disassociation

keywords: job hunts, screenwriting, mild PTSD

I’m in Los Angeles with Kareem for the week. What am I going to do otherwise, stay in Miami by myself for his birthday? For my, what, imaginary job?

It’s pretty humbling as he paid for my trip out here. Usually, I’m the breadwinner. I’ve prided myself on being the person who makes money while the significant other has a job in the arts, the non-profit arts, no less. It probably comes from a lifetime of seeing my mom, the housewife, with dad, the HVAC engineer who worked 25 years at the same job. I know it’s like comparing apples to oranges, but having a job was one of the few things I didn’t have to worry about. I was allowed to be a hot buttered mess otherwise.

Again, I’m trying my best to take everything in stride. It’s only three weeks since I parted ways with my last job, I tell myself, even though it has been eleven weeks since I’ve last had a steady paycheck. There has been a string of job rejections recently, which hint to me I need to stop my mind from going into double overdrive during tech interviews, or that I’m interviewing for the wrong positions, that I should be looking for jobs I’m good at, but just miss out on because I don’t have enough years of experience. I tell myself I’m not my rejections. I repeat this to myself, like a mantra, as Kareem is typing away at the laptop next to me, following his dreams.


Kareem is working on a movie here in LA full of people in the film industry formerly from Miami. Tonight we’re hanging out with more people here in the film industry previously from Miami. At this point, I’m pretty convinced LA is mostly former Floridians working on movies, and I’m the weird Chinese salmon who swam upstream.

They ask me how my script is going.

So here’s the interesting thing I’ve learned about writing a script, especially an auto-biographical one in nature: there are some parts of the process where I think I’m really, really good. A couple of weeks ago, I tasked myself to open up some scriptwriting software and to write a scene, like, any scene. It got a chuckle out of Kareem, and he’s the type to tear your art piece apart, never mind if you’ve spent the past ten years in a relationship or not.

It turns out, however, that like two scenes do not an entire screenplay make. It turns out there are many, many scenes that need to be written. Even crazier, they all have to lead into each other to tell a cohesive, overarching story. It turns out that’s how all narrative storytelling works, whether it’s writing books or movies or whatever. After a couple of years of short-form blogging and tweeting, I’ve gotten really good at writing things funny, so long as they’re less than, say, 500 characters.

According to Google, the way to get around this is by writing a plot, or an outline. Just a couple of sentences of each scene to get the point across, so I do, right?

(All, like, actual things that happened a couple of months ago, by the way.)

But now I’m in a tailspin because I’m basically disassociating myself from the Ernie on paper, trying to figure out how the Ernie on paper resolves his problems from the first act. How the fuck do I do that when I can’t do that in real life? Also, how do I write down my father’s incoherent Chinese babbling due to dementia into words? In English? Which family interactions do I edit out, for the sake of moving a plot along? Keeping in mind that as I write this stuff down, as much disassociating as I try to do, I’m simultaneously reliving this in my head, over and over again.

Seriously, writers and/or storytellers: y’all have any advice for me? Because this has been a mental block in writing auto-biographical stuff for a while now.

Eventually, it becomes too much, and my mind wanders: shouldn’t I be looking for jobs?

And then I close the document and start studying data structures for interviews again.