Sunday, January 29, 2006

And still I write...endings are tough...and I got interviewed by a newspaper reporter!

I've been extremely motivated to write lately, so much so that I've finished two new plays in the past two weeks! That's prolific, even for me. I think I wrote about "The Satchel" in my last post, a 10-minute play in which a young couple finds $25,000 and what happens when they return it to the police and owner of the money. It's more farcical than it originally was, and less so than some people at my second writers' group suggested, but you have to go with what feels right, and I think (hope) I struck a nice balance between farce and comedy, without going overboard. One writer suggest I try a Commedia Del'Arte approach, since Leslie and Paul are both rather archtypal character (as is Mr. Simons, the money's owner), but I don't know much about that art form, and it would have meant completely revamping/reworking/deconstructing and reconstructing the play, and it felt too finished to go that route. I did make the comedy a bit broader, meaning it's less naturalistic, my typical style, but it was fun to stray a bit, and I feel pretty happy with it. That said, I'm not at all certain about the ending, which I've rewritten at least five or six times so far. :) I think that's a common problem, though, and sometimes you just have to sit with a play for a while (even a LONG while) before you find an ending that feels right.

I attended fellow playwright Patrick Gabridge's staged reading of new works in Cambridge last night, and he suggested that you can't really find the ending until the play is produced. That made me feel better, so I've chosen any ending that won't insult or baffle anyone (whether it's a tad lame I don't know), and I'm sending the play off to a couple of festivals tomorrow. The second play is called "Control," and was written specifically for a "hair"-themed festival in NYC. I started Monday night, finished it Friday morning (I took a half-day from work), and sent it off Friday afternoon (that's a new record!). I can't say whether or not I like it, b/c I'm far too close to it right now. Happily, I had two theatre people, one on the production end, the other a playwright, read it Friday night, before I ushered for the Sugan Theatre, and BOTH liked it (and I asked them to be honest, so they hopefully were). That made me feel better. I'm not sure how much general appeal this particular play has--it concerns a confrontation between a hair stylist and his client, loosely based on my (former) stylist and me--but I certainly think it works for the theme, and hope the NYC theatre producers think so as well. If not, at least I feel good about writing a play in such a short period of time (by which I mean, I met a tight deadline) and will revisit it in the near future to see if there are other festivals for which it might be appropriate.

The last piece of writing I am engaged with is my one-woman show, "workin' progress," which I am (gulp) planning to send out to Boston Theatre Works Unbound in the next week (b/c the deadline is mid-February). It has a $15 submission fee (double gulp) and is an extremely competitive festival, but this is would be a dream come true: seeing my first real theatrical piece, monologues and sketches excluded, performed and workshopped by professional actors in a professional setting. The theme has to do with love, and that's what my play is about, so let's get it out there and see what they think. It's supposed to be an unfinished piece, and it is, in that I think it still needs a great deal of work and could/should be expanded, so I think in that sense it's a good fit. Whether or not it's strong enough for BTW I won't know til I get the acceptance or rejection letter. Every rejection continues to pierce my soul (even those I haven't received yet ;-)), and this one is pretty slim (just like the Boston Playwrights Festival), but you can't win if you don't play, right?

In the meantime, I continue to write, submit, and wait in great anticipation for my 10-minute play "Peanut Butter Sandwiches" to be performed at Theatre One's "Slice of Life" Festival in Middleboro, MA in two (count 'em, two) weeks! I am sorry I'll be missing the three-minute play, "My Six-Thirty," but I can't drive an hour each way for a three-minute play, especially on a Friday night, so I'll just wait to get the audience feedback, as I wait to see if Poco Loco Players (well, students of the director) decide to take MST on for their spring project (pleaseohpleaseohplease). And the coolest news of the weekend is that I was interviewed by a real-live reporter from The Standard Times in Southern Mass for an article on the Slice of Life Festival! She sent me a list of six interesting questions, and I returned to her a Thesis on the meaning of life. ;-) Seriously, I did write quite a bit, but she thanked me for being so responsive AND "prolific," and said too much is better than too little (that's always my motto). I had the chance to really think about how I view the writing process, and that was interesting. I'll post the link to the article once it's published (I feel so famous, ha ha). Let's hope there are many more interviews in the future!

I also continue to see as many plays as I can, including the interesting one-man show at the Sugan Theatre, a very intense play called "Frozen" (mostly written as monologues and about a child molestation/murder case in the UK) at the New Rep Theatre, and "Five by Tenn," five short and rarely-performed plays by Tennessee Williams, presented by the Speakeasy Company. I'm not the biggest TW fan, but I did like the plays and particularly was taken by the acting, which was superlative. Williams is NOT an easy playwright to get a grip on and these were somewhat obscure plays. So these, along with Queer Soup's "Home," about a transsexual minister, and Patrick and Hortense Giraldo's reading last night, have kept me very busy with seeing and thinking about plays. D. and I are helping Centastage with their auditions for playwright George Sauer's full-length in June, and this is an organization I'd like to get more involved with. The more playwrights, actors, and directors I get to know, the more excited I feel, and I just have to believe this is what I'm meant to be doing right now. Now, if none of my plays get chosen in the future, I'll clearly have to reconsider, but I hope that is not the case. I would like to write a monologue for a festival about the holiday season, and hope I have time to do it when I get back from visiting my sister and her family in Florida this weekend (hurrah, warm(er) weather!), since it's not due til March 1st. In the meantime, I am happy that work is busy but not frenetic, and that I grow ever more flexible in yoga (I was almost, almost able to touch my head to the ground during a wide-angle stretch today, which felt fantastic). So, that's it for now, and if I get any good news in the next week, I will be certain to pass it along.

Monday, January 16, 2006

More rejections, more writing, more movies, more contemplation

Well, another week has come and gone, and with it two more writing rejections, from the Storytellers Union and the EATFest in NYC, and a new play, "The Satchel," about a couple who find $25,000 and have to decide whether or not to keep it (hint: they don't) and what happens as a result. The rejections hurt, just as all rejections do, though happily they aren't local and as of this point I don't know anyone who was accepted (I may for EATFest but didn't for the Storytellers Union). I try not to get my hopes up anymore, but of course I still do. Neither will keep me from writing, but man, that external validation cannot be overstated. Is there any point in continuing to write when few people are interested in producing my work? I have to think that yes, I have something to say, and yes, I have to give the work a lot more time. I saw Woody Allen's latest movie "Match Point" today, and while I didn't particularly care for it, b/c I didn't find the lead character, Chris, sympathetic or compelling, Scarlett Johanssen's character, Lola, was more. She was an aspiring actor who was beautiful (of course) and self-confident, but could NOT sell herself in auditions in London, and as a result had to work as a saleswoman at a boutique, making little money (though living in a remarkably nice flat despite her small income; such is movie life). Chris's mother thought that Lola should give it up, or consider that, and in the end we suspect she would, but it certainly rang true to me. Here was a beautiful woman who just couldn't get it done in the audition, something I certainly suffer from (not the beauty, but the lack of success and inability to nail what I feel I can do).

The question also becomes, When does one throw in the towel, and that's far different when one's livelihood is depending on the outcome than when it is a pursuit done for one's own enjoyment and not much more (God knows, not money, as I've said countless times). I certainly doubt myself a great deal of the time, and it's also tough when working on a new play, b/c you wonder if it's going to work out, and is it worth the effort, and even if it DOES work out--that is, if you're satisfied with the final outcome--will anyone else be interested? This latest play was inspired only by a contest's theme, money, and I got to thinking, what if two people found a great deal of it and needed it but felt compelled to return it? Because it's a 10-minute play, I discovered that making it too serious simply didn't work in this case. The characters could not be fleshed out enough, and A. didn't find either of them sympathetic. HOWEVER, in making it farcical, it didn't really matter, b/c they could be two sides of the coin, good and bad (pure/impure, what have you, archetypal characters), and the little you learned was enough. It's far less naturalistic then I usually tend toward, but I thought it could work if it was more about word play and banter, and in making it somewhat comic and unrealistic and broader than usual, I hope that it got across the point without sermonizing in any way or being TOO dumbed down. We'll see.

A. liked today's version much better than the one she read Saturday night (and I like both better than the one I read at Write-On last week, which received a generally favorable response but suggested a different beginning and end, both of which I agreed with and integrated into the script), and so I sent it off to a couple of places. This is what I try to do--get at least one or two submissions off a week. I plan to bring this play to the Shadow Boxing meeting next week, to see how it sounds when read aloud again, but I'm hopeful. It's not my favorite play, but maybe it's effective. I still don't know if "Not a Competition," the 20-year high school reunion, play works (sent it off to a theatre in Chicago looking for offbeat plays about "mating"), and I hope so, cause I like that one alot. Guess we'll see. I keep thinking about the Boston Playwrights Marathon, and I wish I wouldn't, b/c I know how unlikely it is that they will choose either of my plays. I looked through the list of past winners, and typically the same 30 writers are chosen, and then another 20 newbies, and that means 20 out of, what, 200 or 250 or something, maybe more? Trust me, if I get rejected, it will hurt, but it won't stop me from continuing to write. I had SUCH a good time at the Write-On meeting last week--D.'s new political Santa play (yep, you heard right) went over very well, my play, as I said, generated interest, and I got to read one of three monologues about life in Iraq that I found really captivating, so the evening was an interesting, successful one (much appreciated in the midst of a sucky week at work, aka Registration Hell Week). If I don't write, I can't contribute to the meetings (well, I can, but I want to contribute as a writer as well as a reader and a critic) and I sure as hell can't get accepted into any festivals!

Every time I go into the Starbucks in Washington Square, one of the baristas asks me what's going on with my work, and since I can't talk about any upcoming performances, at least I can still talk about upcoming productions of my pieces. That is certainly not the only reason I write--in fact, it's not the primary reason (otherwise, why not be a painter, sculptor, photographer, etc., and hold exhibits?)--but I can't say it doesn't give me a thrill to get to talk about the work and the shows to come (some might say I'm a pessimist, and I can be, but I enjoy sharing good news as much as anyone). My next project will probably be a non-fiction monologue about Christmas/Chanukah/New Years Eve for a festival in NYC, and I think I'll find that fairly easy to write (though who knows?!) and a nice change, since I haven't written anything autobiographical in a while. Aside from writing the play this week, I've also taken to watching a lot of films. A LOT of films. I joined Hollywood Videos MVP club, and then switched to the more (but not most) premium plan, so I could see new releases as soon as they were available and not have to worry about late fees (I had to pay $14 last week b/c I was a day off on three DVDs--ugh; what a waste of money). I got so excited about it, AND so much needed a release from course registration fatigue, that I rented two or three movies every couple of days. I watched "Red Eye" (surprisingly gripping and well-acted), "The Constant Gardener" (I didn't care for it, b/c I didn't care for Rachel Weisz's character, plus it was very slow), "Grizzly Man" (intense documentary), "My Architect" (brilliant--I learned so much about Louis Kahn's life and work and modern architecture in general), "Born into Brothels" (depressing and I couldn't get into it), "Hustle and Flow" (pretty good, loved Terrance Howard but not the film), and "Four Brothers" (violent and pretty predictable--mediocre film, but decent enough for escapist entertainment).

Yes, that's a lot of films in just over a week, but it helped take my mind off difficult students, too much work in a week (two a day registration sessions), and the fatigue I always feel during this time of year. Happily, I have continued not to binge, either on eating or spending, and if I do it on movies, so be it, since the $20/month is paid for, whether I watch four movies or 10. I don't go to the movies that often--I sort of prefer to watch them at home, on my own time, without others' around (despite my 25" inch screen), without their distractions, without feeling badly if I don't love a film (tonight's, for example)--so this plan should work nicely. Not that Patriots are out of the playoffs (grumble, gave the game away to the Broncos, grumble) and the Sox are 2 1/2 months away from real play, I need something to keep me engrossed (it ain't gonna be American Idol, that's for sure). So I watch movies, read (though not enough), exercise (enough, though I wish I could more without fear of injuring myself), look forward to Florida (2 1/2 weeks til I leave), write, and hope for the best. And hey, spring's a little over two months away!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

New plays, old plays, life goes on

Well, it's been an interesting week for a couple of reasons. I didn't get a speck of writing done during the holiday break, BUT I ended up writing a new play Tuesday night, after returing to work! That's rather odd, but I guess it's because I wasn't putting pressure on myself to write and because it was something I'd be thinking of. The working title is "Rob a Bank, Save a Life," and it's about a 20-something couple who find $25,000 (well, the husband does) and have to decide whether to turn it in or not and what transpires (no, I won't give it away ;-)). I just got home on Tuesday night (and not til around 8:30pm) and just felt like writing it! There's a festival seeking plays with the theme of "money," so that was my inspiration (I often need something to get me started, and I can't think I'm the only one). I've had D. and M. read it, and both liked it. I'm bringing it to Write-On (my playwrighting group) tomorrow, and I'm hoping it goes over well, b/c I'd like to submit it to Dragonfly and the deadline is Tuesday. Now THERE'S a festival I'd dearly like to get into and yet one that I think is unlikely, sorry to say. I've been rejected in the past (it's run by the Devanaughn Theatre) and I don't know why this year would be any different, EXCEPT that I have (I think and hope) stronger material to provide them with this year (yes, I've also been rejected after auditioning). I know how much it will hurt if I don't get in and local friends do (a real possibility, as only local playwrights are permitted to submit, just as with the Boston Playwrights Marathon). I guess I had to try, though part of me thought that it wasn't a good idea, b/c the possible rejection will be so painful.

On that topic, I did swallow my pride and go to the Ritalin Readings on Friday night to support D. and A. in Providence. I'm not sorry I went, b/c it was a fun evening. The actors were very strong, D. and A.'s plays both went over very well, and some of D.'s friends, her mom, and her husband were there, so I had lots of people to talk to and hang out with (so it wasn't as if it was just D. and her husband and me). In fact, the night was oversold, which was very exciting for everyone involved and made the evening especially festival. Lesley, the Artistic Director, obviously had a good time with the raffle and the event in general, and it was well worth the $10. That said, it STILL hurt to be there, and I can't seem to get past this (you'd think now that it was over I would, but no, not yet). I think part of that is b/c a couple of the plays that were accepted just seemed very weak to me (well, one was weak, and the other was just incomprehensible). I still believe that one of my plays, Not a Competition, would have made a nice addition to the festival, and so, knowing that I have a play I'm proud of that has not yet been chosen by anyone, bothers me, b/c perhaps I'm wrong and it ISN'T that strong, or perhaps it's fine but no one will ever choose to stage it (okay, that's a bit ridiculous; it's only been turned down once or twice at this point, not hundreds of times). Still, I realized how much fun it would have been to have been involved with the festival (not so much as an actor--I'm glad I chose to watch--but as a playwright) and how I wasn't and how I might never be chosen for a prestigious festival, and thus the negative thinking resumes (or maybe continues), DESPITE my writing a new play this week and getting some positive feedback from a couple of directors recently. Sigh.

It's sort of an endless cycle, b/c the rejection is inevitable, and the rejection just gnaws at me. Constantly. In addition, and this is really sad, I have to admit, I wonder about Theatre One's Festival in Middleboro in February and if it will be as successful as the Ritalin Readings. This is completely unfair, I realize, b/c this is the first year Peg is mounting it, it takes place in Middleboro, not Boston, so there's a totally different audience that it's intended for (hopefully an equally large and lively one), and...well, it's just a different festival! But if it isn't just like the Ritalin Readings (and again, how the hell COULD it be?!), I hope I won't be disappointed. Oh, it's just pathetic for me to think this way. I have to try to change this. I also feel as if I really need another acceptance for one of the other plays (Not a Competition or Accept This!) for that always-craved-for external validation. I guess you can never feel satiated. On one hand, that's good; you don't want to grow complacent. On the other hand, you have to accept the rejections, revel in the acceptances, and just keep writing (and I certainly am doing the latter, so no worries there, and it's a relief that I was able to write a new play, considering how blocked and unmotivated I felt during the break). Sometimes it just feels so unfair--take my play and let me enjoy the experience (exactly the way I feel about BEING in a play, but I've given up there, as previously noted)--but all I can do is write and submit, write and submit, and hope for the best.

I did have another positive experience this week, when I put out a call for new plays for the 4x4 (formerly Autumn Premieres) Festival. I received several plays and forwarded them to Rich, and it was interesting to see what others had written. It was also enlightening to realize how eager people were to get their plays in (I feel grateful to already be a part of this; don't change your mind, Rich :-)) and it also made me feel a little guilty, wielding this power (although I'm not really wielding any, since Rich has the ultimate say, not me, and I can just offer feedback/opinion). I think that no matter how many plays are accepted, you always want another (who wouldn't?), and I remember this was the case when I was in grad school. No matter how many awards someone won (say, the Pushcart Prize), that person would want another, and why not, I suppose? Who wouldn't want his/her work out there, and who wouldn't want to be rewarded for it? It's not about money for me (though God knows I wouldn't mind making some!) or accolades, but simply getting the work out there and enjoying the collaborative process (not that it always is as a playwright, but there is always the chance). I chose not to go to the Ritalin Readings last night, b/c the Patriots were playing Jacksonville in the AFC Wild Card game (and I do NOT miss the Patriots when they are in the playoffs), and while I'm disappointed that I didn't get to see some friends' work performed, I guess it was a little bit of a relief, too (though I would have been there had it not been for the game; I had even reserved a ticket til I found out when the Pats would play). Let's just hope 2006 brings more acceptances (and more writing on my end!) and I get to enjoy the process.

My dad still can't believe I have to pay to see my play at Theatre One, but I do understand; the company has no money, and it's expensive to mount a show, no matter where it's held (this will be in the VFW Hall, I believe), plus will bring some money to the company so they continue to grow and perform. I'm looking forward to the feedback I receive and hope Peanut Butter Sandwiches is favorably received. And finally, this week to come is going to suck in about a hundred different ways. I have to meet with a student tomorrow, a former friend, whose portfolio was rejected from the review (b/c he was not eligible; it had nothing to do with the book and everything to do with submission requirements) and he is nothing but pissed off. Tomorrow we also hand back the results of the review, and many students will be disappointed, to say the least, to discover that they didn't pass. But tomorrow is nothing compared to the rest of the week, when we have to register 600 students in four days (this includes the ultimate hell day, Late Registration, on Friday from 12-2 and 4-7pm). UGH. Major ugh. I have to remember to breathe deeply and get to the gym if at all possible (which won't be easy but is a necessity). I had a great yoga class today, and I know I can do the elliptical tomorrow and probably Tuesday. Wednesday is an off day, anyway (which is good, b/c there really won't be time to get there), but I need to go on Thursday and try for Friday (dunno about that). Lots of calming breaths will be needed, along with the constant mantra that it's only one week and it's not life or death, and this, too, shall pass and the like. And if I were to get an acceptance email this week (I got a rejection email a couple of days ago), well, I wouldn't complain. :)

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year! Some first day musings.

Though I recently posted, I thought,I would write a state of the state, since I used write a journal every new year's day, and a year from now I can check it to see how things went. I actually ended up having a nice holiday break (still glad I have two days left!). My parents came to visit on Friday, loved my new bureau and the way my place is shaping up, and we had a nice lunch at the Coolidge Corner Clubhouse (they rarely get to come to Brookline just for fun, and not doctors' appointments, so it was a nice trip for them). Yesterday, I spent the day running around for First Night Boston, but it was quite fun. I met D. for short film screenings at the Boston Public Library, and then we met up at the Hynes with her husband and close friend S. (he's a nice guy, and I hope he and I continue to keep in touch, b/c we have quite a bit in common, including age and single status). We saw a 40-minute anime movie, bluegrass (I highly recommend Southern Rail, a Massachusetts-based bluegrass group), blues music at the beautiful Emmanuel Church, acoustic-y rock with Duncan Shiek at the Orpheum, stand up female comics, had Greek food for dinner, caught a little of the parade and fireworks, and then went back to D.'s house for the ball drop and gingerbread tea (surprisingly delicious). I got home around 2 am and have yet to get out of my sweats. I even cancelled brunch in Harvard Square with D., her husband, and another couple, b/c I'm just too tired and comfortable.

I usually love to get out of the apartment, but today it feels nice to stay in and relax (plus it snowed out last night--it is supposed to all week, which I dread--and I'm avoiding scraping off my car for as long as I can). I will be busy enough this coming week with portfolio reviews and the next week with registration (which I dread), so a day off feels nice. The Patriots are on at 1pm and I'll work out at 4pm and then watch a movie or two I rented, so I'm not too worried about how I'll spend the day. Tomorrow, my friend E. and I are seeing The Squid and the Whale, which I've wanted to see since it was released in early fall, and we'll catch up, so that will be fun. I also saw Brokeback Mountain with three bookclub friends on Thursday night. I was surprisingly disappointed by it, though the others all cried and proclaimed it wonderful. The acting is terrific by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllanhall (better than advertised), but I just couldn't quite connect. I felt like I was being instructed to feel for them, and though the ending was shocking, the rest felt rather predictable to me. I think most disagree with my assessment, so don't take my word for it. I'm very picky.

As for the arts, I finally received the rejection letter from Snowdance that others in the playwrights binge has already gotten. I also had two 10-minute plays rejected from Poco Loco Players, though Doug, who is one of the most considerate producers in the world, was very thoughtful in offering his reasons why. I still have my 3-minute play included as a semi-finalist, so it's not as if it was all bad by any means. I think the Santa play will stand as is--it's a seasonal play, but that's okay, and hopefully it works (he thought it did)--and as for Accept This, the not-gay play, well, we'll see what other festivals think. No one has said yes yet, but not many have seen the final version (alas, the Boston Playwrights Festival got the earlier draft with the less-effective ending). Doug thought it wasn't quite original enough, but I think it has a pretty decent twist and makes fun of stereotypes. Who knows, though? Maybe it needs to be revamped. We'll see after I hear from other festivals. Unfortunately, I haven't done ANY writing over the break, and that's disappointing. Honestly, I just couldn't get inspired. The play about A. and her ex-boyfriend just seemed overwhelming to even begin and it's going to be so depressing that I just can't couldn't wrap my head around it. I couldn't think of anything else to write, though I was hoping to find something focused on money, since there is a festival looking for plays with that theme, and so I KNOW I'd have somewhere to send it. Maybe I'll get motivated to start something in the next few days. It could be that I've been too focused on getting into festivals, and not in a creative mode. I can't say. I suppose in some ways the holidays are not the best time to write, as I'm constantly fighting depression (though it wasn't quite as bad this year as in years past). It will be tough this semester not having Fridays off (sigh), and I will have to work harder to carve out time to write. Perhaps I can take days off here and there to get writing in, b/c I will never get my vacation taken otherwise!

As far as rejection, well, I would like to say one of my goals for 2006 is not to be as bothered about it, but I don't think that's something I can do too much about. I can say I won't care, but I don't that will EVER be true. Everytime I submit something, I think about how cool it would be to get accepted into that festival, and when I do get the rejection email/letter (and often I just don't hear anything), it hurts. Perhaps this year I will be more successful--I've sent alot of work out, and much of this is about the law of averages--and I just need to write more, and not simply depend on what I've already done (just not enough material, and I'm not even sure how solid it all is). I know that at least a couple of producers think my writing is strong, so that's encouraging. I did write to Lesley at Theatre Cooperative, but she didn't choose the plays, so had no feedback on why neither of mine were accepted. I'd completely be lying if I said I didn't care as much anymore, but I'm doing the right thing and going on back Friday and (probably) Saturday nights to see the Ritalin Readings, to support my friends, network a bit, and hopefully learn from and enjoy the readings. (I've never been, b/c there was no point in going in the past, when I didn't know the playwrights and wasn't actively writing short plays.) I hope it doesn't hurt too much; I guess if it does on Friday, I won't go Saturday (luckily, I didn't pay in advance). I AM committed to NOT trying out for any more productions unless asked to or am already involved with the process (e.g., the Arlington Players). The rejection hurts too damned much and the net result in the past year has been ONE yea and the rest nay (so I'm batting 1 for 10 or 12 or whatever, and it's getting stupid). This way, I can enjoy the plays without thinking about how I didn't get cast.

I will continue sending out my plays, and hoping for positive results, and dealing with the rejection (SO many playwrights, so few slots!), but acting is something different, and there is nothing good that has come out of auditioning in the past year, so I shall reluctantly give it up. I can revisit it in the future. I would love the Dragonfly Festival to take one of my plays, and if Rose says no, then I will have a pretty good idea that my chances are nil of getting connected with them (since they take a lot of what they receive; the submissions are far lower than for other festivals, and the plays are NOT read blind, as they are for the Boston Playwrights Theatre's Marathon (God, what I would give for them to take one of my plays; be still, my heart!). My major goal in 2006 is to stop eating ridiculously badly (e.g., no more bingeing!) so that I look and feel better. I feel as if I say this every January--I probably do--and I end up doing well for a while, when I relapse again. Unlike smoking or drinking, you can't go cold turkey (I mean, you can stop eating chips, for example, but there's always another food to binge on, another temptation around the corner), and it's so psychological that it's something I think about all the time. Right now, though, my clothes feel pretty uncomfortable, I KNOW I don't look very good (for me), and I feel disappointed in myself. Somehow, I need to learn how in moderation, and 42.5 years later, I have no idea how to do this. I am pretty good about WORKING OUT in moderation (i.e., sensibly), but eating? No. Of course, it's far more complicated, but still, if I can do it with exercise, why not with eating (after all, they both start with e's ;-)). My therapist suggested I buy a small bag of chips, and then enjoy it, but when it's gone, it's gone. That way, the sense of entitlement is met (or the sense of deprivation is eliminated) and yet the ability to overindulge is taken away. I think that's a good idea, and I will try it. It's so hard to start, but I think I can do it, now that the holidays are over. I am not concerned about keeping on a healthy exercise regiment, at least.

The other major goal is to continue spending more sensibly (which means staying out of the Gap as much as possible). I have gone in recently, to buy two sweaters, a heavy jacket, and scarf (all on major sale), and that's not terrible, but, for example, I can't say the jacket was essential (though I like it, and it's been two years since I've bought outerwear). I meet with Jon the Accountant in a couple of weeks, and hopefully I can continue chipping away at the debt, which feels so overwhelming. At least I have a handle on it now, and am thinking about EACH purchase I make. I don't really have a budget yet, but I do know how much I'm spending each month, and I have all of my payments online, so that I can make sure they are paid to avoid worry AND late fees. And finally, I would so love to end up at the end of the year with a boyfriend/male companion. S., Debbie's friend, offered to help in that department (he is great at networking), and I will take him up on that. It's not as if I'm uninvolved; I'm just...well...I don't know. Do I continue to give off unavailable vibes, or is it more a product of my age and the lack of free men? I can't say; maybe I will have more luck this year. I do not hate being single, but there are times I long for a close male friend. Maybe I'll get one in 2006. In any case, I hope it's a healthy, happy year for me, my family and friends (and everyone, of course).