Monthly Archives: April 2002

4/30/02 Today was a rare

4/30/02

Today was a rare day apart from Tessa, and I spent a good part of it wandering around a very cold, dreary, rainy Manhattan, having gone to the psychopharmacologist to attempt to explain why my life has been so fucked up. I think I did an adequate job describing my youth, family and current circumstances, although I am feeling a bit scripted after doing it for the sixth mental health care professional in three months (2 interns, one bad shrink, one bad psychiatrist, one great social worker and now one awesome psychopharmacologist). Sometimes I think I overplay the worst parts of my youth because it makes the story better, but the truth was, I was pretty anxiety-ridden and friendless for the first fourteen years of my life. One of the reasons I’m so close to my family now is that I appreciate how insane I’d be if they hadn’t been there in 1979.

Dr. Gorman wanted to know a lot about my family’s mental history, and so I told her as much as I knew about my parents and siblings there must be an incredible genetic predisposition to this stuff. Overall, I think our meeting was designed to make sure I wasn’t some glue-sniffing moron hoping to crush up some Welbutrin and make strawberry seratonin shakes for my Camaro-driving friends. I think Dr. Gorman does it right; she gets to know the basics of her patients’ problems so that each person doesn’t become another disembodied head on an assembly line. I imagine there is a real career fatigue that sets in as a psychiatrist, simply popping pills into an endless supply of gaping maws.

One could wax invective about the ethics of chemical-altering mood drugs and how this country is becoming too dependent on them, but the person doing so can’t be holding either a liquor drink or a cigarette.

Tonight we attended the Naked Angels continuing “Tuesdays at Nine” series at Here and sat with Matty Dawson and Michael Mastro. There was a lot of good work to be seen, and I was impressed with everyone’s ability to “cold read.” Sean would be amazing as a part of this crew, but I suppose he’s got his own fish to fry with Gideon, who unfortunately just got shut out of the Fringe Festival. They rejected one of Mac’s plays about a post-terrorist apocalyptic set-up, and while my fragile psyche couldn’t possibly deal with the subject matter, the Fringe should have taken it. Michelle’s band of Union Square boneheads got in with some ham-bone skit about Jesus’ roommate. Maybe the Fringe wanted to go with what Zack Ward called “The Funny” this year.

The Celextant, April 30, 2002

So I asked Dr. Gorman simply, “If I hadn’t already started taking Celexa before I got here, what would you have put me on?” She replied, “Celexa is a really good drug.” So I feel as though I didn’t do anything too hasty (or at least I did do something hasty, but I lucked out). According to her, however, the 10mg I’m taking isn’t enough, and she gave me samples amping me up to 20mg, adding that most people don’t feel anything for six weeks. The higher dose makes sense: if I’m going to do this drug right, I might as well take an adult dose and get the fuck off it as soon as I can. She also said that there’s a new Celexa coming out this summer with less side effects, which is just fine by me, because I’m already having trouble with, well, you know. Not the starting of you-know, but the finishing. You know.

Why do I get the impression that this diary will ruin my bid for the Senate?

4/29/02 I just re-read draft

4/29/02

I just re-read draft 3 of “The Pink House” (keep in mind that the shooting script was draft eleven) and I was struck by how indisputably over-written it is. I mean, people ramble on in lugubrious endlessness until you want them to shut the fuck up already. And this was in draft 3! I’m so lucky to have had some great Carolina grads in the first reading that night in August 1999 they applauded at the end, and everyone left with the feeling that I was on to something. Little did I know I was ten more drafts away from something remotely digestable.

What strikes me are the passages that actually made it from the first drafts all the way though the complaining, the editing, the fighting, the input from producers and actors, the self-censoring, the I’m-starting-this-damn-thing-over-from-scratch, the offline editing all the way to now. Little stretches still survive, like those eerily casual, conversational patches that slip out of the Middle English of “The Canterbury Tales.” Not that “The Pink House” compares with The Wife of Bath’s Tale or anything, but it’s still interesting to act as your own literary paleontologist.

Making a movie teaches you immediate humility, and if it doesn’t, you shouldn’t be making any more movies. If someone reads something and they don’t get it, it’s not their fault, it’s yours. My advice for would-be screenwriters is to give your screenplay to the simplest person you know, then take their criticism very seriously. The things I learned from people I half-respected Jesus, I could write a novella.

As I write this, Sean is filming Dani’s movie underground at the end of the F line, 179th St. in Queens. I’m mindful of how our shoot had the incredible advantage of a bit more money, which solves almost every problem in a movie production. Dani is definitely doing it lo-fi, using a PD-150 (which I call the Volkscamera) and most likely looping all of his sound later. I think he’s a bit of a crooked genius, and his social skills remind me of Jay Murray he has long since realized that he is known for taking advantage of his friends, so he stopped being sensitive or disingenuous about it, and just plowed ahead with his agenda. I think it’s actually an honest way to live, really; you know what you’re getting with both Dani and Jay, and after rough patches, I’ve come to respect them both. When Jay asked Scott Bullock to buy him three hamburgers at McDonald’s, Scott was so flabbergasted that I think he actually did it. The world is a commune

4/28/02 Would have loved to

4/28/02

Would have loved to play hoops this morning, but another huge storm rumbled across the region, leaving us naught but the hope the drought will soon be abating. Already Tessa and I have stopped flushing the toilet very often (to occasionally disastrous results) and we drink bottled seltzer water. Although I’m not half the enviro-nazi I was back in the early-’90s Susan Comfort days, I think we do a pretty good job of being responsible. If you don’t count the Land Rover getting four miles per gallon, that is. Christ, for the amount of gas that thing guzzles, we should have a soft-serve ice cream dispenser in there.

Colin trekked from his suite in Central Park to see us this morning, full of more stories about the party we apparently left too early to see Heather Graham, which would have been interesting. I kinda think she’s the Big Lie, but it can’t hurt to do some sociological research.

One of my grails was grasped this evening as I finally got our phone system up and running: three lines, two of them with DSL (don’t ask) and one as a “rollover” line, since Tessa has some deep-seated issues with Call Waiting. Personally, I think Call Waiting joins ATMs, VCRs and answering machines atop the list of Great Stuff that Wasn’t Around When I Was a Kid. Go ahead and add cell phones and the internet to that list too, while you’re at it.

Shit, what did people do back then, just sit around and drink??

The Celextant, April 28, 2002

I am feeling this drug barring and gently locking the basement door to the worst parts of my depression. It just won’t let you go down there, and better yet, it casually suggests, in an offhand sort of way, that you stop thinking about it.

4/27/02 The verdict is in,

4/27/02

The verdict is in, and it is thus: I really need to start writing these things earlier. Something that would have been brilliant at midnight, clever at 1am and vaguely interesting at 2am turns to outright mush at 3:41am as I write this. By now, fatigue turns otherwise complicated thoughts into bivalent minutiae.

Suffice to say this: we drove back to Brooklyn today (on what turned out to be, most annoyingly, the prettiest day to have stayed at the farm) in order to attend Andrew Cohen’s party for Colin Soloway. Tessa remarked that it was very old-school and proper in a delightfully WASP-y sort of way that Andrew felt the need to give a party in the returning conqueror’s honor. There was great food (sushi, roast beef on spicy bread) and drinks, and the scenery was interesting in that New York literati sort of way. All the women were fascinatingly high-maintenance, and I must still be a rou, because I can’t remember any of the guys.

Michelle came with us, and Kim Ludlow met us there. Late arrivals included my agent Jenny Bent, who is more properly Colin’s agent until I get my writing act back together. I wore an all-black outfit with those stupid clown shoes Mom bought for us in California. They make me about 6’4″, but any height advantage is nixed by self-mockery and early-90s fashion trendlessness.

The Celextant, April 27, 2002

I was plowing through a bourbon & coke and a really bad cosmopolitan before I remembered Tessa talking about how bad alcohol is for SSRI’s. I recalled how beat-up I felt in Los Angeles after a night of vodka chased by Prozac, so I left the cosmo on the radiator and stuck to the soft stuff. Usually I can feel a drink about 3/4ths the way through, but not tonight Celexa must have that whiskey-dick way of prolonging sobriety by making your everyday existence somewhat drunk. There is something impenetrable about the drug, that’s for sure, like a space-age polymeric sheath that is translucent yet virtually puncture-proof. A clear condom, perhaps, which is a metaphor that might be too close to home.

4/26/02 For a few hours

4/26/02

For a few hours this afternoon, I was left to my own devices at the farm Tessa took the car to Copake to run the Harlem Valley Rail Trail and I purported to stay in the barn to finish the baseboard moldings for the dining room. Instead, I sat on the front porch with the dog, looking into the hills with a hazy sadness that occasionally sets in while at the farm.

I think it’s what Douglas Adams meant (or didn’t) by “the long, dark teatime of the soul” – I get this strange melancholy in the hour or so before sunset, when the day is at its hottest and the trees cast long, yellow shadows across the lawn. It’s especially bad in the summer, when many of my worst depressive episodes played themselves out, but I felt it sting a little today. It’s probably because it reminds me so much of being young and alone when I was little, I used to take long bike rides in the afternoon, ending up in various corners of Cedar Rapids by myself, wondering how much it would matter if I ever got home. I would begin huge projects during the day, launch gargantuan schemes, yet something about the vast oceans of late afternoon that reminded me that there was nobody around to share in any of it.

Thank god for basketball. By age 19, I was spending the long teatime of the soul running up and down a court in Carrboro, screaming and yelling and having a great time. Perhaps that’s what I’m really missing around here.

Tessa and I spent midnight to 2:30am in the front room, as the brilliant white light of the Full Pink Moon shone down on us, and we talked about the original dirt road that must have wandered past the farm, and why “The Pink House” will be a success, even if it isn’t.

The Celextant, April 26, 2002

Well, if anything, today showed me that I can still be emotional something Prozac forbade.

4/25/02 We had the biggest

4/25/02

We had the biggest editing push of the post-production of “The Pink House” today, almost resembling the length of one of our actual filming days (14 hours), albeit without the backbreaking labor, 115-degree heat and certain crew members being medicated for rage. Indeed, we spent most of the day lounging on various chairs and beds in front of the editing computer, which makes the farm pretty much the dream environment for post-production.

Post-production houses, the official ones that cost shitloads of money, generally have a lot of stuff for you to play with while they wring out your cash; there’s always a really nice pool table, real darts (not the plastic hole kind) and every kind of soda imaginable (even grape). But they don’t have beds, and they don’t have the Chopes.

Today we plowed through the party scene, which I prognosticate needing about 3 or 4 minutes lopped out of it even after this edit. It flows really well, and we did an amazing job of making 35 people look like 500, but I feel like there may be about six too many shots of the crowd bobbing up and down. These are the sorts of decisions we can’t make right now, because we have yet to make sense of the movie’s dramatic arc (or comedic parabola, in this case).

We even went through the pink flour explosion, into the night car “revelation” scene, through the “Murray writes his paper” montage, past the Murray/Pritchard confrontation, all the way to the pep rally on the lawn. Yet it’s still the 1920s stuff that I find the most compelling of course, the film stock that lends a gorgeous, mysterious air to the proceedings, but I just loved filming those sequences. I wish Tessa could have been there with me; we would have fought way less often. Instead, she was stuck filming shower scenes with Zack wearing naught but a sock on his cock. Of course, because of that scene we got the rights to “(Ain’t Nothin’ Gonna) Break My Stride” by Matthew Wilder – so we’ve got that going for us, which is nice.

The Celextant, April 25, 2002

I’m suspecting that the placebo effect, which is pretty powerful in most drug studies, must be doubly effective in any pills regarding mood just the fact that I’m taking these things gives me a sense of accomplishment. Perhaps it’s also freedom from choice in a way; by taking the pill, I know I’m doing all I can, so I can’t worry about “not doing enough” or not being experimental.

Either way, I feel fortified, somewhat, against the omnipresent anxiety that haunted me throughout winter. That’s not to say I don’t cringe every time I read the news, but the good part it that I don’t always have to read the news.

I can foresee this dosage not being enough. I look forward to what the psychopharmacologist has to say, unless that happens to be “you should have been on Effexor.” Sigh.

4/24/02 I want to apologize

4/24/02

I want to apologize up front to master carpenters everywhere I know I’m a microwave-friendly, attention-disordered, Wendy’s-ordering immediate-culture-addict, but I simply loathe having to put second coats on anything. And I realize it makes all the difference in the world, and it turns any furniture from a C+ job to an A-minus, but it’s just so boring and it takes too fucking long. Plus, each coat has to dry overnight, and fuck, I might be a different person by the time I see what it looks like.

The same goes for sanding.

We’re blowing through the movie edit right now, and my brain is oatmeal the “modern-day party” sequence is pretty intense, and has all sorts of flow vs. plot issues, as well as four songs to juggle. I’m mindful that it may take ten giant re-edits before anyone understands what’s going on. Fortunately we have the collective moviegoer “party scene” unconscious to draw upon, or else the whole thing would look like we put the script in a Cuisinart with three eggs and a capful of vanilla extract.

The Celextant, April 24, 2002

You know, these drug entries are beginning to sound really solipsistic. OH WELL! The thing I’m noticing lately is mostly eye-dilation stuff, and I’m hoping this drug doesn’t do what Prozac did, which was to effectively make my pupils larger than my head.

4/23/02 It was 96 degrees

4/23/02

It was 96 degrees here last week; today it was 39. That’s pathetic. Of course being in the country makes you more sensitive to it, but come ON for christ’s sake! What’s worse is that half of the garden naturally assumed that it was summer, and started to bloom and tonight a nice 30-degree freeze is probably going to kill it. I thought the Celexa was supposed to suppress my rage at inanimate objects like the weather, but I suppose that’s something that happens in Week 3.

I sent out an email to ex-Pink House residents asking them to describe their favorite and least favorite moments for the website, and most of them involve me doing something vaguely psychotic. Jay Murray described the night we fought about the placement of a hat stand, and apparently I bolted it to the floor when he left the room (something I don’t remember at all). Jiffer mentioned the time I threw the remote control at the wall and then bolted the kitchen cabinets shut so she couldn’t steal my Pop Tarts. Which is funny, because I don’t remember being that much of an asshole.

Good thing is, they all have warm, fuzzy memories of our time together, and I think most of us look upon those years very fondly. Jay says his least favorite moment was actually learning that we had lost the house. Still, it is always interesting to think of all the stupid things you’ve done and know that the people closest to you will never forget them.

The Celextant, April 23, 2002

I have this feeling of not quite being in my body, as if my sense of self has about 15% less interest in actually inhabiting something physical. I’m not running into walls or dropping irons on my feet or anything, but I do feel as though I’m gliding from situation to situation. As with all effects of this drug, it’s never quite bad enough to actually constitute discomfort, but interesting nonetheless. The outside is quite brilliant; everything looks a little Photoshopped to me.

4/22/02 I’ve been thinking a

4/22/02

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I’ll just call Das Internet Job, the one I had most recently down at the Woolworth Building for which I was paid most handsomely yet always felt like I was going to be fired. In the Buddhist sense, all things are merely fleeting representations of Impermanence, but this Internet Job was a high-water mark for futile business gestures everywhere. What’s worse is that I look at my own correspondences from that time and realize how caught up I was in the microcosm of the company, and how nattering I was with gossip and how hurt I was by transgressions from erstwhile friends (and there were some doozies).

Yesterday I found a letter from one of my superiors at Das Internet Job (there were about seven of them) – a Go-Getter, razor thin with a voice like a strangled blue jay, fresh off the last corporate job with bags chocked full of moronic business plans, dysfunctional business-speak and unmerited hubris. I was told I wasn’t a team player, and that “content that will really soar” was expected of me.

Given that the Web treats all writing as “content,” and that my job was so boringly technical as to be soul-drubbing, it was a little like telling the guy who writes the aspirin instructions to “put a little pizzazz in it!” I can’t believe I let myself buy into it for so long, but then again, I was living in the East Village paying double the rent I had in Los Angeles (and septuple what I’d paid in Chapel Hill) and I had a good health plan. Besides, I was always going to quit to make the movie. I just need to know – does it always have to be so fucking unpleasant? You have to have perspective on new companies: the zany exuberance they show in the beginning will ALWAYS be directly correlated with the irrational, histrionic mean-spiritedness they give you in the end. They’re like teenagers.

Anyway, the worst part of it is that all that work we did ultimately went nowhere all those meetings, all those brainstorming sessions and “blue sky” meetings and rah-rah pep rallies. The exorbitant building rent, the $43 million from huge corporations, the fights, the barrage of emails. Every single one of those 105 people are doing something else now, and the idea sits at the bottom of someone’s hindbrain. I always said that I worked there for a year, but only did one month’s worth of work. Not something to be proud of.

That Internet Job spent $43 million and came up with nothing; Tessa and I spent $250K and we made a great movie. I’m convinced more every day that “The Pink House” might have a future – I mean, there’s some really funny stuff in there. My rule for comedies is that I’ll pay a dollar for a good laugh, which means (in New York) I have have to laugh an average of 9.5 times. I think this movie has twice that, you know, maybe even 23.

The Celextant, April 22, 2002

What’s with these headaches? Impenetrable by three Excedrin, they seem to be emanating from a different kind of source being a connoisseur of these sorts of pains, I largely suspect Celexa as a culprit. I’m told that these side effects tend to fall away over time. Other than that, I do feel a little more serene.

Oh yeah, I sat in the living room today, in the dark, and my pupils started fluctuating in diameter. Quite like a 5-year-old messing with the aperture of a camera.

4/21/02 We had our animation

4/21/02

We had our animation meeting today, which went especially well, considering these folks probably haven’t had to officially “brainstorm” since college. It was the first meeting I’ve attended since the great Skillgames years of 2000-2001, but it wasn’t half as painful everyone had incisive things to say, and it looks like we’re off to the races. I’d have felt better about it, if I weren’t so comatose, which brings me to