Monday, November 29, 2010

and on the nature of daylight

I can't figure out if people actually think I'm a smart person, or if they see that I think I think I'm a smart person, or at least wish I were a smart person, and therefore they play along.

I just spent the last few minutes reading a collection dubbed "the 100 Best Last Lines from Books." I finally stopped, all I could do was shake my head. I can't stop marveling. I think it's true that the older I get the more I appreciate, however, I appreciate with too much fullness. I am almost overwhelmed by my appreciation, like a little kid who's just seen Superman for real. Sometimes it's hard for me to discuss things that I love, even, because even if I understand them well (which is only part of the time) I just can't break them down into little words, even though in many cases what I love so much is usually a series of little words. But no! I am too busy marveling!! Too busy trying to decide what great novel to read next (ALL OF THEM!) to actually begin reading a single one. Too busy thinking about what makes something beautiful that I am not trying to make anything. Still. I think my favorite last lines have to be from The Sun Also Rises, The Great Gatsby, 1984, I Capture the Castle, Tale of Two Cities (which I do not even like), and most definitely Catcher in the Rye:

"Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody."

Thanksgiving was last week. I can't ever remember having a really great Thanksgiving. None of my family's meals seem to have been memorable at all, I certainly can't think of any offhand. The food was always good, the Friends episodes were always good. One year I made cranberry sauce from scratch at my mother's insistence. It turned out all right. I think one year we went to the grandparents on my mother's side. I seem to remember having the traditional feast in their old, slanted, super-70's dining room with chairs that rolled.

My mother's parents were interesting people, particularly my grandfather. He had been very ill since before I was alive, so I didn't know him very well, and he was the first of my grandparents to die, so I didn't get much of a chance. But I always liked to think that he would have liked me. Grandma always favored the oldest girls in the family, and I was the runt for awhile aside from the one sacred BOY cousin of the family. After grandpa died she turned into a pretty angry woman for a few years which also happened to be my most awkward years, and she was mean to me alot of the time. Not so much in the two years before she died, but I was detached from her by then. And of course I had no connection to my father's parents. Or much of any other family in general. Thus I think I began to think of Grandpa as the one who would have loved me. Also, he was cool, he was in the air force-- the flying tigers!-- and he went to Casablanca once for some reason or other. Recently I was in conversation with my mom and I said that the drink I almost always get is a whiskey sour. She laughed and said that's what grandpa always got (if he didn't get just whiskey, haha). That made me happier than it should have. I know-- I'm doing what people do. Making a myth out of someone and forming them into who I wish they were. But of course, one never knows. I certainly don't.

Thanksgiving was spent mostly at my friend's house, talking, drinking tea, reading, and watching my friend and her sisters make use (one might even say abuse) their Ihome. There's a certain warmth in the kitchen there, and its mostly caused by all of the girls packing in, working on foodie projects or cleaning up, punctuated by dance sessions, much to the amusement and sometimes chagrin of their parents, whom they merely dance circles around (literally) until they soften by rolling their eyes. I have to say, though, that the best part of the whole day was when a Frank Sinatra song came on and the girls started to foxtrot about. Their mother looked up from the massive amounts of mashed potatoes she was making and started to bob her head, and soon she was dancing cheek to cheek with her daughter. They danced all the way through the song. That was nice, almost surreal, like something that doesn't actually happen in real life.

After all that we packed in the car to go to Malibu, where the virtual family reunion occurs, and alas we did not eat until 10. Maureen and I and her cousin sat at a series of assembled TV tray tables (..70s-looking), which added an extra element of the absurd. The turkey was all right, but the rest of the food was achingly good, damn the mashed potatoes, damn all of the mashed potatoes. The conversation was the usual-- I see this extended family about once a year and I never remember anything about anyone (and vice versa) so other than reaquaintance there's not much to talk about. Not for lack of trying. One year a communist was there and led a gigantic discussion/argument about freewill vs. predestination, but he's gone back to Europe now.

The best gift my mother may have ever given me, aside from birth, is my heating pad. In a heaterless back room that used to be a garage, in very cold temperatures, I would like tah freeze, but not so, says the heating pad. My feet are happy and thus I am warm.

I have found three new names that I like: Anderson, Jude, and Kendall. I like names that might've been last names for some reason. I had a thought yesterday that I just really needed to marry someone with the last name of Anderson because I like it so much, and then I thought, ha. What about a first name? Anderson Barnett.

I am currently listening to Sufjan Stevens' "That Was The Worst Christmas Ever." Towards the end his refrain is "silent night, nothing feels right..."

I finished East of Eden the day before Thanksgiving, and five bottles of wine on the day after. I enjoyed both, but I suppose East of Eden wins. I thought it was interesting that I should be so drawn to read that story at the moment because its overarching theme is freewill. Discouraging, how limited human beings can be, but encouraging to know that we can do all things. As they say in the book, Timshel, the Hebrew word that God used to tell Cain that he "could" or "may" find salvation if he went the right way, if he tried. God says Cain may attain what he needs. God does not say he will. It's not a promise to look out for Cain, it's God's reminder that He's around but ultimately Cain makes his own choices. He killed Abel. Tough cookies, Cain.

That's something I think of and worry about. It's glorious, and much the foundation of my faith to know that we have free will. However, it is another sublime thought, once that becomes overwhelming as I marvel at it like the last words of a Salinger or Steinbeck book. On the days when I feel like I just can't, I simply can't even think of trying to be good in ANY WAY, I wonder if that's a true estimate or if I simply don't want to at that moment. Because surely if I wanted to be good I'd work at it. No. We have to work at it even when we don't want goodness, we have to work at it all of the time for goodness to exist at all.

I'm tired. I look forward to sleep.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

writer mchottie.

I'm one of those people who's not really into Tina Fey-- I didn't like her on SNL (until she came back with the Palin thing, that was great), and her writing sometimes comes off a bit bitchy when it's trying to be sharp. There's a host of witty, young female writers who look up to her as a total hero, but I've never been quite there. However, I am starting to like her more and more, and I certainly admire her career. SNL, Mean Girls, many successful seasons of 30 Rock, a Steve Carell movie, and somehow she's filled the niche for the Smart Hottie (she is totally gorgeous). That's a pretty impressive line-up when you think about it.

Anyway, when I saw this picture I cracked up. It's rare, kind of annoying, but also kind of cool that a (female) writer is this hip celebrity. Doesn't happen often. Woody Allen, Matt & Ben (who don't friggin write at all anymore), Owen Wilson (dittoooooo, why OWEN WHY?), Nia Vardolos (ditto... perhaps Nia only had the one great film in her), Diablo Cody at first... of course, she's a writer SLASH comedienne, but at least the WRITER label has always been prominent, something I feel like she sees to personally.

Yeah... I finally like you, Tina Fey. I'm sure you're relieved to hear it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"I believe there are monsters born in the world to human parents."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Productivity thy name is me.

As it turns out, yesterday was a largely productive day and I did indeed get into the writing "groove."

As I'm tackling the THIRD draft (guh) of my thesis script (my Western Masterpiece... at least that's what it's supposed to be) I've been noticing more things about the writing process, and I've been slipping into it more and more naturally. Now when I read older things I've written, not only can I tell what's wrong, I can usually pinpoint how to fix it. Now, as I comb through this script, I'm changing around everything, particularly the characters. As it turns out I'm far too instinctive in my writing, far too much for my own good. I suppose once I figured out I could write well I didn't reckon I needed to think too deeply about how to write anymore-- and I don't mean structure, because that's something I've built my knowledge of. It's something else that I'm just tapping into, something between structure and content-- some sort of logic. I write atmosphere very well, and second to atmosphere is my dialogue. It's usually very natural and conversational, so much so that I let it write itself and it generally sounds good-- but therein lies the problem. With my dialogue and character development I've gone almost totally on instinct-- "well, I feel like he would say THIS"-- rather than observing it logically. And that's fine, for the first few drafts. It makes the dialogue believable, but ultimately the characters, whom I think through very thoroughly, don't develop fully because I've limited them by going by what I feel in the moment that I'm writing their actions and speech. I am NOT going by the logical flow of development that I intended in the first place. I write character biographies and discuss my characters-- with myself-- but their development is not always at the front of my mind, and that tends to come out when I converse about them with other people.

IE one of my major rewrites this time around is the way in which my main character, Jerome, a murderer masquerading as a civil servant, motivated by the concept that there is reward and even reverence for doing what you feel. My intention as I was writing him was sociopathic rehabilitation (and thus, more simply, redemption), however I was so at ease with writing his dialogue that I did not apply my intention to every aspect of his character. Or if I did, I certainly didn't show it, and that's the whole point of a script. You're not telling the reader/audience what the situation is, you're SHOWING them, by jingo. In my first two drafts Jerome is intriguing but far too vague and occasionally nonsensical because his dialogue reads like a typical cowboy from a Clint Eastwood movie. When I wrote said dialogue I just assumed that an audience would pick up on the fact that Jerome is supposed to be sociopathic and is just mimicking social norms depending on who he happened to be speaking to, however after really reading the script one discovers... that is absolutely not the case at all. He kills little kids and also happens to spend most of his time engaging in humorous repartee like Curly from Oklahoma or something stupid like that. Makes no sense, and it doesn't take a genius to realize that that is not going to work. So now I attack him with a much stronger and clearer vision.

One can't simply expect an audience to "know what i mean." Unfortunately. 'Cause then I'd really be considered brilliant. Ah well.

Also, may I just say I've finally thrown myself into East of Eden and it's remarkable. The only Steinbeck I've read up to this point were Grapes of Wrath (which I, unlike the rest of America, do not really like. His writing style is fabulous but eh, something about that story. I like the movie a bit better because their truck piled with stuff reminds me of my family's move from the south to California. anyway..) and Of Mice and Men, which is absolutely wonderful but ever so sad and short. EoE is not short, though I can't count the times I've paused in my reading of it to remark to myself how heartbreaking it is. I don't know how he does it! Damn writers! Damn amazing writers, I hate and love you.

Monday, November 15, 2010

We'll Make Time

So, for the past few months I've been slightly in love with a married guy.

Thought I might as well say it.

Of course, that's an exaggeration. What's more true is that I've been working at this school for awhile now and there's been this very attractive teacher who has gone out of his way to be nice to me, and who for several weeks was NOT wearing a wedding ring (apparently the kids noticed this too... he says it was getting resized). Not that I was planning on "going after" him anyway, however it was a nice type of guy to think of. Buuuut now there's a smarting of embarrassment that I think we both sense. After that little revelation we mostly avoid each other.

I don't feel any less gross.


I'm at a Coffee Bean right now, trying to force myself to write, but I can't get into the mindset. I know I'll get there, but all I want to do is daydream. I am far more of a dreamer than a do-er, absolutely hands-down all the time. I really want to finish my thesis Western screenplay once and for all, but I can't make myself get into serial killer in the West mode. Dang. It.

I haven't been on my usual diet of Dark Stuff lately. Ever since Freaks & Geeks I've been either rewatching my favorite happy 90's movies or trying to find all things Apatow-esque- IE slightly silly humor with lots of character development. Apparently Apatow is pretty much the king of that. I've been re-watching most of his films, too, and also anything with Steve Carell in it. I don't think I've ever had stronger cravings for happy, funny movies. Strange for me. Or maybe there's just been an absence of really interesting character-driven drama lately. Ah well, that will change soon, what with Oscar season and (HELLOOOOOO WESTERNNNNN) True Grit coming up. AHH Coen Brothers you ruin my life and rock it at the same time!

I finally found out my fate this Christmas is to be a happy one: I am going to Tejas for Christmas! Happy news since not two weeks ago my mother and I agreed that there was no way that was going to work out. I was way more bummed out about it than I expected to be, so now I am doubly pleased to know that I'll be around my old stomping grounds soon. Of course, there's nothing I ever miss about the place, and I'm glad it will only be for about a week, but I love my parents and there's still something magic about driving around in cars with my old best friend who I used to ride around with in the back of her mom's car. Not to mention her almost-fiance will of course be joining us. Anyway, I've already got batty about Christmas presents and bought about a billion. I can't help it. I get idiotically carried away by the idea of giving people stuff they will like, and the hunt. Ooh the hunt is worth it.

It's going to be a good Christmas.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tonight (and lately) I've been singing my favorite parts from David Bowie's weird song "Time," all of the words of which I have no idea, and the beginning bugs me so much, but I love the lines

"I had so many dreams/I had so many breakthroughs" and "But all I had to give was the guilt for dreaming."

I was saddened to look up the lyrics just now and discover that my most favorite part, which I sing obsessively is actually "we should be on by now."

All this time I've been thinking it was "We should be home by now," repeated over and over, which to me has always seemed like such a great, sad, wonderful thing to say in the way that David Bowie does.

Oh well. I suppose I'll go on singing it that way.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

and i've never gotten used to it, i've just learned to turn it off..

It's time for a little Bob Dylan in my life.

Lord knows.
How hot is Bob here, by the way? Nice mug, man.

Anyway. Around this time last year I think I was going to that Bob concert, actually, which was around the time that my suitemate and I were becoming friends. I remember that because I hadn't really told anyone that I was going to the concert or that I was going by myself because no one would have wanted to go nor would they care, but as I was on my way out my suitemate asked where I was going. When I told her I was going to LA alone to see Dylan, she told me that I shouldn't have decided to go alone, and that I should text her when I got there so she'd know I was fine and "not raped" (thus began a gross, ongoing raped-by-dylan joke which she continues to find hilarious). I remember thinking that was nice. Towards the end of November, she was the one who ended up in the hospital. When she left in the ambulance, I found that my car was dead as a doornail and proceeded to run up and down the parking lot aisles, frantically clicking her malfunctioning car key remote until her car was revealed to be at the furthest end of the lot. When I got there I sat next to her, read Russell Brand's observations outloud, mused about death, and waited for the prissy capote-esque nurse or the blood guy who called himself "the vampire" (and yet totally didn't get my Twilight jokes...) to come back. I remember standing in the hall where one could go to fetch water or talk to the person at the desk and wondering if all medical personell were so unhappy, and observing that the doorways to all of the individual rooms were low, square, and all painted slightly different pastel colors. They looked like little frames around the sad picture of whatever was inside, and from the perspective of the desk you could peek into most of them at the same time, like a dollhouse.

I remember thinking that was very Wes Anderson.

I just recently discovered the "stats" thing on blogspot, which tells me how many people i get looking at this here blog--- which is waaay more than i thought--- and what brings them here and what posts are and have been popular. The popular posts, as now can be noted on the right, are peculiar to me. I get some of them that have key words and pictures (the fashion one is only popular because people love mad men clothes), but others I don't understand. My one-line declaration of my awkward life? My discussion of what Beatles music means to me? Odd. Other popular posts according to stats include some that go on and on about my depression-mode. That kind of concerns me and makes me wonder, is that because someone is researching? Identifying? Or... mocking?

The internet is a tricky thing. Anyway, I won't discuss the stats or look at them much anymore, that's kind of like breaking the fourth wall. Still, nice to know someone somewhere is reading along, no matter how tedious or strange. Hi guys :) You know you can say hi from time to time.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Index-To-Be of Katrina's Oft-used Phrases

"Ill-advised."-- My favorite thing to say to people for the duration of my time at LMU, usually in response to someone's story of disgust with someone else. IE "...Can you BELIEVE they did that to me!?" Me: "Mmhmm, ill-advised."
Also, can be interchanged with "Bad call," the common response to a disaster or... just a bad call.

"I scaaared meself."-- Something I picked up as a kid after listening to a Red Skelton Christmas Show in which Red Skelton plays a little boy who waits for Santa to come down the chimney in order to jump him and take all of the presents for himself. As he explains his plan to sneak up on Santa he gets so worked up that he collapses in fright, and when asked what the problem is, he responds "I scaaaared meeeseeellllf!"

"I haaaaate SUNSHINE." My usual response/description of myself when in an aggravated and/or curmudegeonly state. A reference to the witch character in The Sword and the Stone, a film I'm not even particularly fond of.

"Has he dead, Holmes?" My response to myself when I completely massacre whatever it is I'm trying to express. Usually uttered in desperation, this phrase was born while in conversation with my friend about the Sherlock Holmes film.

"Lalalala..." My random insertion into most descriptive action, kind of like saying "etc etc" or "and so on" or "yadda yadda." IE "So I was walking to work and lalala... and then a cat jumped out!" It's my way of filling in a sentence that I deem too boring to actually complete. I was called on this weird habit by new arrivals at LMU, I had no idea that I did that previously.

More to be added as they occur to me.

I'm on the 10-year plan.

In other news, I've pretty much become totally convinced that an important soon-to-be step will be obtaining my masters in film studies, in order to teach. I have a feeling that studying film in that capacity will be tiresome, much like literary analysis (which I enjoy, however I find it to be about 50% bullshit, and though it can produce some very interesting insight it seems as though much of it is crafted not from the text but from thin air), however being able to teach it seems like something that would be very rewarding, and a nice way to supplement and interact with my chosen career. Also, about 75% of my verbal output involves film theory, history, and trivia so I may as well. Interesting, I was always very much opposed to being a teacher. Almost all of the women in my family were teachers at some point or another, and I was always very adamant that all that was simply not for me-- I don't think I ever thought that "teaching" was something outside of educating grade schoolers on the basics. Shortly before my graduation this year I received an email from a former film studies teacher (that I had taken from three or four times), congradulating me and complimenting me on my work in her class and encouraging me to perhaps follow up on some of the work I had started in her classes. This woman had taught on genre, The Western, Noir, Women in Film and Irish Film studies, and it hit me that THAT sort of teaching would not only come very naturally to me, that I would love doing it. To be able to teach college-level kids about something that fascinating (which they also must be at least marginally interested in if they're taking that sort of class) would be such fun. Yes. So that's the sort-of plan. Perhaps one more year of floundering around/making money before then, but I would say that seems the soundest approach.

I went back to LMU this week (before I was struck down by a powerful cold/flu?) and spoke with my old, favorite screenwriting teacher for about an hour. Very nice. In conversation, she mentioned that one of her former students had expressed to her discouragement that it seems to take so long to get anything accomplished in Hollywood, screenwriting-wise. Strange. I realized I am very accepting of that. It would be amazing if I were to suddenly attract agent attention and became some amazing wunderkind story, however I have never had any expectations (see: delusions) about that. In this fantastic documentary about screenwriting, a working screenwriter says that basically it takes 10 years to crack the code (IE to work with any notoriety or regularity). The strange thing is, as easily discouraged as I can be by other things in life, that statement/fact does not scare me, nor do I see it as something that will keep me from trying. I hope that somewhere along the way, say, within the next five years, I might encounter some kind of career boost, just to keep me going, but I do not expect to be the exception. I intend to write no matter what, anyway, and although I hope that at least one of my stories makes it to the big screen before I DIE, I'm not terribly concerned about making it happen ASAP. It doesn't mean I lack ambition, because I intend to work very hard, but it does mean that it's one aspect of life that I see with some clarity and reason. It's more about the writing, the drafts, the perfection, the statement than it is the immediate translation and transition.

Which is good, isn't it?

come on and just a minute more, before you open up your eyes?

So I've been having alot of dreams lately, I suppose mostly because I've been sleeping often and lightly-- I'm sick this week, which translates to "mostly sleep even when you start feeling a little bit better." I don't really know what to do with myself... it's my old problem. I think about medication alot these days, and what people would think if they knew how little I do and how little I feel capable of doing on a regular basis. It's been good to be able to "shrink" myself, as can be read in so many blogposts here, especially recently, but very little seems to change, even when I promise myself it will. I'm not good with the day-to-day thing, I guess I should find some way to trick myself. Sigh. Monotony. Such monotony and such fear of the day-to-day that the ultimate lameness-- I'd rather be dreaming than doing anything else-- has become my reality. I even try to force myself to sleep when I feel like I can't do anything. This is a deep issue. I really need to deal with this garbage.

Oh, but I was talking about dreams. I had a really nice one recently, that reminded me a bit of the weird Zach Braff dream I had years ago (a strange one about domestic bliss, I was his girlfriend/wife and we lived in this all-white apartment and read books and I told him lovingly how much he reminded me of Ray Romano.... but it was an incredibly happy dream, and I loved Zach. Not sure why it had to be Zach and not someone much more attractive, but ah well). This one that I had last week was a long dream, kind of in the vein of my usual lengthy, whacked-out ones, and was probably just a series of uncomfortable things. All I really remember, though, was by the end of the dream I was feeling as I have been lately- crappy, unattractive, very unhappy to be out in public when I'd rather just make a tunnel and call it home. I went into this little, crowded restaurant that was all made up in holiday colors and I was so bummed to know I'd have to wait a long time, feeling very conspicuous and judged by the world in general. To make things worse, there was this person-- not sure who, probably just a symbol of all of the people I can't stand at the moment-- also waiting for a table who happened to know me vaguely, and whose intention was clearly to make me feel as uncomfortable as possible. So I just stood there, feeling utterly crappy and miserable, until I noticed, over the sea of people, in the corner in the worst seat in the whole place (next to the kitchen doors) was this guy in a sweater waving to me and I was suddenly ridiculously happy. I instantly knew I was in some kind of relationship with this guy (I feel like we were married but maybe not), and the relief I felt upon seeing him was pratically un-parelled (dream-wise). Also, he was Steve Carell. Well, not Steve Carell, but one of those things where I felt like he was played by Steve Carell. Or something like that (also, we're talking Dan In Real Life Steve, not Office Steve, though he's precious any way you slice it). Anyway, I waded over to where he was and he hopped up to give me the warmest, all-encompassing hug and suddenly everything was completely fine. We started talking about something fairly mundane, like what to get my mom for mother's day, and I woke up. Which was sad. I was really bummed to have that dream end.

Freaking Steve Carell.