A lot has happened in the past couple weeks since last I posted.
First, we've been busy applying for a non-fiscal sponsorship through the International Documentary Association and other grants that had deadlines. These things take a lot of time to prepare. Thus far, we've done over 11 drafts on our proposal material. Now, we're being asked to update our budget. Hopefully, this'll be done before the end of the week.
For those of you interested in applying for grants, here's a nice template offered by Sundance Institute.
So what about the dirt? Well, let me start by saying: I'm not perfect. For some reason, people align me with Mr. Rogers, but I'm far from such lofty heights. My friend Nemanja put it best: "People are not all good or bad."
I'd say I'm fairly nice. It's my natural state of equilibrium, but I can also be a dick like everyone else. Usually, the meditation makes this person lilt away like a distant heartbeat. Not yesterday though. I just yelled at my mother. Mostly because I haven't slept in days, but also because I've got a bad temper if I get angry. I can cover this up mostly because I don't get angry, but leave it to family to push all the right buttons.
"Why did you do that?!" I yelled at my mother. "I can't believe you said that! That was not smart! Now I have to deal with this mess! You have to think about what you say and be smart! What you did was so stupid!"
"I'm sorry, Pirooz," she said.
I really hate losing it. It's even worse if I yell, because I've got that punk rock scream seasoned and ready to go. It got the neighbor all concerned because we had it in the garage. He's this really nice Pastor that's lived next to my parents for over a decade. I ran into him later while walking with my dad.
"Is everything okay?" he asked me.
"Yes," I said.
"Well," he said and shook my hand. "Let me know if you need anything and Gob bless."
"God bless," I said. "Thank you."
I didn't connect him saying this to me at the time as anything other than neighborly. Then I realized that my yelling must have carried in this suburban neighborhood where the only thing you hear is birds and deer grazing.
I was immediately ashamed and apologized to my mother.
"It's okay, Pirooz," she said. "I love you."
I'm glad the Pastor gave me a look. It made me think about the Buddhist koan about what would you do if someone put ashes on the Buddha. Most Zen students just smack the ground in response to prove they're in the moment or whatever. I'm a shitty Zen student, so I'd probably just give the guy an ashtray and light his next smoke. But I remember reading that a good thing to do would be to look at the person and that'd be enough to say, "What's up, yo? Don't be ashing on the Buddha."
I guess the same would go for if someone would rob you.
This Pastor had the look down and it lingered with me. I'm glad for it. I suppose other people would say that the person should mind their own business, but I'm glad his eyes were calling out my bad behavior. How else am I going to learn?
I still feel shitty about it. I suppose it'll pass. I'll just wait it out.
The previous week was less dramatic as far as fighting, but I did cry a lot. The first thing that happened was a dream. It was really vivid:
I was on the front porch of my parent's house in Delaware. Then, standing in front of me was Bobbie. She looked like I had always known her. She eyed me up and down and asked, "How I was doing?"
I said, "Okay."
Then she told me take some breaths with her.
"Okay," she said. "Put your chin down and breathe."
I put my chin down and then followed all these other moves she was doing. Then she started singing "Old McDonald Had a Farm", but she kept improvising lines. I tried to keep up, but it was getting hopeless.
"I'm really on today," she said and laughed.
Then she took my hand and walked me around a corner and we were suddenly in Boulder, Colorado. There was this old VW bus and these folks rummaging through all these boxes and books that were packed inside. She walked up to one of these young people and handed him a box.
"This is all my stuff with Pirooz," she said.
The guy started turning pages and reading poems and things we had written together.
"Look at these," Bobbie said, and pointed out some of my drawings next to the poems we wrote. They were these doodle things I always did at the time: strange circles repeating. I didn't think much of it, but Bobbie liked them a lot.
"Wow," the guy said. "These are great."
Then he read something we wrote together. It was about love. I felt myself getting emotional, but I wasn't going to cry or anything. Still, this other young woman that was with the group, put her arm around my shoulder and walked me away from the van.
"You okay?" she asked.
When she asked this, I just started crying.
Then when she walked me back to the van, everything disappeared and I was lying in my bed. There was this breeze coming through the window. It'd come in spurts like the surf coming up and over me right before morning. I lay there and thought about the dream.
I figured this wasn't a dream. It was a visit. And, I know. This sounds crazy. But, it really felt like Bobbie was getting ready for her trip and wanted me to visit.
This could also all be my unconscious, because the road trip I'm supposed to go on with my cousin next week is supposed to be an "On the Road" adventure with us stopping in Boulder to meet Bobbie. Since she died a couple weeks ago, I figured we could still pay our respects. Maybe this dream was just telling me that this was the right thing to do for the film.
I really don't know. Making films is a real mystery. It's a lot of gut decisions if you're really in it. You can't really know what's right or wrong. You just wait for the moment and then let it happen naturally. I'm not sure if it'll be good or bad, but you sort of let it be what it wants to be. If you push against it too hard, then it won't feel right. It'll be forced and it'll come off like a different kind of cinema. But, if you just let things happen and just turn the sail slightly, then it's a lot like surfing. All you gotta do is ride the wave, crash, ride the wave, stop, ride the wave, and so on.
Maybe that's why I suggested for Thomas Bellier to add a surf element to the theme song for the film. Maybe it's supposed to feel like water coming up on you, like that breeze after the dream with Bobbie. Maybe I'm also supposed to breathe and check-in with how I'm doing.
I saw my therapist last week and she gave me a rock. It was some kind of stone supposed to help you with heartache and difficulty.
"I was saving this for our last session," she said and handed me the rock. "But I think you could use it now."
I have it in my pocket now. Hopefully, it's helping. I've got all kinds of stones and trinkets on me. I will carry them with me everywhere until the film is done. I even put a Transformer in my pocket. Not sure if any of this helps, but it makes me feel a bit more relaxed.
I was supposed to say something else. Oh, right. The opening of the film. I saw this in a vision too. I was sitting wide awake on a bus stoop and saw the first frame of the film. It said: "For my brothers" on a black screen. This got me crying right away, because I thought this meant my actual brothers in real life and that really touched me. Then I realized it had two meanings and could also include the rest of humanity. That got me crying even more. It seemed really nice. I was going to stick with that, but then I realized this film is for sisters and everyone in between too.
Ah, I get it now. That's what we'll do.
We'll have the words "For my" come up first. Then it says "brothers". Then it says "and sisters". Then it says " and everyone in between too".
That sounds like overkill to me. I've got to be careful of that. I'm the king of overkill. I'll do something good. Then I'll push it so far it actually becomes too much. Jonathan Richman was the first to clue me into this idea. He was doing a gig at the East End Cafe in Newark, Delaware. It was just me and Richie, the owner of the bar, and him sitting in the back bar. He was testing his guitar and asked for some water. Like a putz, I ran over poured four waters, put in straws and peeled the wrappers back, and brought it to him on a tray.
He took one look at the waters and said: "Overkill, man."
Then him and Richie laughed at me. And I laughed too.
It was a good lesson. I'm still learning it. I even get in yelling matches in an overkill way. I suppose that's just who I am. It ain't going to change. I'll just have to quiet it down a bit.
"You have to mediate more," my dad said.
We were on our way to this car dealership. Sohee asked me to get us a car instead of renting one to go to Los Angeles. I may just rent if this falls through, but I figured I'd try. My dad wanted to come with me. He was my test pilot. I'd have him drive cars and sit inside them and make the car dealers nervous. He was about to push another button on the dashboard when I told him to do his test.
"Do it," I said to him.
"Yeah?" he said.
"Yeah," I said.
Then he put down the back seats and stuck his feet through and laid down into the trunk. He put his head back to see if he could see out the sunroof.
"This is good!" he shouted to me and the dealer standing on the side of the car. "I can sleep!"
"Well," the dealer said. "I've never seen that."
"It's even better if we get a picture," I said.
Then we went back in to talk numbers. The whole time my dad kept going into his Deniro. He'd ask about percentages and then throw a different wrench into the guy's rehearsed pitch. It was like a heckler at a comedy club. Pretty soon, the dealer was sweating so much he had to go to the bathroom and wipe down. When he came back, my dad didn't let up.
"So, we need something to get this car," my dad said.
"What do you mean?" the dealer asked and looked at me for translation.
"He wants something extra," I said.
"Yes," my dad said. "Give us cover seat."
"You want seat covers? It's already leath--"
"Yes," my dad interrupted. "Give us this."
The dealer didn't have seat covers, but my dad's look got him even more worried and he was up looking around his office to close the deal.
"I've got this," he said and pulled out a hat from a filing cabinet.
"This is a start," my dad said and took the hat.
Then I said something really innocent. I didn't mean for it to come off like a second Deniro line, but it was juxtaposed with my dad, so now everything seemed like we were making the guy squirm.
"You need to start typing things out," I said, when he handed us a piece of paper with everything I needed to do to get Sohee out in California on the lease.
"I'm old fashioned," he said, and then started looking for a stapler. "I like writing things--"
That was it. His coffee went all over his desk.
Later that night he called me because he made some more mistakes with getting insurance and he was so sweet and apologetic. I've got nothing but love for him. I mean, I'll just rent a car if this doesn't work out. And with the way he's handling things, I'm guessing it might not.
I suppose we'll find out on Saturday. That's when the next part of filming begins.
If you'd like to donate to this film or any of the other work I do, you can do so now through my Patreon page. It's our only way to raise funds at the moment, so every little bit helps. If you've got a dollar, it's really appreciated.