When you opened my holiday card you thought you got away without getting one of those cheesy year end letters from me. Ha! I only lulled you into a sense of security. Instead, I’m posting all of my year of babblings, translated through ones and zeroes, here.
My 2013 may look like a face full of pepper spray on paper, but it actually ended up being pretty great for me. This year was full of enormous changes, even though so little happened. If you go back to the post I wrote at the beginning of the year about my goals you’d think I failed worse than the levees in the Ninth Ward. I didn’t stalk Dean Koontz for the rights to The Face or find the screenwriter who is attached to the Newsflesh series and drug her into handing the job over to me. I didn’t sell any scripts or have a literary manager fight for me with a sharpened ball point pen and a broken coffee mug. Good thing none of that was essential to a year well lived.
The beginning of the year was hard. So hard, I became pessimistic and wasn’t sure I wanted to know how the rest of the year was gonna turn out. My birthday passed with little fanfare. I had to quit playing bells at church because of the toll it was taking on my body. I had practically quit every activity because of the toll it was taking on my body. I was in pain and depressed, struggling to write as often as I could between sleeps.
In March, I came home one night to my cat refusing to eat. She could no longer walk in a straight line and would intermittently lose control over her back half. The vet at the emergency room said there was little she could do. The medicines she’d been taking for almost two years could no longer hold back her disease. That night I held her in my arms as she took her final sleep in my arms. That week my grandma began to go downhill fast. My mother cared for her during the day and I took her during the night. As I helped her from the pot one night she said, “I’m getting in that bed and I’m not getting out again.” I laughed and said, “OK, Granny.” When I checked on her 45 minutes later she had passed away. As odd as that may seem, the next morning began to turn the year around for me.
I knew that my cat, Emily, had gone exactly one week earlier to find the perfect couch to wait for Granny on. Every day, she had waited on the arm of our couch for Granny to come home from the daycare. Emily died so that she could be there to welcome Granny home from her life here. And Grandma? She was tired. She was 97 and didn’t want to stick around anymore. Even though I had laughed at it, she had let me know with her last words that she was ready to go. It was a story I could tell and a comfort that I could give to everyone. It was her choice to go which gave my mother and me incredible peace.
By May, my mom had finally convinced me to go to Mayo Clinic to see if they could help me with my medical problems. I was NOT happy about any of it. I was doing this crap for my mom. Well, I was until the end of the first day when a doctor there was able to diagnose a problem I’d been having for three years. The place still freaks me out but I go because I get better and better every time I do.
I started to be able to do things again. Small things to most of you but things I had fought to do in the last five years. Things like walk without a walker, climb a flight of stairs, and eat something besides rice without having to drink Sprite to keep from throwing up.
July brought a new activity. I play nerd/geek board games with friends and strangers. I’m able to exercise again and keep a regular writing schedule. Now, I even have the confidence to make commitments to hang out with people without it being a 50% chance I’ll be too sick to go. For the first time, I’m took my nephews to a movie. It was wonderful.
The biggest thing that 2013 has given me is the knowledge that not only am I a good writer but a good screenwriter. My Bass Reeves script teased me all year. Every time I thought that I was done and there was no way I could possibly make it better it would beg to be improved. So for a day or a week, I would pause my current project to rewrite it. It’s on The Black List as The Black King. and I’m comfortable with that. The giddy excitement that I’ve felt every other time I thought that script was done is missing now. I’m hoping that’s a good sign. Soon, I will have two other scripts posted that will benefit from all I’ve learned this year. (Thanks Craig Mazin, Danny Manus, John August, Scott Meyers, Lindsey Doran, Berry Meyer, Terry Rossio, and The Austin Film Festival)
I’m so happy now. There are times, I find myself wishing things would be perfect with the snap of my fingers. That scripts would flow from my fingers with ease. That my group of friends here would become as special to me as my friends in L.A. That I could see my L.A. friends more often and still keep my family close. And finally, that money would be a thing I’d only have to think about when paying my taxes. But then I remember. Long ago, I told God that more than anything in the world I would love to learn for the rest of my life. Right now, I’m thinking it’s not so unfortunate that God listened.