Last week: THREE projects which could've remained strictly in conceptual stages made advancements. It helps that they involved other people, because I bet there's a mathematical formula about that. Like if you combine two people generally with big dreams and little time/follow-through, it equals one very motivated human. You've gotta convince your Other that you're reliable, in order to look like a worthy partner/employee/manager/whatever. And it's just someone else to keep you on task, edit your "Yee-haws!," etc.
Also, we've got this post-cruise energy thing. Every text Haviland's sent me this week has included at least sixteen exclamation points and/or one motivational statement and/or a word in all caps, like "AMAZ" or "HOT"! (!!!!!)
Life feels strange, almost like school, where we'd get assignments, and then we'd have to do them. Especially group projects. JK, I always did those myself. I didn't trust those randoms with my multi-media projects. Plus, all the popular girls'd wanna work with me because I made such hot videos and got good grades for everyone, which worked out well for me, 'cause then I could be around them.
Today I will look at some of the things I lost along the way: those uncompleted projects. There're so many of these, really, that my mind almost exploded just thinking about it. I'll probably revisit this topic at a later date, because I'm sure it's really super-compelling: I mean, if it's not fun enough to read me ramble about things I HAVE done, just imagine how interesting it is to read me talk about all the things I HAVEN'T! (Not at all). All the things I wanted to go to school for (media studies, web design, Reiki)! All the bizarre things I attempted to organize as a child (charities, eco -action groups, street fair, magazine, 'zine, film festival, radio show, theatrical productions, etc.)! All the career paths/temporary jobs I suddenly lost interest in/abandoned (camp counselor, model, waitress, Jell-O shot girl, grant writer)! Oh, the Places You Will Never Ever Go!
(limited to recent history, lest this list spiral out of control, like life itself is wont to do)
I pick up voice fast, almost too fast. I start reading someone I admire and I start writing like them, it's like taking a shot of Raymond Carver instead of vodka, then right after reading I've got this buzz. I can get drunk off a writer, a good one, if I've got a lot of long train rides. I'll start thinking like them, a little, their voice invades my brainspace and refuses to leave 'til the book ends. Maggie Estep shoots me up with poetic perverted instinct, her and Mary Gaitskill both ignore dirt by speaking explicitly no matter what the vocabulary, by being hard and gross but sort of honest about the deepest most deviant but really earnestly beautiful pit of us. Lorrie Moore sucks me inside of me, sarcastically but plainly and naked too, builds stronger and funnier walls around my self-preservation and/or vulnerability. She makes me desperately unique, alone, unable to communicate with men at all whatsoever, filled with private thoughts and bitingly witty/astute judgments. Marya Hornbacher made me stop eating, John Marsden lifted me out of high school and into another universe where I floated through hallways and meditated apocalypse or something to get me out of my own life, anything, Pam Houston makes me miss wide open spaces, mountains and men with skills, Tama Janowitz glazes my eyes over with sharp stupidity, she makes me tilt my head and say strange things to make normal plain people uncomfortable, wear costumes as assault ... the dozens of lesbian essay collections I've digested this past year rewrite my history in my head, they transform my memories into memories of always wanting women, which is true, too.
So I had this idea, upon reading a New York Magazine/[redacted] article about Gossip Girl, that I would become a ghostwriter for Gossip Girl. Like many YA series once they get big, the author just writes outlines, and then book packagers write the content itself. All I had to do was get the voice into my head and then write a sample chapter and send it off, I read all about it, and I was pretty certain that book packaging was my real destiny, due to my talent w/picking up voices. Then Don [owns my agency] told me it was a really bad deal because you only get like $4,000 a book, and the authors at our agency who did book packaging deals weren't always pleased with it [they've done a lot of TV tie-in books, like Star Trek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, etc.] I was like, Dude, I will totally take that!" I see now what he meant, about ratio of time/money/recognition. But seriously, $4,000 is a lot of money! How long could it possibly take? Also! It could be fun.
So I read like, seven Gossip Girl books. My mind was all like "Welcome to New York City's Upper East Side, where my friends and I all live in huge, fabulous apartments and go to exclusive single-sex private schools. We aren't always the nicest people in the world, but we make up for it in looks and taste."
Then I sort of told myself I needed to wait for the next one to come out to really get moving on it. That was August of 2005.
My senior year of high school, Krista directed "Familyland," a one-act I'd written. That was the best night of my life: incredible cast, a roomful of people laughing at my jokes ... I was all gung-ho about playwriting . Unfortunately, theatrical genius hasn't really struck since then. In '04, Krista started badgering me to come up with something new; she was starting a new job where she'd be in a position to get my work produced, if it was worthy. So, fast-forward to the night before Krista leaves for the summer of '05 [my play-completion deadline]: I had nothin'. So, as she packed and Pete made jokes, I wrote a 96-page play in about ten hours.
Two weeks later, when Krista and I were traveling cross-country together (long story), sitting in Denver in the Amtrak station, having completed every question on Trivia Machine and needing new entertainment: Krista pulled it out, and set it on her lap, and began:"'Well ... I really loved the character descriptions! I was so hopeful for the rest of the play!" That's totes not a good sign at all. These are those character descriptions:
CRYSTAL JONES, 18: Looks as though her clothes no longer fit properly. Awkward, plays with her chin-length blonde hair a lot. Blue eyeshadow. Medium height, mostly plain looking with a hint of cherub beauty. Wants to be a stage makeup artist.It was all downhill from there. We discussed revisions. Which I never did. Because I am retarded.
DR. JEB JONES, 48: Gynecologist, specializing in giving birth and fertility treatments. Pro-Life. Tall, white beard, Donald Sutherland-type. Polite but angry. Liable to burst. Stoic exterior, creepy interior.
BARBARA JONES, 40: Stunned into persistent silence. Painfully nice. Enjoys crafts, always makes too much for dinner. Hopelessly codependent.
MIKE JONES, 17: Shoulder-length hair. Self-conscious. A bit tall for his age. Plays a lot of pool in the basement, drinks a lot of flavored cola. Wants some ass.
RICKY, 17: Crystal’s best friend. Gay. Thin, good-looking, puts a lot of gel in his hair. Hasn’t yet figured out how to make it through. Wants to be a model.
DEVON, 19: Swedish exchange student. Kind, the airs of someone who is well-traveled and well-read but never makes a point of it. Non-judgmental. Wears glasses.
I was pretty convinced that this was the most brilliant idea I'd ever had. So I wrote 46 pages of "My So-Called Grown Up Life" in the car as we drove to Vermont for New Years Eve and was like: "Haviland Stillwell: this is the best play ever written." It was the cast all grown up. Brill.
Then we all read through it and everyone who knew the show thought it was really fun and funny, but Hav was like Riese, really? Because of like, copyright, and plays don't make money, I shouldn't put all my energy into something so futile, and this and that. I was like, silly, that sounds like the perfect project for me then! JK, I was like. Oh.
Here are those character descriptions:
ANGELA CHASE, 27 – Author of the New York Times bestselling book "Getting Out Alive: How To Save Our Adolescent Girls," psychologist and public speaker. Despite this, she still tugs at her sleeves and often avoids networking parties. Has resolved to practice what she preaches for the past two New Years. Married to Brian.
BRIAN KRAKOW, 27 – Began as a development intern at WebDoctor.com after his third year at Brown and now serves as Chief Design Director. Most of his friends are still in coffee shops, plotting The Revolution. Secretly wishes Angela was more of the barefoot-and-pregnant type.
RAYANNE RAYMOND, 28 – Completely out of control, possibly on a downward spiral. Recently divorced, recently disheveled, often drunk/drugged but surprisingly functional nonetheless. If she knew what a Peter Pan complex was, she might know that she was developing one.
JORDAN CATALANO, 29 – Blue-eyed and beautiful, still makes 15-year-old girls melt when he mops the floors of their private college prep high school. Veteran of "Operation Enduring Freedom," honorably discharged after two months of service when he lost two fingers in his left hand.
Then, we decided to dress up in the O'Donnell children's snowsuits, pull out their props, and take photographs of ourselves. So that was that project.
1. Start a business collecting cans in a truck that doubled as a can-deposit-center. Use this money to "teach kids to build birdhouses."
2. Buy old buildings [with non-existent start up] and fix them.
3. Start selling pot brownies from his kitchen.
I honestly fully embraced, researched and considered all of those options. There are diagrams.
This was our temporary can collection vehicle. Here, he's putting the doors and roof back on, since it was night and we were done stopping every ten seconds to leap out and get cans he's spotted.
What lesson did I learn from that? Kiddos, don't do drugs. If you do, someone might try to talk you into selling pot brownies from their kitchen and driving out to the beach stopping every five seconds to pick up cans.
On my last day of class at the University of Michigan, I remember telling everyone: "This's my last day of class, ever." And everyone was like, well, what if you go to graduate school? And I somehow just knew I wouldn't. I don't know why. Maybe it's 'cause I'd spent all my money already on going to school, and didn't think I could handle the stress of finances and school at the same time,which'd mean I'd need a career first, which'd mean I'd probably lose interest 'cause I'd be so ridiculously successful already. (HA!!!!)
But my writing teacher'd told me: "Don't pay for an M.F.A. program. They should give you a full scholarship." I sent out for pamphlets. I was thinking of myself in Iowa City, looking serious but wearing a hoodie. I was imagining living in a sort of faux -bohemian apartment studio with some sort of dark hot androgynous girl in a white v-neck t-shirt who was a Fantastic Creator of Art of Some Format and had all kinds of secret skills. It'd be Iowa City, but it'd be cozy and perfect and I'd become a Great Writer who maybe lost a little voice but gained an ability to choose words properly when I'd re-find it, back in a more hard-core city, a few years later. But then what if the other kids were really annoying or something? It's like, a twelve person workshop.
Anyhow: I've got lists. Rankings. Books. Pamphlets. Really obviously I just like reading material about things I COULD do with my life, rather than the actual act of doing these things.
Areas of my website I keep thinking I'm going to update any minute now: The L Word Season Four Quotes, add some fiction to the "Fiction" area of the website (All I've done so far is change it from saying: "This page, like life itself, is a work in progress" to "Though this entire site is 'in progress,' this page is especially so"), creating an overall design that doesn't make me want to pull my hair out every time I see it (w/o using HTML editor or a web designer), add recent stuff/links, add new movie quotes, add book quotes because the book quote page was so aesthetically irritating to me that I had to take it down, create a "cast of characters" page for my blog, update my links, write that Season Four Auto-Straddle Round-Up I said I was going to write, and wow. So many things. I could go on, but this I think is mostly for my own reference.
Sites I've joined, half-assedly, and set up a profile/presence/registration of some sort, never to truly follow up again: flickr, library thing, all consuming, onemodelplace, goodreads, care.com, technorati, youtube, del.icio.us, etsy, shutterfly, cafe-press, and so on. And so on. Could go on forever. Won't.
I've started about 10,000 novels I never finished. I even have a folder called "Big Ideas," which is code for "Things You'll Probs Not Finish." A doc labeled "Great American Novel" (HA!) (81 pages). "Memoir" (written in 2001, 219 pages). The best was the YA novel, "For a Girl" (118 pages). I was totally into the YA Novel when I decided to write "my book." You know, that book I keep talking about? The one I'm allegedly writing? Right! That [the moment I gave up YA novel to pursue My Book] was an embarrassingly long time ago. Like, wow. Hang on BRB I'm going to go clamp a mousetrap on my ear and stick my finger in the toaster.
I stopped myself this time. I was like "Are you really seriously Riese going to spend hours and hours editing a video of you, Heather and Haviland talking to yourselves? Could anyone possibly find this entertaining?" Then I thought to myself: "Obvs/No way." So it's totally uncompleted, unimpressive, and I'll never make it snazzy. But that's okay, I'm learning all about time management.
Some notes about this video:
1. I copied some clips really quickly from Haviland's camera yesterday. She wasn't at home or anything, but I have keys, because we're weirdos. Anyhow I had to jet back uptown, so it's pretty random what I uploaded, and I couldn't go back and get different clips when I was doing the editing, per ush, so this's just what it is.
2. Because Carly and I are obsessed with the confidentiality of our concept, I've only included three super-brief snippets from the reading, so as to not really give anything away or really show anything besides that we did it. The people with music stands in front of a red wall: that's the reading.
3. That muppet is me.
4. Heather and I are, sometimes, intoxicated. We're really good at keeping our cool though, obvs. She's the one talking when I'm on their balcony.
5. UPDATE: I just watched it and decided it's totes entertaining. Seriously!
RFamily Cruise 2007
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Okay also: I'm doing this reading on Tuesday [see sidebar] at the KGB Bar. 7pm. Be there.
Also my roommate Ryan is gonna be on Guiding Light on Tuesday! He's a waiter, and he's never even waited tables in real life, that's how awesome he is at acting! He's in a few episodes, so this's only the beginning of the glory.