10.24.2005

Feel Good Story of the Year




As God as my witness they're not going to lick me. I'm going to live through this and when it's all over I'll never be hungry again, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill, as God as my witness I'll never be hungry again.




Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about Scarlett O’Hara. So many memorable lines punctuate her journey that you never have to wonder where or who she is. "Fiddle dee dee,” if I remember right, are her first on-screen words. “War, war, war. This war talk is spoiling the fun at every party this spring. I'm so bored I could scream.”

Just in case we’re wondering whether she’s undergone a life change by intermission, there’s that little monologue in the carrot patch. As any Film School Loser can tell you, the midpoint is where our heroine must seize control of her destiny. She then has the rest of the second act to come within a hair’s breath of making good on that vow, only to lose it all in an unforeseen series of events known as “The Big Gloom.” In Gone With The Wind, little Bonnie Blue’s fatal pony accident marks the beginning of the end for Rhett and Scarlett. By the time the credits roll, he no longer gives a damn; she'll always have Tara.

Even if you’re structuring an epic, you do want to be careful not to lay things on too thick at your lowpoint. For example, you wouldn't want the horse to trample Rhett to death when he’s holding his kid’s limp, lifeless body. Scarlett can't pick up a shotgun to take aim at the errant beast only to accidentally take out Mammy. There’s a certain suffering-to-payoff ratio you have to negotiate or you’ll end up writing an early Jamie Lee Curtis slasher movie as interpreted by Quentin Tarantino.

Structurally speaking, this fall has been my personal big gloom. I lost my teaching job, missed out on a studio writing assignment, learned I may be plagued with lifelong heart problems and got stuck indefinitely doing the most humiliating temp job imaginable. As if I weren’t already in overkill, this weekend my landlord served me with an eviction notice at my little Hollywood bungalow, the one stroke of luck I’ve had since I got here. After nine years, he’s trying to worm his way through a legal loophole to break rent control. While my Type A Lawyer Sister says he hasn’t got a prayer, either way I’m facing a long, drawn out lawsuit. My estranged brother “Weirdman” subsequently hunted me down to make very certain I understand that I’ve wasted my life—comparing my talent for storytelling to his knack at lighting his own farts.

A film school professor once told me that the characters give you the story, rather than vice versa—that the whole Civil War happened merely to serve Scarlett. Though I didn’t exactly know what he meant at the time, I came to understand that without having helped amputate that screaming soldier’s leg, she'd have been forever stuck back at the Wilkes barbecue bitching about that indifferent loser Ashley.

No suffering, no heroism, no story to tell, no me to tell it. This is a comedy for chrissake, so the most important thing here is that after a good, thought-provoking cry everybody goes home feeling personally uplifted. Maybe tomorrow I’ll stand up in the lunchroom waving a carrot in the air, swearing to survive all this if it kills me. If only I were the sort of girl who looks hot while gesturing with vegetables wearing dirt on her face. Oh, fiddle dee dee.

10 comments:

  1. McBubble4:40 AM

    You can do it Julie

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  2. Excluding the current situation, you make many smile and laugh every day. Good karma is coming around, be patient.

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  3. I do so love my readers. Thanks for that, you guys.
    :-)
    JGTH

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  4. I'm not sure about the karma aspect, but I believe wholeheartedly that tenacity makes the cream rise to the top. I know countless writers/directors/whatevers that were amazingly talented and simply gave up. I know others that are mediocre, to say the least, who are making a living writing/directing/doing whatever, and the only difference between the two groups is that the later stuck it out a little longer. I know this can come off as rather trite when you're working a shitty fucking job that is wasting your talents, you're on the edge of getting evicted, some of the your family is against you, and the meetings and/or jobs your "supportive manager" are getting less frequent. All I can say, from experience, is that it's worth the fight, it's worth the struggle, it's worth the crying, it's worth all the fucking stress and torment and bullshit you're having to endure. Jesus, that reads trite as well! It's true, however, and it comes from a place of empathy and solidarity that I hope gives a little support and encouragement when you need it.

    Take care.

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  5. The last thing it sounds is trite, especially from someone who knows exactly what he's talking about as opposed to some a-hole who does not. Anyway, many thanks for your kindness.
    JGTH

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  6. Julie,

    Keep your head up, sister. If you need to go out for a drink and talk, I'll buy. I swear that you have to keep pushing at that rock and eventually that rock will move. I'll keep rooting for you.

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  7. What they said, and, don't give up.
    cheers
    Dave.

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  8. Thank you Dave and Lawrence. One thing about this field being dominated by boys is a girl gets an awful lot of male attention just when she needs it most.

    That being said, what's that they say about it always being darkest before the dawn? Supportive called today, and I may have some good news to report verysoon. Stay tuned.

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  9. Anonymous8:35 PM

    Hey Julie,

    I can certainly relate to your recent posting under the Scarlet O'Hara banner, not to mention that I think we have the same brother ever fascinated by the fart factor.

    Oh, and great blog by the way.

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  10. Anonymous5:37 PM

    Well, we do share the same brother - at least that is what he claims. Your Type A Sister, recently returned from a Boston convention of similarly Type A lawyers, is releived to see you back and fighting. Ai.

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