Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Bad Voodoo

I was with Kevin for just over two years, when I lived in Seattle.  Neither one of us normally took pictures so one day we decided to go a photo booth, so we could have pictures of the two of us together.  It was a color booth which meant we only got two shots, unlike the black and white booths where you got at least four.  (Do any of the youngin's need photo booths explained?  Black and white photos?)  So we got our two shots,  cut them apart and  each put one in our respective wallets.  Later we discovered that they hadn't entirely dried, so putting them in our wallets had smeared them.  You could make out who we were, sort of, but they weren't great images.  

Soon after that my parents came to visit.  They took lots of photos, especially of me and Kevin together.  When they got home however, they discovered that the film was ruined, and the camera itself was completely broken.  A few weeks later my brother James came to visit, and knowing what had happened to Mom's and Dad's camera, he made a point of taking lots of photos of the two of us again.  When he got home, his film was ruined, the camera was broken, no images survived.  

To this day I have no photos of Kevin, or of Kevin and me together. When I google him, this is all I can find.   As a record of him, and his work, it's not bad really, but as a record of our time together it leaves something to be desired.  I assume there are photos of us out there somewhere.  We went to parties together, we had  a shared social circle, surely someone has at least one.  I've just never seen any.  If there are any old Seattle hands lurking out there who has one, would you mind sending me a copy?  

I've been thinking about this today because of an experience I'm having now.  In the Fall of 2004 I had a one-act produced as part of a festival.  It was my first time writing for someone other than just myself.  Yes, I was also in the play, but don't worry, someone else directed, I swear to god I'm not narcissist.  It was a festival for works-in-progress, so I developed the script, writing new drafts up until we declared it "done for now" about two weeks before we performed it, flaws and all.

During that development period my computer was completely unusable.  Fortunately I had saved everything on a disc, and my director gave me keys to her apartment so I could use her computer during the day.  What this means is, several more versions, including the final one, ended up on her computer, not mine.  At the time I didn't think anything of it, didn't take steps to copy it onto a disc, we all had hard copies anyway, when everything calmed down, I'd get to it.  

Except I didn't.  Throughtout the whole experience that play had had a feeling -at least for me-  of being carried along by something else, that a force was behind it, smoothing things at times, providing unexpected blessings at others.  That feeling  had started the previous Spring actually, when I performed in a different play with this same company.  As is often the case with me, I fell in love with the space itself, and it inspired my play in the essentials.  So when we finished our brief run, and got some nice feed-back from people, I waited to see what was supposed to happen next.  

Well, that would be nothing.  Evidently I was supposed to take it from there, which seems reasonable enough, I don't mean to be greedy.  It just took me a while to realize.  I really don't know what is going to happen next, if anything does.  Maybe the play, like Bromios, served its purpose, and it's time for me to do something else.  I figure it wouldn't hurt though to look at the script again.  There were tons of things wrong with it, that were left as they were because of time.  I could at least do some re-writing, right?  

So I looked at the copy I had on my now-behaving computer (who's a good little computer!  Yes you are!  Yes you are!  Don't let Daddy scare you with all his complaining)... and realized it was an older version.  Not too old, it was from after the point when a major shift had occurred in the story I was writing, but there was at least one key scene that was out of date in this version.  So I went to find my hard copy.  I save old scripts forever; don't know what I'm going to do with them, but I've got 'em.  Except for this script.  This one I don't got.  Not at all.  Presumably I thought "eh, I've got it on the computer, it's going to change anyway, don't need to hold onto this."  That sounds like me.  

Hm.  Okay.  What am I going to do?  I called the play's lead, my good friend Genna, to see if she had the most recent draft.  Like me she saves all her scripts, and lo and behold she had it.  Goody.  She kindly made a copy for me which I carried in my bag briefly, thinking I'd look at it on the train, and I did a little... until it disappeared.  Poof, gone, don't know what the HELL I did with it.  

See, the thing is I really don't lose things.  That's part of what makes this weird.  Don't want to jinx it, but I've never misplaced keys, important documents, my phone (washing and drying it, that's a whole other story, but losing it?  Please).  I'm often really good at finding things other people have lost, up to and including contact lenses on stage floors after circus shows when nine of us had been tumbling and racing about for nearly three hours.  So it is just odd that I would have misplaced this script after I had made a point of tracking it down.  No it wasn't like a passport, but it had become something I wasn't going to be careless with.  Or so one would think.

I was too embarrassed to ask Genna for another copy, so once again, I didn't do anything with the play.  Months passed.  I decided to spend the month of August in Indiana with my family (trees!  dogs!  cats!  family dinners!  good talks!  good walks! books! escaping a hot stinky sweaty armpit of an apartment in a bigger, stinkier, sweatier armpit of a city! Score!).  I decided I might as well take along a copy of the version I do have, and see what I could do to reconstruct the out-dated scene.  The play as a whole needs to be revamped after all,  that scene will probably change anyway.  

So I printed it out.  I remember seeing it clearly in my printer tray.  Apparently I didn't put it in my bag though, because when I got back to Richmond it wasn't 
there.  I felt like a complete MORON, but okay, I had brought other stuff to work on,  it was 
mostly a vacation anyway so what the hell.  It could just wait for me back in the printer tray.  

Except it wasn't.  It wasn't waiting anywhere for me, not the hard copy anyway.  There was nothing in the printer tray.  Tommy wouldn't have moved it, and even if he had, he would have just put it on my desk in a prominent position, so if I had printed it and left it, it would still be there.  And it wasn't.  

No, I don't think the play has been hit with some bad voodoo, I accept that I am causing this somehow, but I still want to know why am I doing it (I mean, if I don't actually want to work on it, why not go on ignoring it like I did for most of two years?), and how I keep doing it without noticing or remembering a damn thing?  I was perhaps more of a whack job than usual this Summer, but still.   

I finally got over my embarrassment and asked Genna if she'd make me another copy.  By now I wasn't sure it was such a good idea for me actually to touch the script, so I asked her to make it, and I'd pay for it.  Genna actually saved all the drafts, I believe, which is either an impressive dedication to the archival arts, or some serious pack-ratting, and she's not now sure which one is the newest version, so she's planning on just copying
 all of them for me.  I'll admit, I have a bad feeling about this.  It just seems like there's going to be at least one more weird-assed thing before I actually get to look at the stupid scene.  After feeling like the play had been quietly helped along by unknown and unnamed forces, it's tempting to wonder if now the forces have other plans.  Or they skipped town because I was such an ungrateful sloth and squandered the momentum.  Or maybe some OTHER forces are at work here, just causing trouble.  Oh, except I don't think this is bad voodoo, remember?  Right?  

We'll see what happens.  



somewhere joe said...

Cue harpsicord: You're travelling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind...

What is it about that relationship? What is it about that scene? Maybe you've typed some weird, explosive anagram, which precipitates a real-life drama in which Kevin turns out to play a critical role.

I can see your dilema. Are you being told to leave it alone... or are you being teased, beconed, and kept maddeningly engaged? Will there be an O.Henry denouement? Only time will tell.

Cooper said...

Sounds like an episode from X-files. Your script is like Scully's baby and has become a metaphysical bargaining chip. Maybe the universe doesn't want you to have that script, Patrick. Ditto, you and Kevin. No tangible proof. Just spirit memories.

It's like evidence of my own infancy. No pictures exist that I can find. Nana swore she took some. My mother, too. Yet none exist that I have ever seen. Presumably I didn't spring onto this planet as a two year old, yet that's the earliest I can find.

I always hope for the O.Henry denouement. That kind of describes my personality, actually. :)

Should I light a candle for your script? :P

Jeff Wills said...

I'd like to point out for Cooper that it's just possible he sprang fully-formed from someone's head and/or thigh.

If I believed in omens and conscious guiding forces, Patrick, I'd say they were telling you to write it again, and that the original "final" draft will stick once you have a new version to compare it to. Since I don't believe that, I'll just say you have a personal poltergeist who must be satisfied.

Melissa said...

The impermanence of everything is what is at work here I think.
That said, (having worked on the said script) I know that it is worth the amount of time and searching for you to manage to keep it. whatever that may mean.
It is worth it.
Honestly so is Bromios.

I never knew Kevin, but I'd like to think that he falls into another mystical category....

UNLESS - its all a lesson in recognizing history from did each thing change you, what will you do with it, and what of it do you truly want to pursue.

Sooo-this-is-me said...

You know Patrick it is just like the time I was dating Matt Damon, none of our pictures turned out and now no one will believe me!
Computers are evil, they will always delete your work but just let someone walk in on you while looking at porn and no matter what button you hit, the darn thing won't shut off, umm or so I have been told.

Patrick said...

Dear Joe: AAAAUGH! I hadn't thought of Kevin and the play as RELATED, just as similar weird-assed events in my life. I really hope they're not. I guess I no longer want Kevin's head on a platter though. In fact I had one other weird premonitory experience with him that at the time I interpreted as meaning I was no longer angry at him, but subsequently proved to be premonitory as well. Still, I hope working on the play can be its own thing. I'd be happy to have coffee with Kevin again, I suppose, but that's as far as I need it to go.

Dear Cooper: How odd that you don't have any baby photos! That would mystify and frustrate me as well. Maybe Jeff is right and you're Dionysus or Athena incarnate... there's other evidence of that, wouldn't you say? BTW the character I played who performed the toasts (and whom Melissa referred to), Bromios, is one of the many names for Dionysus (it means the Raging One). Anyway, who else might have access to your baby photos? Would Nana have been the only one to save them?

Dear Jeff: You don't believe in guiding forces or omens, but you do believe in poltergeists? Patrick confused. Unless by 'personal poltergeist' you mean whatever unconscious weirdness I'm doing when it comes to this script. Maybe starting from scratch (or the draft I have) is the answer. It can't be any harder than what I've been trying to do.

Darling Melissa: you and Genna are virtually the only people still in my life who worked on this show. Sure, some of them are only geographically distant, not emotionally, but at the end of the day does that make much of a difference? Thank you for your vote of confidence on this script... and on Bromios. I hope I can find my way back to one or both of them. Seeing Kevin as an historical event is worthwhile, I think. I don't need to be friends with him, as I want to be (and am grateful to be) with Brian, but I do appreciate many of the things I learned from K. History is history, and he certainly helped me see the world more kindly.

Dear Steven: I believe you about Matt DAmon. Why not? Just make sure to have a video camera running next time he stops by. I'D pay to see it.
I've never had an office job, at least not since 1990, so I've never experienced the porn dilemma at work... but I know I would have luck just that bad. I think I need to go make a copy of all my files onto a disc right now. And maybe erase all my porn. I mean, I don't have any porn on this computer! That's unseemly.