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Kimberly M. Wetherell KIMBERLY M. WETHERELL is an award-winner filmmaker and opera director whose side passions have now come into the forefront as 'Baketender' at Spirited, a teensy Brooklyn bakery dedicated to the fine craft of tipsy, buzzed and downright drunk desserts.

The former Arts & Culture Editor for TNB and creator of the TNB Literary Experience, Kimberly has additionally been published by SMITH Magazine, The Printed Blog, SCREE and is co-founder of the food and drink reading and storytelling series DISH at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe in SoHo.

Recent Work By Kimberly M. Wetherell

It’s funny how life turns out sometimes.

Once upon a time, I had a dream. No, it wasn’t to be a writer, or a producer, or a director—having done all to varying degrees of success—it was to open a little bakery.

Nothing grand. Something manageable. Fun. With booze.

It was something I had kept in the back of my mind for Some Day. You know, in case the other thing, the Artist thing; the real thing I was doing with my life didn’t pan out.

And then it didn’t.

When failure came knocking at my door, it knocked hard. Failure banged with a sledgehammer. Failure went fucking Medieval on my ass with its Battering Ram of Suck.

Jeff and Lisa, looking out the rear window of Jeff’s apartment, watch Miss Torso – a beautiful leggy blonde, swat away multiple suitors ravenous for her attention at a cocktail party.

JEFF: She’s like a queen bee with her pick of the drones.

LISA: I’d say she’s doing the hardest job a woman has: juggling wolves.

— Rear Window, 1954

*

I am not a whore.

Yeah.

That seems like a good place to start.

*

I’m cute. Almost always. Sometimes I think I even manage pretty. I have a great rack and a small waist. Hourglassy. Much more Marilyn than Moss. My big blue eyes are my very best feature and I’ve been told that my smile can be blinding. I like dresses. Girly ones. And heels. Tall. I paint my nails. Occasionally blue or black or brown, but usually red. Vampy, glittering reds are my favorite.

Make no mistake about it: I’m a girl.

But I also know where to draw the line. My clothes fit, they are both age and event-appropriate and you will never see what I do not want you to see.

After all, I’m also a lady.

Consequently, I’ve never, ever, felt like a whore.

Not until this past weekend, that is.

*

It’s no secret I’m raising money for my next film. One tactic is to find wealthy individuals with disposable income who have a passion for film and somehow convince them to invest in yours. Folks like that tend to be businessmen[1]. Risk-takers. Gamblers.

How do you find those people? Film festivals. Especially ones in wealthy towns.

I was invited to be on a jury at one such festival and seized the opportunity to attend – with the aim of networking within circles I would be otherwise unable to access. I printed my paperwork, practiced my schpiel, packed my bag with the perfect party gear and dove in headfirst.

*

At the opening night party I met “Horace”. Horace was a charming older gentleman. He was well-dressed, well-spoken, witty and thought critically about the evening’s film. I enjoyed talking with him immensely. He had done extremely well for himself working on Manhattan’s trading floor and was a fellow cinephile. He had even had been in a few background scenes in the films Trading Places and Wall Street. He retired comfortably and when the conversation got around to what I did and what I was working on, he immediately started introducing me to the other attendees – especially ones who he felt would take a personal interest to the material. He collected business cards for me and made it a point to tell me that making connections was his forté. We parted with a polite cheek-kiss and you can only imagine how thrilled I was to have started off so well.

The next morning, I awoke to an email with an invitation to join him for a cocktail party on the rooftop terrace of a snazzy new waterfront building. It was THE place to been seen and an opportunity to shake the hands of, not merely rich, but wealthy individuals.

Horace closed the email with “What are your plans tonight? I am looking for some ‘uncomplicated’ fun.”

AYFKMWTS[2]???

I responded with a polite and friendly reply. I thanked him for the invitation, told him how very much I enjoyed his company and would be delighted to join him, but that I was quite devoted to my boyfriend[3] and was there to enjoy the town, the festival and new friends and colleagues. I mentioned my investor search and how I would relish the opportunity to expand my network. I invited him to call if he still wanted me to join him at the cocktail party for networking and the like.

But yeah.

I shot him down.

Hard.

Because no matter how grandfatherly and pleasant he seemed the night before, he propositioned me.

And while there are innumerable things I will do for my film, sucking a 72 year-old dick is not one of them.

*

Two nights later, I paid dearly for a ticket for the festival’s big gala. While I did receive an otherwise pricey VIP badge in exchange for my services as a judge, the pass granted me access to everything but that one party, and when you’re looking for investors, a $200-ticket party is where you’ll find them.

As a brief respite from schmoozing some of the people Horace (whom I never heard from again) had introduced me to, I stopped to chat with some of the festival staff.

A gentleman wandered toward the group and greeted the people he knew. Introductions were made. He was high up in the “Jaymond Rames” family and didn’t necessarily flaunt his wealth, but did frequently and somewhat annoyingly refer to it. Also, he was a handsy fellow. A close-talker. And kind of loud. But it was a party and the DJ was spinning at a pitch just two decibels above ‘pleasant conversation’ and so I forgave him, but neither did I pay him much mind. Braggadocio is a less-than-admirable trait in my book.

When he mentioned that his brother was an opera singer, my ears perked up. “Who?” I asked. Small world of small words – I not only had heard of his brother, I had worked with him some ten years’ previous. I immediately saw the family resemblance. How had I missed it?! So I began to hone in on little clues as to his interest in, perhaps, another art form. Say… independent film?

My chattiness in sussing out whether he was an investor candidate was immediately assumed to be sexual and “Matt” got handsier. Grabby, actually. I got pawed like so much PlayDoh. I kept him at arm’s distance (as much as I could) and refused to “smell his neck” when repeatedly prodded, nor would I let him anywhere near mine.

It was at that point when he said, “Don’t worry. I’ve got the money for your film. Now just relax and let’s have some fun already.”

Upon parting ways, he told me to follow him in his car and he would steer me back to the interstate.

The valet brought my crappy little veedub (vs his slick beemer) first and I knew the way back. After all, I had driven myself there, hadn’t I? He called to tell me that I had turned incorrectly. The message was bitter.

“Kimberly. It’s Matt. You’re going the wrong way.”

I wasn’t.

Nor do I believe I’ll be joining him in the Bahamas next month.

*

Looking back at Rear Window, I don’t remember the specifics of Miss Torso’s party. We know all about the songwriter’s crescendo towards success and Miss Lonelyheart’s deep depression, the newly-wed bride’s insatiable appetite and of course, what happened to Mrs. Thorwald and the little dog too…

But why the party, Hitch?

The scene set up Miss Torso as a whore; a ditzy dancer who rehearsed in her granny panties during those hot summer afternoons and by the very nature of her affability and attractiveness, was asking for it.

Just like that poor little girl in Texas.

*

What the hell? Do I have to start wearing combat boots and black trench coats to be taken seriously by a man? Do I have to bind my breasts and shave my head? Assume a dour and aloof disposition and hope that someone just walks up to me and takes over where Ed McMahon left off??

*

I have another similar festival to attend in two weeks’ time and I don’t want to make the same mistake twice. I mean, seriously. Why would I prance around in my granny panties if I know everyone’s got binoculars?

After a thorough review of the weekend, I still contend that I dressed appropriately and professionally. I am certain that my pitch and business acumen was rock-solid. My friendly approach of “Hello! What did you think about the film?” came straight from the Dale Carnegie handbook, so I know that market’s cornered.

But ever the student, I knew there was something I could learn from this experience. Something I could do differently. Something I could change.

And it hit me.

Like a giant fucking rock.

[4]

– – – – – – – – – –

[1] I don’t know the percentage of male-to-female film investors, but my experience thus far leads me to believe that like the rest of the film industry, it’s pretty heavily male dominated.

[2] Are You Fucking Kidding Me With This Shit?

[3] It wasn’t a total lie. I mean, I would be if I had one.

[4] This is the wedding set I just bought (for a whopping $7.35) and will sport at the next film festival and subsequent parties. Otherwise, I’ll do and wear everything exactly the same as I did this past weekend. Even if I don’t raise a penny for the film, it should be a FASCINATING experiment.



Major Depressive Disorder (Source: NIMH)

  • Major Depressive Disorder is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15-44.
  • Major Depressive Disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.
  • While Major Depressive Disorder can develop at any age, the median age at onset is 32.
  • Major Depressive Disorder is more prevalent in women than in men.

*

I had to look those numbers up, because too often I feel alone in my diagnosis.

You see, contrary to most people’s impression of me, I am depressive. Clinically. Sometimes, debilitatingly. But only my two closest friends and my psychiatrist (no, not even my family) know how grim I can get.

*

Here’s how it usually goes when I mention it to the uninformed:

“I’m sad.”

“But your life is so awesome. You are so awesome. Cheer up!”

*

I don’t know how to write about it. It’s embarrassing. And I don’t understand it.

But I do know what pisses me off about it.

Articles like this one, recently published in The New York Times:

Talk Doesn’t Pay, So Psychiatry Turns Instead to Drug Therapy

The article examines the switch from psychiatric talk therapy to becoming mere pill factories and how disgruntled older psychiatrists are (or aren’t) about it and how patients are suffering nonetheless.

*

I was going through a crippling wave of depression about seven years ago. I was finally convinced to see my friend’s psychiatrist. I was terrified. This would be my first trip to a real, live, “New York Shrink”.

I had been to one social worker/therapist in Chicago six years before that, but with awful results. After two visits and a recommendation for a bottle of St. John’s Wort and a couple bars of dark chocolate, I was sent home with a treacle-dripping “Feel better!” and a wave.

And that was during the truly borderline years.

So while I told myself that a ‘professional’ would be better than that particular weirdo therapist, I knew I didn’t want drugs to solve my problems. I knew I was a smart person and that I could figure things out if someone would just listen to me and understand me and give me some tools to help me fix the sadness.

*

I got a prescription for Zoloft at the end of my first visit.

“After you’re chemically balanced, we’ll be able to figure out what’s really going on.”

After I was chemically balanced, I had nothing to talk about.

*

Sure, I was no longer on the emotional roller coaster, but neither did I have the capacity to talk about what was making me so miserable, because suddenly nothing was making me miserable.

I spent two years rehashing broken relationships, parental annoyances, professional disappointments, but they seemed so inconsequential. I was putting on a performance for her, because that was what I felt I was supposed to be doing, and I didn’t want to waste a penny of my $200 45-minute hour.

Also, I got fat.

Zoloft stopped what little metabolism my diabetically-inclined body has, and because I was an emotionless blob, I started eating and staring at the television all the time.

More than usual, anyway.

Add ‘overweight slob’ to my weekly schpiel.

*

Eventually, thankfully, my rational senses took over and I weaned myself off of the drugs and the shrink’s staid head-nodding, non-responsive “um-hmm” attempts at fixing me.

And for a while, I was better. I was. My brain came back. I met a guy. The thrill of meeting him was exhilarating, the orgasms were mind-blowing and the break-up was devastating.

As it should be.

*

Life resumed its normalcy.

*

Slowly, ever so slowly, the depression came back. I don’t know where it came from. It’s genetic, I had learned that, so certainly it was in my DNA. A chemical imbalance? Maybe. A learned coping mechanism? Sure. I could see that.

But whatever it was, things were getting bad again.

Really bad.

And I didn’t know how to deal, other than I knew I needed to talk and I didn’t want to keep bothering my two friends. I know friends say that’s what they’re there for, but nobody is there for long when things get like my things get.

So I looked for another psychiatrist.

But no drugs this time. I was adamant.

Plus, it took me two long years to lose those additional 40 lbs.

And I was lookin’ good.

*

I found one. One who was in the business for all the right reasons. He didn’t think I needed drugs. He even gave me a massive discount because I was broker than broke.

I talked.

He talked back.

And it helped.

A lot.

*

I’ve been away from him and our bi-monthly sessions for nine months and I can feel the all-too-familiar twinge creeping back.

But I recognize it now. And I know what to do before it gets too ugly.

I have to go talk to someone.

*

No drugs.

*

Talk.

*

My appointment’s next Tuesday.

Each year (2009, 2010) I review the Oscar contenders* for you in 6 words each, as inspired by my friends over at SMITH Magazine.

This year, the 2011 nominees are:

“You have to collect one hundred ‘no’s for a single ‘yes’”

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

“That which does not kill you makes you stronger.”

I like socks.

Big fan.

*

Of late, my track record with socks is primarily happenstance. Obtained by necessity and without forethought. Acquired on a whim. Impulse socks. They feel good for a moment. Familiar and warm. Comfortable. But after wriggling around for a few hours, you realize that they are ill-fitting; simultaneously restrictive, and yet with elastic that’s pre-shot to Hell. The cheap acrylic fiber gets itchy – fast. It soon becomes apparent that these are Casual socks – disposable – worth nothing more than mere momentary gain and non-existent resale value.

 

A friendly reminder:

The Nervous Breakdown’s Literary Experience, NYC will soon be bloomin’!

Mark your calendars now for Friday, March 26th for readings from your favorite TNB writers, centered around the theme: GROWING PAINS!!

The details:


The Nervous Breakdown’s Literary Experience, NYC will soon be bloomin’!

Mark your calendars now for Friday, March 26th for readings from your favorite TNB writers, centered around the theme: GROWING PAINS!!

Friday, March 26, 2010
Happy Ending Lounge
302 Broome Street

Doors open: 7:00pm
Program begins: 8:00pm

Cover: FREE*!!

As some of you may remember, each year I review the Oscar contenders* for you in just 6 words each, as inspired by my friends over at SMITH Magazine.

This year, the 2010 nominees are:

One of my very favorite things about The Nervous Breakdown’s Literary Experience-NYC, is the games.

Not that I don’t love the readings or meeting my fellow TNB writers or drinking heartily and making out with each and every one of them, but the very best part for me, is making the ‘Experience’ interactive.

Getting the audience involved.
Brainwashing the masses.
Buying your affection.
With fabulous prizes.

On the First Date of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

One of those waxy, chocolate-crunch foil-wrapped Santas. We were seven. He liked to read as much as I did – we even co-won a reading contest. I knew right then that we should get married, because that’s what love was: reading together and eating candy.

 

On the Second Date of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

A kind word. I was in fifth grade and had to wear this awful orthodontic headgear that looked like the inside of a football helmet, and his first worry was that I had been in a terrible accident and was I going to be okay? And then he defended me when all the other kids pointed and called me ‘Jabberjaw.’

 

On the Third Date of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

Nausea. We were playing Spin the Bottle at my eighth grade Christmas party. I was terrified that he didn’t like me, or wouldn’t like me, or thought I was fat, or stupid, or both. So rather than make-out with him behind the drawn curtain, panic-stricken, I told him that I was sick and quite possibly contagious. So we stood there like two idiots until it seemed plausible that we had been frenching.

 

On the Fourth Date of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

The honor of being the first person he came out to.

 

On the Fifth Date of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

A Godfather marathon. I was home from college and we started from separate ends of the sofa, but by the time Fredo was praying his last Hail Mary, the two of us were a tangled mess on the middle cushion and nothing but the deafening screech of the auto-rewind on my parents’ VCR could stop us. And then we went to the movie theatres to see Godfather III – our first “official” date – but all I remember about that film was that we played with each other’s fingers throughout. Well, that and Sofia’s nose.

 

On the Sixth Date of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

An official NHL hockey jersey. No, seriously.

 

On the Seventh Date of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

One of those Verse-a-Day bibles. Same guy.

 

On the Eighth Date of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

A complex. After years of friendship, peppered with on-again-off-again relationship attempts, rather than simply tell me that he had met someone else (with whom he would eventually fall in love and marry), he ended things by reporting that it was, in fact, me and not him.

 

On the Ninth Date of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

A perfect first kiss. One of those idyllic kisses, where the guy walks you to your car and stops you just as you reach for the door handle. He spins you around and pushes you firmly, yet gently, against the car door as he drinks in your eyes with his. One of those kisses where he gently traces the line of your jaw with his fingertips and brushes your cheek, and right as he leans towards you and you think your heart is going to explode – at the precise moment your lips meet – tiny snowflakes begin to fall.

 

On the Tenth Date of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

A vibrator. I was alone that year and my date was me.

Best. Christmas. Ever.

 

On the Eleventh Date of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

Silence. Alone again. Batteries? Dead.

Worst. Christmas. Ever.

 

On the Twelfth Date of Christmas, my true love gave to me:

Anticipation – for the date that’s yet to come.

There’ll be no bibles or hockey jerseys. No movie marathons, no kind words, no frenching. No batteries. But neither will there be rude awakenings or callous dismissals.

I’m not exactly sure when my next date will be, or where.

But I have hope that wherever, whenever, with whomever, there’ll be stacks of books and heaps of candy.

 

The Nervous Breakdown’s Literary Experience is back in New York City this Friday night!

Brave the cold and let the writers of The Nervous Breakdown warm your cockles with stories written expressly for you and read aloud to you (and only you) around the theme: HOLIDAZE.

Details:

Dearest TNB Readers,

I’d like to take this opportunity to express my delight in personally welcoming you to the brand-spanking new Arts & Culture section of The Nervous Breakdown.

My own relationship with TNB started as a reader of the original version 1.0. I would stop by a few times a week and get lost in the marvel of those first group of writers’ creations. Enamored by what Brad Listi and his posse were doing, I submitted a piece in the hopes of being a contributor myself.

I was refused.

The email from Brad said that the website was undergoing a major overhaul and that they couldn’t possibly accept any new writers at the time. I was heartbroken. At least The New Yorker had the decency to lie to me with their boilerplate, “Despite its evident literary merit, we regret to inform you…”

But despite the rejection, I didn’t quit reading.

Or writing.

The writers at TNB were the standard to which I held myself against, and lo and behold, one day, version 2.0 was about to launch and I got an email from none other than Brad Listi himself:

“You interested? Please let us know. Grazie, TNB”

‘Interested’ didn’t even come close to my level of enthusiasm. I jumped in with both feet and within one year as a contributor, leaning heavily on my own theatrical background, I helped found our live reading series: The Nervous Breakdown’s Literary Experience!variety show of sorts, TNBLE features the writers of The Nervous Breakdown, complete with readings, music, games, films and audience participation galore! These events are held quarterly in New York at The Happy Ending Lounge, in Los Angeles at The Hotel Café and in Chicago at The Whistler, and hopefully soon, we’ll be coming to a venue near you!

But for the moment, we are here.

Version 3.0.

Three. Point. Oh.

We, the unstoppable Arts & Culture team; Associate Editors Kimberlee Auerbach, Rob Bloom, Megan DiLullo, and I, as Editor, aspire to bring you that same level of devotion, enthusiasm and entertainment as we introduce you, our dear readers, to some of the most provoking, challenging, emerging and established artists our community, nay the world, has to offer: composers, actors, painters, filmmakers, graphic novelists, comedians, opera singers and many, many more! (Side note: We’re still looking for mimes…)

Each week, we’ll ask the TNB Featured Artist a few questions. 21 to be exact. We’ll dig deep and analyze those ‘missing’ tidbits Bernard Pivot or Marcel Proust wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole (or a twenty-foot Czechoslovakian) as we learn more about what makes each of these artists tick.

We wouldn’t dare ask anyone to answer these questions without putting ourselves out there on the ‘chopping block’ first, so in the words of our illustrious and fearless leader:

Here goes nothing.

Enjoy!

~ Kimberly, Kimberlee, Rob & Megan

* * * * *

TNB A&C:  1. Please explain what just happened.

Kimberlee Auerbach (KA): I just had a conversation with a friend about sexual impulses. Can we become attracted to someone we didn’t think we were attracted to? I had an experience recently where I felt physically turned on by someone I had thought I wasn’t attracted to, and when I thought more about it, it was because I felt so emotionally safe with him. I’m beginning to think if you’re getting your emotional needs met, then the physical will follow. But I’m not sure.

Rob Bloom (RB): I was going to ask you the same question.

Megan DiLullo (MDL): Well, it was kind of a blur. But I will apologize profusely to the trick or treaters and hopefully they’ll understand that all that candy would have been bad for them and that I was just trying to save them from diabetes.

KMW: Therapy.

 

2. What is your earliest memory?

KA: I did one of those Brian Weiss seminars, where he takes you through a past life regression. As part of the meditation, he asks you to go back to your earliest memory. I was following his prompts, doubtful I’d be able to remember anything, but all of a sudden, I felt myself in my mother’s arms as a baby, feeling her smiling down at me. She felt like the sun. So warm.

RB: My parents taking me to Circus World, a two-bit amusement park in Orlando, and being scared out of my mind by a very unfunny (and unrelenting) clown.

MDL: I was almost three years old, I know this because my grandfather died when I was three. I was at my grandparent’s house in Philly. My Grandfather was sitting in his plastic covered rocking chair, as Italian immigrants are prone to do. My father was sitting on the sofa making bubbles with that super elastic bubble plastic stuff. He would then hand then to me and I would walk very shakily over to my grandfather and hand them to him. It was all very exciting, and that is the only memory I have of my grandfather.

KMW: Face glued to the television; singing “C is for Cookie” at the top of my lungs. There was also a dance which involved one part tummy-rubbin’, two parts bootie-wigglin’.

 

3. If you weren’t doing what you are doing now, what would you be doing?? (**Note: this is the original incarnation of this question, amended in the future to refer to profession**)

KA: Do you mean right this very minute? Or in my career? I love my life and my career, so I wouldn’t be doing anything else right now. In terms of this very moment, I would be sleeping. I’m wicked tired, and I never use the word wicked.

RB: I’d be a Walt Disney Imagineer.

MDL: Well, as a child, I wanted to be a professional triangle player or macaroni and cheese. I also have a strong interest in industrial design and have often thought that being a dog groomer would be just plain fun. I’m still leaning towards macaroni and cheese, though.

KMW: I’d be a chef. Making people happy with food has always been an open passion of mine. There’s something terribly satisfying to know that people are eating exquisitely because of something you made for them. So maybe it’s not too far off from what I do right now. I want to feed people; whether it’s their souls or their bellies.  Both work for me.

 

4. Please describe the current contents of your refrigerator.

KA: Three apples, a gallon of orange juice, apple butter, pear butter, almond butter, Trader Joe’s Bruschetta, Silk Original soy milk, lettuce, maple syrup, hummus, mustard, pickles, honey, batteries, film, four bottles of True Blood, and some other random stuff I can’t remember without getting up to go check.

RB: Greek yogurt, a Tupperware container filled with tuna fish, another Tupperware with dog food, three bottles of ketchup (all of which are at varying degrees of fullness), and a bunch of bananas which I’d prefer not to refrigerate but have to because of the fruit flies that have invaded the kitchen.

MDL: Liquid minerals, EFA’s, organic raw dog food that’s thawing. The solid people food I can only describe as holding on for dear life. Too bad you didn’t ask about the freezer, that’s where the good stuff is.

KMW: Embarrassingly enough (considering the last answer), lots of Lean Cuisine and ready-to-go food. (I’m in production on a film right now and have no time to cook, nor money for take-out.) There’s a whole mess of bacon toffee that I *still* need to send to Zara and Lenore, as well as three different kinds of excess homemade frosting from previous baking experiments. Also some picholine olives, stilton, a ridiculous number of fancy condiment bottles, half-eaten bars of Mast Brothers chocolate, and a bottle of Veuve for when the next occasion to pop it arises.

 

5. What verb best describes you?

KA: Connect

RB: Run

MDL: I wouldn’t even begin to know how to answer this question.

KMW: Faire. I chose the French, because it encompasses so much more than just “To Do”. Faire is to create, to make, to build, to play, to act, to have [affection], to pay [a compliment]. Faire is an extremely active verb.

 

6. What would you say to yourself if you could go back in time and have a conversation with yourself at age thirteen?

KA: Don’t give your power away. Do what makes you happy.

RB: I promise you, it will get better.

MDL: Don’t start smoking. But I remember being thirteen and I know I wouldn’t listen to myself.

KMW: I’d reassure myself that I am prettier than I think. That I’m not fat. That I am talented. And that Janna Chase is a bitch.

 

7. What are the steps you take to regain your composure?

KA: I take really deep awkward breaths.

RB: Take a few deep breaths, then remind myself that it’s probably not all that important anyway.

MDL: Well, I like to start with a deep breath, usually followed by a “Can I get back to you on that one?”

KMW: You mean after I stop crying? Down a shot of bourbon (if I can). I take a deep breath. Try to walk around the block. Remind myself why I’m doing what I’m doing. Find something in the situation to laugh about. Refresh my lipstick. Move on.

 

8. Define “success”.

KA: Financial and emotional independence.

RB: Achieving a goal. Any goal.

MDL: I think that throughout your life your definition of success will change depending on where you’re at. As you change and grow so do your priorities. But the most important thing is to be happy with who you are. If you’re not that, you can’t help anyone else.

KMW: I can’t. I pretty much feel like a failure most of the time.

 

9. From what or whom do you derive your greatest inspiration?

KA: Love.

RB: Knowing that something I write can make someone laugh and, maybe just maybe, turn a crappy day into a slightly less crappy one.

MDL: I find inspiration in the odd little things that happen in everyday life. I love the idea of not knowing what’s around the next corner. Somehow I find that very reassuring and it’s a constant reminder to pay attention to what’s going on today.  I’ve discovered that by not having a myopic view I get to enjoy a lot of great opportunities that pop up and learn a ton of new things in the process that take me directions I never thought of.

KMW: Watching those that I have helped in some way, succeed.

 

10. What change do you want to be in the world?

KA: I want people to feel safe and to be more present with one another, so I make an effort to make others feel safe and to be present with them.

RB: Be the best dad I can be. Not enough of those in the world.

MDL: Let’s start with the basics of clothes, food, shelter and healthcare for everyone, then we can work on other stuff.

KMW: $0.41. One of each [coin].

 

11. Are you pro- or anti-emoticon? Please explain.

KA: Pro. I’ll admit it. But I’m anti the acronym for laughing out loud.

RB: Anti. Reminds me too much of my middle school yearbook.

MDL: Anti, obviously.

KMW: Totally pro-emoticon. Emoticons are the internet’s vocal inflection.

 

12. How are you six degrees from Kevin Bacon?

KA: Not sure.

RB: Four degrees. Worked with John Lutz on my short film “Suburban Bravery.” Lutz was in “Splinterheads” with Sam Kitchin who was in “The Truman Show” with Laura Linney who was in “Mystic River” with Kevin Bacon.

MDL: Let’s see. My tattoo artist, Lance Talon, tattooed Kyra Sedgewick (I know this because he has a picture in his studio) who is married to Kevin Bacon.

KMW: Let’s just put it this way: Knowing me makes you one degree closer. :-)

 

13. What makes you feel most guilty?

KA: Picking my skin.

RB: Not rubbing my dog’s belly while I’m sitting on the sofa watching TV.

MDL: Guilt is useless. I try to think far enough in advance and consider my actions to avoid guilt altogether.

KMW: Not being perfect.

 

14. Please list three things you never leave home without.

KA: My iPhone. My wallet, although the other day I forgot it. A metrocard.

RB: Wallet, phone, GPS.

MDL: My purse, of which the contents are vast, my skull heart necklace and a sense of adventure.

KMW: Five different shades of lipsticks/glosses (I need options). My claddagh ring. Hope.

 

15. What is the worst piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?

KA: To tone it down.

RB: My 9th grade guidance counselor told me that, because I stuttered, I should join the circus and become a clown.

MDL: You can’t get pregnant the first time. But it was my best friend in kindergarten who told me that and she had heard it from her older sister, who was in third grade. And, in reality neither of us had any idea what she referring to, or talking about, so we considered our options, decided that it would, indeed be in our best interest, and ate the whole pan of brownies.

KMW: Be patient.

 

16. What is the best advice you’ve ever given to someone else?

KA: To go to therapy.

RB: Just let it go.

MDL: Nothing is permanent or get rid of that scrunchie. It’s a toss up.

KMW: Do it. Now.

 

17. What do you consider the harshest kind of betrayal?

KA: Secret affairs. Actually, secrets in general. Any kind. It sucks to be lied to.

RB: Another writer taking credit for my work.

MDL: Any type of betrayal of trust. But in the long run I believe in cause and effect, so I try to just move on and assume that I learned a valuable lesson that I will someday understand.

KMW: Being taken advantage of.

 

18. Of all the game shows that have graced our TV screens throughout history, which one would you want to be a contestant on and why?

KA: Games freak me out. I would hate to be on any game show.

RB: Match Game. Why? C’mon, Richard Dawson, Charles Nelson Reilly, and Brett Sommers?!? I’d love to be a fly on the wall of that green room.

MDL: The original Gong Show with Chuck Barris. When I was little I used to dance along with Gene Gene the Dancin’ Machine in front of the TV. He is the best.

KMW: Press Your Luck. “No Whammies! No Whammies! No Whammies!”

 

19. What do you want to know?

KA: I want to know more about neuroscience. I want to know more about history. I want to know if I will get married and have kids. I want to know God.

RB: What’s next?

MDL: Lots of things, knowledge is freedom, and life is all about learning. I would like to start by finding out what happened to Boo Berry cereal.

KMW: What it’s like to learn the easy way.

 

20. What would you like your Last Words to be?

KA: I love you.

RB: I’m ready.

MDL: Something great and enlightened, but they will probably end up being something like “Does it smell like cheese in here?” or “Can you please get that chicken off my bed.” Though, I would settle for “Huzzah!” or “A la peanut butter sandwiches.”

KMW: I love you too.

 

21. Please explain what will happen.

KA: Fuck if I know. Well, actually I do know. I am going to go to bed.

RB: What? And spoil the surprise?

MDL: I’m going to go back home to Cabot Cove. There’s just been so much excitement this week I have to go and write to it all down. Then it’s onto another mystery.

KMW: Therapy. Lots and lots more therapy.

The most important thing for any Multi-hyphenate (Writer/Director/Producer) to know before embarking on an independent film project is this: No One Knows Anything.[1]

First and foremost, you must always remember: This rule does not apply to You.

You are right and everyone else is wrong.

You are the only person who knows How It Should Be Done.

For Sale:

2000 Cannondale SP500. Purple. Hybrid tires; perfect for streets and light off-road terrain. Climbing handles (worn), speedometer (needs new battery), pannier rack (no pannier bags) and shiny red bell (brand new, never used) included. Recently had full tune-up with no rides since.

Only one accident.

A small child.

15 months.

Struck.

The speedometer read 11.8 mph. I was flying. It was an emergency. I had forgotten the doohicky at home and rushed back to get it. I thought taking my bike would shave a few minutes off the return.

12.0 mph. NO BICYCLES ON SIDEWALKS was stenciled in reflective white block letters on the gray concrete-paved pathways. I considered it. Laughed. Surely that doesn’t apply to me. This was important. Necessary.The doohickey.

12.2 mph. My legs tingled with a lactic buzz. The park was nearly empty. A beautiful morning. Autumn sunshine filtering through turning leaves. I felt the cool October wind pep-smack my cheeks as I stood and pumped harder. I was nearly there.

12.4 mph. 12.6.

I saw her. Over by the fence. Playing with her nanny. Everything pink and cottony. Shiny tendrils. Her knees were spongy. Bouncy. She smelled, no doubt, of mushy Cheerios and Johnson’s Baby Shampoo. She smiled.She had tiny pearl-button teeth. I smiled back. She darted.

12.8.

The first tire knocked her down. Things began to move at 1000 frames per second. Endless slow-motion. I lifted up my body in a vain reversal of gravity, hoping to lessen the weight as the second tire scorched a black imprint across her perfect pink pants. Mid-air, for surely I had been able to hoist not only myself but my bicycle with the super-human strength I had acquired in this molasses-thick time-space aberration, I threw the bike into the stiff grass, far from the tiny pink ball that lay, stilled, on the cold gray pavement; the bright white stencils, nowhere in sight.

She didn’t make a sound. She just looked up at me; batted the long blonde lashes that curled away from her sapphire eyes and smiled her pearl-button smile. I counted six. The nanny, barely old enough to be without a babysitter herself, rushed across the sidewalk. She scooped the girl up. I knew the child should not be moved. Not without a paramedic. I, at least, knew that much. Before my own mother had let me baby-sit, she made me go through a Red Cross training course. I was certified.

“We should call 911,” I heard myself say, still swimming through my slo-mo water world. “Her mother should know. There could be internal injuries. I hit her with my bike.” The reality hadn’t set in. I was deep in crisis-solution mode.

“No,” said the nanny with an accent as thick as borscht. Her voice shifted into a minor key. “Not the mother.” Piano. “Not the mother.” The nanny quickly brightened and started bouncing the child up and down: a horsey ride. “She’s fine. You can forget about it. Finish your bike ride. Look! She’s not even crying!”

It was true. The child hadn’t shed a tear. But surely that was shock. There could be something internal. I stopped the nanny from her game and started to inspect the child. As I ran my hands across her limbs, checking for bruises, bumps, breaks, I noticed her tiny pants were pin-striped; ruffled at the ankle.

I gingerly touched her doughy thighs. I felt two firm, fat sausages underneath the soft fabric, now spoiled by thick, greasy track marks. As I gently applied pressure to her legs, her cherubic face turned fuchsia. She began to howl.

In the blink of her tear-soaked, blonde curling eyelash, I went from 1000 FPS to 6. Fast-forward.

“You have to get this child to the emergency room,” I ordered, “Right now.”

In a single step, I was on the curb of Central Park West – a taxi waiting at my side: trunk and passenger door open, ready to receive the bulky stroller, nanny and child.

“I’m coming with you.”

The nanny shook her head. Her eyes bore into mine. “No. Trust me. You don’t want to meet…” and her voice dropped again. Più piano. “…the mother.”

I hastily scribbled my information onto a piece of paper and pressed it into the nanny’s clammy hands. I watched as the cab sped southward; the screaming, broken child in the backseat.

I began to walk slowly back into the park. Numb. I think there was somewhere I had been going. Somewhere important. An emergency. I felt something pressing in my pocket. The doohickey. Oh. Right. The doohickey. There were people waiting for me.

The white stenciled letters started screaming: NO BICYCLES ON SIDEWALKS.

It was then the tears came. Slowly. Spontaneously. I wasn’t crying. It was worse.

Internal.
Bleeding.
Concussion.
Brain.
Damage.
Ruptured.
Permanent.
Irreparable.
Injury.
Death.

These words began to implode within me, crush me, double me over with something beyond grief. I passed the spot. My bike lay quietly in the grass: still green, but crunchy. The end of its season. Of course no one had stolen it. How could they? After what it had done.

After what I had done.

“It was an accident,” they said. “Kids bounce,” they said. “Don’t worry,” they said.

I stared at my telephone for nine hours straight. I could not breathe.

Eventually he called. The father, not the mother. Pianissimo. Not the mother. No.

“Minor bruising. No concussion. Just a little shaken up is all.”

I asked for her name.

Anya.

I’ve tried a few times since then to get back on the bike. I got a shiny new bell. A tune-up. New tires. I’ve made jokes about that nanny. About how she was probably fired. Possibly deported.

But every time I push the pedals, it’s impossible not to feel that first bump; to hear the smack of a soft skull meet the sidewalk. And then, that inevitable second, always feeling my weight sink down into her little fat sausage legs, wrapped in dough.

Only one accident.

A grown woman.

36 years.

Stuck.