Rom Com Sketchbook
This project is:
Editors: B. Willard and A. Whistletown
Copyright: AMW Watson
The order of the snippets is to be determined.
God please fill me up, turn me inside out,
Make me wise, help me do what’s best
And help me talk to her, tell her, show her.
Help us know one another in this life
and together find what is best for us
What does she need and how can I become
the man who gives her what she needs
in this life
every day and night always?
Or does she need some other congregation?
I wish to connect with her, body, heart, mind, soul.
I wish to fellowship with all of her and just her
for this life
if it can be
I pray that it could be
if we could find a way
for this love
to be right
to be good
to be a family
a safe haven
a flowering field
where dragons and bumbles buzz,
grasshoppers and children thwack,
mice slip and ravens step.
I pray that we might be together for real
and happy and decent and joyful and OK
OK in this life, resting on one another,
pushing into one another, in laughter and fun,
growing together in love.
In a Living Room
Never did I hurt as I hurt now, for want of you.
When will you love me?
What mopes the young man o’er?
Why sag them story shoulders o’er?
Oh me? I’m just half of a two that’s one all alone.
Aren’t we all! Isn’t it just!
Just? But justice is for the heavens. Down here we can only work together against madness and corruption. If we would be so kind.
We need to get you out of doors. You’re so profound you’re sinking like a stone.
Out of my depths. Yes, what a pity! I’ve grown deeper than myself. They name that vanity, self-indulgence, emo, melancholy-on-parade, and fat-fisted ego-tripping.
Let’s take a walk.
The world’s too easy here.
No, it’s as it should be.
Perhaps. Better a sitcom than a war zone. Better a romcom than a police state.
Come, let’s out of doors. Fresh air dissolves all evil spirits. Or at least disperses the vapors to which they cling.
We’ve had it so good. All of us here in this polity, imperfect though it be. We’ve had it so good and now we lie down for he lie. Blind cynicism, blind patriotism: two sides of the same sword.
Up, up! Put away your swords real and allegorical. Up, up! Out of doors!
In the meadow, by the brook
He loves me, he loves me not.
You speak too oft to these petals.
Yes, it’s an evil habit. Killing flowers to scratch a mood.
Isn’t it more than that? Isn’t there prophesy within the petal plucking ceremony?
No. Not for me. Not an effective prophesy. Because my plucking’s never done. I chain pluck. No sooner is one daisy naked that I attack another.
Oh, that is an evil excess! You’ll undaisy our fields and impoverish our souls.
I’m but an easy going bad bitch.
If only that were true! I’m afraid this heap of defrocked daisies testifies the otherwise.
Do you ever wish for a man, just one man, for a life wedded, virgin to virgin, two who fit and meld to one without ever straying from innocent delight?
Sometimes, in a pink-stockinged and pony-tailed reverie. But it’s too late for that. I must make do with a man who likes his horses broken in. Anyway, let’s leave this field of slaughtered innocents. Let’s march.
Stroll. Walk. Amble.
Why say “march”?
“March” contains gusto and self-determination within itself. March is a walk that creates itself.
March is the self-caused cause?
Yes, march is God. Come along, let’s worship.
Very well. I hope that march will forgive my musings, forgive these daisies squandered in objectless idle.
So you’ve no particular man in mind. What of it? You still need to know if he loves you true or not.
I think he does love me. What I’m sure of is whether or not he exists.
Some say the same of God.
They but stroll. Let’s you and I march alongside the bending brook.
At the side of the road
No more of what isn’t any good. Why do I do what I don’t even like?
I don’t know. Why not try not doing what you don’t like.
But what will I do? I always do what I don’t like. How will I think of anything to do if I eliminate what I don’t like?
That’s why it’s so scary to stop doing what you don’t like. You don’t know what you’ll do. You’re unprepared. You’re at the mercy of the future. By always doing what you don’t even like, you hold onto the past even as you move into the future. You hold onto the past as a pattern.
I will lay down in this roadside ditch.
Is that a break from tradition?
No. Yes. But that’s not the point.
What is the point?
Ta talk to musty fraying decaying leaves and the invertebrates that scoot and crawl and scurry therein.
There’s no point to that! And surely you don’t even like it.
I don’t like the idea of it, but I’ve never tried it, so I can’t say if I like it or not.
Nonsense. …. Get up! Get out of that ditch! Stop smushing around in the moldy old leaves! And dirt.
I won’t! I won’t stop until I either like this or I can definitively say I’ve tried it and I don’t like it!
I’m not staying around for this.
I think I can at least conclude that I don’t like rolling around in ditches by the side of the road enough to bother seeking them out.
In the cafeteria
A. Why stand on line for glops of bleached-out foodstuffs?
B. When I was young we called this lunch, and were glad.
A. When I was young the cafeteria ladies did more than just open cans of fat and sugar.
B. We can’t all have your beautiful youth.
A. I brought you here to remember Furrs Cafeteria, after the landing and the stroll across the baking, steaming, desert asphalt.
B. I came here to be polite.
A. Is that what this is for you? A social duty?
B. No. It’s just a wish that keeps getting tattered in your tense fingertips.
A. I’m sorry. Please. Please just help me know how to love you, care for you, be with you.
B. Here, with plastic trays on metal-bar countertop, strolling through odors of industrial-scale fried chicken, lemon baked cod, butter-smashed potatoes, and chemical-first muffins?
A. Here, there, everywhere. This place takes me back to Phoenix before the caravan up the mountainside in two vans, riding with my cousins and some siblings, my parents and my other siblings in the other van — my grandparents with the big arm chairs in the middle and the bed/bench in the back. I want to go back and back and back to the beginning, but not alone this time. With you.
B. You weren’t alone. You had your cousins, your siblings, your parents and your grandparents.
A. I was alone with the pieces of me that children can’t reach.
B. I love you though. This is OK, because I want to know you and retrace my life with you as well.
A. why is it like this? Why is sweet and soft and pulling between us like cotton candy when we’re seven and the local amusement park is so fun that even the cracked pavement and runny asphalt feels like part of Wonderland?
B. I don’t know. I hope it is as it seems: something divine, something Good, something holy, something both wonderful and right.
A. Me too. I want to tell you that I love you. Every time I’m near you. I want to tell you.
In the cafe
What will you have?
The hummus salad and an iced tea with lemon.
I’ll the same.
You’ve good taste in food and drink, I’ll grant you that.
Does that become a pun if I’m a grant writer by profession?
Yes, it would then become a painfully bad pun.
We lucked out! I’m no grant writer.
That is good news!.
We shouldn’t take our luck for granted in this life.
We’ll have no bread with our perfect meal.
No, the bread here is light, fluffy, and full of ill conceit.
Let’s summon back our waiter and bid he stay the baker’s hand.
Let’s call out for our rented servant, that he come quick and move decisively to effect our bidding.
Waiter! Oh, waiter! Garcon!
(interrupting) Je sais très bien ce que je dis! We require all haste in the dispatch of this our decree.
We temp her as majesty, just as earn your keep as a hired underling.
That’s what sit-down restaurants are for.
Go now, boy, make haste, dispatch, all haste to the kitchen. Rescind the bread. Revoke the starch, let our salads speak for themselves.
Also a side of olive oil, please.
Make that two.
OK, no bread and two sides of olive oil.
Match that quick wit with quick feet and your rewards assured!
Me lord, me lady — I fly!
In the wilds
So I say to myself.
Who are you talking to?
I’m telling you about what I was saying to myself.
I say to myself, I’m not doing that anymore.
I say to myself that I’m not doing that anymore.
No, I mean what aren’t you doing anymore?
Well that’s private.
I say to myself, I’m not doing that anymore. And then, you know what I say back to me?
Yeah, so I fire back: That doesn’t sound like something I’d do. I don’t see the point in swearing off something that I’d never do.
I tell myself, that it doesn’t make sense to quit doing something that is the sort of thing I’d never do in the first place.
But you are doing it?
Well, that’s exactly how I respond to myself’s response to myself. I say, it doesn’t matter if it’s clearly not the sort of thing I’d ever do. I am doing it. Repeatedly. And so it makes all the sense in the world to quit doing it.
And then what did you say to you?
Oh, I went back and forth with me for some time. I won’t bore you with the details.
In the Park. At the Fountain.
A. What’s your system for figuring things out?
B. What do you mean?
A. Like how do you know what is going and what you should do?
B. Oh, I don’t know, I, I just kind of think things over, weigh the different options, and pick what feels like, all things considered, to be the best choice, given what I know, and if I feel I don’t know enough, I try to learn some more, and —
A. Is that really what you do?
B. Yes. Well, I would hope so. I would hope that’s how I figure things out. What about you?
A. That’s just the thing. We all have the same basic system: some mixture of reasoning, feeling, and gut sense; but in my hands, it turns to crazy bullshit.
B. Oh! I’m sorry to hear that. I had no idea.
A. Really, you couldn’t tell?
B. No, you seem to make OK decisions.
A. I am always arguing with God, or the Fates. Well, I’m asking them, what to do. If I should try for this job, or that, if she and I belong together, or it’s somebody else, what I should write, what I should do with a Saturday when I wake up and I’m allowed to pick my own day.
B. Do they tell you what to do?
A. That’s just the thing. I feel Yeses and Nos emanate out of my gut, but sometimes first it’s a Yes, than it’s a No, and back and forth, and I say, God, what’s it gonna be? First you say Yes, then you say No, why do you trifle with me like this?
B. And what does God say.
A. I dunno.
B. Is it God in your gut or you?
A. The idea is to open up wide enough to let God into my whole being, and to guide my gut. Because in the end, no matter how much we humans deliberate, we don’t have a logical reason for even existing or getting up in the morning; and no matter how much we compassionate and feel ourselves, others, and the world, we don’t have a feeling that tells us who we and others really are or how to help anyone for real — for all that, for all the most important aspects of life, in the end we have recourse only to vague senses of things and to our gut.
B. But aren’t those feelings? Don’t we come up with a variety of ideas and then go with what feels right? Or with what the principle that we’ve decided feels right dictates?
A. Yeah, maybe. But I can’t see that feelings, no matter how deeply lodged, or oft repeated inside a questioning mind, can really know anything, can really be wise. And I don’t feel like my feelings are any wiser than my ideas. What feels wise to me is something deeper, something within that only loves. I want this to be my guide, this love that is so true and loving that it must lie deeper than feelings and ideas, because it must — if it is to be as it feels itself to be — be not just about my body and mind and heart, but about everything, and everyone, and all times and all spaces, and what is prior to all times and all spaces, and not just about what seems good or bad to me, but what is actually the way forward for us all forever.
B. You’re talking about a spiritual sense. But isn’t that how we all do it? Don’t we all try to feel that part of ourselves that is wise enough to guide us, and let it guide us? Give it all the reasonings and feelings and ask it to guide the reasonings and feelings and to guide our gut impulse — which is still just a feeling — to guide the whole of our thinking and feeling towards better ways of thinking and feeling, and ultimately better decisions? None of us can prove that our logic matters or that our desires — however altruistic — matter. And so we all know that our only hope to do what truly matters is to find and follow some spiritual path within.
A. Either that, or accept that we don’t have any way to relate our thinking, feeling, and acting to what truly matters; or even to know if anything truly matters.
B. But that’s a false option. That’s like telling a fish it can either swim in the water or, if it prefers, walk on the land. People cannot help but believe that what they say and feel and do truly matters. When they try to believe it doesn’t, they only confuse their own feeling, thinking, and acting.
A. Yes! That’s how I see it. So then I seek for some deeper insight to guide the totality of my feeling, thinking, and acting.
B. That’s normal.
A. But I get no straight answers.
A. I hear over and over again that you’re the one, but is that my wiser, deeper inner Light? Or is it just what I wish so desperately were true?
B. You hear over and over again that I’m the one? The one for you?
A. Yes. I feel it. I hear it. I taste it.
B. Are you coming on to me?
A. I’m asking you to help me think this through, because alone I can’t answer the question. It can only be understood in dialogue with you.
B. But how do we dialogue this? How do we workshop it?
A. I love you. I want you to know that. In your heart, in your gut. I want to communicate with you, to know you.
B. You really are coming on to me!
A. Well, Yes.
In the outside theater space.
Grim-visaged war hath smooth’d his wrinkled front;
And now, instead of mounting barbed steeds
To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,
He capers nimbly in a lady’s chamber
To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.
How now, brown cow? A penny for your thought.
And a tuppence for my heart?
Grim-visaged war hath long stayed his steel-spurred heels
within the borders of a safe and snugly realm,
where sitcoms, romcoms, and other gentle arts
make sense — possessed of stakes within our scope.
My grands, for decades in comfort retired.
My parents, with similar prospects.
No joy may rival true freedom:
Both happy and decent. Not forced to choose
between assisting thugs while bones snap
in rooms unwindowed — hidden, and yet known
And having fun while knowing family
But Trump arrives and I fear we fall.
Because he hurts democracy, and where’s
the people? Bulwark, a concerted voice
against madness and corruption?
Alone we cannot follow the winding strands.
Enmasse we can’t agree on goal nor plan.
And not on lowercase reality,
Nor even less upon Reality
writ large and charged with meaning and elan.
In separate boxes, at different channels;
together losing each other and all
Republicans embrace the tyrant’s lie
that names elections fair “unfair”, that cheers
as cronies run for attorney general.
Awaiting Trump’s call, set to overturn
the people’s will if it affront the Czar’s.
The US Senate is split 50-50 in the summer of 2022.
Democrats represent 185 million people, Republicans 143 million.
44% of the population has 50% of the senate seats.
By 2040, 30% of the population will have 70% of the senate seat.
Though Evil is a burly, bare-toothed term,
it reduces to structural flaws
exacerbated by people being greedy and fearful
until a tipping point is reached
when only greed and fear can keep a family safe
and there the rot sets in, black and molded through
Pine’s a small, safe, reliable city. And it has a cute yet still kind of happening downtown: several streets of brick and stone shops and restaurants, including a stretch where the road’s been switched out for a brick plaza and where foot traffic flows from coffee shop to public library to small independent movie house to clean and friendly restaurants offering various cuisines in various (but uniformly refined, respectable, and well-lit) decors to — amongst less ancient watering holes — a sleepy old bar 100 years old still serving dark beer in small square-edged mugs. Why, in the summer: the cut-offs, the T-shirts, the flip-flops, the sneakers! The kids and the old folks, the skaters and the flaneurs, the goof-off of a Saturday morning in a free city!: who can match it? who can put a value on it? who can put a price on letting people find their own way when the sun is up?, on letting the sun shine in?
You don’t understand how much it is giving you, until you lose it.
So let’s agree to share what we most care about and already share:
awareness, clarity, competency, honesty, accuracy, compassion, wisdom, shared joy —
those universal spiritual values without which none of our values mean anything to any of us.
Let’s agree to keep first things first:
We don’t need to be policy geniuses or to force our great wisdom upon the world;
We need to together guard against madness, corruption, and structural deterioration in government.
How? By worrying less about policy decisions — which, as the democracy weakens are always less and less representative of our collective will anyway –; and more about the nuts and bolts of good government: Honesty and integrity in the process, safeguarding our elections, and undoing this current situation where politics is more and more national but more and more people have less and less representation in national politics — which makes the party with an unfair advantage more interested in defending and expanding (through, for example, laws designed to make it more difficult for their opponents’ voters to vote; or, for a worse example, taking over local election offices so the next time Trump asks them to cheat for him, they can) that unfair advantage than in pursuing policies that are good for everyone.
B. What do you think?
C. Yeah! Definitely. That’s gonna …
A. Make a difference? Wake people up? Shift things?
C. Uhh, I mean, (looks to D)
D. Well, it certainly, it certainly got me thinking.
C. Yeah, me too!
B. But you don’t think it will get the nation to think and move more aware, clear, honest, accurate, competent, compassionate, and joyfully sharing?
C. That’s a hard nut to crack.
A. We used Richard the Third.
B. With all its connotations.
A. Did you notice that part?
D. Yes, uh huh.
B. You don’t think that adds some weight, some force to our argumentation?
D. Hard to say. It is a powerful play.
C. A great play.
D. think with all persuasive pieces, you have to first ask yourself: Who is my audience.
A. We did that!
B. Yeah, we and we decided: Everybody, the whole country and the world and all humans that ever will be.
A. It’s called universal appeal.
B. All the great artists do it.
D. Uh huh.
A. Maybe if we start with
Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
C smiles forward with big, grandma-eyes and then, with the same overwide eyes and roll-top forehead looks over D. D shrugs and, shoulders still forward, gives a bemuse-smiled head-nod towards the players, as if to say, “Some scenes just aren’t ready for honest notes; and that’s OK.”
In the Studio
She and I, we’re giving God a dilemma.
Yeah, because God wants what’s best for everyone.
That’s a dilemma?
It’s lots of dilemmas, actually. But this one is because it’s best for me to be with her, but it’s best for her to be with, dunno, but surely not me.
Oh! Yeah! I never thought of that! God’s got all kinds of dilemmas.
Yeah, except …
Except what I just said contradicts my metaphysics.
God having dilemmas?
Because God’s perfect and everything flows of perfect necessity off God?
No. Well, yes, that. But also because I can’t believe she can be right for me unless I’m also right for her. Also, God has to work all things to the best for everyone — both in the eternal absolute sense and in the temporally, relative sense — as we here poor newts live and perceive our lives.
The latter might be some kind of wide-angle religiosity — albeit a clearly incoherent one that no one who ever lived outside of an easy-peasy sitcom type life could ever believe. It clearly overlooks how some people live their lives in war zones and die alone in a ditch at fifteen, having been raped repeatedly. Still, philosophically and theologically and generally inadequate as it may be, it is arguably still a metaphysics. However, the former position — that she can’t be right for you unless you’re right for her — that’s not metaphysics.
No, just romanticisms about romantic love without any relationship to even a meaningful statement to the ultimate Nature of Reality.
It is about the Nature of Reality, though. I think Reality with a big R is so constructed that reality with a small r is so constructed that one person cannot be truly in love with another person unless that other person is truly in love with them. Because to be in love with someone is not a feeling, but an inner awareness that you belong to each other.
OK, so you have espoused two terrible metaphysics. I don’t see how that’s an improvement over one terrible metaphysics and one mundane idiocy.
They aren’t terrible metaphysics. They’re nice. They’re idealistic.
Both these dogmas are essentially nihilistic.
What? How so?
You’re asking God to keep his magical worlds-redeeming power within the bounds of your lonely daydreams. You’re asking for an Absolute Reality that is nothing more than a safe place for you to get laid in, while It sweeps other people’s real-life problems under the rug.
You think? Well, I wouldn’t want to do that.
What is nihilism?
The belief that life is meaningless.
The ultimate Reality as a rom com — what could be more meaningless than that?
You’re really piling it on.
There is, however, a sense in which you’re right.
Really? Hallelujah! A light at the end of the tunnel!
If she’s not happy being with you, then you won’t be happy being with her. It is a practical, though not — we should all hope and pray — metaphysical truth that she can’t be the one for you unless you’re the one for her.
I would love to workshop my philosophy with you sometime. You give the best notes!
Your philosophies don’t need workshopping. They need to be thrown out.
Yeah … I want to be the one for her. But I also want her to get what she needs in life. I don’t want her to settle. I want her to be happy. I don’t want her to ever have cause to look back and wish she’d taken another path with another guy. This is my dilemma. How can I be what she needs? And if I can’t, how can I see that and accept it and let her go?
What does she need? And what are you?
And what can I become? And what can we become together? And what is best for us to become?
What about the Buddha and the arrow?
Oh, I know that one! The guy who gets shot by an arrow and says, “where did this come from?”, when he should get it out. Except, actually, he should know where it came from, so he can get out of the line of fire.
The analogies not perfect, but you know what he means.
He means I shouldn’t split my head figuring out if our souls are intertwined because of destiny or happenstance, I should simply focus on loving her and being good to her.
The Buddha’s not talking about your love life!
In a round about way, he is.
Round about, winding through the centuries, but probably even as he said it, he had my situation in mind. Like he saw this moment coming — because it had to be.