Sunday, February 27, 2005

Blog and Dash

I'm surfacing long enough to say "Hello," and then I can't make any promises. I'm drowning in video games. Seven hours ago I sat down to play, and now I'm blinking at the clock, not really trusting that it's 8pm, Sunday, and that I've been playing since Friday night. During the few breaks I took to shower, sleep, and eat, I did manage to do my taxes. So, you know, gold star for that. And BF and I did leave the house long enough to pick up some fast food and kitty litter, but the sun hurt our eyes so we fled inside. And the entire trip we kept cracking video game jokes, jokes that wouldn't be funny to anyone who didn't spend two days straight pretending to be a dwarf paladin and a gnome warlock in a magical fantasy world. So, you know, good thing we've got each other.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Sir, I Exist

We cornered the cats and painted Frontline pictures on their necks. I ate cheesecake for dinner. A rock cracked BF's windshield. I want to play video games instead of write. But I'm writing, and it's sad and strange and true and my special challenge is to make it keep its distance. And the gym wants me back but I'm pretty sure my eye might fall out.

I'm listening to k.d. lang because I've heard it enough times now where I don't hear the words. It's a pleasant buffer between me and distraction, except that now it's time for all good men to take their pills.

I'm itching to kill mythical creatures. Jurassic Park should've been about big game hunting. People'd pay a pretty penny for a T-Rex head they shot themselves. "Notice the eyes, see how they follow you around the room! How so life-like! It's Outrageous Cretaceous Couture!"

Enough reprieve. Back to my apartment by the sea.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

My Friends Got Me Too

Dear Diary:

I'm a sucker. My friends conspired behind my back for weeks, and I never suspected. They told me they couldn't go to my play, and I believed them. Now I can never trust them again.

Karen showed up first. First she called, to throw me off track, and then suddenly she was outside, NOT five hours away! And only a few hours later, Gina showed up too! Gina, who practically lives in another time zone, flew out here to see my ten-minute effort. BF knew along. I said, "Please tell me that you're all not here to stage an intervention?"

The show sold out last night. There were people milling about hoping to get in. What a weird feeling. I knew exactly what the box office guy was going through, I didn't envy him having to turn all those unhappy people away, but at the same time it made me happy that we could afford to be exclusive. We're sold out. The rest of you can go home now. Thanks for playing the home game.

I bought the actors yellow roses and planted them in the dressing room. Apparently it's incredibly easy to sneak backstage. After the show, as I said goodbye to the actors and thanked them again, the Director asked about Thursday's show. The actors said they'd mixed up a bunch of lines, but recovered. So if you saw Thursday night's show -- and that's the only night I didn't see -- chances are there was some creative actor interpretation going on. But hey, it all worked out in the end.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

My Family Got Me, and They Got Me Good

According to the plan, my mom and dad would drive up Friday morning, check into their hotel by afternoon, I'd leave work at 4, and we'd all go to a nice dinner, ending the night with ShePlays.

I called my mom on her cell, 9am, Friday. "There's traffic," she said, "It's raining and there are lots of accidents. We're taking side streets."

I called at 3pm, "We're still in traffic," she said, "Camarillo, I think."

"I'm sorry!" I said, "I'm sorry it's so bad out there. What exits are you passing? You know, I'll tell you if it's Camarillo or not."

"I'm not sure. I'm not paying attention."

"I've made dinner reservations for 5:30. It doesn't sound like that'll be a problem."

"Oh," she said, "Where?"

When I saw the quarter, I was standing outside the office, digging my foot in the dirt. It was propped against the outer wall, heads up. I stuck it in my pocket, finished talking, and went inside. Six hours in traffic? What kind of mood would that put them in? Not a very good one, I bet.

At 4:45 I called again. There was a lot of noise in the background. My mom said, "We're checking into the hotel now. Don't worry, we're on our way."

I said, "What great timing! I'll see you soon."

At 5, I opened the front door and saw my parents getting out of their car. And then I saw something crazy: my sister. My sister who lives in North Carolina. My sister whose got more day jobs than I'd know what to do with. My sister was walking up to the house with my parents. I looked from the car to my dad and said, "What the Hell? Oh my God." Now picture me repeating that for an hour and you've got the first part of our evening.

My sister got on a plane and flew into town -- complete with lousy LAX experience -- to see my play. My parents arrived at noon and checked into their hotel early. All day long my mom had had to lie. She said she almost lost it when I started asking questions. As it was, she'd had to rehearse all her calls ahead of time. She'd even had to call the restaurant where I'd made reservations and add one more to the tally. The deception was elaborate; I was never prouder.

My sister is back on a plane now -- not even in town for twenty-four hours, just long enough to see my play, refuel, and leave. I still can't believe it. I can't believe it worked, I can't believe they pulled it off, I can't believe any of it. Her employees called twice at dinner, looking for guidance, and she's a whole country away.

We had a full house last night. The plays were packed and the audience was there to laugh. It was the best show yet.

As we walked down the street family-style, I shook my head and smiled, "I'm going to have to write plays more often."

Friday, February 18, 2005

Praise Jebus!

I've received the first testimonial that my play did indeed change someone's life. Unfortunately, I was required to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement in which I promised never to reveal the identity of the person whose life I changed, and in return they promised to drop the lawsuit. But frankly I never said it'd change for the better.

Only two more performances: ShePlays Tickets

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Mind Games Galore at the Mind Game Store!

There are little things I do to maintain forward momentum. I keep a daily desk calendar, and only allow myself to peel off one page at a time. It requires tremendous feats of will-power, but I do not cheat. Instead I look ahead to the next morning. Only then can I flip, tear, laugh, dispose, and wait again.

Sometimes I go to a horoscope site for kicks. It's been awhile since I've done that. I want something that's updated like clockwork, something that won't let me down with emptiness and ruin my day. I enjoy some cartoon-ish type sites. Good examples are Sore Thumbs, Penny Arcade!, and Strong Bad E-mail.

Out of all the blogs I read, odds are someone is always on hiatus. But so far they've all come back. I just have to be patient and wait them out. I need to not be afraid to show up in their server logs refreshing stale content, just waiting for that magical day when they decide to grace me with their wit and wisdom once more.

In essence, I trick my brain into a state of constant anticipation, on the lookout for the next cheap thrill. You can interpret that in two ways. One, I'm always excited about something. Or two, nothing is ever good enough.

I blame the present. This wouldn't be a problem if the present were sexier.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Cha, Cha, Chai

ShePlays starts again tomorrow and runs through Saturday. That means if you'd like to see what all the fuss is about, you've got three more chances. You can buy tickets online at or (probably) at the door. No pressure.

I am about to drink my favorite drink on the planet, Mocafe Spiced Chai. Trader Joe's used to carry it but then they stopped and the pain was great. Thanks to an Internet Miracle however, the Chai is mine again, oh yes, restored to its rightful place on the shelf. To experience this flavor sensation you can buy through the Mocafe website or through Amazon. I heartily recommend it, as it was heartily recommended to me by BF's sister. It's just powder you mix in hot water (measuring cup included), but somehow they've managed to make it creamy and wonderful and just the right amount of sweet. Mocafe Spiced Chai is my drug of choice. Right up there with diet soda. And crack cocaine.

Our plays were reviewed in the local paper yesterday. If you happened across it, please don't let it discourage you from attending and judging for yourself. If you didn't read it, then I'll just say it wasn't particularly favorable -- though the reviewer did call my play Beckettian, but I think he meant it as a slight. One thing I've learned from Rob Schneider is that you shouldn't respond to critics because no good can come of it. But since this is a makeshift log of my play experiences I'll tell you my initial impression: laughter. Hell, no play of mine has ever been reviewed in a newspaper! To see my name in print -- even if it's spelled wrong -- exciting! He took a few pot shots about our not dealing with Women Issues more and compared my play to "Monsters, Inc." I'm not sure where the reviewer was coming from, but hey, ignore most of the content and we got ourselves a free quarter-page advertisement. Not too shabby.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Non-somnolent Saturday

BF's family left at intermission for the 2 hour drive home. This moment, they're sitting in a JetBlue aircraft, presumably about 30,000 feet up, ears popping, seats and trays in an upright position, enjoying the in flight literature... Even though it was hard for them, even though they were getting on a plane today, they made it up to see my play. The word I'm thinking of is: awesome.

Lily Tomlin was a fun sidestep. I laughed more than I didn't, I had a great aisle seat, and I saw a co-worker and his wife who I haven't seen in months. I only found out he'd retired because last December his name had been replaced in the acknowledgements section of the program. It left me in a wondering void, but now my curiosity is satisfied. I can tell by the expression on your face that this means as much to you as it does to me.

Another good play night yesterday. Good turnout, fairly good response -- less laughter in the funny sections than at Opening, and a couple of places where I could tell lines were flubbed but then I only noticed because I've memorized all the lines after seeing the plays so many times -- I count it as good. Almost everybody stayed after intermission, with the exception of BF's family who were pressed for time and sleep and traffic, and there was positive buzz when it ended. All good things.

As for LASIK, I can see and it's wonderful. Sometimes I find myself staring into the distance, regardless of what's actually in the distance, just to experiment with my ability to focus and the crispness of the edges of things. I feel like I've Photoshopped my vision, like I've got a perpetual sharpness filter that adjusts automatically -- my night vision is better too, less halos. And fewer headaches. One week post-LASIK, I am happy, but I promise you'll be the first to know (or at least in the top five), if anything changes, like an eye pops out or something.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

The Play's the Thing

I didn't think I'd be nervous about Opening Night, I mean, what's there to be nervous about? The playwright's work is long done; it's all pie and roses. But I never got that memo. I was a tiny bit twitchy.

We went to dinner at the California Pizza Kitchen and my order consisted of the following requirements: 1) Not sloppy, 2) Not too big, 3) And beer. I settled on the Portobello Mushroom Ravioli and a Sierra Nevada. It served its purpose. After enjoying our stimulating dinner conversation, we went upstairs to the box office, retrieved our tickets, and took our seats. You know, the usual.

My heart did pound as the lights did rise, but soon I found myself enjoying the plays and I (mercifully) forgot most my nervousness. Hell, there's nothing I could do about anything, so why bother?

I like my play. It turned out well. We had good audience turnout and after the shows we sipped champagne out of plastic cups and ate brownies and chocolate croissants. It was very chic. I even managed to socialize some, but I did not attend the after-party. I went home, glued my eyelids together, and promptly fell asleep.

Today will be a long one. BF's sister is coming up on the train at 11:30am to see the play and spend the night. The rest of his family is driving up and should be here about noon. At 4, I'm going to see Lily Tomlin because I've had this ticket forever and also, I'm looking forward to it. After that, we'll all probably have dinner and then see ShePlays. I have to clean my crap off the couch and probably run the vacuum one last time. BF's sister is allergic to our cats but uses medication to control her symptoms. I hope the dander doesn't do her in. I'd hate to have to explain that to people.

Friday, February 11, 2005

You've Seen the Blog, Now Read the Article

For a limited time online, you can read the article where I'm interviewed as part of the ShePlays playwrights. Go to the Newspress site, scroll down, and on the far right hand side, click on Scene Online. That is, if just clicking Scene Online in that last sentence doesn't work for you. We're on page 12.

It's a nice article. And even though it's tough to pull off that darn captured-in-the-middle-of-a-word-look, I think you get a lovely view of my teeth.

Goodbye Arthur Miller

Arthur Miller dead at 89

Thursday, February 10, 2005

There's Always Room for Cello

I've made myself a wee bit sick. It all started with a Venti Starbucks Caramel Frappuccino and a trip to Vons. I was attempting to stock up on Liquid Gel Drops, but Vons didn't carry Thera Tears. And after all the traffic involved in getting there, I couldn't leave empty handed. I explored the bakery section looking for breakfast treats I could share with my co-workers. It was all crap. I ended up with a plastic container full of hard chocolate chip cookies. I know they're hard because in the car I ate a handful, or a fistful, or a veritable arm bucket. And now my delicate tummy, shock of shocks, is unhappy with my breakfast decision.

'Course I rationalized my behavior by reminding myself that I'd gotten up early for another eye checkup and gone to bed late after watching a ShePlays run-through and when I woke this morning, both eyes were stuck together -- not to each other, but folded up in on themselves. Disoriented and plagued by meowing felines, I slammed into a door, adding to my collection of leg bruises.

I'm having such a good time watching my play come to life, which is a complete reversal from the last time I had a play produced. And don't even get me started on my last staged reading... The term staged reading was a misnomer. There was a set and props and the actors were off-book. We were just in a shitty, little rehearsal room with fold-out chairs, no budget, and a cassette player for sound effects. It was a full-length play I'd written about an apocalyptic love triangle. Sexual tension was supposed to be an important requirement of the actors' relationships with one another. Let's just say the male part was miscast. And by miscast, the reading was entirely populated by the actor's male friends who snickered each time he stopped lisping the lines and kissed one of the young ladies. The actor's entire person radiated gay -- which would have made for an interesting play, just not the one I'd written. As a result, the sexual tension was a joke, and the ensuing mind games which formed the basis of the play lost much of their oomph. It was meant to be about betrayal and unrequited affection and raw, animal heat, but what we got instead was an hour long snicker fest. I threw the play in a drawer and tried to forget it.

As for ShePlays, I couldn't be happier. The actors are real professionals. They listen to one another, they play off each other... They've created this wonderful slice of life and I find myself surprised and delighted to realize they're saying words I wrote. I'm grateful to them; I can't say enough good things.

Tonight is our preview and then tomorrow we open. The producer even procured a fantastic cellist to string the pieces together. Adds a real element of class. I'll have to remember not to pick my nose or scratch my ass or anything.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The 2am Post

There's just something about waking in the dead of night, eyelashes locked in an epic battle for right eye dominance, oozing yourself into the bathroom, flipping on the light, and staring into the mirror through fuzzy lash cracks, half-blind and dream rattled, attempting to pull the lids apart until the lashes nearly break off in your dry, fumbling fingers.

Something fucking eerie.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

On the Road to Recovery

It seems that the Thera Tears Liquid Gel Drops worked their magic in the night. My right eye is still blurry, but not nearly as much. I can almost read words again. This is a good thing.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Viscosity and Thermal Breakdown

Things you never want to hear your eye doctor say: [Your corneas] are pitted like a windshield after a sandstorm.

Now I've been known to exaggerate, true. But not now. My eyes are dry. My left eye is clear, my right eye is excessively blurry. Like, worse than pre-LASIK blur. So I schedule an emergency check up consultation thing, and the doctor plugs up my tear ducts with wax or something blue and then prescribes gel drops. Regular eye drops don't cut it. He said I needed more viscosity.

Lucky for me I didn't dislodge the flap. That would've been bad. Ruhl bahd.

See, I managed to remove my sleep goggles last night for about 2 hours. My sleeping self couldn't be bothered with the inconvenience. I woke, bolt upright, hissed "Shit! My goggles!" And now I've got the dried out blues. Da-da-dada-da. These blues also double as the, "Did I rub my eyes? Please tell me I didn't fucking rub my eyes!" blues. And triple as the "I can't make it 3 days, how'll I make it 3 months?" blues.

In other news, my play is super kick ass crazy awesome. I saw the first run-through of all the plays yesterday and it was everything I knew it would be. Prepare to be dazzled! Or not! I make it a point to always set my expectations low, that way I'm never be disappointed! But you know, you do your own thing.

Sunday, February 06, 2005


I'm here to tell you -- if you didn't already know -- sleeping in goggles is weird.

For one week post-LASIK, there are a few rules I need to follow: no makeup, no submerging of the head, and goggles when I'm sleeping. I wake in the morning looking like Cybill Shepherd in a cape. Goggle lines imprint my face, highlighting the rings beneath my eyes. Add to that a healthy dose of wild hair, and you got yourself a pretty little picture. After all, beauty is in the eye of the person who didn't sleep in goggles.

And because I'm not so bright about the coffee/LASIK connection, I asked BF to create one for me (as mentioned in the last entry.) Now it's clear as day. There's a LASIK logo on the side of the thermos. I can ruminate about the gift of sight every time I perk myself up with steaming, hot cuppa chai.

I'm also here to say that it's hard to revise and rewrite when the screen goes blurry then clear unexpectedly. I haven't quite mastered the focus on my training eyes. Or the balance on my training wheels. Or the clasp on my training bra.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

(Eye) Drop(s) It Like It's Hot

I keep looking around for my eyeglasses or finding myself trying to push them back up the bridge of my nose, but then I realize, "They're not there, dumbass."

The doctor made sure my eyes are healing properly, which they seem to be and gave me a card for my wallet that says I've had refractive surgery. It's funny because that's one of the reasons -- besides vanity -- that I had this done. My driver's license is up for renewal this year and the last time I got a driver's license, 10 years ago, I didn't wear glasses. I will successfully avoid never having anything about corrective lenses required on my license. (Bad sentence, shame on you) It was only a few months after my license was finalized that I got my first pair of glasses.

My eyelashes are achieving new levels of crustiness. The drops are now administered double-time, and the frequency of my blurry/clear shifts is increasing.

My new mantra: Don't rub for 3 months, don't rub for...

As I was leaving he gave me yet another parting gift: a thermos. My brain is struggling to form a connection between lasers and coffee, but alas, I'm not that bright.

Friday, February 04, 2005


It's not easy to focus on the screen. The doctor tells me that I'll be fine tomorrow -- correcting an astigmatism makes the first night blurry. The Valium wasn't as exciting as I thought it would be, but the procedure wasn't too bad. I pretended I'd been abducted by aliens and they were performing strange and otherworldly experiments on my corneas.

They (the alien doctors) gave me a videotape of the procedure. I can't see myself watching it anytime soon, but maybe if I drink enough, I'll get curious enough. I probably should be drinking now come to think of it.

I also left with a bag of eyedrops, a pair of goggles, and sunglasses. Mmm. Parting gifts.

My poor eyes have been continually flooded with drops or blinded by lights for most of the day. The LASIK itself wasn't that painful, mostly it was uncomfortable. Everything went dark, then blurry, then blurrier, then I smelled my eyes burning but I didn't feel much, and then the doctor swabbed my eye flap back into place and they stuck me in a room with soothing music and a heated blanket. Eventually BF led me to the car and heated me up a Lean Cuisine Pizza (I love those things) and I listened to some Lenny Bruce and then I went to sleep for a few hours.

Sometimes when I blink, everything becomes clear and then when I blink again, it all goes blurry. On, off, all day. I've got a check-up scheduled for tomorrow, bright and early. I think the hardest thing is going to be the "no eye rubbing for 3 months." That'll require reservoirs of determination I'm not sure I've tapped yet.

Somewhere in the wide night, actors are rehearsing my play and I'm not there.

My eye lashes are all crusty from the drops. And I discovered that the weird after taste from the antibiotic drops is perfectly normal. I didn't even bring it up, lest I seem psycho, but one of the alien nurses volunteered the information in her helpfulness.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The ShePlays playwrights... I'm in orange. On the left. Brown hair. Cheeky.

I want to give proper photo credit but I can't remember how to spell the photographer's name. I'll look it up and update it later.

Groundhog Liberation Now!

I don't think there's anything in my brain that isn't eye or play related. Tonight's my free night. Sadly, it's only 8:30pm and I'm ready for bed.

I'm still doing the gym thing. I burn 300 calories and then I eat a burrito full of sour cream and cheese to preserve my delicate fat balance. But on the bright side, I can run in place for five minutes at a time now. And then bike in place and then climb stairs in place. As long as I travel exclusively by escalator, I'm well prepared for life outside the gym.

Two days until LASIK. It's final countdown time. I'm using antibiotic eyedrops and everything. I can taste them in the back of my throat, which I'm not sure I should be able to do. Salty, if you're wondering.

One good thing is that everyone in town I've told about the LASIK says, "Dr. Winthrop?" And I say, "YES!" And then they say, "He's the best!" And I say, "I know!" Just like that. Now multiply that by five times a day for weeks and weeks and you got yourself a highly recommended LASIK expert.

They Might Be Giants are telling me to go to "Bed, Bed, Bed." And since I make it a point to ALWAYS obey the voices coming through my headphones, I must away.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Modesty Doesn't Live Here Anymore

The group interview went well. The reporter asked good questions and was easy to talk to. Maybe he was too easy to talk to; I was surprised by some of the other playwrights' responses. I tried not to take it all too seriously. It was awfully nice of this reporter to make us all feel important and special by paying attention to us and recording our dialogue to tape, but when all's said and done, our opinions mean jack. The plays speak for themselves. We need an audience for our work now. We don't need to assign motivations to our actions over the 6 month period it took to write the play.

I'm walking a fine line here. These ladies are awesome and they've done a tremendous job with their plays. However, I think we may have (collectively) lost sight of the playwrights' role. At this point, it's about the actors. It's about the directors. And it's about pushing off from the shore to see if we sink.

That said, listening to the other responses I kept thinking of the most perfect, most mind-blowing thing to say into the tape recorder, but once it was turned towards me I froze up and kept repeating myself. Of course it's easier now, after the fact, to organize my thoughts into a logical pattern. Hell, I almost sound like I know what I'm talking about.

We also, as a group, had a tendency to contradict the question. When asked if it was true our plays were predominantly optimistic -- the group shook their heads and laughed. Then we'd proceed to explain just how depressing a night of our plays was going to be. Now I'm no marketing expert, but that's not the way to win a crowd. Besides, it's not fair to our plays to dismiss them like that. The emotions are all mixed up. Seven plays, seven playwrights, seven different views of comedy and tragedy. We sold ourselves short. No one'll leave the theatre wanting to blow their brains out, far from it. I just hope that came through in the end.

Ultimately it was a positive experience. I'm glad of this opportunity to work with these women and produce this wriggly, slippery thing. I'm inordinately proud and terrified, and I hope you can share in my twitch-i-tude starting February 11. Cuz that's the day it's due to leave the kiln.