My apologies, but this entry is not really about making The Shower. Though part of it is about the side effects of making The Shower.
I get sick every year at this time. My excuse used to be I’d go back to NJ for the holidays and the cold weather would get to me. That and the drinking and lack of sleep. But I haven’t gone back to NJ for Christmas in a few years and I still get sick. Maybe it’s not the cold weather. Maybe it’s just the drinking and lack of sleep. Or maybe it’s none of those and I just get sick a lot. Even in high school, when I was a straight arrow, I’d get bronchitis every year. I have vulnerable lungs. I always get these nasty coughs. I had a cough for an entire summer when I was ten.
Being sick in January is a good way to scuttle any New Year fitness resolutions before they have a chance to take root. I’d often try to fight my way through it and stubbornly go to the gym, but the cold just gets worse and becomes a cough that I can’t shake and keeps me up at night thinking about what lousy shape I’m in. I got the flu last year right before Christmas, and proceeded to be sick for months after. (That might have had something to do with the state of The Shower in January 2013.)
So, I’m sick. And even though I’m paying for two gyms this month. I haven’t been able to go to either for a week. Why do I pay for two gyms? Because in my mind I’m a fitness fanatic and an all-around athlete. I haven’t been anything close to that in 20 years, but the memory/fantasy is hard to shake. My ideal version of myself is built like a middleweight boxer. That’s 160 pounds of lean, mean muscle.
I’m not sure what purpose this would serve, besides an excuse to walk around without my shirt on. (Though my brothers would point out that I have rather large nipples, so maybe I should leave the shirt on.)
Right now I weigh about 175. And those extra fifteen pounds are located just above my belt.
Let me talk about drinking for a moment. Twice in the past week, I was confronted with information about drinking that made me pause. The first was in Malcolm Gladwell’s book David and Goliath, and the other was on Facebook via a story from NPR.
Maybe everyone who reads any of Gladwell’s books can instantly relate and apply things to their own lives, but I’m finding that with David and Goliath, I could probably write a thesis: Gladwell’s David and Goliath in Relation to Drummond’s Experience of Making The Shower. (Would anyone publish that? What am I talking about? I have a blog, I’ll publish it!)
In Gladwell’s book, he cites studies that show how having up to 14 drinks in a week can actually be good for your health, but once you go over 14 the benefits plateau, and the more you consume, the worse it is for you. (That’s not the part that would have helped with The Shower.)
The NPR story was about doctors talking to their patients about their alcohol consumption, and explaining the health benefits of not exceeding 15 drinks in a week. It also talked about cutting down on binge drinking, which is considered 5 or more drinks in one sitting, by getting people to reduce to 3 or 4.
When I was younger, it was a badge of honor to keep track of my alcohol consumption. How many beers. How many drinks. How quickly. Everything was a competition. (I didn’t have a girlfriend, so what else was there?)
The idea of being a hard-drinking writer and “drinking someone under the table” was romantic. Maybe I read too much Hemingway as a teenager. Someone said the other day, “She’ll drink you under the table.” And my response was, “Then she’s got a serious problem, because I drink a lot.” I was joking, but I wasn’t.
So, as a little bit of a science experiment, I’ve decided to tally up my alcohol consumption and see what it is over the course of two months.
Part of this is health. (Let’s face it, I’m getting old.) Part is vanity. (I don’t want to look like I’m getting old.) Part is common sense. (With 2 kids, I need to be as close to 100% each day just to get anything done.)
So far this week, I’m starting the week on Wednesday, when I had this idea, I’ve had 3 drinks: One glass of champagne (Rachael bought a split from Trader Joe’s because the leftovers are still on display from NYE) and two glasses of merlot. (Rachael likes shitty wines, what can I say? Just kidding, I’m not a merlot snob. I’ll drink wine out of a box if that’s what you’re serving.)
3 drinks in three days is low, and I’m taking being sick into account.
This relates back to The Shower.
There has been a lot of The Shower-related alcohol consumption. (I should have kept track of that drinking.)
Beer, wine and bourbon have been my self-prescribed medicines during the darkest hours of movie related anguish and regret. Much like the inverted U-curve that Gladwell writes about, moderate consumption helped relieve stress and improve my mood. But once I got beyond that, the darkness set in. And you’ll hear about some of that darkness when we get to it. (And if you’ve worked with me, or drank with me, or just walked past me on the street, well, you’ve already heard it.)
The thing with this experience with The Shower was the old tricks of stress relief and distraction didn’t work.
I had never experienced anything remotely close to it. Sure, in the past, I’d work for months on a screenplay only to reach the end and find out that it sucked. But the actual writing was fun. Just the result hurt. Plus, I could rewrite!
An even better part was that if rewriting didn’t work, I could toss the sucker and go right ahead and start a new screenplay the next day. There was always the possibility that salvation was just around the corner.
That was not an option with The Shower.
It was the bane of my existence. (I’ve always wanted to say that about something, and my wish came true!)
I couldn’t watch movies or tv shows. They depressed me or made me angry.
I couldn’t read. (Jesus, who has the time? I have two kids, and my movie is a steaming pile of shit.)
Exercise was OK. But when I run, I think. That was bad because of The Shower. If I go lift weights, I think. (I don’t lift enough for it to require much thought.)
The only place I didn’t think about The Shower was Wild Card.
Yes, I occasionally work out at Freddie Roach’s gym.
And yes, I’m probably the worst boxer ever to step foot in the place.
Boxing is hard. Especially if you’re me. If I don’t put 100% focus into what I’m doing, I can’t do it. Even if I do put 100% in, I probably still can’t do it. When I started, I couldn’t jump rope. My second day there, I actually broke the jump rope and had to walk back to the desk and tell Freddie I broke the rope. (Apparently it happens. The rope was plastic. They tie or tape it and put it back into circulation. It was just awful for my first interaction with Freddie Roach to be “Hi, I’m a moron who is so bad at jump rope that he broke it.”)
So the great thing about Wild Card is I go there, I can get my mind off The Shower for a bit, and I get to feel like a man, instead of a 37 year-old waiter with two kids and credit card debt. It’s the best.
Back to The Shower…
One year ago, “I had made my own private cinematic disaster.” (Yes, I just quoted myself from an earlier post.)
I couldn’t start over.
We were almost out of money.
What made it even worse was that we had raised money to make the damn thing in the first place.
How the hell were we gonna pay those people back?
In hindsight, I think if we hadn’t raised money to make the movie, I might have declared it DOA last January.
Maybe. It was pretty bleak.
The money was the thing that kept me from pulling a Pontius Pilate and washing my hands of the whole fuckin’ mess.
And I think that was a good thing.
The money compelled me to do whatever I could to make the movie better.
Maybe we could. Maybe we couldn’t.
I was about to spend another nine months finding out.
Like boxing, it was going to require 100% of my focus just to survive.
100% of my focus and whatever brown liquor we had in the cupboard.
Next time: Writing The Screenplay… or How Many People Can I Fit in a House?