ewhightower

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Specific Exploration

In Uncategorized on October 5, 2013 at 8:54 pm

It’s a warm early October day here in Livermore. My nephew came out here from Oakland yesterday and spent the night. We’ve been drinking espresso and eating breakfast and discussing new Magic decks while listening to John Lewis’ J.S. Bach: Preludes and Fugues. Various obligations we’ve had for the day have evaporated and as of now (1:08 pm), it seems that all of our horizons are clear and we are free to do whatever we please. It’s a bit of a shock, actually. The general consensus is, “Now what?”

I have something I want to do, and my plan is to talk the fiancee and the nephew into it. The main obstacle is the price of gas. Getting the fiancee to commit to any leisure activity that requires major expenditures for gasoline is problematic, at best. I can’t use the argument that it’s research for my blog — which it definitely is — because I don’t earn any money from the blog. You would think, with over sixteen thousand pageviews, I could earn some money. But Google hath decreed that my blog is adult in nature (because my characters and I all swear a great deal), and that I am therefore ineligible for monetization of the blog. So that argument is not going to work. I’ll have to come up with something else.

What I want to do is go for a drive. On a very specific road, South of Livermore. It’s an incredibly beautiful drive, and I’d be able to take some pictures for reference. Maybe that’s the argument. I could also show her some spots of which I’ve spoken to her in the past, places she’s never seen, on a road branching off of the main road. I can honestly tell you that she will not be terribly interested in these things. Maybe I can convince her to let me take the nephew on this journey of discovery. That might be just the tactic, but it again involves gas, which means money. Right now, things are tight.

The fiancee never wants me to write about our financial status. It makes her very angry. I’m supposed to “just not mention it,” even though it is absolutely central to every single thing we do, central to my decision to turn down every theatrical job I’m offered that doesn’t pay a living wage (which is all of them), central to every moment of our lives. It’s the source of the tension which causes her to grind her teeth in her sleep, the source of the tension which has wound around our relationship like a creeping, choking vine — strangling light, happiness, comfort and overall pleasant demeanor. She broods about money. Broods about it. I’ve always felt that a positive attitude will get one further than dark, angry obsessing. Perhaps I’m wrong. But she has yet to embrace my approach, and I always manage to pull money out of a hat at the last possible moment when we’re desperate.

I’ve got some writing plans that could expand into other areas of late, but of course they require attention and completion. Getting these sorts of things done can be tricky while socializing. I’ve begun to feel that I am losing too much time during the day if I’m not writing something. (I have this time right now because the nephew is in the shower.) There was a time when I would meet three days a week with some filmmaker cohorts, but since they moved in together we basically never meet. And since many of those meetings ended up being nothing more than pleasant, coffee-fueled debates, I look back on them with the distinct feeling of opportunity missed.

To be clear: I do not begrudge the nephew or the fiancee or anyone else my social time. I simply ache to get something written, to get at least 2,000 words of fiction saved, before I go and do something else. I also understand that balance is essential — one needs to get out of the house and do other things. I have been the charismatic housebound introvert for months, now. Perhaps a day simply out and about is all I need.

Here’s an idea: I’ll record the day. An audio recording to be transcribed and fictionalized, adapted to one or more 2,000 word short stories. Then it’s totally justifiable. Which, ah, now opens my mind to the possibilities I’d forgotten in these last months: every social interaction is a possible short story. I’ve been holed up here in front of this computer or my typewriter since May. It hasn’t been healthy, but it has occasionally been productive.

I need to go to some parties. Preferably raging topless bacchanalia. I’ll add that to the shopping list.

 

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My Other Blog

In Uncategorized on October 2, 2013 at 9:39 pm

So I have another blog, on another site. That blog is made up of three things:

1. The remnants of my MySpace blog which, for obvious reasons, I am no longer writing.

2. Pieces about Theatre, be they fictionalized or embarrassingly specific.

3. Notes From The Future (NFTF), a novel I’ve been sharing episodically since April, 2012.

Here’s where you can find my blog: http://ewhightower.blogspot.com

I write about this here because the whole reason I started a WordPress blog was so that I could transfer NFTF to what I feel is a better platform. (If you follow the link at the bottom of the first episode of Notes From The Future on my home page, you will find the rest of the series. Be warned: they are interspersed with further musings on theatre and art and such.) The logical question at this point is: why haven’t I transferred NFTF here, yet?

There are a couple of reasons, both centered around laziness. The first is that I’m lazy, and the second is that I’m almost finished with what I would call Part I of NFTF, and it is my intention, once finished, to remove NFTF from the Interwebs and sing a juicy song as I edit it for actual printed novel form. Editing = rewriting, and having to cut and paste the whole thing into WordPress and then take it down to rewrite seems like a large task this late in the game. Essentially, laziness strikes again.

I’m keeping this note brief so that I can focus on finishing Part I (I have four episodes to go! Woo-hoo!), but I welcome your thoughts, O Readers: where would you put your energy at this point? Do you have anything tasty to sip that you’d like to bring over and brew up for me while I write? Are you OCD and would you clean my house just for the privilege of listening to me type all day? Do you think I’m a talentless fuck who should keep applying for day jobs and stop writing this instant? (If that’s so, you’re wrong and can fuck off. Ha. I’m laughing at you fucking off.) Should I just have more sex and forget about writing or employment?

Okay, my Sparklies. Back to work.

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Starter Kit

In Uncategorized on September 30, 2013 at 9:25 am

We’ve lived here since 2005. We moved in on February 17, right in between some massive rainstorms that utterly saturated the earth outside our portion of the house so that two things happened simultaneously: the basement flooded as the foyer and kitchen were infested with ants. It’s been a pitched battle ever since.

The ants I took care of with powdered cinnamon and a direct, albeit one-sided, conversation with their deva. The bargain is this: stay out of my home and I will not kill your people. You have the rest of the yard, as long as your activities in no way harm the roses or my herbs and vegetables. Thus far, they have honored their side of the bargain.

[Disclaimer: our landlord is a hard working man who does almost all maintenance on this house himself. What I write about is this house, not him. ] The flooding of the basement is another matter entirely. The flooding only happens about once a year, and unlike the incident in 2005, everything since then has been sewage. Not direct, chunks-of-poop sewage, but sewage that has seeped into our basement through the walls, filtered by all the dirt between whichever pipe is newly broken or leaking or backed up or whatever. Step one of reverse osmosis, only thanks but no thanks, I don’t need a sip. Once, in about 2010, I walked outside after taking a dump to see the very turds I had just flushed away flowing smoothly across our front patio.

A marvel of 1913 plumbing, this house has also leaked sewage from the very bricks of our fireplace. There is still a vast, gaping hole in the left side of the fireplace where the landlord — a thoroughly amiable fellow — tore away the lath and plaster to get at the massive, ancient, cast-iron pipe which had rusted through and had flooded our living room with sewage sometime after 1:00 am, November 1, 2009. It soaked our rug and continued to fill the room, until we had a very attractive scale model of Ikea Persian Lake Merritt. To be honest, because we are so polite with our inquiries re., flooding and leaks and such, our first concerns were not taken terribly seriously. It took repeated floodings, and finally an incident where sewage and soapy bathwater were soaking through the ceiling of the basement ballroom during one of their kids’ birthday parties — it shares a chimney with our fireplace, the very fireplace from whose bricks the soapy poo-water was flowing like some kind of kinkster German horror film — for the problem to become clear. If the ceiling over the ballroom fireplace hadn’t begun to leak, there is no telling what monstrosities we would have had to battle when the wall was finally broken open.

It’s an old house. These are the problems of an old house. As of this writing, 9/30/2013, this house is 100 years old. The ceiling in the kitchen is bowed down, about six months pregnant, from the leaking toilet in the master bath above. There is a fig tree growing from under the corner of the house wherein our bedroom is located. The landlord loves to chop that fig tree back. But it is the only thing keeping our bedroom cool in the summer months, as it somehow insulates against the baking Livermore heat in the first half of the day. I hear tell that’s what plants do. I’m not that kind of scientist.

Somehow, in the last three years, our apartment, which takes up one corner of the ground floor of this glorious mission-revival mansion, has become a vast drift of useful objects which have fallen to the floor under the weight of their sheer numbers. Part of the problem is that people keep giving us things. I think we have three dollhouses given to us by my mother. One of them is large enough that, hollowed out, it could conceal the cadaver of a healthy American male. The basement looks uncomfortably like a murderous curio shop, our bedroom is a strip of visible floor between two drifts of clothing and the bed, with a dresser and Ikea armoire in there somewhere. I have multiple vintage typewriters squirreled away throughout the apartment (most of which are functional and only one of which I use for writing). Getting any amount of cleaning done is an Herculean task which requires several hours of organizing one section of the apartment, only to have to re-do that section when the drifts of useful objects once again collapse because the splendid inner architecture of our home lends itself perfectly to independent film projects. (Lend being the key word, as so few of these projects have any money that I suspect they cast or hired me merely to have the use of my living room for one or more scenes. The last project to film here promised me $100.00 in compensation for my work; I’ve finally got access to the completed (?) film, but I’ve never seen cent one of that Franklin.)

Things were generally tidy at first. This is because we both had employment and we give splendid parties. So, one party per quarter generally kept the place pretty tidy. Then a couple of things happened in rapid succession, with an increasingly detrimental effect upon the tidiness of our home.

The first thing that happened was my selection as Director for an indie feature called “Santa’s Dog.” My hiring meant that they got a base of operations for shooting in Livermore, they got four locations for free (my living room appears twice in the film, half as Santa’s Den and half as a nun’s office). Add to that the fact that they only paid me $3,000.00 to direct and they got a fucking bargain. (The film is pure genius, watch it on Netflix today.) The effect on our home was complete topsy-turvydom: entire rooms moved, rearranged, emptied, redecorated, or filled with little people and the costume / makeup crew. So much stuff was moved from the living room to the bedroom that, though the film began shooting in December of 2010 and wrapped in June of 2011, our bedroom looked like the San Jose Flea Market until early 2013. Imagine this effect everywhere, and you will understand the overall state of this lovely space.

The other big thing that happened was the miscarriage. This was a vast, indescribable form of personal hell for each of us. I intentionally withhold details, saying only this: if the women in the Pleasanton ValleyCare Emergency Room had been nice to Veronica when we first arrived there, we would not have had to experience the horror and blood while driving back there much later in the day.

On New Year’s Eve, 2011.

The day after we’d announced her pregnancy to my family, at my father’s birthday party.

As it is, because she had not reached some pain threshold which would please their fiendish ancient gods, Veronica was condemned to Urgent Care in Livermore, who, confronted with a lake of blood and a woman sobbing in agony, were very much put out and wanted to know why we hadn’t gone to the ER. All in all, a glorious start to 2012 and an utterly splendid representation of the treatment of Hispanics by the ValleyCare Medical System in Pleasanton and Livermore, California. (I should note that, once their sadistic cravings had been sated, they treated her very well indeed. But only then, and I think only because they saw that my eyes are blue.)

We should have gotten some kind of counseling after the miscarriage. It fucked us up, and we’re still fucked up in many ways. One day, much later in 2012 — August, I think — we were returning from my parents’ cabin and I took a detour I love: Sheep Ranch Road, in Murphys. We were listening to Norah Jones’ first album, which is very much the music of our first two years together. ‘Seven Years’ came on, and I sang along. As I sang, I remembered a dream Veronica had told me about, back in 2002, when I had convinced her to move into my parents’ house with me. In the dream, she and myself and our little girl were in a field together. We were dressed nicely. I was wearing a linen suit, I believe. When she described this, I saw it. So clearly. It shook me. That shaking returned as we drove, engaged but as yet un-procreative, down Sheep Ranch Road a decade later, right around, “And she’ll sing her song / To anyone who comes along …” By the time we got to, “Crooked little smile on her face / Tells a tale of Grace / That’s all her own,” I began to sob. I couldn’t see for tears, and had to brake to avoid an accident. I sat there, gasping and sobbing, feeling all the pain and loss I had masked since New Year’s eve come welling up in me like a dormant volcano of pain unleashed on a raw and weeping ring of fire. I realized, I need this; we haven’t cried yet, not really; I’ve been holding this tight inside me —

Veronica stopped the music.

It was like having a sneeze interrupted or a yawn popped.

She was enraged with me, and didn’t want to discuss it. She just wanted, “… to move forward. Why dwell on it? There’s no reason to go back there. We just need to move on. And you need a job. That pays. More than your current job.”

At the time, I was making about $50.00 per hour, but only working two hours and change per week. And her favorite subject, the constant mental mantra of her days, is how we don’t have enough money [with the hidden end of that sentence being, ‘…because you insist on living your creative dream and you cannot stand the corporate cubicle maze which puts the majority of food on our table and puts you on my health insurance even though we’re not married.’]

So it’s an easy gear to shift into, an easy place to direct the pain and loss of a much-hoped-for child that never got beyond ‘products of conception’ phase. We still haven’t talked about it, not really. It is one of several elephants in the room.

Maybe that’s why our house is so cluttered. All those fucking elephants, they need things to amuse them. Half-built dollhouses and my unfinished novels or scripts which have become mysteriously hidden away by something called “cleaning,” but scripts which, if finished, could easily do some amazing things for our income. So the elephants love my scripts, but they can’t write or speak. They are reclining in a haze of marijuana and unspoken regret and reproach, idly masturbating their days away and planning to get to the dishes tomorrow. We are slowly becoming the elephants in the room, and while we never forget, we also don’t quite remember in time.

The result of all of this is that our home now looks like nothing more than the world’s best and most attractive Hoarding Starter Kit.

Short Film: Dumped

In Uncategorized on September 30, 2013 at 3:45 am

Directed by Grant Ellis, this short is entirely improvised and admirably showcases the abilities of the actors involved.

Working with Grant is a delight. He hires the right people for the job and gives them enough freedom to get the job done in a way of which they can feel proud.

Why you should work with Grant:

*He always makes sure that the people he hires get paid what they were promised.

*He is on time and under budget.

*He plans a shoot and shoots what he planned.

Hire him now.

In Uncategorized on September 30, 2013 at 3:39 am

DUMPED
Directed by Grant Ellis

Starring
Edward Hightower
Gianna DiGregorio
Samuel Craig
Dillon Wall
Stephen Scheiff