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Full Immersion

Can this be my pretty writing-time-lady-cave?

I’ve been outlining a screenplay for about six months. Sure, it’s yet another coming-of-age movie about an outcast girl and her BFF, and finding love in high school. But it’s my coming-of-age movie about an outcast girl and her BFF, and finding love in high school, dammit.

It’s very loosely based on me and two of my best friends in high school. Last month, I sat across a table from my dude BFF, and laughed uncomfortably until I could actually say the words: “I’m writing a screenplay about…us.” Then I continued to ask him horrific questions about going to the prom and losing his virginity. Believe me, I want to barf just thinking about it. But it’s my duty as a writer to do these things.

What I think has been most gratifying about the outlining experience has been that my story has evolved to be so much richer than my original concept. The characters are bigger than just Michelle and her girl BFF ogle the varsity soccer team to pass the time, and she wanted to go the prom with her dude BFF. That’s where my concept started, but it’s so much bigger now, thankfully.

But now I’m FINALLY in the writing phase, and I’m obsessed with my screenplay. It’s all I can think about. If I’m not actually paying attention at my 9-5 job, I’m thinking about punching up lines, and figuring out sharper plot points. I practically run home so I can start breaking a new scene before dinner. I lose sleep at night because I keep dreaming about scenes, which causes me to wake up with a million thoughts racing through my mind, until I somehow eventually back asleep…and my husband accidentally smacks me in the face with a pillow.

Writing is not easy. I know this because I write all day at work. But there’s something about this that makes me want to sit in a cave for three days, not eat, not sleep, not even pee, until I finish writing this. But alas, there’s work. There’s dinner. There’s my stupidly human need to urinate. Oh well.

So I read Adventureland…

 

I saw Adventureland in the theater, and I really liked it. I walked out basically thinking that it had a great tone, with a wonderful element of nostalgia.

 

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Taxi!

I know that Taxi is not one of the best shows to come out of the 70s (though it did win 18 Emmy’s and a couple of Golden Globes, but it’s not like any of that means anything, let’s be honest). What I absolutely love about the show, though, is the odd wave of nostalgia it gives me for “Old” New York, despite the fact that I was born 6 years after the pilot episode aired.

I grew up in Queens, N.Y., and lived on Long Island during high school. I’m glad I lived and grew up where I did, but it would take a lot for me to move back to New York. There are several reasons, but one of the big ones for me is that New York has lost its interestingness.

I just read an interview in Bust with Fran Lebowitz, and she basically summarized what, to me, is completely wrong with New York, now.

“What used to be called middle-class respectability looked like it was going to disappear, but didn’t. It’s returned. It’s just returned in a different costume. If you do it in a loft instead of a split-level in the suburbs, it’s still the same. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be allowed to do it; I’m saying it’s suburban. This is why New York today seems suburban to me — all kids and babies in strollers. It’s 1950s domestic life. The sidewalks are the same size, but now you have twins and dogs.”

Basically New York has become overly safe. I know that sounds ridiculous, but once 9/11 happened, that city lost its true soul. It’s grit. The rest of the country stopped hating on New York, and now it’s being babied to death by politicians who want New York City to be America’s City. That’s all well and good, but this means you have to stop hating foreigners, and understand that NYC is not full of God-fearing, mini van-driving, Applebee’s eating people — and that it’s OK.

Anyway, sorry, I get ranty about what I believe has ruined New York. My point is that Taxi wonderfully embodies the New York of 1978 to me, even though I wasn’t there. The interstitial music is amazing, Andy Kaufman plays a foreign dude just learning the ins and outs of American culture, a dry, sardonic Jewish dude is the anchor of the show, and the lead female is sexy, funny, smart and divorced.

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