Screenwriting From the Road (Or The Incoherent Rambling of a Grateful Gypsy)

I’m ten days into my whirlwind gypsy tour of LA, and I’m finally riding the waves of uncertainty better than I was at the beginning. (Just in case you didn’t read this post, the short version of the story is this: my dog and I left our place for two weeks on less than 24 hours notice.)

Some moments have been a little like the really crazy days in production when acts of God prevent planes from leaving Canada, screwing up virtually every aspect of a tight shooting schedule — those days when despite your best planning, things are so f&#$*% that you and the Executive Producer have to blast Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” and dance in his office before taking a deep breath and finding 52 contingency plans based on 15 different possible scenarios.

For example…

At one point last week, I had about four different houses lined up with varying windows of availability, and a tent on “soft hold” just in case. (“Soft Hold” is an annoying production term that basically means, “I MIGHT need you, so sit tight while MY uncertainty inconveniences YOU.” And people wonder why LA is flaky….) I also had to schedule service for my car AND my physical therapy appointments, but I wanted to sort out which sides of the city I would be living on which parts of the week so I could set said appointments based on maximum fuel and time efficiency. #themindofaproducer

In the midst of this madness, I somehow managed to finish my feature screenplay. I finished it, in fact, while staying at a place where I was repeatedly molested in the middle of the night by a cat named Carter.

A side note about Carter…

He actively ignored me all day long — like HID from from me, ignored me — but became my best friend when I was asleep. He woke me up every morning around 2 by crawling into bed with me and repeatedly rubbing himself up against me while I was unconscious.

It was like living with a feline frat boy.

ANYWAY…

I finished my script even though I was exhausted from sleeping with a cat on my face, and after I sent it off to producer friends, I went to Lake Balboa to stare at birds for a few hours because there was nothing left of my brain.

Birds are everything.

Birds are everything.

I could go totally off-topic and tell you why I’m so obsessed with birds, but it would be better if I tried to stay somewhat focused.

(What WAS the point of this post?!? Even I have forgotten.)

Now while I’m waiting for feedback on my feature, I’m tackling my television pilot from my current spot in sunny Santa Monica.

See?

Albus totally pitched story ideas for a minute.

Albus totally pitched story ideas for a minute.

But then he decided TV writing was too hard.

Just let me sleep in peace, lady.

Or maybe he was upset Reagan and Pete didn’t make out on page 6.

Either way, we’re having a peaceful, wonderful time near the beach, and I feel so blessed to have a place to stay with my bubba. We’ve even done 15 loads of laundry for my friend, which saves her oodles of money on cleaning services. (Everybody wins!!!)

I should add that I am also incredibly grateful for the place I stayed last week as well, and as much as I’m joking about Booty Call Carter, my friend was super sweet to hook me up with her keys while she was in Hawaii. And to top it off, she’s taking me out for fancy sushi tonight even though I killed one of her houseplants.

(I am NOT amazing with plant life. Probably because it doesn’t try to snuggle with me in the middle of the night.)

So as I continue on this adventure, I’m repeatedly astounded by the generosity, hospitality, and all around goodness of the people in my life.

I am one grateful girl. ❤

And P.S. My pilot is actually about frat boys, so everything comes full circle….

#writewhatyouknow

Birthday Party Playlist Part 3 (Or Passenger Side Memories)

As I continue to perfect my birthday party playlist, it’s time to talk about the great friend taking me to my birthday concert tomorrow… and the people I’ve known the longest in the world. They’re all amazing people, and we’ve spent endless hours in each other’s cars.

So here it goes…

Wilco’s Passenger Side is for Susan. It’s for our mutual love of the band and all the times we have seen them together live. It’s for being my concert buddy for all these years. For all the music we’ve shared. For accepting my Thanksgiving dinner invitation back when I was just a stranger in a Beverly Glen parking lot. For never letting me down. For never letting me off the hook. For knowing my grandparents and why I miss them so much. For sharing her critter stories. For her generous heart and her big, bold laugh. For inviting me to her wedding where I got to see her father walk her down the aisle just one year before I heard her beautiful tribute at his memorial. And for being my driver to Wilco, Dylan, and My Morning Jacket tomorrow night. I can’t wait for the show!!!

Barry White’s What Am I Going to Do With You is for Becky. It’s for being my very first Pi Phi friend. It’s for that road trip we took to Madison where we listened to his baritone the entire way. It’s for our talks about book sales that turned into so much more. It’s for dancing to the Beastie Boys together in our bathrobes. It’s for reading our course packs aloud when we were sick of studying and drawing all over each other’s arms out of boredom. It’s for that summer we just got fat instead of studying for physics. It’s for laughing at me for resting my head on piles of dirty laundry during all-nighters. It’s for flying me back home for her wedding. It’s for her mom’s photography that still hangs in my bathroom. It’s for being by my side when I did the boldest, most bat shit crazy thing of my entire life – and for not talking me out of it. It’s for seeing what I saw that weekend.

And now?

My absolute oldest friends in the world… my middle school crew.

U2’s Party Girl is for Chris. It’s for introducing me to U2 in the first place. It’s for becoming my friend at Bloc Camp when we bonded over a game of spoons and a mutual love of Twin Peaks. I owe him 100 apologies and 1000 thank yous, and I love him all the more for never asking for either. It’s for listening for hours back when we were 12. It’s for never judging. It’s for always standing by my side – no matter what. It’s for working harder than everyone around him and making things happen. It’s for seeing his dad get up to give a toast at his wedding and knowing how much that meant. It’s for always driving back when I was the last to get my license. It’s for calling me out on my crap when I need it. And it’s for always believing in me.


Bob Seger’s Old Time Rock and Roll is for Kristy. It’s for knowing my story so well it only takes a single word to explain what might take a lifetime to explain to someone else. It’s for being strong enough to cry back when I couldn’t do the same. It’s for asking me to be in her wedding and not hating me for being a bad bridesmaid. It’s for being so different from me and loving me anyway. It’s for the snow days we knew about the night before – the ones where she overheard her dad calling off classes during finals. It’s for our mutual love of Severyn shirts. It’s for our boating safety classes, our road trip to Andrea’s wedding, and it’s for that buffalo chicken dip recipe. Mmmm…

The Indigo Girls’ Romeo and Juliet is for Andrea. It’s for the ski trip we took to Boyne – the one where we played the song so many times her little sister nearly jumped out the window of a snow-covered sedan. It’s for our love of Laura Palmer. It’s for driving me to high school dances with her headlights off and always taking the Andrea way around our hometown. It’s for the clay pots she made up at my cottage and the time we spent playing cards at hers. It’s for the pig roast at her wedding reception and the carefree way she let the waves of Lake Michigan lap at her wedding dress without a care in the world. It’s for our talks about books, boys, and babies. It’s for being patient with me. It’s for her kindness. It’s for the way we can always pick up where we left off no matter how much time passes between conversations. And it’s for her loyalty.

Jay-Z and Panjabi MC’s Beware is for Adrienne who also turns 35 tomorrow. It’s for the 24 birthdays that have passed since we first met. It’s for our talks about ambition, handbags, and unmet expectations. It’s for taking me skiing with her family when we were 15. It’s for all the years our dads coached our sports teams together and parked those ridiculous turbo diesels next to each other. It’s for laughing over the newspaper protecting the trunks of those precious cars from our cleats. It’s for 6 am swimming practice together. It’s for that San Diego trip where we blasted the Chamillionaire and the laughing fits we had over card games at my cottage. It’s for the trips we took to Amoeba Records. It’s for the music we’ve introduced to each other. It’s for her bachelorette party in Vegas where we all got bruises on our ankles from that poll pole. For our talks over fancy sushi.

For our 30th birthday we spent together at Supper in the East Village.

30th birthday party goers on Dogs Dishes and Decor

Aren’t our necklaces amazing?

And for being my birthday buddy for life. Happy (almost) Birthday, Adrienne!!!

#chieftainsforever

If you wanna know what else is on that playlist, check out the industry stories here and the Michigan stories here.

Let’s Hear it For New York (Or How to Make a Manhattan)

It’s hard not to think about where you were on September 11, 2001. I had just moved across the country for grad school 22 days earlier, and I was only half awake when I heard the caller on a morning radio show say, “When the second plane hit the tower…”.

I had close friends in Manhattan that day, and I won’t pretend to understand the magnitude of the loss or terror they experienced. I didn’t lose anyone dear to me. I only lost a sense of security, a sense that my country was too powerful to be vulnerable. Yet, still it haunts me.

In the days and months that followed, I will admit I questioned what I was doing so far away from my family. Today I find myself reflecting on that same question and thinking about my friends in New York. Thinking about the time I have spent in that city, and the experiences I’ve had there.

Here I am at a cafe somewhere between midtown and the east village on my 30th birthday. Let’s pretend I just turned 30 this year, K?

I find myself at a crossroads of sorts today. My career has been a wild ride, complete with some truly unexpected turns, and my relationship with Los Angeles has been a tumultuous one at times.

So tonight while I reflect on the past and look ahead to an uncertain future, I will do it while sipping a Manhattan. It seems only right.

If you find yourself in an Empire State of Mind, here are two variations on the Manhattan recipe.

This is a “Perfect” Manhattan, and I’m not saying because I’m an amazing bartender or anything. I’m saying it because that’s what you call the drink when you have equal parts sweet and dry vermouth.

Perfect Manhattan

2 oz whiskey
½ oz sweet vermouth
½ oz dry vermouth
dash of Angostura bitters
orange zest, to garnish

Stir alcohol with ice before straining into a chilled martini glass. Add the garnish and serve. (I must admit I sometimes skip the orange zest because I don’t always have oranges in the house.)

This version? With the cherry? It’s the sweet kind.

Sweet Manhattan

1 ½ oz whiskey
¾ oz sweet vermouth
dash of orange bitters
maraschino cherry, to garnish

Stir alcohol with ice before straining into a chilled martini glass. Add the garnish and serve.

Tonight, I’m going with the Perfect Manhattan, and I just might crank up Sinatra’s New York, New York while I’m making it.

Patience is a Virtue I Don’t Possess (Or How to Make a Dipped Vase)

I share a birthday with Tony Bennett,  Tom Brady, and Martha Stewart. While I can’t sing to save my life, or throw a spiral like a Super Bowl MVP, I do fancy myself rather handy with a glue gun and glitter paint.

Today I decide to make a gold dipped vase I found on You Are My Fave.

I start with Martha’s gold paint left over from my dipped table experiment and a $6 vase from Home Goods. I pop on a little Jay-Z featuring Panjabi MC and get to work. I pour the gold paint into a bowl and dip the top of the vase inside. Then I set the vase on a brown paper bag and wait.

It doesn’t look like enough paint, so I pour a little more around the rim of the vase to create additional drips.

It’s supposed to be easy, but of course I manage to mess it up the first time. (Maybe I’m not much like Martha either….) The good thing about this project is that you can simply peel off the paint and start over if you don’t like the finished project.

Here’s what I learned about dipping vases:

It doesn’t take much gold paint to create the look. I overdid it the first time because I underestimated how far a little paint would travel down the side of the vase. Pouring the extra paint around the rim of the vase made too many drippy bits coming down the side and made the finished product look messy.

In the end, you just have to be patient (not my strong suit) while the paint slowly drips down the side, and it’ll all work out. This is probably some sort of metaphor for life, but I’m not really in the mood to be philosophical today. It’s probably because I’m grooving to a little hip hop Bhangra.

I haven’t decided what to put in the vase yet, but I’ll eventually get around to it when I’m done stenciling tiny birch trees all over my hallway walls. (More on that later…)

I’m leaning toward some sort of white crepe paper flowers so I don’t have to continually update a wilting mess of a floral arrangement.

Suggestions?

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