I told Eva I had a bad case of the “who am I”s.
It was Friday and I was going into my volunteer job for the first time in two weeks. I had told my supervisor about the things that were going on with my sister and he had told me not to come in for a while, that “these things can affect you even in ways that you think they won’t”.
It sounded fair and it was a sweet gesture except for that my supervisor was also the actor I wanted to make my next movie with and if I didn’t come into work, it meant he didn’t have to answer more questions about whether he’d do the project.
I’d wish on those days I was out that I could go in for the job. Doing anything was always better than doing nothing in my book, especially with bad things on your mind, and a routine keeps you from going crazy.
But it was true that I was dealing with addicts and people who acted like children, the homeless and the ill-at-ease.
So I guess bad thoughts of my sister might come back there too.
It was Friday though, so I was going in.
I woke up Langston up before I went out.
He had stayed over after a proposed “cleaning party” he wanted to have, given the shivers the dust-ridden shivers he’d suffered when he stayed here previously, went long and turned in to a talk-a-thon tell-your-life session with Langston and Emmeline W-D. Emmeline, a curly-haired art director with a spacy-tude and Vermont street-cred had, much like Langston, made a movie that had impressed me in film school, but had somehow managed to fly under the radar of the high profile “director” buzz that, looking back, seems fairly laughable. She was nice, with the sort of attitude of someone who loves images and composition, but doesn’t necessarily bring her work home. After we shared stories and drank a few beers, Emmeline told me my girlfriend was “brilliant” in Rob Malone’s Puppy Whistle and not only that but “smoking hot”.
I told Eva this the next day, as she admonished me for spending more time with Langston than her.
“You’re gay-cheating on me!” She declared from the iPhone speaker. “But that was nice what Emmeline said. I thought about her last night for some reason. She’s smokin’ hot too.”
“Maybe you were dreaming of you and Emmeline gay-cheating on me.” I suggested.
“Yeah!” The speaker crackled. “That sounds like a plan.”
Talking about it now, it doesn’t sound like much to be down about and maybe it isn’t. But my supervisor had texted me a thrice-wide message on how he “admired” my filmmaking and my “commitment to the art” but that “the dedication” he would need “wasn’t possible” for this film. He volunteered to be on the crew but told me “I could find someone more qualified”.
I guess that’s the way our world works now that receiving a text message can put you in such a bad mood. But the more I thought about it, the more I felt that I’d written two scripts for him and that the signs were pointing up and that my confidence that I could “make the movie without him” didn’t take in to account the hell of casting I hoped to avoid. I hated casting actors, as it depressed me to think of the sort of people who would work for free for someone they didn’t know (mainly because I was that sort of person myself with an internship).
I also hated casting because I myself was in the sweep of it even on Friday, when I discovered that I had made it to the final cut, a final interview for the job I had applied for, a fact that rather than making me happy made me wonder what I was doing with my life. The job was in reality TV, for a show that was about to go into production. I had heard that the “exec” really liked my tape and “the network” had approved me too and that now all I needed was “that interview” with “the celeb” to get me through. As I told my friends about the opportunity, they sounded all sunny and happy for me and I had felt happy too, back when I had resigned myself to not caring whether I got the job or not.
But as I realized that I would be on reality television, I felt like I’d be giving up a certain level of self-seriousness about my art. Even though my friends told me things like “this could be your 15 minutes” and “your chance for exposure”, I wondered as the festival rejections piled up, whether I’d be abandoning the life I’d planned out for myself, working in film, making movies and hanging with others who do the same.
“God laughs most when you make a plan.” A Vodka Sales Rep had once told me, in a story that graced these pages. Mike Sweeny had asked me something similar too, when we were out at The Rusty Knot with Eva, debating the meaning of Puppy Whistle.
“If you could have any job right now, what would it be?” Mike asked me.
“Making movies.” I told him, almost dubly, like a matter-of-fact.
“But a job,” Mike insisted. “Like something you could have now. Something you could be doing.”
And I felt stumped.
I had been trying to make a movie with my supervisor from my work, trying to lock him down between people asking for cups and sugars and needles and tea.
I had been trying to land a job where supposedly I’d been culled 4 from 200 and the women there were “rooting” for me.
But if asked what I wanted to do right now, I didn’t even know.
I didn’t know nothing.
As I walked down to work, down Canal St, I stopped at Popeye’s and got the things there that cost $1.99, in some measure because they were tasty and cheap and in another way as some sort of purity ritual for getting into the “harm-reduction” world I was about to enter.
I always associated fast food, which I was mostly denied in my upbringing, with sadness and the sad looks on people’s faces, bored and unhappy, sitting in the booths when you went in, so even if what you got taste good, you belonged to thier sad club when you exited, biscuit in hand.
I went in and worked and wrestled my supervisor back from his state of flat denial to the uncertain maybe-isms I had been getting from him for a while.
What can I say, but that it was a bad place to be, but a better sort of limbo.
I stayed my hours and I left and the weekend melted as I logged tapes on my off-day and bought new shoes with my mom.
Sunday was Valentine’s Day and even as Eva left in the morning, she came back a few hours later to take a nap and stay close.
I had two deadlines to hear back from festivals and an interview on Monday.
I still couldn’t answer Mike’s question.
I took a walk, after I tucked Eva in and kissed her mouth and her cheek.
I bought a huge wheel-cracker of Matsoh as I banked down Bedford.
I got two extra mini-brownies when I bought two unwrapped Caramel Witches at Chelsea Market.
I walked down to the High Line and back home along Greenwich.
I wish I could come to a conclusion about all this and figure out what life’s all about, what I’m supposed to do, whether to be excited or fearful for my future.
But all I know now is that I got a text message telling me that I’m coming into my internship on Presidents’ Day.
To which I replied:
“I hope you’re getting paid overtime.”
Because I knew that she definitely wasn’t.
But that a text message could make you feel some way.
It’s the time we live in.