The Theory of Chaos

Friday, May 26, 2006


Yesterday morning I woke up thinking the world was coming to an end, or I had been transported to the Mirror Universe where Hollywood has remained a violent slum instead of the artsy and genteel slum it is now. The power was out, and I heard heavy footsteps and panicked voices and the squawk of walkie-talkies outside my door. Ugly drips of yellowed water fell from my ceiling, and there was a frantic knock at my door.

My head was still half-dreaming, so I was considering the full range of possibilities from earthquake to zombie plague. A young woman was there, urgently asking: “Are you the manager? ARE YOU THE MANAGER?!


My car’s blocked in! I can’t get out!

She rushed off. I changed out of my pajama punts and stumbled down the back stairwell, admiring the emergency lights. A team of firefighters was in the lobby, trying to pry open the elevator door.

All of this has a simple explanation. There was a power outage in the neighborhood, which trapped people in the elevator and froze the parking garage gates on what happened to be finals day over at USC. And somewhere up on the fifth floor, someone’s fish tank broke, leaking water out of the filter into the floor, where it wended a lonely wandering path down towards my light fixtures.

This meant the amount of water was finite, even though it started dripping again at 4:30 last night, forcing me to stir from a Xanax-haze and perform a rubber-legged silent comedy walk to drag the trash can back under it. A pool of it’s still sitting on the cheap plastic under my bathroom fluorescents – I warned the maintenance man about it, since as of this weekend it’s not my problem anymore.

If I didn’t know better, I’d say the building was trying to get rid of me. In a way it’s a rather elegant conclusion, paralleling my first week here – when the power was off and my parking space blocked and I couldn’t find the manager either. And what would be a last fling in this pad without firemen lumbering around? Not a month’s gone by without one of those delightful false alarms.

Still, even as I pack and stack and pull nails and heave out Hefty bags of old files and obsolete scripts drafts, I’ve started feeling like a screenwriter again in the last couple of days. I’ve finally wrapped up and delivered a new set of comedy pitches to my agent and a manager I’ve been doing a tentative mating dance with. That’s one roadblock out of the way of the tasks I’ve wanted to get to – i.e. finishing the new script, revising an old one I’m going to need as a sample soon, and whipping that treatment into shape while people are still enthusiastic about it. I’m not sure yet how I’m going to be keeping my hours in this new arrangement (my friends know what I’m talking about), but it’s always a boost to remind yourself that your goals are concrete and compartmentable, not just a terrifying smoke-mass of Responsibilities. You might think you’re in the Great Breakdown – but it’s really just a blown transformer and a bad aquarium gasket, and none of it can really stand in the way of what you want to do. Or must do.


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