Thursday, January 20, 2005

Am I not your girl?

I've spent all day (the parts where I wasn't dealing with the fact that I literally had ants in my pants) trying to work out Who I Am. And while I have determined that I am probably not a replicant, I haven't really figured out anything of substance. But I did watch about half of Blade Runner.

I am starting all wrong.

I lived in New York for the first 18 years of my life. Much of it in Manhattan, much of it upstate, in and around Woodstock. I was a New York Girl, though apparently I never developed the accent.

I quit school when I was 14 and learned from life/taught myself/whatever wording works for you. I took a test and got my GED (top 99th percentile) right after I turned 17. Took the SAT as well, scored 700 on the verbal and 550 on the math. With ZERO high school. I was a smart cookie.

Went to live on West 21st Street with my father in a teensy two room apartment, not much different from the half dozen other teensy two room apartments I'd shared with him over the years. Windows overlooking a gorgeous courtyard between buildings. I put an African Violet on the sill. I count that as my first year "on my own," because my father and I are such good pals that I forget sometimes we weren't roomies. He paid for my meals, so I guess I wasn't independent. There was a laundrette on the corner and if you dropped off your clothes by 10:00 they'd have everything washed, pressed and folded for you by 5:00. The Regal Diner was up 8th Ave at 23rd, great eggs, run by a Greek (of course) woman called Anna, and years later it was still so firmly lodged in my heart and memory that I used it as a setpiece in a story I wrote.

And I got a job. Now, I'd been working from 12 on, first babysitting then retail and onward, but this was different. Paul G. hired me as an intern (at first) at Gen Art. He was directing their inaugural film festival, showcasing 7 films by young filmmakers. I became his assistant, though I never had the title officially. If we're being honest, I ran that fucker, I was the assistant director, and I fucking rocked. I kicked so much festival ass. And it was a HUGE success. Stefan (The Boss) asked me to stay, work on the next show, the fashion show, the art exhibit, the whatever. Manage the office. Just stay with Gen Art. And I did, working two other assistant-type gigs part-time and PAing on two movies, one feature one short. I was in PR, I was in movies, I turned 18 and cut bangs.

My father left and I was subletting this huge loft apartment and looking after these two kitties from HELL and it was so hot all summer that every day I thought I'd die in a pool of sweat and no one would find me because it was too muggy to come looking. It wasn't a good neighborhood but I thrive in places like that because all the little old ethnic men that run the groceries look after me, the tiny cute white girl, they want me to meet their son, you know? And I watched Empire Records eight dozen times, and Grease 2, and probably some good movies too.

Lila was my best friend, my wife, my partner in crime. Mara wasn't speaking to me. Jason wasn't speaking to me. And I was running out of money, because it turns out that non-profits run by 25-year-olds don't pay well.

So I left. I went back upstate and I took care of Melanie's children and that was wonderful too. Everett said "Annika" when he was three and a half months old. I made new friends and spent a ridiculous amount of time in the Gateway Diner. I had a boyfriend named Eric, who was a tremendous mistake. Star Wars was re-released. I filled ten thousand journals with ideas and stories and memories and poems (also a tremendous mistake). I drove to Great Barrington weekends, worked at Tom's Toys, Nell and I had plans for the future. Went back to Gen Art for the festival, ran VIP.

Nineteen and time for another shift, I took off for the college I'd gotten into (and deferred enrollment at) two years earlier. Ohio. But that was OK because that's where my father had taken off to and I like the country and I had a car with a tape deck named Marcy (the car, not the tape deck).

First semester. Box Wine. Calls home to mom. I was miserable. I had a crush on a boy named David who was a fucked up nightmare of a boy, but so cute. I drew comic strips about being rejected by him and ripping him to pieces. Half of it was true. I still have the strips. They were funny. I hated school. Took a creative writing course which got me nowhere. Wrote my epic about Orion in an effort to get over him. He's another story. Did well in classes but couldn't learn in that environment.

Home for Christmas and back to the old life with Lara and the other girls. Held Melanie's new babies.

Then back to school and you all know this part, where I met this boy and we danced around a relationship until Melanie's baby died and Will was my only comfort and we fell in love. And I was studying film noir and abnormal psych and post-colonial text, and it's a miracle I didn't fail anything because I never went to class. But I got an incomplete in my lit class, the only class I attended and turned in work for. Not my fault, except that I never fixed it.

Went back to Gen Art that year too, saw Hands on a Hard Body, met important people.

Columbus for summer, interning at a program for mentally and physically impaired people. Testing them, placing them in job training, that sort of thing. I could be good in that sort of career, but it was just $6 an hour to me. Quit school. Again.

Moved to Pittsburgh, met Darren, starting playing Deadlands, started playing house with a boy, different than all the house I'd played for years prior. Wrote. A lot. Good stuff that I didn't finish.

Will wanted to be a screenwriter.

We moved to upstate New York and took care of Mel's babies who weren't babies anymore and Will worked at a restaurant and I worked at a retail store and we couldn't afford fuel to heat our place. I wrote more. I think he wrote. And I guess we fought a lot.

So then he took off for LA and I went to Chicago because I had nowhere else to go and when I got there I volunteered at this kids' film festival and I got desperate for work and I worked at Baby Gap for three days until I couldn't take it anymore and just stopped going and then USA Today hired me and I worked as an assistant in advertising sales. And I wrote more, and I drank a lot, and I went to every rockabilly show there was and I did some porn (not like that) and I started meeting Crazy Internet People and life was OK except for Will being so far away, and getting nearer to him became the main thing and I forgot. I forgot for anything else to be important. And that is no one's fault but mine.

But I did get here and we got back to OK and then better than OK and then married, and it's wonderful.

But I worked at film festivals off and on for five years, I was on film sets and in production offices, and I loved it and I was GREAT at it, and now I am the wife of a successful movie guy and I forgot to do it myself. And I don't know why I forgot, because it's not like I couldn't do both. I stopped writing because I stopped having ideas. I got so fixated on the idea of the life I want that I wouldn't recognize it if I had it. And my husband is the Director of Development at a major production company, and he is so good at it and they sent him to Sundance which is named after one of my favorite movies of all time, and I am so happy that he has made this path for himself. But I forgot to make one for me.

So now what do I do?

I'm leaving comments off because I sat down to make a quick entry and it's nearly two hours later and I would like to leave it rhetorical, thank you.