I would never Skype you from Moscow to tell you that the oppressed become the oppressors. That’d just be silly. I mean, I want to make your life easier. So I’ll Skype you to congratulate you on the birth of another child. I’ll buy you a cow. I’ll buy…
Meghan’s Last Night in Town
1. Los Angeles I am your champion and I need a vacation. See you in the new year, you dark fiend.
I’m gonna go go go in the morning. Six weeks in the Bay Area. The plan is: come back lighter. Get those words off my chest get that skin off my bones. We write and we walk and we watch television with my mother. End of discussion.
2. Today was the Most Pleasant. Coffee date with a guy who I’ve been out with five out of the eight days we’ve known each other. Sometimes you hear yourself telling the same old stories, other times it’s all new. Did some work then went to happy hour at Tropicalia with Karyn, taught my class, then walked over to Village Tavern for a beer with Taylor. Now, packing and cleaning (and packing) (and cleaning) (…and packing).
3. Still NaNoWriMoing. By the end of the year: first 50,000 words of The Fire Room novel. First draft of Kiss the Bride (screenplay). Second draft of Trochilidae (screenplay). First draft of the CURRENTLY UNTITLED FUGITIVE THEATER PROJECT. Polish all the “final drafts” I’ve got laying around. This is the time to write my guts out. Focus pocus. Six weeks until I’m 29 (OMG WHAT SHUT UP GRAHHHHH) and it’s 2014 (DITTO ON THE SHUTTING UP) and I gotta have something bigger to show for it.
4. Learning too many things all the time. It’s gonna pay off but SERIOUSLY, YOU GUYS, SOMETIMES IT’S JUST TOO MUCH.
1. I’m five days into NaNoWriMo and I think I’m a convert. You know what you can do with a novel? Whatever the fuck you want. I’LL TAKE ALL THE LOCATIONS FOR 500, ALEX. Plus, you get to, like, ROLL AROUND IN PEOPLE’S THOUGHTS and the sex scenes can get weirder and you don’t have to convulse every time a line isn’t word-perfect because the lines will always be word-perfect owing to the fact that you’re printing them out just the way you want them on pieces of paper and handing them directly to your audience.
2. Big self-improvement kick. Trying to be better. Flailing and failing as always. Being a human is harder than it should be, and every day is a lesson in compassion because for the most part we’re all just walking around trying to fuck up as little as possible. Deliberately soften those hard feelings: spend some time out in the sun.
3. The clean house is clean again. How do you real adults do it? How are you not cleaning, like, all the time? I can wreck a room faster than anyone I know, and am having a hard time keeping up with myself. By the time I’m done gingerly making dirty dishes non-dirty, I’ve already destroyed the bedroom looking for a pair of shoes that turned out to be in my car. And yet: I stay resilient. My habitat will remain unfucked. COMMITTED.
4. I’ve been getting by with a massive amount of help from my friends, lately. The last 24-hours alone involved a beer-fueled secret meeting, a well-timed lock-out sleepover, a long windy hike, tea and sympathy at my favorite French bistro. Tied down in the best way. No drift November.
5. Day-jobbing so very little til the end of the year. Gotta make it worth it. Does anyone want to sublet my place in December? It’s a tiny angel city dream. Skylights and a backyard and a few rooms of your own. Promise not to steal my stuff and I’ll give you a real nice deal on the whole kit and caboodle (not the kitten caboodle, which is what I thought it was when I was a teenager) (WHICH, INCIDENTALLY, WOULD BE WAY BETTER THAN A KIT AND CABOODLE AMIRITE?).
My mama came to town and it was perfect. We took a sewing class at Mood and had fancy dinner at La Boheme and drove out to Laurel Canyon to see The Gypsy Machine at Jim Morrison’s old house. We drove out to Topanga and had brunch at Inn of the Seventh Ray and walked Santa Monica Pier and spent the afternoon at Venice Beach. We went for a long walk and made meatball sandwiches and went shopping and saw Trochilidae with a big gooey group of my friends. Perfect little trip. Mama’s girl forever. <3
Trochilidae opened and closed and I just could not be more grateful. That play is a favorite, and it was such a delight to get to make it better and better. That second weekend just destroyed me. Oversold, all my people, everybody laughing, sick silence at just the right moments. Delicious.
The Gypsy Machine opened and is still running and you should totally go see it. It’s creepy and unique and brilliantly executed and I feel generally full of gooey mushy feelings about how the whole thing is going. Perfect wacky Halloween fare. You’ll have fun. Promise promise.
Lots of projects finishing up. Today is my last day on the screenplay. I have to stop picking at it and just press send. Met up with an amazing photographer last night at midnight at the Culver Ice Arena for a location scout for a short we’re collaborating on. Starting the pull together for Kiss the Bride and the Trochilidae screenplay. Just writing it all out, over and over and over again always.
Looking for new things and finishing the old things. My house is clean clean clean and it’s gonna stay that way. Going to Target today, sticking close to home, reading and recharging and reevaluating. Time to rest rest rest.
‘the song remains the same’!
it’s july and there’s a bigger update on the way.
Great advice to writers.
NASA Lunar Science Institute, We Originated in the Belly of a Star (2012)
Consider that you can see less than 1% of the electromagnetic spectrum and hear less than 1% of the acoustic spectrum. As you read this, you are traveling at 220 km/sec across the galaxy. 90% of the cells in your body carry their own microbial DNA and are not “you.” The atoms in your body are 99.9999999999999999% empty space and none of them are the ones you were born with, but they all originated in the belly of a star. Human beings have 46 chromosomes, 2 less than the common potato.
The existence of the rainbow depends on the conical photoreceptors in your eyes; to animals without cones, the rainbow does not exist. So you don’t just look at a rainbow, you create it. This is pretty amazing, especially considering that all the beautiful colors you see represent less than 1% of the electromagnetic spectrum.
we’ve come too far to give up who we are
Today has hijacked itself with a familiar restlessness. These are the days right before the story comes. Anne Lamott says: Maintain the Prone. Read. Write. Clean. Try not to be upright for too long. I disagree: walking helps.
I’m working on the script for the Currently Untitled cARTel Living Room Tour and I haven’t had that night where it clicks yet. But the storm is coming. Just biding my time. Reading reading reading and turning down drinks to sit in front of the fan in my short shorts. I’ve got a few more hours before the good stuff gets here. Now there’s nothing to do but be patient.
Istanbul and Greece. How do you write it down? You can’t come close. It was picturesque and diabolical. Those winding streets! Who knew the world had shapes like that? Circles and spirals and domes. Rooftop restaurants and floating heart lanterns and the call to prayer five times a day and hustler taxi drivers and a little boy poking a cat with a stick. We saw the best belly-dancer in Turkey and Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace and the Cisterns and the Mosque of Suleimon the Magnificent and took a cruise on the Bosphorus and wandered through Moda buying cheap rings and one time Elizabeth and I had dinner with a cat.
And oh, the Turkish bath. Hamam. Roll me around on your three hundred year old marble, wash me scrub me dry me knead me wash my hair. Hold my hand and lead me like a little child. I have a new favorite thing.
The future has an ancient heart, and this was the ancient part. All travel slices you, but this trip cut deep. The Grotto of the Apocalypse and the world’s worst cruise entertainment and that rocky boat, pitching back and forth, making its way out to sea.
The Fire Room is happening and sometimes it’s just too much, like my skull is made of glass and everyone can peer inside and watch my weird lonely thoughts hugging each other wearing masks that make them look like actors I knew in college.
But most of the time it’s pretty kick-ass.
If I had to list the top 10 happiest moments of my life, I’m pretty sure at least half of them would involve me freaking out in the back of a black box theater. It gets easier every time but it’s never that easy. Mortification and abject shame with a marbled streak of awe that occasionally—and I mean occasionally—passes into a brief moment of unadulterated ecstasy. There it is! Recognition. It’s not mine anymore, it ran away without me it left me behind, but now, here, in front of everyone, at the last possible second, it’s turning its head and looking back!
We make eye contact and I think: I wrote that.
For someone who always feels just a little bit on the outside. For someone who never quite fits right. For that girl? To feel a whole room wrap around her own big feelings, even just for a second? Now that. That is something. That is something great. That is just the greatest thing.
In other news:
My mother sold $100 worth of my little chapbooks. That’s $50 profit, in a ziplock bag of ruffled 10s. She made a sign: Meg’s Book of Poems (and Stories). I’m out on the town with $20 in my pocket. I’m gonna go sit somewhere nice, I’m gonna eat four books worth of dinner. And it is going to taste good.
Next month will mark the first time that my rent is entirely paid by writing. I moved words around on paper and it put a roof over my head. A girl could get used to this.
I’ve been on my own here for two years this week. Does it feel like it? I can’t be sure.
I do know that I have a certain fondness for this time of year. All of the flowers in my neighborhood. Just the walk to the coffee shop kills me. Everything is red and purple and orange and perfect and all the craftsmen houses and thank God I escaped North Hollywood, thank God for my skylights, my backyard, for mine-all-mine for those long walks that school’s out feeling shining through the ceiling every morning.
This is the first year I’m not teaching and good lord summer feels better when it doesn’t start at 6am. I haven’t even been setting an alarm. I just kick my feet til I find the cat and pick up my book. Check the time once I’ve gotten tired of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (which, sometimes, takes awhile).
If summer one was agony and sandwiches and summer two was Psyche Approaches, summer three is release. Nose to a beautiful grindstone. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Living Room Tour and Brazil Screenplay and Kiss the Bride and finally getting this TV pilot done with Joe. Scoop and the Birdcage Play when I’m done. I’d like to start hiking again, but a little extra meat on my bones is the last thing on my mind. I surrender: I am a curved girl.
I’ve been fighting my own nature lately and today was a reminder to just let myself be. Write your heart out. Don’t apologize. Celebrate when you can.
Jacaranda, Jacaranda, Jacaranda
It seems to happen overnight. Every year is like this, I leave town and come back to a purple world. Jacaranda, jacaranda, jacaranda. Flowers on my street flowers on my car flowers in my drink flowers in my hair. Flowers landing on my clothes. Flower phone. Flower candle. Flower tortillas. All of it. Too bright too much too soon too big. So much color, so much light. My heart flowers. It’s the best time to be an Angelino, these early days. Summer wrecks us soon enough, but spring? Spring puts its hand on our legs and inches closer. June gloom seems like an old wives’ tale. Is there such a thing as winter? Nobody knows.
I bought a birdcage today. My mother sold half my inventory of chapbooks, full price. I had coffee with Merce and Karyn at Alcove. Slammed out a beat sheet at the library. Working lunch with Rachel and Jim, pitching pitching pitching wait for the right pitch, knock it out of the park. Starting to get excited to write write write all summer long. Work. Culver City for business/gossip with Claudia, our lovely Liz joining for dinner at Kay and Dave’s. Istanbul in a week. My body flies over the ocean. Old and new and borrowed and blue.
Over the weekend, someone asked me why I love LA: This is why. My people my places. Dreamertown. Hope City. Gimme gimme gimme. Brass rings dangle in the distance. My heart flowers, my heart flowers, my heart flowers.
Spent the weekend in San Francisco for my childhood best friend’s wedding. Scrubs grew up with the best of ‘em. I want to write about it, but I just can’t even. Sometimes even words fail. No one has ever been more beautiful. Promise. Everybody fussing. Hair nails eyelashes. Yes.
To see someone who was once solely yours become everyone’s. To recall your feverish devotion. To feel every piece joyous. To feel every piece opened. To celebrate. I am the sappiest, I am the silly one. But.
The poem came out right and it meant a lot to get to give it to them. Sometimes, when all else fails, words don’t.
The rest of the trip: Beautiful. The quilting museum with the mama. Wild, beautiful things. Right up my alley. A baptismal pelt, complete with human hair-fur. Skeletons in love. “There is a savagery.”
Day trip to San Jose for a museum and rose garden and shopping and lunch. The Great Gasby. A BBQ the day after the wedding, all the centerpieces on our table, my hair still twisted into shapes. My long-awaited typewriter purse.
Lots of work and writing. There’s never enough time. “This is the price that we pay.” Too many good things.
No grand conclusions today. No big plan tying it all together. Busy in the happiest way. Overwhelmed. Joyous. These six months have been a blessing. I’d missed this. Here we are.
It’s my best friend’s birthday. See how many things change in a year? I teach my students about the rule of 180. All three angles, every last line. Life’s gonna flip you, kiddos. There’s no use resisting. We’re talking about geometry.
We’re different people, she and I. I’m more prone to declarations, effusiveness. Heart on your sleeve? Don’t make me laugh. I wear my heart smeared on my face; I’ve got to bite down on my lips to keep it from leaking out of my mouth.
There are different ways to say, “I love you.” I’ll tell everyone who will listen, scrawl it on every solid surface. But she once came over and dried dishes for four hours while I washed. You want to know what love is? It’s a month of dirty dishes, a whole afternoon. It’s the sandwiches after, laughing. Running out of stories and standing together, quietly in that clean kitchen, waiting for the laundry to dry.
A year ago today I got my heart broken.
It didn’t take too long. It happened quickly. A few key sentences delivered over an hour-long conversation. He told me one of the big problems was my height. It was emasculating. Sometimes he could forget about it, he told me, if he was looking at me from far away. He liked looking at me. But then he would touch me and the truth would reveal itself. 5’11” in my barest feet. There were inches between us. He liked looking at me, but not touching me. My broken heart cursed my bones.
Afterwards, we went to Chipotle for lunch. He paid. I cried. I tried to stop crying to eat. It didn’t work. I just kept crying. He said: Do you think you’re doing this because subconsciously, you know it turns me on? I said: What? Then I said: Ugh. He said: You’re a woman in despair. My body wants to take care of your body. I can’t help it.
I stopped crying, then. I ate my burrito bowl. When I got home, I looked in the mirror and thanked God and the Vikings for my huge, beautiful bones.
So, uh, elephant in the room. This was clearly not my guy.
But I’d seen it, y’know? I’d seen it. I’d seen what was coming, and what was coming was good. I was sick with infatuation. I couldn’t sleep. On our dates, I had trouble eating. I clung to every sliver of kindness, sat through movie after movie, holding my breath. Because in my gut, I knew. Knew.
I’m not like that now. The crystal ball inside my head broke. I can’t see the future. I don’t even try.
Earlier that day, we’d been writing together. He said: You’re not getting to the core of it, yet. You’re brilliant but you’re not there yet. He said: Let’s do a little improv. I’m gonna throw some different tactics at you. But no matter what I say, you have to respond with the same line.
What is it? I asked.
He said: All you’re allowed to say is, “Why didn’t you love me?”
I’m working on a poem that’s going to be incorporated into Valentina’s wedding and it’s killing me the way the good work kills me. I want it to be perfect. Words for the girl who is the closest thing I’ll ever have to a sister. The one who grew me up. The girl who heard every story first.
I want it to be deep and joyous and maybe a little funny and also sharp. Smart. With just enough bite. This is not a toothless marriage. These are tigers slinking down the aisle.
There are different ways to say, “I love you.” My girl is not getting married with some poem that just anyone could get married to. Not if I can help it.
Today’s the kind of day that makes me think I might be onto something. A long, early solo hike. Crepes Poulet and ten cups of tea with Eva at Figaro. Re-buying The Girl in the Flammable Skirt at Skylight, seeing my little book in the rack, only one copy left, a wrinkle on the front from a stranger flipping through. BBQ with the Brevitians including my darling Claudia. Pizza on the front stoop with Taylor as the cold came out. A long shower and Mad Men and then writing, reading. The not-lost furball purrballed up on my chest. Feeling so lucky I could burst.
And then another day tomorrow. Work. Writing with Nameless Joe. The Fire Room. Rehearsal lights my heart right up. I’m going to take picture after picture. Those bodies in motion. Is there anything I’d change? Sometimes I’m not sure.
There’s a lot I don’t have but there are some things I do. There are a lot of ways to say, “Why didn’t you love me?” There are more ways to say, “I love you.”
I wrote this! You should see it. The end. <3
omg i CAN’T.
Joe’s Pub, why are you perfect?
Reflection: First Quarter 2013
So it’s Easter, and that seems as good a time as any to take a moment to reflect. My heart’s been learning lessons. I should be writing them down.
2013 thus far:
I wrote The Fire Room, which is probably my favorite thing I’ve ever written. It went up at El Cid as a radio play, and is currently rehearsing to go up at the Hollywood Fringe through Fugitive Kind.
I contributed pages to The Miss Julie Dream Play Project, which is also going up at the Hollywood Fringe.
Joe and I wrote a half-hour comedy pilot called Necromancers, and shot the first five minutes as part of our NYTVF submission.
Twenty-Six was published by Naissance Press (who I would highly recommend for both speed and quality), and currently has copies at Vroman’s, Skylight, and Stories. Dropped off a copy at City Lights yesterday, will hear back in a few days if they want to stock it. (Which would be… amazing.)
I finished writing out a story (Just Ours) that had been simmering for months. Submitted it to a few places. Pleased.
Started writing a second pilot with Joe (though I’ve been insanely behind on it… JOE IF YOU’RE READING THIS I’M SORRY DON’T KILL ME).
I almost met my writing goals for the first three months. So close. Will catch up in the next week and get back on perfect track. Trying to whip up my Princess Grace application for tomorrow’s deadline.
So much general goodness. Archer: Live with Joe and his roommate. Operation Better Bar #1 at the One-Eyed Gypsy. Vacation club trip to Big Bear. Tubing with Elizabeth. Spending hours in the hot tub. “Sexting” each other and playing pool in the basement and laughing until my stomach hurt. The Color Run (and ensuing backyard pizza party) with Liz, Mindo, and Joe. That perfect Fire Room night at El Cid. My mama’s Valentine’s Day visit. Fabric stores and Silver Linings Playbook and Disneyland. Twenty million hikes. Drinks and a picnic and dinner and my first time at the drive-in. Party for Benji’s first official 1600 Penn episode, playing with shiny wedding things afterwards with Madeline. St. Patrick’s day insanity with Vacation Club.
Two perfect staycations. Reynaldi’s L.A. visit, which included the Edison, Pete’s, a day trip to Santa Barbara, a super fancy garden party, a taco picnic in the backyard, and the Magic Castle. Liz’s San Francisco visit, which included North Beach, City Lights, Irish Coffees at the Buena Vista, the Japanese tea gardens, Bourbon and Branch, and one of the most delicious dinners in recent memory. Too many good conversations to count. Brunches and cocktails and coffees and lunches. Big heart eyes, always.
There’s a little BrevityTV golden age happening at the writers table. I’m kind of obsessed with everybody. I’ve been slacking on the work itself, but the group dynamic is kind of the best. At our last meeting, I brought beer and Deron bought cake and everyone bought copies of Twenty-Six and had me sign them. It was embarrassing and also very sweet. Love love love.
I’ve been teaching online only (amazing, amazing difference that makes), and working a few freelance writing gigs. Employment is ideal. Time to write + complete locational flexibility + adventure money = I’ll take it.
It hasn’t all been perfect sugar goo. There’ve been some tough pills to swallow. Realizations of powerlessness and the necessity for surrender. Inner tantrums that mortify me as soon as they’ve passed. Progress is coming, and it’s noisy. I’m kicking and screaming. But: it’s worth it. Building a better human. Being more, being better. Working at it, always. To quote a friend: “Being a person is harder than it should be.”
But overall: This is a good year. April brings New York City for Benji and Madeline’s wedding. May is San Francisco for Valentina’s wedding. June is Istanbul and Greece with Elizabeth’s for Valentina’s (take two), and The Fire Room. This is Happening Now comes out in the summer. There’s a lot to look forward to. I’m looking forward to it. <3
my girl her lips are clocks and her heart is a big black box
Oh I do miss those catch-up entries. So: Here we go.
1. The Fire Room was perfect. My god. Felt like the luckiest. Running around in a too-teeny dress and squeezing those I love to squeeze the most. El Cid all list up. Sitting right up in front. That beautiful work. Everybody’s everything paying off. There’s nothing to say but that was a night I’m never going to forget, that might just have been my very Best.
2. Mama came for the show and we were Valentines. Spent the day trolling fabric stores and eating designer hot dogs. Saw Silver Linings Playbook and cried like goofy monsters. Dinner afterwards at Public House. Ice cream and giggling late into the night.
3. Then: Disneyland. Disneyland, I am tired of you, but my mother loves you and so we go. Fun was had by all, including the 7,000,000 noisy humans who were there starting their three-day weekends early.
4. Shot the first five minutes of Necromancer and I am pleased. Nameless Joe and I keep type type typing away. Cross your fingers for us, friends.
5. Trochilidae is next on this list. Who wants to read?
6. Happy camper. No complaints. Knocking off my knock-offs and embracing my clean sink. Everybody’s back in town and I’m ready to curl up and settle down.