Wednesday, September 26, 2012

How acting in a porn saved my marriage

Working a job in the creative field has its perks… mainly, my department is filled with wonderful left-brained types with awesome personalities. I spend many hours of my work day laughing, and I never know what those crazy writers are going to say next.

So when my amazing and hilarious co-worker E returned from a long road trip to Glacier and announced, “I wrote a script during the trip!” I was not surprised. But she did manage to surprise me when she added, “It’s for the Hump Festival.”

“The what?”  I asked. “Hump? Like, porn?!?”

“Yeah,” she said casually. “And I need actors, so take a look at it and tell me if you can help me out. It’s not an actual porn. It’s for the humor section,” she added for reassurance.

“I… don’t… know,” I said, imagining that somewhere, somehow, my mother had just been flooded with disappointment and had no idea why. But I was intrigued. I read the script, and it was hilarious. So I shrugged, and picked out the only two characters that had no nudity or sex-related lines whatsoever. Then I went home and told Mr. W we would be acting in a non-porn porn parody. He was on board.

Then the week of filming arrived, and Dexter chose that very week to get a terrible and lingering case of diarrhea. A call to the vet re-assured us that his symptoms (which I will refrain from repeating) indicated that it was nothing to worry about, and to treat it with home remedies and wait it out.  So we did.

Mr. W and I both underestimated just how disheartening it would be to come home night after night to piles of liquid poo (carefully squirted AROUND all the newspapers we’d laid down), all over our brand new carpet….then to clean and clean and clean, only to be woken up in the morning to more liquid poo. For four days straight, this was our lives…wake up, gag, clean, go to work, come home, gag, clean, and pass out. There was no fun and no productivity. Needless to say, it took a toll on our moods and even started to put a damper on our relationship.

I almost asked E if we could reschedule. I was exhausted, frustrated, worried and wanted to kill my husband… not ideal for non-porn porn making. But I saw how hard she was working and with the submission deadline looming, I sucked it up and put my vegan face on:

E’s script was funny, but the actual scenes are downright hilarious. As soon as we got to her apartment I was shown footage that will both haunt me and make me burst out laughing for years to come. Mr. W and I filmed a quick scene there, then headed back to our place to wrap up. By the grace of God, Dexter had chosen that day to get his gastrointestinal act together and the filming crew and our lovely director were not treated to any poo piles.

Unfortunately for Dexter, our scene involved cooking mass quantities of bacon, and other than small bits of pumpkin puree, we’d had to starve him for 24 hours to ensure whatever bug he had was out of his system. So our starving and now fully recovered dog had to smell and see bacon all night long without getting any for himself. I now consider us even for all the pain he inflicted on me.

Before we knew it, the scenes were over and we were alone. Mr. W made himself a BLT (when life hands you lemons…) and we laughed and joked about various little things. I soon realized it was the first time in a week we’d been lighthearted with each other and not grumpy and short. It took something as silly as a non-porn porno to make us realize that we really needed to lighten up.

The next day happened to be the nine year anniversary of the day Mr. W proposed to me. And due to a series of strange events, he and I found ourselves dressed up and sipping champagne at the gorgeous ColumbiaTower Club, admiring the waterfront from 74 stories from the ground. It was surreal to think that 24 hours before I’d been in a “Fur is Murder” tank top and he’d been in a leather vest.

“Nine years ago when you got on one knee, did you ever imagine our lives would be like this?” I asked him.

“Actually, yes,” he said with no hesitation. “I learned a long time ago that you never know what to expect with you.”

He’s right. And I feel the same about him… along with this big, bold, beautiful city full of colorful characters I grow fonder of by the minute.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Punks Are Writing Love Songs...and I'm getting braver.

I wish that, every now and then, I could put on some magical glasses and see the world through the eyes of a poet.

I want to look at something small and see something profound. I want to turn a moment into something monumental. And damn it, I want to do it with using just a few words. But that’s not who I am. My voice is that of a story-teller. If anything, I use too many words. My truth spills from me like champagne out of a bottle that’s been dropped down a flight of stairs. A poet knows how to cut right to the heart of something using imagery and powerful statements. I’m a writer, yes, but I’m no poet.

Elissa Ball has been a poet as long as I’ve known her, which dates back to at least junior high but possibly elementary school (you never know in a small town like Yakima). She’s also been into things like the vegan lifestyle and astrology and Tarot long before any of it went mainstream and before anyone in our hometown even knew what any of those terms meant.

Of course people thought she was weird in high school (everyone thought everyone was weird, and quite frankly I was too hung up on my own insecurities to even notice what anyone said about her). But Elissa didn’t give a shit, at least from what I could tell. She just did her thing and lived her life. We wrote for the newspaper together for a year or two before I headed off to WSU.

I didn’t hear anything about her until ten years later when I received a Facebook invitation to her book launch party. Not only do I do all I can to support anyone who dares to enter this treacherous field, but the event was happening six blocks from my apartment. So when the day arrived, I rushed home from work and met a fellow high school alum for happy hour before the big reading. The happy occasion took place at The Richard Hugo House, which I was thrilled to discover existed (and served wine).

I bought a copy of The Punks Are Writing Love Songs and skimmed through it briefly before she took the stage. All I could think was, Holy shit. This is gonna be good.

It was. The girl got up there and owned her words, and I drank them in like my glass of Syrah. I was blown away not only by the words she read, but the powerful way in which she read them. Reading Elissa’s poetry is like looking at the most beautiful picture of the most spectacular sunset you’ve ever seen, but hearing her read it is like being there and feeling the warmth on your face.

Until that evening, I’d been struggling with writing the memoir from the road trip we took two years ago. I was worried about being too honest, revealing too much. After all, my family will read it, and my mom is already horrified enough about the content of my blog. But watching Elissa read sex poetry in front of her father really put my worry into perspective. I’m going to be as honest as I need to be to tell the story. My mom can always go to therapy or something, but I will never get to tell this story again.

On that note, I hope one day I get the courage to write something as powerful and amazing as the statement “Do me like good weed on a bad night.”

Weeks after the reading I found myself on the beach at Madison Park, sunning myself with a mimosa and reading The Punks Are Writing Love Songs. I was feeling self conscious about recently once again losing my endless battle with those stubborn ten pounds, especially next to my svelte sexy co-worker. I opened right up to a poem called “Beach Bodies.”

“The wild hairs that comma your inner thighs have held council and agree: you are perfect,” it read, encouraging me to “take off your shirt. Live a little.” I did. And as I kept reading, I kept relating to what she had to say. And even though these poems were 100% Elissa, I kept finding things that I could relate to. And seriously, if you can’t find something you relate to in her book, you’re probably not being honest with yourself.

The Punks Are Writing Love Songs can be purchased here (through Blue Begonia Press, which belongs in part to our amazing former AP English teacher), and I highly recommend clicking that link and getting a copy. From the opening “How Did You Change” to the heartbreaking “Burn Barrel” to my absolute favorite “This Heart,” you’ll be grinning and nodding… as soon as you close your dropped jaw.
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