Monthly Archives: May 2002

5/19/02 Some of my anxiety

5/19/02

Some of my anxiety issues have been blossoming out of control again, despite the therapy and Celexa, and tonight I had just sort of “had it” with the whole thing. It’s really quite boring – and worst of all, exhausting – to keep dealing with the same problem for months on end. Perhaps it’s the ADD in me, but after about two or three weeks of a problem, I need a new one to keep me interested.

Sean called his knee injury “boring” and I thought exactly the same thing about my back. You just get so sick of hearing the internal dialogue, and yet the pain forces you to confront it all fucking day. That’s the analogous experience I’m having with this anxiety, and it doesn’t help that I read the news all the time, feeding the beast within. Tessa and I lay on the bed and talked from 11:30 to 1am about all this – and she’s had many of the same things in her life, except that her control issues led mainly to anorexia and bulimia. I told her that I dont have any healthy outlets like that.

Either way, we talked about the steps she took in AA, and I tried to see if I could, in any way, shape them to fit my experience. We got through three:

Step one: We admitted we were powerless over X – that our lives had become unmanageable.

Well, that’s easy enough. I can’t seem to control my anxiety, fears, and obsessions (hereafter known as AFO). And while I think my life is barely manageable, Tessa’s definition of a healthy psyche didn’t allow for it. So yes, I’m in on the first step.

Step two: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

This one is as hard as it looks, because it forces you to confront the necessity of a spiritual life. And getting one of those (especially as a rabid dork intellectual) is pretty hard to accomplish unless you’ve aged a bit and seen that all other roads ultimately went nowhere. I’ve always been perfectly willing to accept that there exists a Power greater than me, but have needed convincing that the Power can restore sanity. After working with Buddhism (in the cursory, dilettante-esque way that I have) I think I’ve sensed a palpable freedom in their ways of thought, so without getting into the 400K download of heavy philosophical lifting, I’ll say that I can imagine a world where a Greater Power can provide relief from pain.

Step three: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

This was always the step that had me convinced that AA was simply a way for Christians to get their wily hooks into more man-meat while they were drinking shots of bourbon, but Tessa has convinced me otherwise. It is an excruciatingly difficult step either way, because very few people raised in our country have the sense of perspective – and flexibility of ego – to accept the mercurial ways of “god.” The serenity prayer is probably a much better way to go here, with emphasis on the “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change” part. Which is inherent in Buddhism, too; true happiness comes from accepting and loving impermanence. And Americans hate impermanence; it’s why they invented freezers.

I don’t know if any of this works for me or not, but I feel better just talking about it. I even told Tessa some of my obsessive-compulsive tricks, silly little things I do to keep myself from dying, things I’m not quite self-actualized enough to write here. She talked about shining the light on the dark spots and letting them shrivel up and disappear. Perhaps this is why the placebo effect works so well on depressed patients; getting the drug means someone is paying attention.

The Celextant, May 19, 2002

I had pretty awful dreams last night, full of little zaps and mild fits. I largely suspect it’s my brain thinking I’m coming off the Celexa, since I’ve missed 3 out of the last 6 days. I’ve really got to be more present of mind and TAKE THESE DAMN THINGS or else I’ll never know if it’s working!

5/18/02 I know it’s excruciatingly

5/18/02

I know it’s excruciatingly boring to complain about the weather, but come ON already! It’s May 18, it’s been “Spring” for two fucking months, and it SNOWED this morning. Not the small, dinky stuff either it was the crap that collects on hillsides and makes trucks fall into ravines. It has now officially been Colder Than Shit for eight months. I know the Buddhist/AA mantra is to accept the things you cannot change, but fucking fuck!

We spent the day with Dad driving back and forth from Great Barrington, MA in order to get supplies for our new table saw (yay!) and golf balls we can hit into the pasture at the cows (well, we won’t aim for them, but whatever). Then the farmhouse ran out of heating oil for the second time in as many days, which meant I had to get a plastic five gallon tank, take three trips to the gas station and fill the damn heating vessel up with diesel fuel.

First off, who knew that the house ran on diesel? There’s a pipe on the side of the house where you stick the fuel, giving you the feeling of gassing up the biggest motor home on earth. It reminded me of the Steven Wright stand-up sketch when he talks about accidentally putting his car key into his house deadbolt, starting his house, and driving it down the freeway. Anyway, I doused myself with diesel (those plastic gas cans always suck) and since I had no time to change, I still reeked of gas hours later when Dana and Lindsay came over and we went to John Andrew’s Restaurant in Egremont for a swanky dinner.

Did you know that you can run a diesel car on kerosene? I mean, it will run crappy, but you can do it. During my tenure with the ’84 white diesel VW Rabbit, I was always comforted by that thought.

The Celextant, May 18, 2002

I forgot to take the pill again today am I just being passive-aggressive with myself or something? Is than even possible? Anyway, I had a orange-infused vodka and soda water at dinner, and I swear I got drunk in about 4.3 seconds. Maybe Celexa amplifies intoxification, although that seems like a pretty mean-spirited side effect if you’re taking the drug for addiction issues. Thank God for my lack of addiction to all things except Kit-Kats. Tessa has taught me how blessed I am to be free of those genes. Obviously I have other problems.

5/17/02 My search for a

5/17/02

My search for a Mac-based Napster-esque application finally came to a close yesterday; I’m not sure why it took me so long to find Limewire, but now I’m back in the swing of things again. The user interface isn’t half as easy as Napster (you can’t play the tunes within the application) but it does allow you to search for movies and other objet de porn. It’s what Morpheus always promised to be for PCs, but alas, never for the Mac.

Of course, this rediscovery of instant access to all the music of my childhood has reminded me of That Internet Job, where I spent the better part of a year downloading Kajagoogoo songs on a T3 connection. I mean, it was their fault for hiring a Senior Editor before they even had a business plan that wouldn’t make investors shriek with derisive laughter. I think about that job a lot, as I see my old office window almost every day while crossing the Manhattan Bridge. What a different era, so not-so-long ago.

my office at the Woolworth Building, marked with red arrow

Anyway, Limewire came through on a number of occasions, given our stampede towards the first rough cut deadline, allowing several songs like “Mr. Sandman” and “Break My Stride” to sneak their way into the movie (we intend to buy the rights to many of these songs, making the electronic theft issue easier to swallow). Putting songs into a movie is fascinating: it’s like setting your best friend up with another best friend. It’s all about chemistry, and you’re right as often as you’re wrong. But here’s a few things I’ve learned:

1. Music makes funny things more funny.

2. Music makes slow shots seem quicker.

3. Music with any words at all will destroy your scene.

4. Slow, beautiful classical music especially Impressionistic pieces � makes you look like a better filmmaker than you probably are.

Since I didn’t want to use any crap from John Williams or Horner or anyone else currently writing movie scores, I used the people they ripped off: Ravel, Respighi, Vaughan-Williams and Holst. I mean, you might as well go to the source.

The rest of the soundtrack has XTC, Supreme Beings of Leisure, Ivy, Komeda, the Kings of Convenience and a host of really smart, groovy pop. Dare to dream, right?

The Celextant, May 17, 2002

Either this drug really has something to it, or else the placebo effect is really going into overdrive I forgot to take my pill two days in a row, then took it today. And I feel much better, getting a bit of the nice haziness back to blanket my anxiety. I’m not sure if it’s full-scale dementia or the Celexa, but I seem to have the clutch pushed in, memory-wise. I forget shit every time I go anywhere. Ironically, this trip to Columbia County, I forgot the Celexa. Fortunately, my friend Ian from 3 days ago (someone who continuously saves my ass) thought ahead in time and shoved some Celexa in my wallet. Thanks, 3-day past self! You showed some real spunk!

5/15/02 The countdown to the

5/15/02

The countdown to the First Showing of the Pink House Movie has left me in a state of ragged sleeplessness not because I’m nervous or anything, but because there’s no forkin’ music in this thing, and I’ve got to stay up until 4am every night trying to slug it in. This is the “dream soundtrack” we’re using for friends and festivals, which means we have about 0% chance of getting these songs for real (unless we get bought by someone who can plunk down $300,000 so that I can get all the XTC and Smiths a boy could want).

Today, we were going through the last scenes of the movie, all of them filmed indoors because a typhoon was raging outside, washing away our set. That was probably our best on-the-fly directing, recanting entire scenes indoors so that we could make the wrap and have something to show for it. Todd left the camera on while they were setting up the penultimate shot, and it shows me trying to teach Tessa how to play poker. A quiet, exhausted moment at the end of what felt like the hardest thing we’d ever done. Strange to get a glimpse of yourself in that way, being a voyeur to one of your own raw emotional states.

near the end of the shoot, Sean (w/glasses) at poker table with me at far right
(pic taken 8/9/01)

5/14/02 We saw the very

5/14/02

We saw the very first cut of The Pink House yesterday, and today we set forth to fix all the little nagging things that slow the movie down. Yesterday I was a little trepidatious about this beast, since it seemed like such a awkward flick but you have to remember how reliant comedies are on music and timing. Just a few tweaks this morning brought the entire beginning of the movie to life; the whole thing is like waxing skis. You have to reduce the drag in anyway possible, bring the coefficient of friction as close to zero as possible. We’re still on the bunny slopes, but by next week, we should be venturing into the double diamond territory.

It’s one of the most overused clichs on Planet Earth, but in comedies, less really is more. There are certain scenes that I slaved over, that I nearly lost friends trying to shoot, scenes we slogged through the rain and mud to get

5/13/02 Even though I had

5/13/02

Even though I had the kind of headache that would have driven lesser men to flagellate themselves, I tried to rally for the 52nd Street Project Benefit dinner, which has traditionally been more fun than you think it’s going to be. Poor Tessa has been battling something in the liminal between a cold and the flu, so after two conversations, she could barely talk. Which forced me into small talk with people I only 1/9th-know, but these exercises are good when you go into automatic pilot as often as I do.

The theme this year was “disco,” and naturally, only about 15% of the guests arrived in costume. You can add me and Tessa to that 15% however:

This picture, for those of you playing the home game, doesn’t do my chest hair justice. My dad must have been psyched to be a hairy-chested man in 1976 I don’t think he wore a shirt during Jimmy Carter’s entire presidency.

The 52nd Street Project does a lot of great work for kids in Hell’s Kitchen, teaching at-risk youths about drama, and it is supported by such absentee luminaries as Paul Newman and Tom Cruise. Tessa and I ended up having a blast and catching up with old friends: Zandy Hartig, Billy Crudup, Lorraine and Alex Tobias, Jace Alexander, and a lot of other talented people. Like someone said in the crowd, “it’s the kind of event none of the bad people show up to.” Which is the opposite of most of my parties, but to each his own, I guess.

The proud UNC alums: Zandy Hartig, me, Tessa, Billy Crudup. I look like I just got off the short bus, and Billy looks like he’s going to barf.

The Celextant, May 13, 2002

Man, if Celexa is what gave me the headache today, I have to wonder whether being happy is worth all the pain it’s causing. My anxiety levels are definitely less acute in the city, although I still have those stupid daymares and re-enactments clouding my brain. I have to keep telling myself that the future is usually weirder and more interesting than any of my fears.

5/12/02 Obviously, some consultant/customer relations

5/12/02

Obviously, some consultant/customer relations guru got his hooks into Verizon online, because they started offering free stuff to people who signed up for their unresponsively restrictive DSL service. My option was to go for the “free digital camera,” which arrived, or should I say limped, to my door tonight. It’s a Logitech EasyCam 310, and it makes an Easy-Bake Oven look like the cockpit to a Boeing 767. And the pictures god, the pictures. I really have to post one to give you an example of its dynamic range:

That’s Tessa, by the way, and she was centered in the viewfinder.

I mean, why the fuck did they bother? Of course, the images and movies on this thing are so bad that Tessa and I have taken to fetishizing it; I’ve half a mind to shoot a movie using nothing but the Logitech EasyCam 310, because it has the grainy post-surrealistic LSD haze of a Fisher-Price Pixel Vision camera.

Speaking of a grainy haze, we drove 4 hours home from Cambridge today in a never-ending rainstorm that sapped me of almost all of my emotional strength. Driving through a storm is fine, but driving lengthways through a pounding rain all day long just makes you feel like sticking a fork in your brain. By the time we got to Manhattan, Sean didn’t feel like going out for his birthday (he was sunburned don’t exactly know how that happened, unless he got all 1978 and bought a sunlamp) so we got back to Park Slope early and watched Yassar Arafat’s interview with Wolf Blitzer. I don’t know which was more upsetting: Arafat’s obvious dementia, or Wolf Blitzer’s junior-high-school-video-project screen charisma.

The Celextant, May 12, 2002

My psyche feels coated in a clear, gelatinous substance. Or maybe that’s just snot; it’s hard to tell these days. One thing that Prozac rather fascinatingly, I might add

5/11/02 I don’t know if

5/11/02

I don’t know if they give out awards to the Dowdiest City in America, but Cambridge would definitely be in the run-off. All the middle-aged women here wear sackcloth browns and grays, loose baggy linen pants, and they all walk around with a humorless earnestness. I mean, I know Harvard is here and all, but it really made me long for the dumbasses in Chapel Hill. I judge a city by two things: the amount of rednecks wearing colorful stirrup pants, and the number of disaffected youths breaking their coccyxii while skateboarding down a stairwell.

Today we walked around Harvard Square, which is about as focus-group tested as a public space gets. There are four coffee places, two corporate record store chains, an Urban Outfitters, a Gap and 45 places to get American bar food. The difference is that all these businesses are crammed into buildings erected in 1673, giving the town the perfect melange of Class and 21st-century convenience. Americans love to consume things that don’t surprise them, part of the “ubiquitopia” experience, but they really love thinking they’re getting some historical perspective at the same time.

I know the first New World settlers tried out St. Augustine, FL and Roanoke Island, NC first but why did all the permanent settlements take root in places like Boston, where they were guaranteed to freeze their asses off seven months of the year? Was it the mosquitoes or something?

Later in the day, Sam and I went to the local hoops court to give the natives a little what-fer. I think they were a bit chagrined to see an 11-year-old boy walk on the court with only one arm (watching people’s first reaction to Sam is fascinating), not knowing whether they should try not to look, or play a little softer, or try not to look as though they’re trying not to look.

That lasted for all of twenty seconds before Sam and I challenged them all to a game, and a few minutes later they retired defeated. Sam had a sweet give-and-go that he finished with a reverse no-look swish. If he learns to use his “disability” Tessa said to call it “armlessness”