But that's just not enough to keep up with the many demands of life.

In order to get things done, we need 12 hour chore days, 5 days a week. This is such a depressing fact that I really wasn't willing to gear up for it.

Then last week a girlfriend of mine gave me a temp job on a commercial shoot for a crappy internet company you've heard of. I was suddenly back to working ten hour days, commuting an hour and a half, eating my lunch in the car and being asked to lie on my time card about having been given a nonexistant break, all before going to UCLA for three hours of screenwriting classes Monday and Tuesday. And of course, I was the low man on the totem pole working for snotty, cocky 23 year olds who literally talked like I wasn't even in the room. "Yes'm, No'm."


But I did have a realization, as I quit and told them to fuck themselves. I realized that if I had that much energy to give to strangers, surely I could put in at least 2 days a week like that to keep our household afloat. So I set my alarm today (that would be my 19 year old cat Calliope), got up and dressed and got Mom's chores organized in a Franklin-Covey system. Taught her how to choose her A list priority chores for the day, and today we got 3 out of 4 of them done. We also finished a half dozen B and C level chores, and moved everything else over to tomorrow's list.

It was quite a feeling of accomplishment and mastery. Of course, it was a fleeting feeling...Mom came home from an MRI appointment for her knee furious at the UCLA doctor for being happy her knee was fine but not very interested in the paralysis in the rest of her leg. Somehow my checkmarks next to chores didn't assuage her feelings of being marginalized and dismissed in another medical office.

So I trudged upstairs to look at MY Franklin Covey planner, and moved everything on today's date over to Thursday. Tomorrow is another day.

Bottom line is, the ladies need some help.

And it may be coming in the form of a young Christian handyman/actor. We've been without our pal Wesley now since before Christmas because he's been so busy being a Korean movie star, and boy have the chores piled up around the house. But he referred a friend our way, and as soon as Lukas gets back next week from his recurring role on Everwood, he will be coming over to meet and greet us.

Keep your fingers crossed.

First Post From a "Stranger"

Wow. I'm flying! I've got five hits on my counter and just received my first comment from a new cyberfriend, Terry. I can feel it...this blogging thang is addictive!

So Big Bro told Mom about my blog (ouch!) and she read it already and was suportive (phew!) BUT..."Hey, I don't check my blog 10 times a day anymore!!!!"

Maybe I exagerated a little.

But this blog is my perspective, and I'm sure I'm going to step on some toes. And I can't be retracting statements all the time. That would be boring for all of us.

My POV is definitely different than Big Bro and Mom. And I tend to be brutally honest, often to my detriment. For instance, Terry wrote me a wonderful email about how great it was for Mom to have a supportive family--and we are--but we're no angels.

Mom and I just spent seven days giving each other the silent treatment. Well deserved on both sides, I might add. Stress and worry do that to you sometimes, and we are mother and adult daughter living together. Roles blur, feelings are hurt, cuss words are said.

The thing is, even with families that love each other and are supportive, this is rough terrain. You step on each other's toes, you blow up, you cross boundaries, you infantilize people at the same time that you put too much on their plate.

It would be a disservice for everyone reading this and experiencing this to pretend that things are rosy all the time. Sometimes Mom wonders if it wouldn't be easier on us if she had died, and sometimes I'm so angry and tired I tell her to drop dead. That's life, and that's living, and that's living with and supporting somebody in a great deal of uncertainty and fear and pain.

So again, thanks for making the journey this far with my family. And for those of you who stick around with me, in the immortal words of Ms. Bette Davis: "Buckle up. It's going to be a bumpy night." :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Hey All!

Thanks for all the amazing support my family has received!

I can't tell you how much it means to Mom to read emails from around the world wishing her well. I kid you not; she checks her blog at least ten times a day to see how many visitors she's had and if there are any new comments (PLEASE leave comments for her!). You've all provided great solace and positive focus for her. And my Big Bro (the artist/writer) is extremely pleased with your support as well.

I hope Mom doesn't see this little blog of mine as stealing her thunder, but I realized that many of the visitors to and aren't cancer survivors, but caretakers. I can't pass up an opportunity like this to commune with others in such an odd and isolating situation.

I'll also write about my life and the scrapes I get into in LA...hopefully you'll find something here to keep you coming back for more.

Thanks again to our cyberfriends. You continue to prove what I already believe about us as human beings.