Last one…

July 10th

My goodness. Forty-five hours door-to-door. We left Tacloban at 5 AM Saturday, which was 5 PM Friday back home. Then we arrived at home at around 2 PM Sunday. That’s some ugly math!

First was our trip to the Tacloban airport where, for reasons that still escape me, it took close to an hour to get checked in (I did find out they tried to put us in a non-exit row, after my wife paid extra to sit there; she managed to browbeat them into submission). Then we had eight hours to kill in Manila. Because of the highly variable traffic in Manila (believe me, there is no traffic anywhere in the US that compares to a routine day of traffic in Manila!) we didn’t want to risk not being able to get back to the airport in time to go through immigration, etc.

Oh, we went through metal detectors and our luggage through XRay scanners THREE times in order to get into the waiting area. But wait! There’s more! In order to get onto our US bound airplane, we needed a FOURTH screening. We were then sequestered in a holding area that was protected by a… rope of fabric that anyone could reach over and kids would routinely go under. Yea for extra security theater! My wife, btw, decided she needed to go potty afterwards and was able to get back through screening (without, of course, being screened) by presenting her boarding pass with a yellow streak from a highlighter on it. Yup! There’s more fun below…

We finally get onto the plane, then sat. And sat. And sat some more. Ninety minutes worth of sitting on our asses. No bad weather, no terrorist attack, just, it seems, we were destined to not actually leave on time.

Finally in the air, we spent the next 11.5 hours winging across the Pacific to get to Vancouver. I do believe I managed to sleep four to five hours on this trip, though, as usual, I only have this estimate because of the lack of psychologically experienced time. I rewatched “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” which I really enjoyed. My favorite scene remains when Ryan Reynolds is launched through the car’s windshield. My son can’t understand why that tickles my fancy so much, but it certainly does. I started to watch Deadpool, which, surprisingly, had all the F-bombs. But most of the gore was cut and, get this, the butt cracks were fuzzed out. I started my period of un-experienced time thereafter, but did finish it later.

The meals were all pretty good, btw, and the planes were all fairly new 777s, so PAL (Philippine Air Lines) has been making good strides at standing out.

Then we arrived in Vancouver. Where we were ALL disembarked, WITH our carry-on, for, get this, EVEN MORE security theater. They separated the men from the women (wft?) and we all got a pat down and they groped through our carry-on. Then we were sequestered in… THE EXACT SAME ROOM as the rest of the people. Wow! It sure makes me feel safe to have pointlessly been dragged off the plane for pointless re-screening to pointlessly go back on with no actual change in security!

We arrived in JFK and immigration. Wow! Again. What a MASSIVE cluster fck. I’m not even sure I can adequately describe it, but it was chaos as people attempted to do an electronic recording of themselves entering the country (boy, hard to see how that system could be gamed!), complete with pictures, but, it seems, no fingerprinting (we were fingerprinted entering Philippines). My wife ‘mysteriously’ was selected for ‘extra screening’ (which turned out to be nothing more than waiting in a line that moved about an order of magnitude slower than the one for me and the boy).

With our luggage recovered, we headed to the shuttle train to meet our shuttle to the hotel. Thankfully, the temps had cooled off from the heat wave people were reporting and it was a nice, mild 64F when we got there. Another llllooonnngggg drawn out affair. I can see no reason why we sometimes waited for thirty seconds to a minute for the damn shuttle doors to close. At one AM. The hotel shuttle, shockingly, wasn’t waiting for us and we had to sit around. We finally got there, got checked in, and got to the hotel room. I got to say, the next several hours were vastly better than any spent on the plane.

That is, until I got a leg cramp and was woken from a deep sleep. Man, that hurt! I was eventually able to massage it to the point I could get back to sleep, but, dammit, I was wide awake around 3 AM and couldn’t do more than some light dozing thereafter. They had a quite nice ‘Continental’ breakfast for us.

Back to the airport, but thankfully dropped off right where we needed to be. And got on the plane on time, which left on time. But (why does there always have to be one?), when we arrived at Regan National the damn sky ramp wouldn’t line up with the door to the plane, so we stood around probably 15 minutes before they could get a ramp to bridge the distance. This, on a plane that HAS ITS OWN STAIRS. WTF?

Eliz wanted an Uber, but since the nearest one was at least 10 minutes away, I asked her to check the taxi prices. About the same, so why wait? And with that, we were finally home.

Where I had to take a nap. After three hours I got up, but was totally groggy and barely able to check my email. Got back to bed by 10:30 PM, only to be wide awake around 3 AM, so said the hell with it and go to work round 4 AM. Though I had waves of tired dizziness, I managed to stay until 12:30, but had to take a nap when I got home. Another 3 hours and again groggy, then went back to bed around 8:30 only to, once again, wake up at 3 AM. WTF is up with this 3 AM business?

Some random observations… As if I hadn’t been forced to acknowledge this sooner, but I’m officially an old codger now. Three weeks of not using my electric razor to keep things under control meant I had nose hairs that stuck out close to a centimeter. It looked like I snorted a rabbit! And the mole next to my nose was also similarly adorned, so I’m sure I terrified children. And the damn hairs wiggled with each breath. Man was that annoying. Note to self: bring electric razor next time to control those hairs!

There was disappointingly little eye candy throughout the whole trip. Lots of nice hair while in the Philippines (I have a thing for long, straight dark hair), and other salient body parts, but very few that had the whole package. My wife had very little competition for my attention.

Security theater is alive and well.

My shoulders were very painful during the trip home. I guess because I don’t really fit in the seat and was scrunched up, or, perhaps, because I leaned against the walls or seat. Fortunately, today my shoulders feel OK, but it was reaching the point I couldn’t lift my arms over my shoulders without wincing.

I actually lost a couple of pounds over the vacation (according to my spreadsheet, since Jan I’ve lost a bit more than 13 lbs and am averaging a half a pound a week). No doubt because of the illnesses (I spent 24 hours in bed one day), but I probably ate less than I expected. I don’t feel like I look any better and only half imagine I can see more of my toes than before, but I have noticed I have a lot less issues with heartburn (I still have a bottle of antacids next to the bed, I just rarely use them now) and, as I mentioned to my wife as we went on a walk yesterday evening, for the last many years I’ve had a continuous low-level feeling of nausea that was exacerbated with anything touching my belly. While that sensation hasn’t vanished, I now find I can more easily sleep on my belly (my preferred way) and there are periods of hours, sometimes a whole day, where I don’t have this sensation.

My wife and I have reconciled somewhat from the angst of the trip. We discussed ways to try and short-circuit arguments in the future. And there will be future trips, as they’ve already planned one in two years for my mother-in-law’s 85th birthday. Hopefully we can fly non-stop from JFK (I still hate that airport, though it was less of a PITA than I remember from my first trip) and not have this extra wasted time in Vancouver.

I’ve been too tired to watch the Tour de France. Plus, I’m conflicted, as I really should be focusing on my Treasure Hunt movie. I may ask the boss to sign up for the channel later, once I’ve fully recovered, as there are some awesome mountain top finishes and I love to watch those.

I sent my completed (well, still struggling with that transition I’ve harped on) BlueDom draft to my editor. I can’t wait for her feedback. I hope she’ll be chock full of suggestions for ways to lengthen it without bloating.

Last night I started working on the program I have for processing my screenplay into individual scenes. I was pretty fuzzy headed, though, so didn’t get it completed. I want to try and have it done by this evening, as Thursday I’m meeting with a potential DP (Director of Photography) to discuss the movie and I’d like to have a page count for each scene so we can discuss scheduling, among other things. We seem to have connected well via email, so if we click in person, I think my DP search is over before it began.

Next week I intend to put an ad for the actors I need. I have a feeling I’ll either have little to no response or a deluge. Then the ‘fun’ of arranging for auditions and winnowing down the selections to find four people that have chemistry. And I don’t even know what that means. Of course, does anyone?

As I write this, I intend to collect some pictures and videos and post them online. Assuming I do so, I’ll have one last post in this series to provide a link. Other than that, it’s a wrap!

Thank you for reading. I hope I was at least a wee bit entertaining.

PS: I wound up leaving work early and just got up from another 3 hour nap. Sigh.

Penultimate

July 5th

The Last But One Day of vacation, as I don’t count the day (or so) of travel as a vacation day. Probably the penultimate diary entry as well, as I’ll probably have just a single one to wrap up when we get back. And that will be that. I’m thinking of collecting a number of pictures (and, when reminded, the videos from when I was snorkeling at Cebu) into a web page. Perhaps without any verbiage or perhaps with some modest context, depending on how I feel. Dunno any timetable, though, and fair warning: I have _yet_ to complete the construction images from our greenhouse pool effort that was done several years ago.

I went for a jog yesterday and am now thinking it was a really dumb thing to do (battling a cold, courtesy of my son, if I didn’t mention that before). The day before I walked as my wife jogged. I felt like jogging then, but didn’t, sure it was a dumb idea. At Leyte Park there’s a circle that goes up and down pretty steep and I today almost made it around thrice. Probably should have stopped with twice. Got a bad cough now (thanks Don!), though I used this somewhat magical material called Katinko to help suppress the urge. It’s a better version of Vicks Vaporub, which is great, but very short lived. When I used it in the past, it was enough to get back to sleep, but it would wear off almost as soon as that happened and I’d cough myself awake again. Katinko has lasted over an hour to sometimes as long as a couple of hours. I can’t stand the smell, but I love being able to sleep, so don’t mind smearing the stuff on my upper lip.

Two days ago, we went to a local mall, Robinsons, and had lunch there, then Don and I watched Incredibles 2. I really enjoyed it, though I felt the first was a bit better. I was also able to guess the bad guy, though Don wasn’t. I suspect it’s simply because I’ve seen so many movies and read so many books that I can tell which trope is in the offering.

My wife met with a couple of her childhood friends and they talked and talked and talked and talked. Over 6 hours, I believe. We were sitting in a restaurant at the other end of the mall and, as an avid people watcher (though I admit my focus is mostly on the attractive female segment) I looked out the window at the too-ings and fro-ings, expecting to enjoy eye candy. I was quite disappointed. At the other end of the mall there were a substantial fraction of pretty girls. After I had a large enough sample, I felt I could definitely conclude that this was the ugly end of the mall. When I brought my observation up to her friends, as predicted my wife objected, yet her friends chimed right in, so now I know my wife was definitely a lot saltier when she was a youth. Anyway, one of her friends (Chinki, I believe is her nickname) laughed and said that the front entrance was for the have-nots. Back here it was for the haves. My blank stare got her to elaborate: in the back, they ‘have cars’ and ‘have money’ so they can park and shop, the ones in the front have no car and generally little money, so they need to use the front. I felt it was a very astute observation.

Other than the jogging yesterday, I don’t think much happened at all. Even with the Katinko, I coughed a lot and just didn’t feel like going out. My wife and son went back to Robinsons where Don watched the latest Jurassic Park (I had/have no interest in seeing it, even on DVD) and she just wandered around window shopping.  She can go shopping all day, yet not purchase anything, and still have a great time. Like my dad and fly fishing.  Catching was just a bonus.

––

We went to a hotel on the water for a breakfast buffet. Very pretty place. Evidently completely smashed by the typhoon, then, because it was insured (so the story goes, it’s a chain owned by some Koreans), completely rebuilt better than before. The food was OK, but the ambiance was first rate. Then we had to make a number of stops on the way back, so got a partial tour of Leyte. It’s hard to tell when construction has been abandoned. The cider blocks go up ‘brand new’ looking like they’ve been there for a century and everything typically gets a patina of mildew very quickly. I needed to take a brief nap when we got back, now on to finish this entry…

Katinko, btw (just reapplied it), helps clear out the sinuses in addition to suppressing cough. The family swears by it for cramps as well, though my go-to is getting some calcium (before I started to lose some weight, I had to sleep with a bottle of Tums next to the bed due to the acid reflux I usually got at night) and if that doesn’t work, toke up on magnesium and potassium. I try and stay ‘electrolyted up’ during the summer, because I sweat so damn much when I work out.

Anyway, TMI, I’m sure…

Yesterday, whilst lying in bed trying to nap, I came up with some valuable plot additions to my BlueDom sequel and wrote a couple of thousand words. I haven’t quite finished with the original synopsis I had in place, but I’m past the climax anyway, so what’s left is just tidying things up. I’m going to see if I can come up with a few more plot elements before I send it off to my first script dev editor for her feedback. I started to convert some of it into screenplay format suitable for the conversion program to make official. In the past, the page count as displayed in Google docs wasn’t too far off the final formatted page length, which indicates to me I’ll be able to increase the raw page count I have now (37, with perhaps another 5 left to write) to 65-ish (1 page of prose turns into approximately 1.6 pages of screenplay). Still _very_ short from the 100 or so goal I have, so I still need a lot of help.

I haven’t made any more progress on Treasure Hunt. I decided, when I get home, to tweak the program I wrote that pulls each scene out into a series of linked web pages and have it output all the speaking parts and how many lines per. Also, how many pages are in each scene. (So they say, the very best programmers are the laziest and I’ll put my lazy against just about anyone. 😉 That way, it will help me formulate a schedule that I can keep updated by rerunning the program whenever I make changes. I thought, given the highly formulaic nature of screenplays, that it’d be trivial to find out how many lines were on a page (without counting, of course; remember: lazy). It turns out to vary pretty widely, from as many as 70 or even more to as low as 40, occasionally less. Very arcane rules for where to break the page. I believe I can emulate enough of that to get a rough count of lines such that I can plan. My gut is feeling more and more that 4 weekends isn’t an idiotic goal, but there’s still a lot of guess work in my ‘schedule’ at this point.

I assumed that the Tour de France started last weekend (it starts the first weekend of July), but it actually starts this one. Thus, I’ll be able to watch almost the whole thing instead of missing a third (it’s a three week, 2+K mile road race). I sent an email to all the people on my beta reading list telling them that I’ve been a deadbeat the last three weeks and expect to be a deadbeat the next three weeks and might continue to be a deadbeat because of the movie, but all that have got back to me have said they’re willing to wait for my feedback.

I’m ready to go home. Perhaps if we weren’t spending most of our time in the middle of smelly old Tacloban I might not be so eager, but I’m starting to feel a little trapped. Even a little bored.

But not looking forward to the actual travel back home!

Festival of Lights

July 1st

I was enjoying the festival of lights until a convoy of vans (clearly governmental; I heard that the PR President was in Tacloban for some reason) had to travel the EXACT SAME ROAD as the festival. With the entire rest of the city deserted. F-ing morons.

I didn’t have much else to report, until below, so wasn’t making much of an effort to blog. I’ve been feeling better, day by day, but still making regular visits to the toilet. So far today (2 PM as I type this), I seem to be fine. Tomorrow we may try for a jog, only the second since we’ve been on vacation.

Yesterday we visited what’s basically an extremely high-end Bed and Breakfast by the sister of a sister-in-law of mine (well, wife of my brother-in-law, so once removed?). They don’t advertise and work exclusively by word of mouth. It only has a total of 11 units and two of those are penthouse suites with multiple bedrooms. They were very lucky during Yolanda in that they were one of the first places to get their generators going again and so wound up being the headquarters of much of the international support. They called it a mini UN for a time. Had one official pay the day rate for an entire year! Anyway, it was beautiful and they had amazing windows that blocked out all the sound. They saved much of the wood from the original structure and used lots of polished marble. Relatively expensive, but I think well worth it.

I just experienced a small (very small) earthquake, and what prompted me to finally do the blog entry. Probably, if I hadn’t been sitting perfectly still at my computer, I might not have even noticed (I’ll have to ask the others if they did (many did, but a few didn’t)). I believe I’ve noticed at least one each time I’ve been here. Once, I suddenly felt light headed, again while sitting at my computer, only to notice a necklace hanging next to me wiggling back and forth.

It would seem, searching my blog, that I never describe the earthquake (no question about that one!) we experienced on a 2006 trip to Hawaii. We were on the last day of our trip and doing laundry and packing (that royal ‘we’ again; I was goofing off and Elise was ensuring the rest) when a 6.7 magnitude earthquake struck. It was a ‘settling’ earthquake, in that the massive island chain, which continues to get bigger and heavier all the time, sometimes drops down a few feet, now and again. While I sat there, marveling at the sensations between the P waves vs the S waves (I can never remember which one is vertical and which is horizontal; here’s some info, if you care), ogling the chandelier as it swung back and forth and watching dust from the ceiling filter down, my much more intelligent and practical wife grabbed our son and raced out of the building. I didn’t start moving until the shaking was all over. Dumbass.

Anyway, I finally did get outside, but then we all (it was a condo complex and there were lots of us) sort of looked at each other, thinking ‘what now?’ After a few minutes, I shrugged and headed back in. Lots of other people followed. We discovered that there was no power and our clothes in the washing machine were, naturally, completely soaked. It seems that no sooner were we back when a 6.1 hit. You’d think, having been so recently reminded about practical things to do, that I’d be hustling out the door with my wife and child, but, nope, I stood there, once again, marveling at the experience. Some people just don’t learn.

We were outside much longer this time, but the world stubbornly refused to end (what point being outside anyway? To watch it?), so we straggled back in. We moved a bit more expeditiously this time, and I recall helping somewhat. When we turned in keys, etc. for the timeshare, there was a small aftershock. I was leaning against a desk and it was like it punched me. A woman ran a couple of steps toward the door before realizing that no one else was panicking, but wasn’t the slightest bit sheepish when she slowly returned.

There were a number of road closures, due to fairly minor landslides, but we could reach the airport. We went early, not sure what would happen, and sat around in the un-air conditioning for a good while. The backup generators would work the important things, such as security and air traffic control, but not AC.

We had to fly to Oahu before we could head back to the mainland and, interestingly, that airport’s backup generators weren’t working for some reason. This surprised me: planes could land and people could transfer, as we did, but no one could come into the airport because they couldn’t be screened. The airport was very warm and getting warmer by the minute. Word filtered to us that once the sun went down, the airport would be closed, as it had no electricity for runway lights. We all watched the sinking sun with a very sinking feeling, getting more and more convinced we’d be sleeping in a hot sweaty airport that night.

Instead, we managed to get on the plane (thankfully cooled on its own, not to mention with lights) and took off with part of the sun still above the horizon. We were several hours late, though, and I just assumed we were going to miss our connecting flight. Interesting thing, seemingly since we were traveling via first class (thanks to miles), they held our departing flight for some half hour because of us. My wife grabbed our son and raced through the airport while I took the stroller (he was two-ish) and carryons and followed in a more ambling pace, convinced the plane was long gone. Color me shocked when I see my wife standing in the plane’s doorway.

I don’t remember any longer if our bags made it on or not, but it was an interesting trip, for sure.

 

Our party has shrunk to perhaps 10 now, with the ‘defection’ of a number this morning. They’re going to visit for a few days in Manila, while we will only be there long enough to catch our flight back to the states. Could be quiet the rest of the week, but who knows…

I’ve got almost 8,200 words written on my sequel story and feel like I’m making good progress. I might actually have the draft done in a week, after all. Well, ‘done’ in that everything written that I planned in the synopsis. I still have the transition to work on that I never sorted out when I wrote the synopsis.

I went through my Treasure Hunt script and assigned a physical location to each scene. There are 75, with a total of 30 unique locations. More than 20 of those locations are either at one of our houses or very close by. There are two, however, I have yet to iron out at all, though a friend suggested some potential, and there are two others I haven’t contacted to see if they’ll let me use their place. I need a library, for a short scene, and hope to use the Mount Jackson public library (sent them an email). I’d like to use the Shenandoah County land office, but couldn’t find a contact email address online, so will call when I get home.

I’m trying to figure out an estimate for how long it will take to shoot the various scenes. I’ve asked the DP I’ve been interacting with for his suggestions on how long to set up under various conditions (say, moving from one end of the house to another, lighting the same scene for a different time (all the scenes in the same physical location will be filmed one right after the other), moving the whole kit and kaboodle to another location on the same property vs one further away, etc.) so I can try and put parameters on the process and see if 4 weekends is even possible.

Things are moving in the typical non-linear way that my mind seems to work. It feels very inefficient, but others seem to believe I’m getting things done fast.

The Moral Of This Story: Wash Your Hands Before You Lick Your Fingers!

June 29th.

So I’ve been sick the last couple of days. I feel almost (almost) good now, but don’t want to get out of easy reach of a toilet, so am ‘home alone’ again (never really alone here, there’s always someone). But that’s jumping the gun a bit…

Other than the crappy on and off Internet, the only other bad thing I think anyone had to say about the house where we were staying was how thin the mattresses were. Even though we had about a third of our party leave early, people were still sleeping on the mattress on the floor, they said it was more comfortable than the beds. I noticed that a number of the bed sleepers had doubled up on mattresses. Where my wife and I slept it was just thick enough that it wasn’t a problem, unless my hip was right on one of the metal bars.

When last we ‘chatted’ I was dealing with an incipient migraine. Thankfully, it didn’t clamp down until we actually arrived in Tacloban (after nearly 7 hours waiting at the airport!). We had to be out of the house in Cebu by 10 and only had access to one van, so had to make two trips. Since the flight wasn’t scheduled to leave until 4:30, we had a lot of time to kill. We visited one of those duty free shops and I found a liter of Drambuie for $40, which my boss agreed was a pretty good price, so I got it. I hope it isn’t counterfeit. There wasn’t much else to do. We did get some finger food, french fries and the like, which is where I believe the origin of my current constitutional problems arose.

We headed into the waiting area to wait (and wait (and wait)), but the airport had good and free wifi, so I spent some time responding to a friend’s email. That killed an hour (we exchange detailed emails) and I surfed Reddit a while, but my butt was killing me, so got up and walked around for a while. Not very exciting, much like every other domestic airport I’ve been in.

As we finally got close to the boarding time, we headed to the actual waiting area for our flight (a prop job, and one where they bussed us out to the plane). We had two oldies in wheel chairs and no elevators, so have no idea how they wound up down there with us, except they came in from the outside. It was noisy and I could barely hear anything, but eventually we deciphered that our flight was going to be delayed (shock!). I shrugged (and no doubt grumbled) and reached for my Chromebook figuring maybe Reddit had some new interesting tidbits to read. I had no sooner got logged on (you have to visit a non-secure (e.g., non-HTTPS) page to get the acknowledgement page before you can surf; quite common) when our plane arrived.

Happily, I can report that either this is a better plane or they’d fixed the AC problem from last time, as it was pleasantly cool when we boarded. Once again not with my wife, but at least it’s a short flight. The flight was fine. I enjoyed looking out the window and trying to guess where the places we visited were. Because our takeoff was evidently expedited, we actually arrived very close to our target time.

No rain when we arrived at Tacloban, thankfully, so could quickly deplane. We collected our luggage and headed home.

Oh, it seems we ‘borrowed’ someone else’s baggage when we left the Cebu airport as we arrived. I have no idea how they got the number to the house, but eventually someone answered it. We took it back with us to the airport and it even wound up following us back to Tacloban. Which I guess isn’t that strange, as it probably originated from Tacloban in the first place.

The Tacloban airport is being upgraded. Apparently it’s going to get a second runway (as I said before, there is ONLY the one runway, no taxiway or anything). The main reason seems (to me) to memorialize the Pope’s visit after the Yolanda typhoon.

Now there is a giant paved space and supposedly the start of a shrine of some sort where the Pope gave his address. Tacloban used to be a well taken care of city, as it was where Imelda Marcos  evidently spent her formative years. When Ferdinand was driven out of power, Tacloban fell on hard times. I guess the Pope’s visit caused the government to realize it’d been treating Tacloban like a red-headed step child and it finally got some more lovin.

The freaking migraine mostly held off until the drive back from the airport, then clamped on tight. I went straight to bed, around 6 PM, then had to get some pills when I peed around 8 or 9. Then slept until around 3 AM and awoke, thankfully, without any headache. Much of our party went off on a day trip to another beach. Maybe I can get some writing done today…

Nope. I wrote that above optimistic line as a way to keep track of things for later. An hour or two later I was huddled under a pile of blankets, with the AC off, shivering. Fortunately, that only lasted an hour or two. Except getting up to pee (and later, leave different offerings to the porcelain god) and get some fluids, I think I almost spent the entire next 24 hours in bed. Toward the afternoon, I started to get a headache. Not a migraine, but painful nonetheless. I couldn’t find any more pain killers in the copious bags of drugs my wife brought, so huddled in misery, moaning (weird how the moaning would help, but only for a few seconds at a time). My wife finally got home and got me some drugs (I didn’t have the energy to go to the first floor to ask some from my father-in-law). That allowed me to sleep through the night (well, except for visits to the toilet). Yesterday I was much less bad, but still weak and when pills wore off, feverish again. That afternoon I decided to just let the fever run its course.

A totally untested, unresearched theory of mine is that the drugs (e.g., aspirin, Tylenol, ibuprofen, etc.) just delay the inevitable, you got some suffering in store and taking the pills just delays it. Full of crap or not, I decided to forego the pills until I felt my fever episodes had ran their course. That lasted until about 11 last night, when I wound up with a headache again, but by that point I had shucked my fleece jacked and pants and was just in shorts and a TShirt under a sheet, so felt my giving in was worth it. I managed to sleep soundly the whole night, I’m happy to say, waking up after dawn.

Most of the family has gone off on a short road trip, one I would normally go on, but I don’t want to get too far from a toilet, so declined. Today is supposed to be a big deal, as it’s the official fiesta for Tacloban. Two days ago (when I was most miserable) there was a parade of all the schools outside (we’re right on the main drag). All the schools had to vie who had the loudest drums. Since I was sure the fiesta was later, I assumed, for a long time, they were practising, but it would get louder, then quieter, louder and quieter, so I eventually shambled out to take a look. It was quite impressive, and, of course, loud as hell, but worth the few minutes I was able to watch before I was too tired and had to head in.

It’s hard to believe we’re ⅔ through our vacation already. And so little writing or reading. I reread most of my directing book and reread about half a book on directing actors, managed to almost finish my synopsis for my murder mystery sequel and finished 80% of the edits to Treasure Hunt, but damn. Two weeks and that’s all I got to show for it. I’ve already asked an editor to take a look at my sequel in mid July and only have 10% finished.

I started looking into getting permission to film at a location (as opposed to guerrilla filming) as if I use it for a night shoot I need to set up lights, which are obvious and likely to attract attention. The park seems OK with giving permits… but they want a million dollar insurance policy. I haven’t asked for a quote yet, I need to nail down a few more things, but it seems the normal cost is $1,500-2,500 for the sorts of things I’m doing. It may be, by doing much on my own property, that I’ll get a discount, but only time will tell. Aparently there is also a common clause that _all_ people involved be paid at least minimum wage, which I feel sure I can’t afford (hence the offer of ‘reel, beer and pizza’). I’d like to have that extra coverage, but I’ve been told, by filming much (or all) on my own property, that my normal liability insurance will cover if anything happens. All reasons why I wish I could find a producer to work with.

I discovered that one of my sources for research on Treasure Hunt wrote a screenplay back in the early ‘90s (or maybe even 90) about the Angel of the Shenandoah. The woman, Jessie Rupert, had a very interesting life, if even half of what’s said about her is true. Anyway, I asked the woman if I could look at her script, with the idea of producing and directing it if I felt called to it. While a period piece, thus more expensive, I think it would be a very nice transition piece for me to work on before I try and tackle my Dominatrix movie. Initially I thought it would be easy to get local support and maybe be able to build a budget as much as $250-500K, but it seems, even though Jessie was popular at her death, she remains a source of friction to a lot of the local historians.

Since we’ve been here, we’ve jogged exactly once. So much for doing extra exercise! There’s no place that isn’t smelly with car exhaust (and other things) to even go for a walk in the afternoon (without driving somewhere, at least) and when we were in Cebu I had no idea of the area so didn’t want to risk getting lost. Besides, I stick out like a sore thumb and all. Not many 6’1’’ goofy looking white guys around here 😉 This illness, though, might have knocked off a few pounds, though that’s not the way I recommend losing weight.

OK, now I’m going to try and get my ass in gear for some writing to actually further my professional goal of becoming a writer/director…

Cebu and Plantation Bay

June 26th

About that ‘better internet.’ When it’s working, it’s much faster. But (you knew there had to be one), the POS connection keeps dropping. Like every 5-10 minutes. And takes a minute to recover. I’ve since learned that unplugging the router for a minute seems to help for an hour, but man is that tedious!

Most of the rest of the family have gone on long (12+ hour!) day trips since we’ve been in Cebu. One day they spent over 8 hours in the car, though an hour or so was because of traffic. Yesterday they remaining family split up (about a third of the party has had to leave already; some to go back to work, one to go to his high school reunion in Tacloban, another group to be with their family for a memorial in Manila). The ‘oldies’ went to a shrine, two hours one-way, the rest (only 7 at this point) went to Plantation Bay, a very nice resort with a series of huge man-made lagoons, that Eliz and I have visited a number of times.

At first, the snorkeling was disappointing, as the water was a bit dirty and I could only see about 10 ft. Still interesting things to see, though, colorful fish, corals, etc. I borrowed my nephew’s GoPro camera and took some videos. If they turn out good (I could barely see anything on the tiny screen), I’ll put a few on Youtube and send some links. We got lunch (I was the only one to get in the water, they all wanted to wait until after lunch, only an hour after we got there), which was part of the day pass. Eliz and I ordered the salad (it came with appetizer, main meal and dessert), which was quite small, and we were expecting the rest of the meal to be equally small. Well, it was very generous and hardly anyone managed to finish. It seems that salad greens are relatively expensive because most are cool-weather plants.

It turns out when we first arrived it was the change of high tide and that was why there was so much crap stirred up in the water. I went in after lunch and the water was a lot more clear, so I borrowed the GoPro again and hopefully got better shots. One thing I missed, though, was the carpet of giant clams I remember from the decade plus from our last visit. Either they moved the barriers that keep the boats out and now the clams are on the other side or they died and were replaced with coral. I recall extremely vivid colors from the clams, though my memory tells me they were in deeper water, so maybe they’re there and I missed them.

When we got back to the house, the power was out (thankfully the first (and hopefully only, since we’re leaving in a few hours after I write this)). I was tired, though, so went to bed. The sun was still up, so it was probably around 5:30. I woke up (well, stayed up; I had to pee – being old sucks!) around 1:30 with an incipient headache/migraine. Hopefully the drugs I took will short circuit it (it’s only hovering in the background now). I spent some time answering emails and writing this, now, at nearly 4, people are stirring and hopefully breakfast is on its way.

With the coverage reports convincing me that I should make my Treasure Hunt movie, I’ve shifted focus back to tidying up the script (I had a handful of suggestions from the last editor I haven’t incorporated) and then working on a shooting schedule (movies are only rarely shot in the order they’re seen; they’re shot such that the same locations are filmed consecutively to minimise cost and setup time). I need to convince myself that shooting over 4 weekends is feasible before I promise my cast and crew it will be done in that time.

Because I’m a regular on Reddit (though largely as a lurker) I posted there asking for suggestions on where to ask for cast and crew:

https://old.reddit.com/r/acting/comments/8t5g1j/where_to_look_for_washington_dc_area_nonunion/

https://old.reddit.com/r/Filmmakers/comments/8t5ipe/where_to_look_for_a_washington_dc_area_dp/

Good suggestions for finding actors, and, in private communication with one of the respondents to the acting one, it seems being able to offer $1K for the gig will get me lots of interest as there are so few paying jobs in the area.

I got contacted by a guy via the DP (director of photography, the person responsible for the images that actually get captured) ad and we’ve swapped quite a number of emails. Though he lacks his own camera, he does have enough credits to have an impressive reel, so I may wind up working with him. He’s eager to start and has read an earlier draft of the screenplay.

I’m not getting nearly as much writing done as I had hoped, but I’ve also been feeling very tired. I hope, with our arrival back in Tacloban, that I can finish my adaptation and be able to put in some solid work hours.

The Party and Cebu

June 22nd

Before the party was the mass where Mama and Papa renewed their vows. The church had AC, so the process was much more enjoyable than I expected. Though the music was too loud for me, and there were certain notes that resonated in a most unpleasing way.

Then the power went out. They fired up a generator, but it didn’t cover the AC units, so it got warm quick. The next wrinkle was they’d sent the cars back, as the reception hall was just a ‘short’ walk away and the wrong way on all the now one-way streets. My wife forgot to bring a belt, resulting in my pants dragging on the ground, so I walked with my ‘skirts hitched up’ all the way to everyone’s amusement. If I were in jogging shorts and tennis shoes, the walk would have been inconsequential, but because it was in dress clothes/shoes, it was a very long, hot, tedious walk.

Thankfully, either the power had come back on or the reception hall had beefy enough generators to power the AC, the hall was cool. But not the bathroom, which stank quite badly. The music wasn’t too loud, evidently my mother-in-law’s entreaties to turn the volume down were taken seriously. It was a one-man band, in that he sang and played saxophone with a recorded music background. He was quite good, actually.

The food was good and I was seated next to someone I enjoyed conversing with, but the main issue for me was the official start of the reception wasn’t until 7 and we were there before 6. I would have much rather spent that hour taking a nap (the reception hall is only a few blocks away from the house). I left around 9 ish, I believe, and went right to sleep. I think they wrapped up around 1, as that’s the time my wife said it was when she joined me in bed.

I was told we were going to leave at 2 in the afternoon for our 5:30 flight to the house in Cebu we’ve rented for 5 days. I was very unhappy about getting to the airport 3 hours early for a 45 minute flight, but learned my opinions in these regards mean nothing. I was surprised, then, when we didn’t leave until around 4. The drive was a long one, but probably not even 30 minutes. So we supposedly only had an hour to kill. Our fearless leader in the airport was my sister-in-law Lolyn (she and her husband built a house about 12 miles away from our place in Shenandoah) and she decided to check in all the bags for everyone by herself. I’m quite certain it would have been faster if we checked in ourselves, but we had time to kill.

Way more time than I expected, as the damn plane was an hour late. A prop plane and it has no AC, so it was a hot sweaty ride. And only 35 minutes in the air, barely enough time to hand out bottled water and a peanut butter roll. I declined both, but had one of the saved rolls later and it was quite tasty.

When we landed and deplaned, one of my nephews (actually, a grand nephew), couldn’t find his passport. Thus, our party wound up getting split, with our son on the wrong side of it. Fortunately, nothing came out of it; our nephew found his passport and our son connected with us at the baggage claim. We wound up waiting a lot longer, again, than I wanted for the vans to arrive to pick us up. Two vans only held 20 people, so some had to wait for one to come back. The drive, supposedly only 10 miles (probably as the crow flies; we drove nearly completely around the airport) was probably at least double that in minutes. The house is very nice, though. A small pool, a big open common area and three large bedrooms in the main house and two small ones in another building. But not enough beds for the bodies we had. Eleven twin sized, two full sized and three king sized. Even putting three bodies on the king and two each on the full, meant space for 24, so we had a couple on the couch and inflatable mattress.

As usual, I went to be early. Eliz and I snagged one of the full-sized beds in the other building, as I figured it would be quieter than being in the house. Everyone got up at 4 as most of the party (nearly 20) were going to do a long day trip to a ‘nearby’ beach (supposedly we’re only a few minute walk from the beach; not sure why that one’s not good enough). The main downside is the house has no food in it, so today some of those that remained will go shopping.

I got the final script coverage report I asked for and blogged on it here:

RedDom Coverage Reports

Not encouraging, though the feedback did help me with how to market/position the script for best effect.

I’m almost finished with the synopsis for my dominatrix sequel. I’m pretty happy with it, but have a transition I haven’t been able to work out (yet). I plan on continuing to work on the main body of the script; I have about 3,200 words written of a target of around 25K. I’m writing it prose-style and will convert to screenplay style once I’m reasonably happy with the story. Regular prose is much more compact and, I feel, easier to read than screenplay style. Maybe after a few more scripts, I’ll write directly in screenplay style, but not for now.

The Internet connection here is much better than at Mama and Papa’s house, so checking email, etc. is a lot less tedious. Hopefully the pretty location will inspire me to write more, or at least read (I’ve totally neglected beta reading up to this point).

The Big Party

June 20th

Tonight is the Big Party. I believe around 240 people. I’ve heard that it’s air conditioned and walking distance from the house, so if I get tired I don’t have to wait for a drive.

Mama and Papa (what I call my ‘rents-in-law) are renewing their vows again, and they’re doing so as part of a regular (Catholic) church mass. I believe that’s scheduled for 5 PM, then a pause, then the reception that also doubles as Papa’s 85th birthday party.

Yesterday was kind of a slow day. I kept napping and really wasn’t able to concentrate much. I did have a cigar, during a ‘brownout’ (which is a euphemism for a blackout that’s on purpose) in the ‘laundry room,’ which is open to the outside. In the shade, so I was mostly comfortable (I did have to wipe beaded sweat off my brow toward the end). Rereading sections of a book on directing, as I hope to start planning the shoot for my Treasure Hunt movie while I’m here.

I went to bed early while nearly everyone else went out to a bar. They asked me if I wanted to come, but were up-front that the music is really loud (they all know my aversion), but I was wiped out anyway. I think I was asleep by 8. They came home around 1 and I wasn’t able to get back to sleep, so worked on the synopsis for my murder mystery sequel, “The Dominatrix Was Blue.” I believe I was able to capture all the ideas that were floating around in my head during the plane trip and have probably 85-90% done. There’s a transition in the middle I’m still struggling with, but I think I have the ending nailed.

This morning my wife and I went on our usual morning jog (we talked about it yesterday, but never got out the door). Total distance around 4 miles, but probably only jogged about a mile and a half. Remarkably few signs of the typhoon, except at the resort Leyte Park, which is clearly on some very hard times. Rather sad, as it used to be a tourist attraction in its own right and well cared for. They used to have an open air nipa hut restaurant at the end of a pier, but it’s long gone. What I most remember was one time walking out along the pier and seeing a boat for sale. It advertised that it slept 4, or 8 Filipinos. I’ve not really got used to the piles of people, even after 20 years, but it seems they can stack themselves like cord wood. Shortly after we were married, the family rented a house on the North Carolina outer banks for a week (Avon was the town, if memory serves). I don’t remember the count, but I do remember in the morning having to be very careful walking as it was like the aftermath of a bombing, bodies everywhere. Eliz and I were too junior to get a bedroom to ourselves (thankfully, we get one here now), but the house had some sort of cupola or something, no door, but no reason for anyone to go up there, and we were able to snag that. It had a twin bed with a pull out twin underneath, so we slept on different levels, but holding hands. Another amusing(?) story: Eliz and I decided to jog along the beach to the Cape Hatteras lighthouse we could see that seemed just a short distance down the beach. After jogging for an hour or so (sand makes for a great workout!) that damn thing hadn’t got an inch taller! We decided to walk back along the road, hoping someone would pick us up, and we got lucky.

I believe it’s tomorrow afternoon we start our trip to Cebu, so my thoughts on the party will probably be included in the Cebu report.

The Trip Out

Beginning June 17th

We (note that this is the ‘royal we’ in that Eliz has done 99% of the preparation work and I just carry things (and complain)) took an Uber to National airport. There was some confusion in that it seems Eliz had signed up for ‘pool’ and a large vehicle (note that we are taking 5 bags and 1 box, each around 50 lbs, for nearly 300 lbs of stuff – almost all this for the parties and very little for ourselves) and the guy who showed up wasn’t a pool driver (pool, evidently, is where the driver can pick up more than one fare). It seems that was more expensive, but I can’t say that I paid that close attention. The driver appeared to be Thai, at least based on the script in the prayer (I’m assuming) stickers all over the vehicle. The beltway, shockingly (not), was crawling along, but we left some 3 hours early, so no worries.

Until we actually got to the airport. Man, is National dysfunctional! We were standing outside for curbside checkin and I wanted to get out of the heat, so insisted we go inside. Guess what? They only have self service checkin! I started grumbingling at that, then decided I’d go sit this one out and try and calm down. Except I kept being brought back in because, it seems, self checkin isn’t actually checking anything in, we got to stand in yet another line to get weighed. Except we didn’t actually get to check the bags in yet, we had to carry them ourselves to the TSA scanner. In my usual ‘charming’ asshole way, I started to complain louder and louder, sprinkling f-bombs fairly liberally and really pissing my wife off.

Eliz kept getting wound up as I was wound up and we started to bicker amongst ourselves. She got so upset she had to visit a chapel to pray and calm herself down.

I did eventually apologize, but it took me a while to climb down off my high horse.

We finally got on the plane to NY. We’d no sooner reached cruising altitude when we started descending. Last time I was at JFK I vowed it would be my last. I make lots of vows like that, but time heals all wounds, or puts enough scar tissue on that it’s easy to forget.  Little convinced me to change that. Though they had a shuttle train to get us terminal to terminal (instead of buses), we had to take all sorts of elevators up and down to reach it. Up and down. And one of the elevators was barely big enough for our bags and Eliz had to take the stairs.

At first Eliz had us waiting in the Aeroflot line, but my sarcastic comments finally got her to check and the Philippine Airline (PAL) line was gratifyingly short. After we finally checked in, I wanted to go to a sit-down restaurant, but lo and behold, in the terminal we were in there was exactly one, and it was full. We did manage to find a table we could sit at and had something to eat while we waited. And waited. And waited…

The plane was a new 777 and Eliz had the forethought to get exit row seats. Full-sized exit doors, so nearly 6 ft of legroom. The downside was no window, which sucked. And there was no place to store anything, so it all had to be shuffled through the overhead bins.

It seems some relative works as a purser on PAL and she put the word out so the stewards/stewardesses were very friendly toward us and brought us lots of little gifts. Other than it being really really long, and the landing in Vancouver rather violent (my teeth felt like they were going to shatter), it was the usual dull routine. I might have dozed a little, but unlike trips in the past, where everything would go silent when I fell asleep, it just felt like no time had elapsed.

We got a new crew in Vancouver, so more well wishes and additional goodies. We tried a number of neck pillows and I learned quickly that the conventional U shaped ones were worthless. While they work fine if you’re (I’m) sleeping on my side in the car with the seat back, in the plane my neck would be forced forward if I had the opening toward the front, and if I put the opening toward the back, the damn thing would just fall off. We got one with two cylinders connected by a sheet, except it would slide around and fall away. What worked for me was a modification to the cylinders: they are L shaped, so tuck under my chin, but, most importantly, they connected in the front as well, to keep the damn thing from sliding around. I probably ‘slept’ (dozed) a total of 8 hours, a few from NY to Vancouver, and more Vancouver to Manila.

The flight from DC to NY was around 45 minutes and from NY to Vancouver about 5 and a quarter, so at Vancouver we had airtime of 6 hours. The air time from Vancouver to Manila was around 12.5 hours, if memory serves, plus, of course, waiting time in DC, NY and Vancouver. But we weren’t home yet…

In Manila we had to claim our bags, then check them right back in again. After going through customs. There was no line when we got to customs, unbelievably, but then it seems our bags were the last off the plane, so we stood/sat around for a long time. Then, much like how JFK has a half dozen terminals, Manila has several, so we had to change in order to get home. Note that we had to kill some 4-5 hours before our flight would leave.

We wait to take a shuttle to go to the other terminal (I believe there are 4) and finally a bus showed up. We piled aboard (with our 6 carryons!) and after a rather long time, the driver came on and started to collect money. For a shuttle! I don’t know if it’s an officially recognized scam or what, but it was only 20 pesos (there are some 53 pesos to a dollar), though my wife hadn’t made any change yet, so gave him two bucks. And that would have been OK if we went directly to our terminal, but no, it seems we toured Manila first, making random stops along the way. Eventually we wound up at our desired terminal and had lots of time to kill. A sister and brother (both inlaws to me) were already at the airport and terminal, so we were supposed to meet with them, except no one had working phones (have to get a compatible sim card first), so it was a matter of a prearranged meeting. Except Eliz and Don didn’t find them (I was tired, so sat with the carryon luggage).

It turns out they were sleeping in a place you can rent beds, but by the time I found that out, it didn’t make sense to pay for it, since we were boarding in an hour or so. We did, though, bump into they’re foster brother Tito, and he had been able to connect with them over wifi, so eventually, after they woke up, we could meet.

Note that the journey is still not over… One of our carryon bags was deemed too big, but fortunately Tito checked it in as his, so we were let through security (slightly less a theater than in the US – none of this nonsense about liquids or taking shoes off). We found the siblings and waited some more. They’d bought sim cards and were configuring their phones to work here and I sort of observed with glazed eyes. We then went to wait at the boarding area and I had to lie down on the uncomfortable metal chairs because I could barely stand. The flight time was 50 or 55 minutes and I probably dozed a little. We landed at the Tacloban airport and no sooner had we taxied to the disembarking area (just a spot on the tarmac; it’s literally just a runway, you taxi down the runway to take off) when it started to rain. Since it is walk down the steps with no protection, we wound up waiting on the plane for probably 20-30 minutes before we could finally get off.

Tito runs an ice business in Tacloban, and he had a couple of his employees and a truck to take our luggage. He then drove us to Mama and Papa’s house (I’ll try and get a picture of it; since my first trip it has expanded by ⅔ when the finally purchased the property next door; Papa’s father’s house and the siblings fought over selling it to him for decades). There are basically only two-lane roads except in the middle of big cities (and Tacloban doesn’t rate as ‘big’) and everyone uses the same road. Pedestrians, my favorite – though we didn’t see any on the way home – caribou (basically oxen-looking things), three-wheeled bicycles, three-wheeled motorcycles, cars and trucks. It’s constantly speeding up, slowing down and swerving. It takes a lot to make me motion sick, but driving on these roads has done it, though thankfully not at that time.

Tacloban has decided to make essentially all roads one-way in an attempt to make the traffic slightly less chaotic, so we had to loop around to get to the ‘rents-in-law house. I quickly said ‘hi’ to both, then went straight to bed for a couple of hours. I was practically cross eyed by the time I laid my head down. We left around 2:30 PM on Saturday and arrived at around 3 PM on Monday (we cross the date line, so ‘lost’ a day) for 36.5 hours of travel. Nearly 20 in the air, the rest sitting around airports. I am so not looking forward to the trip back, but will do the best to put it out of my mind until then.

For those of you who didn’t know, Typhoon Yolanda hit Tacloban City very hard. Around 6K people died from the storm surge of nearly 15 ft. My parents-in-law, fortunately, have an extremely solidly built concrete house that’s 4 stories, so they could easily get out of the way of the flood (which saturated the first floor; it seems they didn’t understand what storm surge meant and I wasn’t smart enough to ask). It was a trying time. I blogged a bit about the time here. Anyway, in places near the airport, where the ground was literally swept clean, the usual shanties had been back in place for quite a while. Since they largely used scrap, they largely looked exactly as I remembered. Closer in, where many of the buildings were replaced with concrete, the look was much more modern and clean. Closer in still, then it was back to the typical dark concrete (mildew starts growing before the building is even finished, making everything dingy). I didn’t see any overt signs of the disaster, except, perhaps, for the nearly endless construction. There was a large container ship washed ashore and I was told they saved part of it when they cut it up for scrap and turned it into a restaurant, so may need to check it out.

On the 777 I thought of lots of plot elements for the sequel screenplay I hope to complete while here. Sadly, I didn’t record any of my thoughts and most has vanished. I hope I can recreate some (most (all)) of it when I have had a chance to relax.

I have no idea how often I’ll do one of these, as there may not be much to write about. I intend to largely sit around and relax, which is a great-to-experience vacation, but makes for lousy story telling.

Must I turn in my sociopath registration card?

I’ve always considered myself a sociopath. That statement probably will upset my mother, but mothers always think the best of their little (well, not so little any longer) darlings. I’ve always been somewhat disappointed that I never got a chance to see action when I was in the military. For many years, when I was a youth, I seriously contemplated the life of a contract killer (most likely why I wrote a series of books on the topic). Sadly (and, yes, I really have felt that way from time to time), circumstances never gave me any opportunities.

After much thought and consideration, I decided, given the company I kept, that I would be better served by adopting the facade of a normal law abiding citizen. However, as I like to say, my veneer of civilization is quite thin, and just a little scratching or rubbing the wrong way will reveal uncivilized creature underneath.

A very close friend of mine dreads the thought of any sort of apocalypse. She’s as much as said she’d take the easy way out and take her own life if our society would devolve to that point. I, on the other hand, view those prospects with delight. I’d finally be able to let the ‘real’ me out to ‘play.’ Most likely I’d lose my wife, though a true apocalypse might be such that she’d greet those prospects with some relief, as society would operate under very different rules, ones I believe I’ve internalized on an instinctual level.

So, you ask, assuming there are any of you reading this and have got this far, what the heck does this have to do with anything? Well, a couple of weeks ago, one of my sisters-in-law’s (I have 4 (and two brothers-in-law)) husband died. Quite unexpectedly, in his sleep. While vastly better than a long, expensive lingering death, it’s still shocking. Particularly to those who discovered what happened.

Again, you ask, wtf are you babbling about? Sorry, that’s just something I do. I’ll try to get to the point… A week afterwards, we all attended a service for my brother-in-law (once removed?). First they had a viewing. I find those rather creepy, so instead latched onto the need to have someone babysit a newborn of a niece, daughter of the deceased. Her sister, another niece (not sure I could count them all), was breaking out in sobs on a regular basis. I found myself quite unexpectedly choked up and on the verge of tears myself each time she did this. Where was that cold-hearted sociopathic contract killer wannabe? The service itself (very well done, I felt) also had me choked up a number of times. What’s up with me? Am I getting soft in my dotage? Was I always like this, but lied to myself all these years? Weird.

I’ve also noticed myself getting choked up in certain movies, TV shows and even novels. I get upset when this happens. I don’t like the feelings and they’re certainly unfamiliar to me.

After some consideration, I decided to ask the above mentioned close friend (we’ve known each other since we were teenagers) what she thought. Below is her response…

I’ve always suspected that there was a huge vat of tapioca pudding simmering beneath all those layers of yours!

I remember, like a thousand years ago, we had a conversation about your sociopathy…it was not long after you had seen Awakenings….with De Niro as one of many suffering with “locked in” syndrome as it were, and Robin Williams played the experimental doc who tried Eldopa….and “unlocked” everyone, only to be forced to “lock” everyone up again because the side effects were so terrible….you told me how you hated that movie, primarily because it took such a toll on you to keep from crying…of course sociopaths don’t cry….not really….or maybe they do but not for the same reasons as other people cry….bottom line….I have always known that beneath the gruff, “asshole” facade beat a heart, if not entirely of gold, then certainly one of gold plated sterling silver…it’s one of your many endearing charms….and one of the many reasons I love ya….

That being said. I still verily believe that at the first hint of an apocalypse….you will indeed go on a murderous rampage. (Another of your many charms, I think) But that doesn’t mean you don’t still have a soul.

Clearly I have selective memory, as I totally blotted that out until her comments revived them. I’ve always been a misanthropist (my favorite curse word is ‘human’) and my fantasies tend toward misogyny, though I doubt I’d enjoy any of it in reality. Yet, it seems, I do have deep feelings that are incongruous with what I’ve learned about sociopathy. I’m sure there are degrees, as in nearly everything, so maybe I can still carry that card, just with a note that says it’s only true under certain circumstances. Sort of like how my driver’s license now says I am required to wear glasses. I’m sure you can see how similar those two examples are 😉

Wow! More than a year!

No, I didn’t die. No, I didn’t give up writing. I just didn’t write on this blog.

And I may not write much on this blog any longer, because I’m focusing most of my energy on another.

What? 1,024 posts and you’re going to throw in the towel? Well, that’s a very nice number for a computer scientist, so maybe that would be just perfect. However, the reality is I’ve been doing lots of writing, just nothing that felt blog worthy. I mentioned my creative writing before, well I’ve gone through a number of transformations since then. I’ve written over 260K words on my “Diary of a Contract Killer” series and wrote a murder mystery novella. I initially gave up my ideas for conventional publishing when I realized it was really a fool’s errand to make any money at novels (after reading a rather depressing article that ranked the top 100 ‘most notable’ novels in 2014, by the New York Times, and showing that the 50th best only sold 25K books (I’m pretty sure I got those numbers here)). I toyed with self publishing until I accepted that money would be wasted, unless I put in lots of time and more money on advertising and marketing. Time taken away from writing and money taken away from our retirement.

I wallowed in depression for a while, as my numerous past efforts to build a business empire have all been for naught and writing was about the only thing that made me passionate. My passion is weird, though, and I can only be excited if I feel there’s a realistic prospect that people would actually read my stories. What finally got me excited and writing again was revisiting a notion I got from one of my early beta readers. This person ‘complained’ that, with my terse descriptions, my novel read like a screenplay. That statement sort of opened my eyes to other possibilities, so I started to learn about screenplay writing (which is a _very_ different animal than novel writing!). I started to think it would be nice to have control over what I was writing, so learned about what it takes to be a producer. Producing is a lot of work, work that appears to be rarely recognized, and producers generally only make money if the movie makes money, so the most risky. While I feel perfectly capable of being a producer (I’ve studied business for 40 years), I wasn’t feeling ‘called’ toward it.

That changed when I started to read up on directing. The more I learned about producing the less I was interested, while the more I learned about directing, the more I felt it was something I was meant to do and somehow missed out on all my life. So, after much navel searching, I decided to give up my notion of being a novelist and see if I could write screenplays. I’ve since adapted two (the first contract killer and the murder mystery) and been told by screenwriter developmental editors that it seems my writing style really does lend itself to screenplays. Now my goal is to try and get into the paid directing business by doing an unpaid directing job and am working on a screenplay for that. The progress I make on that will be detailed at my writing-centric blog.