Friday, May 22, 2009

The Best Year of My Life

Samantha Doer
b. Mar 12, 2005
d. Dec 10, 2009

Rain.  It rained all night and drizzled throughout the day for four days straight.  It was an early monsoon that had not been seen in the region for decades.  What was first seen as a blessing to douse the bitterly dry landscape and bring hope for a bountiful growing season, soon turned to a curse.  Construction workers were exasperated because of stop-work, their weekly pay check evaporating with every passing drenched day, their spouses and girlfriends bemoaning a dearth of cash for the weekend and late rent.  Police and utility workers [decried their frustration] as their vehicles became repeatedly bogged and stranded on the endless and poorly maintained dirt (now mud) roads that constituted most of the vast county.  They waited anxiously and angrily for tow trucks, who inevitably became stuck themselves.  Schools were cancelled because buses could not embark off the main paved highway that bisected the county, even to turn around.  Not that it would have mattered because most of the bus drivers couldn't have made it in to work anyway, nor could the teachers.  Most everyone who did not live in town resigned themselves to the situation, and hunkered down; spending hours on rickety, leaky porches or in the barn, drinking coffee or bourbon, watching cabin-fevered children shed any semblance of control and frolicking in the icky mud, only to be hosed down by the watering troughs at the end of the afternoon.

Truth be told, despite the curses and [vitriol], the residents of Lea County privately welcomed the deluge.  The inconvenience of being stranded and isolated aside, they enjoyed being able to spend the whole day doing nothing, without mustering an excuse.  They spent time reconnecting with their household members, and when they grew tired of that, they were able to retreat to their rooms, to garages, to barns, or even to neighbor's houses that were within walking distance, leaving their over boots with 3 inches of sticky clay at the door.  Telephones and cell phones were constantly in use, spreading news, gossip, and venom about the misery of having spending even a single minute more with some family member or another.  Broadband had not reached the county yet, but people, youth and parents alike, logged on dial-up and browsed the web with renewed ferver.

On the fifth night, when the rain seemed the hardest all week, Tara Doer laid down on her bed.  Only her husband and three year old daughter were in the house.  Tara was slightly concerned.  She could feel that inside her something had changed.  Something was different.  It was time, and she was worried about what to do next.  She should get to the hospital, she knew, but how?  But the feeling was undeniable, becoming more insistent by the minute.  She got up and felt her way through the darkened room, opened the bedroom door and peaked around the corner into the living room.  Her husband and daughter were watching a movie, both sprawled over the couch, their eyes glazed over from too many hours in front of the television.  "Honey, I think it's time."  Todd shifted his gaze to his wife, weary but still stunning, leaning against the hall's corner, most of her body obscured, but her soft face illuminated by the tv's glare.  Her hair was tossled, but still she was lovely.  From this view, you couldn't even tell she was pregnant.  But she was.  She was very pregnant.  Todd had also felt that the time was near, though he hoped it wasn't, because he, too, was concerned.  The truck, despite its four wheel drive, was firmly mired in the muck about a quarter mile from the house.  He had tried to pull it out with the tractor, to no avail.  Only the neighbor's Ford [big tractor name] would do the job, but he figured he'd wait till the rains stopped.  Now it was too late for that.  His neighbor's truck was stuck, too.  All they had was the station wagon.  The paramedics would never be able to make it to the house, either.  Despite being country folk, the era of frontier home-births was long gone.  No one they knew had ever partaken in any birth outside of your typical, sterile, hospital delivery.  Hot water and towels, right?  What on earth for?!  What were you supposed to do with hot water and towels!  No, Todd was fairly certain he would be incapacitated at even the first sign of delivery.  His neighbor was a widower and would certainly be of no help.  No, this was not like calving season, and he was also fairly certain he didn't want Lou McCall tugging on his kid's arms while comforting his wife with, "Come on ol' girl, squeeze it out, get on there, now!"  He was also fairly certain human baby's didn't come out arms first, anyway.  The nearest hospital was an hour away, but they had to get to town at least.  The radio reports said the firestation managed to extract its four paramedics from their homes and had them holed up at the station.  He had to make it at least to the station. 

His resolution crystallized.  They had to make it out.  "Okay, honey, let's go."  Ruthie rolled off the couch and plopped on the floor, slowly slinking her way to her room to get dressed.  Tara got her overnight-bag out, she was prepared.  Todd pulled on jeans and a clean-looking shirt.  Rain slickers, check.  Over-boots, check.  Cell phone, check.  In the car they went.  He called county dispatch and told them what he was going to attempt.  They advised against it, but they had no alternate suggestion.  They had a rescue vehicle with mud tires and chains that could probably make it, but the fire chief had strict orders to only mobilize it in a life-threatening situation.  This was not one.  The car running, the three said a group prayer and embarked.  Todd had laid a good layer of base-course on the drive some years ago and there was no problem there.  But between them and the highway lay 4 miles of mudway.  Through the darkness, in the headlights, he could see the rain pooling on the muddy roadway, completely saturated.  This first mile stretch was untarnished since the sole users (them and their neighbor Lou) had promptly gotten their trucks stuck before making it too far.  But Todd knew that the last three miles would likely be a mess due to other brave souls trying to make it out.  Momentum, he knew, was key.  The car was much lighter than the truck and maybe, just maybe, it could gain enough momentum before sinking in.  The front wheel drive would hopefully keep the car on the road.  Tara was quite, unusually quiet.  She had her eyes closed, her hand on her belly, and was breathing shallow.  He had to get them out of there.  Ruthie's eyes were wide, her face bearing an expression of shock[?].  From here, it was a straight shot.  He took a deep breath, and quickly accelerated the car.  20mph, 30mph, 40mph.  They were about three hundred feet out, and Todd could feel the car sink slightly and the tires spin, but the care continued to gain momentum.  This was critical.  If he went too slow, the car would sink.  If he went to fast, he could lose control and wind up in the ditch-cum-waterway [?] that lined the side of the road.  The car began to slow, despite the fact that the speedometer stayed at 40.  He had to keep going!  He accelerated slightly, the speedometer appraoched 50.  The car started to move faster again.  The car drifted, he let up, and the car corrected but began to bog down.  Again he sped up, repeating the frightening ordeal over and over.  Tara remained with her eyes closed.  Her mind was somewhere else.  Connecting with the child inside her, perhaps.  Focusing on the miraculous event that was soon to take place.  They hit the one mile mark, where intersections from other roads began.  Sure enough, the road was well rutted, with a few trucks already mired and abandoned on the side of the road.  Now Todd worried about veering off and striking one of them.  The car caught the ruts.  It would now be centered in the road, but it quickly started losing momentum.  Todd gunned the accelerator, rockeing the speedometer to 60.  The tires spun, the car slowing already to about 35, but it gradually began to pick up speed.  The car was violently rocked side to side by the deep and ragged ruts, occassionally catching and edge and bouncing the car out of the rut, threatening to drift the car to the side.  By decelerating and careful steering, the coaxed the car back into the ruts and trudged on.  Halfway down the road, just three miles left, Todd could feel the road underneath become more solid.  The county had added a layer basecourse up this point a decade back.  One could usually never tell, but now you could.  Rather than the mud going down a foot, it was only a few inches, the ruts much more shallow, and the car's tires found purchase.  The last three miles took five minutes, which seemed to last forever.  At last the car approached the stop-sign.  This was a good omen.  The road that had stranded no less than a dozen vehicles, had let this station wagon through.  Ruthie was wide-eyed with mout slightly open.  Todd finally let out a breath, "We made it..." he said with an almost sqeeky voice. They had, indeed made it to the highway, but they still had to make it to the hospital. 

The rain had relented somewhat and they raced down the highway at a conservative clip.  In ten minutes they were in town.  He was about to pull into the fire station, when Tara opened her eyes and said, "Don't stop, keep going."  Todd replied, "Are you sure?  Are you sure we can make it to Roseburg?"  "Yes, just go."  Todd hesitated, but finally turned back onto the highway and kept going.  He turned onto the interstate and headed to Roseburg, 40 miles away. 

[continued narrative about trip to hospital, not being able to find the entrance, quick delivery, possible birth complication that made going to the hospital a smart move, etc.]

[now narrative from Samantha]

That was my first day.  [narrative about her first month, year, two years, third year]

[now narrative about fourth year, about all the discoveries, the joys, the sadness, the frustrations, the love.. encountering other kids whos lives were not so good, about other kids whose lives seemed better]

[narrative about illness, the last weeks, the last day, the last hour, the last minute]

[narrative about the aftermath, the desperation, the mark left on the world]

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sountrack first

One script idea I have is laying down a soundtrack first, and writing the script to fit. Here are some songs I think can effectively set a tone or move a story forward. This is a bit of a cluster because the various songs I'll be listing here may not be for the same story. Each song is for a particular scene, but the various scenes may or may not be connected.

I Melt With You
For a closing scene in a story, it is a song of promise. I very much like the Modern English version, but I think I like the Nouvelle Vague cover even more. It's slower and more contemporary. The camera would pan away from the characters, to a wide angle shot and then the camera would pan up to capture a suburban skyline, perhaps at dusk, then panning up to a crystal clear blue/black sky with stars in sharp contrast. As the camera continues to zoom out, maybe the camera would pan back down to the earth, capturing the earth's curvature, if not the whole planet.

Teenage Kicks
For a closing scene in an act, maybe even in a story. I guess this is a tune by the Undertones, but I've never heard that version, just the cover by Nouvelle Vague. It should be closing the scene between two young people, with promise of love, of intimacy.

Waste by Smashmouth
For a scene of depression, despair. I keep wanting to put this song to a guy walking in the park, but perhaps a scene in an apartment would be more appropriate. Guys should be drunk or high perhaps? The song is a bit difficult to fit, but I do like it.

Dire Straits
There are several songs by Dire Straits I like. Some are too well-known to be useful, like Walk of Life. But there are others that I think would be great for a driving/roadtrip scene. Romeo and Juliet would be good for this, as would Telegraph Road. Brothers in Arms would be a good prelude to a conflict of some kind, it sets a somber tone. Rather than a prelude, the aftermath of a conflict.

Leave Out All the Rest and What I've Done by Linkin Park
Songs for a scene about leaving, perhaps dying. Asking to be fondly remebered. Asking for forgiveness. Leave Out All the Rest is a little softer, more tender.

Hands Held High by Linkin Park
A great intro to a scene in a prelude to action. Where the people are tired of a sub-standard world. A call to action. The scene would be a montage of the ills of our society, and people being moved to action. The song is semi-spiritual. I can see a protest being quelled by the powers-that-be, but perhaps even more than a protest, an all-out civil war.

When You Were Young by The Killers
A great retro-sounding song, for a scene for a girl, who is tenatively looking to the future, being pushed to move forward, to spread her wings and face the world head-on. Or maybe falling to temptation, falling from grace. Falling into sadness, with the only happiness being memories of youth.

Don't Surrender by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
Retro-tune for a scene about persevering through hardship.

Have You Ever Seen the Rain
Originally by CCR, but Joan Jett has an interesting cover of the song. The Joan Jett take is intriguing, but I don't think you can replace the CCR. For a scene about hardship on the horizon.

Jackson Browne
There are several songs by Jackson Browne that have a delicious retro feel with crisp vocals. They are great for nastolgia scenes about love, and life gone by. Include You Love the Thunder, I'm Alive, The Barricades of Heaven. Our Lady of the Well is an interesting ballad. I see a scene in a third world country where an ex-pat has run to escape some ill. Of course Tender is the Night is the ultimate love song.

4 in the Morning by Gwen Stefani
Song for a girl, lounging in her apartment, sad, reminiscing about some king of loss.

Bad Reputation by Freedy Johnston
I have to use this song in a scene. A guy walking down a Chicago, or New York street. With flashbacks to younger days. Halucinations? A breakdown. Life gone wrong... bad choices and living with the consequences.

Hello Walls by Faron Young
I really like this song, but I'm not sure how I could incorporate it into a modern film. About losing one's love.

I think Enya is fantastic and I would love to incorporate one of her songs into a scene.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Outer Limit

Out here on the outskirts of existence, I long to forever sleep. I long for an end to my desolation, my desperation, my utter sadness. Looking out at the barren landscape that is my life, I am overcome by profound regret for all that is lost, for all who have suffered in this wasteland of so many broken dreams.

Friday, May 30, 2008


This is Luke, or at least Luke as I remember him. He is warm and soft. He is needy, he is loving, he wants nothing more than to be next to you, be a part of you. Luke has been important, integral. He's been a catalyst, an enabler, and if nothing else, a watcher. About the only constant for well over a decade. There was always Luke.

I write about him because I don't want to forget him. I don't want to forget my life with him, because I fear I'll forget my life completely. Luke has been sick for some time now. He has been slowly fading away. And now that he is gone, I feel him stronger than ever. I feel him at my side, in a way he wasn't able to be for many years.

Life is a struggle for all, but these have been particularly trying years, because as I myself age, I find more doors closing and I feel panic setting him.

Yes he's just a dog, or was just a dog, but now he is more. He is a spirit, an enigma. A power. Real or imagined, it does not matter.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Waiting for Morning

I'm lying in bed waiting for the children to fall asleep. My wife is at the other end of the bed reading a book titled Waiting for Morning. I know nothing about it, but it looks to have the making of an O-Book.

Waiting for morning, isn't that what every night is about? It's torture for me. I wish sleep would just take me, but it doesn't. And so I lie here, waiting for morning, longing for that bewitching moment when, in one instant, I am aware no more, and in the next, the morning has come.

What do I do while I wait? I look around. At the light, next to my wife's side of the bed, by which she now reads. I spent no small amount of time locating the exact spot for that light, forever ago it seems, once our king sized bed was moved into place, so that it would perfectly provide illumination for reading on nights such as these.

I look at the ceiling fan. We spent hours at Home Depot deliberating which fan to get, what style, what size. Then came the installation, who knows how long that took. I was quite ecstatic once it was done, and a tap on the switch was rewarded with a steady and balanced twirling fan, at all three settings. This fan would, and has, dutifully sent currents of air over our bodies for many a summer nights. It has hung vigilant over our sleeping bodies, doing its job.

I take great comfort in this house, for I built it myself. Quite literally. My hands took part in near every part of its construction, them doing most every part themselves. Dare I say the only part I did not personally do or actively supervise was a bit of plumbing, which resulted in much grief later... but that's a musing for another night. Tonight I just take satisfaction in knowing exactly how everything in this house works (or doesn't work at times.) I know how the wires to that ceiling fan were run, where they lay in the attic, how they are secured, how they attach to that fan, for I twisted the connectors myself. I tucked the wires back into it's ceiling box myself, and I fastened the assembly myself using two strong and sturdy screws. I have no fear of that fan falling on our bellies, for I know exactly why it won't.

There on the ceiling, still resides a splatter of texture spray, put on after the final coat of paint was, to correct a texture anomaly. We never got around to painting over this patch. It doesn't bother me much. No-one notices it, save me, and I think it fine.

I like it here, because I know so much about it, near everything. I went into it, so much of me. I am here, in every length of lumber, in every nail and screw, in every door and window, in everything here, in what you see and what you don't. It is I.

And it is somewhere near this thought that in this realm, I am no more. For a while, at least. I am somewhere else. A place where anything happens and does. Time and space have no place there. And so it goes. And then I'm back. And I wait for morning no more.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

story ideas

Here's a couple story ideas.

Mountain Top

I've been here for two weeks now, maybe more. I'm hungry and weak. I'm on the edge of a precipice. It's peaceful here. Mostly quiet, save the sounds of nature. I came here seeking solitude and inspiration, and I do believe I've found it. Only I expected to leave at will, but instead the wild has captured me, enraptured me, taken me. There are many things of beauty and wonder here, and each reminds me of some thing in my life, some thing that I have lived. Some are wonderful, some are painful. Some I long for, some I regret.
At first I thought it was a memory. It happens often now-a-days, a memory manifested, but they disappear, a hallucination. But I realized the sounds were very real, in the present. I heard the dogs. I heard the distant voices. They were coming closer. Here I am now in my den, covered with leaves and brush. It was the only way I could keep warm. I cannot move my limbs anymore. I am not sure I can even open my eyes, though I think they are open, only I cannot see. I smell nothing now, am I even breathing? But I can hear them, and deep within my head I can feel their footsteps on the ground. I will my voice and it comes out, a whispered, "hello." Yes, my voice seems to work. The dogs, and their handlers are close now. I part me lips to summon them. But I do not. I whisper goodbye to the world, to nobody. I am still. The dogs are near, I presume, but I am gone.


In a recent issue of Popular Science, there is an article about scientists implanting electrodes in the brain, and using them to alter the mood of depressives, and it seems to work. Interesting. Could our moods be controlled so easily?

It would be an interesting story to explore a protagonists struggle to live life while under the control of such a contraption. It could be a strictly personal battle to grasp one's one life, or maybe make the scientists adversarial, using the protagonists solely for their gain. Or make it part of a larger conspiratorial plot by a government to control people, first enemies, then citizens. Or it can be a plot by aliens. Or by the devil? The true heart of darkness... they key to our neuronal control discovered and exploited. If our thoughts are not truly our own, than what constitutes our true selves?

Thursday, July 12, 2007


Here is something I ran across while cleaning out my laptop's desktop. It's dated 23 Sep 2003. I guess I was feeling dark that day. It's not atypical of my writing, but this one is short. I don't often feel like this, but at times, I indeed do.

Some people dream of some day to come. I dream of no day. I long for today to pass... and tomorrow to never come. I desire the twilight. But tomorrow will indeed come, and I will be there. To my misfortune. Why the darkness? Why the pessimism? It's not really either. It's resignation. The shallows. It's where I live. It's drab. It's dreary. It's dark. Tomorrow is no brighter. Why would I dream to see it? Life, here, on earth, is penance. Not joy. C'est la vie.