Originally posted on 04.15.2013, updated on 04.19.2013
"Boston is probably the only city that if you fuck with them, they will shut down the whole city...stop everything...and find you." @_Happy_Gilmore
We take our freedom seriously. That being said, we're all holed up inside of our apartments and homes to allow the State of MA to do their jobs in finding this kid the FBI is saying is responsible for the lives of now 4 people and over 180 injuries. And we support them and no, we don't wish that we had an AR-15 to combat this child. We also don't appreciate your blatant NRA posturing while we're in the middle of this tragedy. We believe in peace and the fact that Massachusetts invented America.
When I came home to New England from LA, I had no intention of ever going back. Three years later, even after experiencing the devastation of the Boston Marathon bombing on Monday, I can still say the same is true.
The corruption, the greed, the plastic societies of narcissists, was just too much to deal with anymore. My life had become a boardroom game, a never ending spiral of ping pong matches between doubles teams of sociopaths and I was the little white ball being spiked all over the place. Well, sometimes I held the paddle, which really, in all reality is way worse than being the ball.
I had been laid off right after Obama was elected, I'd self-pub'd a book that sold a whopping 75 copies and had been made into a web series that about 25 people watched, I had an emotional affair to catapult myself out of one of the most emotionally/verbally abusive relationships I'd ever been in and in 2010 I was 'let go' from my swanky production manager gig, working for the spawn of Cruella DeVille and Miranda Priestly at one of America's favorite tough guy shows on Discovery.
I chose not to wallow in my new found unemployment (again), but to embrace it and go full on into a passion project of my own, a script about two girls in love on the soccer field. The idea picked up instantly and my producing partner and I were rolling with a starter fund and the WHOLE budget on the way from a studio in Tennessee. We were cast, partially crewed, the girls in the movie were training and then, about a month before we were to go into production, the earth opened up and nearly swallowed us whole. TN and our investors were under water, literally. It was 2010 and the great flood had just hit them. But the hits kept coming for us. We lost everything. My producing partner nearly lost her house. I was in the process of being evicted and the two lead actresses (who had been my best friends) turned on me, placing blame where they could to ease the pain of losing the movie. Our initial investors hated us, because the trainer wiped us dry of starter funds and there was just nothing left. Well, there was my body. My body was left, until that too was stomped out on July 4, 2010.
I had just finished meditating, but my brain was in an utter state of chaos, so I took a walk. It was late, but not too late to take a stroll around my normally safe neighborhood in the hills of Silverlake. I could see the Hollywood sign, so all seemed right in the world. And then three frat boys, drunk on life and PBRs approached me and asked me to suck their cocks. When I refused, they jumped me and beat the shit out of me. My only saving grace is that they didn't make me suck their cocks, probably because the people passing by would have REALLY frowned upon that. I crawled myself home and called the cops. I went down to the station and was told that because the guys weren't very descriptive (tall, white, khaki & flip flop wearing all-American boys) that there wasn't a very high probability of finding them and since I wasn't raped there wasn't any physical evidence. They might have been confused had they done a rape kit anyway. There's plenty of leftover physical evidence from previous encounters with tall white, brown, black, and red boys to contend with down there. I was driven home from the station by a cop with a Southie accent and it was the only solace I'd had in months, maybe even years. He told me I'd be okay. I believed him.
When I got home, I Skyped with my producing partner and said I'd be taking a few days off to figure everything out. The next day, I went to see Twilight in the theatre with a bunch of screaming girls, I ate ice cream and slept on a friend's couch. I dropped the rent stipend we owed to the lead actress off with her for her brand new apartment in Hollywood and I returned to my studio to find another eviction notice. Then I started working on a plan.
For a whole month, I didn't leave the studio. I turned it into a meditation retreat. I got rid of anything I didn't need, selling off, I'm said to say, prized books and films I'd collected along my travels and my favorite pair of leather pants. I didn't see or hear from anyone from the film. They disappeared on the air, as soon as they realized that I couldn't make them into stars, including my supposed best friends. So, I didn't speak words out loud for days at a time. I watched live broadcasts from Agape International and whispered Metta with the best of them. I cried my eyes out and sent the money from the yard sales off to the landlords. I still was unable to cover my rent. I did a few editing jobs and sent that away too, after buying produce at the .99 Store. And then I got a call, well rather an email, because my phone was shut off for non-payment, that an old colleague needed a rewrite done on a script she was about to go into production on. I jumped. Quite literally. The director asked to meet me and for the first time in my five-plus years living in LA, I took the bus to Hollywood, because I couldn't afford to put gas in my car.
The project was crap. Some overtly religious redemption story about a drug addict who finds her way clean with the help of some Christ rockers and rehab. I took it. I savored it. I wrote the crap out of it in three days. They'd hired me for $4000 to do a page-one rewrite on one of the worst scripts I'd ever read and I was perfect for it because they wanted edgy. Forget that $4000 was so far below industry standard that I couldn't even see my way out of the mess I was in, but edgy is what they got. They gave me $2000 up front! Enough to get the car out of mechanical decline, pay off a couple bills, and to afford the gas to drive home to New Hampshire. I was FINALLY getting out! If they liked what they saw in the first draft, I got the second $2000.
I wrote the second draft the day before I would drive to Vegas to pick up my producing partner, with my little Dodge Neon crammed full of what I had left and my life-partner kitty of fifteen years to head east. We made the trek in record time and I had a conference call at my Nan's kitchen table with the producer and the director. Just a few notes, but they LOVED my draft. The final contract came over and I was happy to see that I'd get an extra (up to) $50K bonus when the film was distributed using my script! Wow, finally some good news from seemingly good people...and I was home. Finally. The other $2000 came in, plus an extra $1000 for one more rewrite and I awaited their production date, but it never came for me. A month later, I received a form letter saying that they'd decided against my script and that the director and the original writer had taken over. No bonus. No credit even. And my script? Whole pieces lifted and used. I looked at my contract again and discovered a funny little word in the clause about my bonus: If more than %75 of my script is used, then I'd get the bonus. Slick. I saw nothing after that, though the trailer for the film (with A-List talent) had a few lines of my dialogue, scenes and situations in it, but I guarantee you only about 74% of the final product is mine.
But you know what? It was wiped away. All of it. Like I was baptized by a clean start. Only two months later after my final dry fuck from Hollywood, I met the most amazing woman on the planet, the love of my life, my world, my dream, my savior and my future wife. I started over again. I walked away from it all and moved my happy ass to Boston, well Somerville/Cambridge, but we call ourselves Bostonians regardless. We have a happy little love nest in Somerville. We own a local business and work with dogs, she's a massage therapist and I'm still a writer and this is perfect and exactly as it should be. I've written two books in the past year and I'll be publishing one of them this year. Los Angeles and the film industry seem like war to me, like something that happened to me, like a bad trip at Burning Man.
I try not to talk about it. I try not to feel it. I try to find complete and utter solace in my life as I love it now. And most days I don't struggle. Most days, I find this beauty and simplicity in man and womankind. I sleep on the T and still feel my breath taken away when I come up from the underground in Harvard Square. I trip over uneven cobblestones and yell out the window at really bad drivers, whom I've realized aren't actually locals, but the transplants who have no frigging clue how to navigate the narrow and sometimes double-parked streets of the city. I crave discovering a new brunch spot with my love. I savor the sunset from my kitchen window as that giant orange ball drools down the sky behind the old Catholic Church in my backyard. I feed the birds on the porch and we grow our own organic produce. I make the rounds at the Farmer's Market nearly ever weekend and we still hold hands while eating apple cider donuts and talking to the local cheese vendor about her astounding creamy concoctions. Sometimes I write at the table, while my almost-wife cooks all day. And every night, I thank the Universe that I am here, that she is beside me and that my now seventeen-year-old kitten, Talula Bankhead, still sleeps, curled like a donut between my ankles. She's seen it all. She keeps me honest. They both do.
And though this place drives me nuts on occasion (usually when there's a Sox game letting out, or when there really is a truly horrendous driver or a really bad dog owner at the park), when I got that call today from my eighty year old grandmother in New Hampshire, I was thankful for this place. An hour earlier we watched a man dressed as Paul Revere recreate his Revolutionary ride on Horseback down Mass Ave into Arlington and we smiled and felt American and close to that man on that horse, close to the people sitting next to us in cars. And When I got that call, I was just winding down my day and the lady and I were working out our plans for the night. Will you be working on the book or going to gym? Yoga? Running? Tennis? Dinner? But the catch in my Nan's voice when she heard mine, stopped me dead in my tracks. She wanted to know how far away from the explosion we were. And I said, "What explosion, Nan?"
"At the Marathon."
We didn't believe it. And then Nan said people had their legs blown off. People had died. When we got off of the phone with her, we took a mental inventory of everyone we knew who could be down there and then we searched the Internet to find out if it was true. And then the phone started to ring and it never stopped.
I've seen, unfortunately, people with their legs blown off and devastation that takes me back to that beautiful, sunny day in September 2001. Or years prior to Oklahoma City in 1995. The shock is the same. The images you can't look away from are the same. Children died. This is the same. But today, the difference is that it happened to my home. I was four miles away and didn't feel the blast, but the pain resonated through this city like a wave. And then I started to notice not just the devastation or the bloody American flags being stomped on or the blood, or the smoke. I started to notice the men and woman, civilians mostly, tearing down that fence and barrier with their bare hands as they, without hesitation, ran toward the area where those bombs went off. Toward the area. Not away. Toward the wounded, tearing their own clothes to make tourniquets, soaking their own pant legs in the blood flowing down the streets and mixing with the blood of our Revolutionary ancestors, not turning away from death. Their instincts were to save their fellow humans. I am compelled to remember one last memory from LA that falls into the "I got out as fast as my Yankee ass could carry me" category and that is of two men wrestling in the street, on a sunny Sunday morning. On the street that day, were close to 100 people finding their way into downtown to soak in the delicious sun or to run to church. When one of the men stabbed the other in the neck, only ONE human being stepped up to help that man, while the rest scattered like rats. Sometimes I still can't get the taste of smog out of my mouth, like a rotten tooth.
There are only a few other places on earth that I would expect to see these acts of bravery, like I saw on Monday. New York City, you will always be in my heart, but Boston, I have your back. Thanks for having mine. This week, you showed me what it means to love your city, love your people, love your heritage and above all, what it means to be human first, Bostonian second, American third.
Cross-posted from MelTheWriter.com.