There are plenty of times I accept the old adage it’ll get a lot worse before it gets better. The disarray that a large scale cleaning project brings, the slogging work of trying to lose those last five pounds – been there, done that. But I did not expect to experience the workings of that old adage with my head.
The last 24 hours I’ve experienced some of the worst sinus headaches of my life. Pain around my eyes, pulsing at my temples, radiating down my neck and into my shoulders. Stuffiness on a scale I only get during the worst of sinus infections. Coughing, drainage – you name it, I got it. And the dizziness is worse.
Give me a weak laugh because this is me getting well.
My bro expects me to get out of the house today and meet him downtown for a Turkish pizza. I don’t want to disappoint him; he’s been talking about Turkish pizza since our favorite place went down for renovations (it’s open again, so now there’s urgency in his talk). But if I get socked with more of what I had last night, I hesitate to go out. My goal this morning is to ride out the day between codeine pain killers and smoke, doing my best to ease my own discomfort without sending me to sleep. We’ll see how well I do.
Back to script writing. My idea to gender bend the last script set me on fire. As I went thru my writing, modifying the he’s to she’s and him’s to her’s, I began to get a real sense of what I was creating. A lot of what I had in the original script stands, but some I have to write from scratch. This piece is not fantasy; it is not set in a reality where men can get pregnant (which is a problem because pregnancy jokes were a big part of the original). Not doing that. But the rest is getting flipped, even down to substituting ‘goddess’ for ‘god’ every single time, and ‘gals’ for ‘guys’. The point of doing this is to emphasize how our every day language, particularly the way it’s used in the US, is male orientated – and I’m doing that by flipping the references. I figure if anyone gets annoyed by hearing ‘goddessdamn it’ rather than ‘goddamn it’, I’m hitting my mark. But throughout my notes, particularly to the actors, I need to make it clear that this needs to be played absolutely 100% straight. The men, tho shown as caretakers and generally submissive to the females, can NOT be effeminate. The women, tho shown as blunt and abrasive, can NOT be masculine. These people simple are what they are. The behavior they express seems outrageous now: where once I had the father harping on about checking the oil in your car, now the mother is doing it – and it shows how strange that behavior is. The crassness of what was a brother and now is a sister seems doubly crass. The worry and control exhibited by what once was the mother and now is the father almost feels over the top.
And how strange to have my characters keep saying ‘daughter’. Hearing parents refer to their male children as ‘son’ is fairly common, but hearing them refer to their female children as ‘daughter’ is weird.
The cultural references I sprinkled throughout the script are tough to switch up, too. Not many female counterparts to reference, and most are not as well known.
Most of all, this work is an eye opener to me regarding how rigidly my own mind is set in male dominated roles and labels.
Other notes on the script: I’m tossing any reference to dates. This piece shouldn’t be shackled by any particular decade in human history. Actor direction has to include a bit on make-up. I want the actors to use make-up but only to the extent a male would: a bit of foundation, some powder, maybe a hint of blush under the lights, but that’s it. Only one character should wear any other make-up, and that’s a male – but only to the extent of some eyeliner and maybe a bit more blusher. These are people and just people; the paint shouldn’t reflect any particular sub-set of people.
I’ve even thought about the idea of doing as sexless as possible. Removing all references to ‘wife’ or ‘husband’, ‘he’ or ‘she’. I might still write a version like that.
…Whatever ick I feel over this illness is offset by my re-ignited enthusiasm for the script. And for that, I’m thankful.