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Dear John, It’s Over #breakup

ibeer.bing.images

29 characters of a short-not-sweet tweet broke his heart.

Then she grinded it into the ground with detailed phrases.

Always late.  Earbuds in ears, you never listen.  Forgot bday.  Crappy friends.  Not best lover. #breakup

Not only did they go out to her hundreds of followers including their friends and families, but she hash-tagged it for anyone who wanted to follow her ‘breakup’ rant.  And she wouldn’t return his calls; she had a different audience she wanted to talk to.

Keep stinky dog.  I get DR table, bed, clothes Sat noon.  Be scarce.  Stop calling. #breakup

Her follower count climbed as John commiserated with his pals at the sports bar the next day.  Too many beers for 11:30am on a Saturday with no good game on.  The buds pretended to check scores while following the ex on twitter, shooting grimaces behind John’s back while they tried to console him.

“You’re too good for her, man.  I bet she’s messing around.”

“John, if she won’t take your calls, you should be tweeting.  Let her have it!  Crap, here’s another one!”

Dog bit my friend, ripped his jeans.  Lucky I didn’t kill her.  Trapped her on balcony.  #breakup

“When Shandra was fooling around on me, I figured it out after her phone kept breaking up on the road.  She never drove on the expressway, and that’s the only dead zone between our places.  Where was she going?”

“When I lived with Beth, she’s such a snoop that I just sent myself a sexy text from a girl’s phone at work.  Then I left my phone when I went in the next day, and Beth did the rest.  She was gone when I got back that night.  Trashed the place, but I never heard from her again.”

John emptied the pitcher.  “Maybe I should have tracked her more.”

They reinforced “Couldn’t hurt” and then “Too late now.”

Taking ipod dock you never use.  Leaving dishes.  #breakup

“Shoot, I remember way back before my first wife when I dated a gal who kept getting pages and left me to get to a phone.  Crazy, but I thought she was a dealer or something until a buddy showed me how easy it was for her to set off the beeper.”  He poured some beer on the old wound.  “Just an excuse to get away to find a hookup.  I wish she just could have told me.”

Broke shelves laughing.  Glass against wall.  Buy broom.  #breakup

Many operate intimate relationships by rules learned as seventh graders where they tell their friends to tell the other person their feelings, or they do something to make the other person break up with them so they don’t have to look bad.  Now with more ways to communicate, it’s easier.  But do these rules really work?

Is it time to play by new rules?  If you can say “I Love You” to someone in the passion of the moment, why is it so hard to tell them face-to-face that it’s time to move on?

Can you really express your character in 140 or less?  Do you owe the one you loved more than that?  And what do you owe yourself?

Outta here.  Place is all yours.  #breakup

Disclaimer:  It’s true: writers write what they know, and, yes, I write from my experiences.  However, all characters and situations in my stories are fictitious fusions, creative amalgamations.  Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, or real interactions with me are purely coincidental.

Dead Air or Well-fed Relationship?

mother-daughter

“Just the headlines!” Paige demanded, interrupting me with more brass than a marching band.

I’d known her game through years of friendship.  As a retired broadcaster, she gets impatient with lengthy descriptions.

“Okay, okay!”  I feigned defeat, waited for her reaction, then went right back to telling the same story, only faster.

She tilted her head back into her thick mane, pursed her lips and squinted her eyes in submission.  If uninterrupted, I knew I had her for another ninety seconds.

Too soon, her phone vibrated on the table like a half-dead locust.  She diverted her gaze as she picked it up.  That’s when I stopped.

“It’s Peri,” she said beginning to text her daughter, then, without looking up or missing a keystroke, she added, “I can multitask.  Continue.”

I didn’t, preferring to wait for her full attention.  Instead, I watched her focus on making a point in minimal words.  Those two text all the time, talk on the phone weekly, and keep a strong face-to-face relationship at least once per month.  Each mode of communication enhances the relationship.  Paige views texting like keeping an eye on the ticker crawling across the bottom of the news channel, whereas phone calls are news programming, and being together is the up-close-and-personal unedited interview.

Texting complete, Paige looked up with faux irritation.  “Go on.”

And I did.  It was my turn under the network lights.

That doesn’t happen for me all the time.  I think of Hal, a buddy who texts occasionally, but when I return it, especially if I ask a simple question about how he’s doing, there’s dead air.  When I see him, he doesn’t share much either.  He gives out soundbytes like Halloween candy, a sweet little tidbit before smiling and closing the door leaving me outside.

Another acquaintance from years ago, Fiona, loved talking on the phone, so I rarely saw her personally.  Her modus operandi for gathering and disseminating information was simple:  share  a little to break the ice, ask leading questions, and get the juiciest morsel.  When she heard a gossipy soundbyte, her mind raced to an internal rolodex to determine who to call while the person finished the story and asked for support.  Like what happened to Marla sharing her heartbreak. gossip.girl

“You’ll be fine,” Fiona snapped.

“But I hoped—“

“Someone’s beeping in.  Call you tomorrow.”  Fiona got what she wanted and disconnected.

When tomorrow came, Marla didn’t hear from Fiona, but heard her brutally edited story from someone she never would have told.  Marla felt manipulated and betrayed by Fiona’s over simplification, which added to her pain.

Where’s personal reflection and honest interaction?   Hal hides it away from everyone, maybe even from himself.  Fiona fakes it and feeds off it from a distance over the wire.  None of this is new in our culture of mass communication, ever-increasing information, and survival-mode summarization.  Still, our fondness for using electronic devices instead of having face-to-face contact where we can sense emotional reaction and read nonverbal communication leaves something big out of the conversation.  Many feel the loss.  Some mourn it.

Though my friend Paige is sometimes anxious to get to the point, she still wants to experience the journey.  She loves the interpersonal, is integral within a large community, as well as treats family and friends with equal care.  She’s laughs, cries and hugs it out with her wide circle.  Paige achieves this by balancing written and verbal communication, as well as by integrating text, social media, Skype, phone calls and personal contact to nurture rich, rewarding relationships in today’s hurried world.

Soundbytes are simply a tease.  Headlines are just an invitation.  With the important people in your life, do you want to nourish relationships with nibbles or five-course meals?  And what would you like to consume to feel nurtured and satisfied?

 

Disclaimer:  It’s true: writers write what they know, and, yes, I write from my experiences.  However, all characters and situations in my stories are fictitious fusions, creative amalgamations.  Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, or real interactions with me are purely coincidental.

Three Bars in a Single’s Joint, Still No Reception

texting.manFADE IN:

INT, INTOWN RESTAURANT, NOON

PHYLLIS, a thirty-something single, sits with her best friend JANEEN eating and dishing.

PHYLLIS

So I order a martini last night and spot this guy on the other side of the bar…

JANEEN waves for the waiter, who passes them by, and PHYLLIS looks at his behind, grins and raises eyebrows.

PHYLLIS

…he’s the right age, got curly dark hair, no facial hair and a nice build, so I stroll over to give him a better look.

JANEEN

Of you?

 PHYLLIS

Of course of me!  The place was dark, and I was wearing black. How else is he gonna see the curves?

JANEEN shrugs and stabs the last bits of her salad.

PHYLLIS

So I slink over holding my cocktail like a prize and position myself in his sight line, only he’s looking down at his smartphone.

JANEEN

Dumbphone…another dumbass hiding behind social media while in front of a possible relationship.  It’s like face time doesn’t exist—

 PHYLLIS

—except in cyber space!

PHYLLIS aggressively flags down the waiter for the check.

 PHYLLIS

So through the whole time I sip, he never raises his head.  And I’m getting irritated, thinking he’s probably sexting, and if I only had his number, I could text him something like ‘Look up and catch my smile,’ then I’m drinking more and getting pissed, ya know, like ‘why bother coming out to meet people if you will never make eye contact?’

JANEEN nods and laughs.

PHYLLIS

And then it gets worse when I’m done with my drink and over this one-way stare-fest while he smiles and laughs at his phone, and I realize this stupid bar that’s a WiFi HotSpot doesn’t let me text the waitress to bring me another lemon drop!

JANEEN

Ugh, more insulting than getting broken up with by having your boyfriend change his relationship status to ‘single’ on Facebook.

PHYLLIS

No kidding!

The women simultaneously pull wallets from purses.

PHYLLIS

I had to go home!

JANEEN

Alone!

PHYLLIS drops her gaze from her friend’s face to –

CLOSE UP—

JANEEN’s hand wrapped around wallet with acrylic nails and a three-carat solitaire wedding set.

BACK TO—

MEDIUM SHOT of PHYLLIS putting her wallet away as the waiter sits the check on the table.

PHYLLIS

I think it’s your turn to pay.

JANEEN takes the check, reads the total, then looks up at her friend.

JANEEN

Then how ‘bout the next time you’re angry, you just text me?

CLOSE UP—

PHYLLIS’ eyes narrow, then widen as she smiles.

MEDIUM SHOT—

PHYLLIS reaches for the bill and JANEEN pulls it away, then with her free hand, takes PHYLLIS’ hand.  They laugh.

JANEEN

Always fun to be with you!

FADE OUTput.the.phone.down

 

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CUT TO: Your Dream of Screenwriting

FADE IN:

INT.  AUDITORIUM

Muffled CROWD NOISE as average-looking SCREENWRITER nervously blinks and darts eyes…

PULL BACK –

…as s/he sits amongst a glamorous audience

CUT TO –

INT.  AWARDS STAGE

Stunningly gorgeous ACTRESS fondles an envelope as gorgeous ACTOR devilishly looks on.

ACTRESS

                        And the Oscar goes to…

CUT TO –

INT.  AUDITORIUM

CU, SCREENWRITER’S TENSE EYES as a single bead of sweat drips directly down nose…

screenwritingThe Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences place screenwriters dead last on their web listing of Oscar nominees.  After feeling a teeny bit of outrage, I realized maybe that’s because the screenplay is where the movie begins, the pages of dialogue and visuals that many other artists build upon to get the product into theaters.

Good movies have a great screenplay as solid foundation.  Whereas bad performances, production values or directing can spoil a good screenplay, I can’t think of an excellent film warranting such praise that began with poor writing.

Consider what Hollywood deemed the best of the year –

Best Adapted Screenplay Nominees:  Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook 

Writer David O. Russell gave actors a lot to chew on in Silver Linings Playbook by providing characters with tricky motivations for hills and values in action.  This moving depiction of mental illness, both funny and tragic, often both at the same time, remains realistic and respectful.  Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild made a strong statement of a very different world and culture not so far from home with vivid imagery and action written in language and point of view honest to a 6 year old girl.  The truth of the lead’s brilliant performance started with strong writing.  Life of Pi, written by David Magee, accomplished the feat to translate a spiritual allegory into a screenplay using strong visuals and voiceover with very little on-screen dialogue.  Before the Oscars, I plan to see Chris Terrio’s Argo and Tony Kushner’s Lincoln.

Best Original Screenplay Nominees:  Amour, Django Unchained, Flight, Moonrise Kingdom, Zero Dark Thirty

I also have yet to see the work of Michael Haneke, Quentin Tarantino, John Gatins and Mark Boal.  However, screenwriters Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola’s Moonrise Kingdom was subtle and picturesque, charming and inviting, a story simple on the surface, but the threads of imagination wove the screenplay into a rich tapestry.  Totally pulled me in, made me laugh and cry.

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