2012. Love You, Hate You, Next.

I rarely do these things, but I saw this at my friend Ted’s place and thought I’d fill it out. On my own terms.

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?
Put together a New York reading of my script, at The Vineyard, which led to the next item.
Signed with a major agent, and came up with career plan with said agent.
Went to Graceland.

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don’t do resolutions.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No. Unless I’m forgetting someone. Sorry.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

5. What countries did you visit?

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
Oh, don’t even start with me with that bullshit.

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
June 25. The reading at the Vineyard in New York City. A triumph. Yes, hopefully only the beginning, but totally a Night for the Books. A high watermark. Thank you Kerry O’Malley, Aaron Mathias, Greg Santos, Jack Cumming and Doug Aibel at The Vineyard. And all of the other people who helped make that happen (including the amazing audience.)

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I feel like I covered this.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Probably trusting when I shouldn’t have.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
No, thank goodness. I am very grateful for my health.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Honestly, a pair of jeans. My weight has been bugging me, and I’m working on it, but I have stopped wearing jeans because I hate feeling like a stuffed-Cornish-hen in them. But I found a pair of jeans that I love so much, that I think look great on me, that are comfortable, awesome, etc., that I am now back in Jeans-Wearing-Mode, now that I know what works. I bought a couple more pairs. And my sister Jean gave me skinny jeans for my birthday and I love them.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
President Obama standing up for gay marriage.
My friend Alex going back to grad school.
My sister Jean rocking the planet in Boot Camp, while juggling new responsibilities at her job and being a good wife and mother.
My sister Siobhan for having one of her songs play in a commercial.
My brother Brendan for his hilarious appearances on Burn Notice and for continuing to be an amazing dad to Cashel, who is doing so great.
My mother, for blowing me away daily with her kindness, her strength, her courage.
My friend Brooke for striking out on her own and forming her own casting company.
My friend Mitchell, for his continued success in improv and Santaland Diaries, and for rocking the planet in whatever he chooses to do.
My friend David, for his work with the Food Bank, his creation of the Back Pack Pals program, and all the incredible charity work he’s been doing.
Pretty much everyone I know is up to something awesome. If I know you, I am proud of you for what you are doing in your life, and I celebrate you.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Anyone who had the gall to make a stupid comment about rape (although, conversely, I am glad these people spoke out so freely: it is their truth and it is better that they are in plain sight so we know what we are dealing with). The people who seem to feel Sandy Hook was a conspiracy. Glenn Greenwald’s condemnation of Zero Dark Thirty before he had even seen it.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Books. Memphis trips. Road trips. Staying in random ratty motels when I need to get away. I keep an allowance separate so I can stay in a motel at least once a month.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
My reading on June 25. I could barely sleep. It was glorious. I also got very excited about both trips to Memphis I took this year.

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?
“Cherry Cherry”, unfortunately.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder?

b) thinner or fatter?
c) richer or poorer?

I prefer not to compare. That way danger lies.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Be kind to myself.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Crying. I probably cried for a total of two months, all told.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
With family.

21. Did you fall in love in 2012?


22. How many one-night stands?

23. What was your favourite TV program?
I am finally on the Downton Abbey train and I can’t get off.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

25. What was the best book you read?

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I don’t know that I discovered anyone new this year.

27. What did you want and get?
An agent. Some serious motherf***ing representation for my work.

28. What did you want and not get?
It’s really “the substance of things hoped for” I mourn. But that’s always the case. I’ve been mourning that shit for 20 years.

29. What were your favourite performances this year?
Kerry O’Malley and Aaron Mathias in the roles of Neve and Jack in the reading of my script, July and Half of August. They were both magnificent.
Joaquin Phoenix in The Master
Jack Black in Bernie
Scoot McNairy in the one-two punch of Argo and Killing Them Softly. This guy is the real deal.
Tommy Lee Jones in Hope Springs (loved him in Lincoln, too, but he KILLED me in Hope Springs)
Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
Don Cheadle in Flight (Denzel was awesome, too, but I’m always about the support-staff, how crucial they are to a film’s success. To my mind, Cheadle MADE that movie happen. He was a worthy enough foe to Denzel so that you can really feel the stakes. Great performance).
Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty (the whole cast was incredible).
Jafar Panahi as himself in This Is Not a Film (my review here)
Bobby Moynihan in Certainty (review here)
Kristen Harris in Passionflower (I interviewed her here)
Anupam Kher in Silver Linings Playbook. I laughed every time that doctor opened his mouth. My favorite bit was his offscreen observation, “This is very very manic indeed.”
Leonardo DiCaprio in Django Unchained. He was quite frightening.
Shawn Christensen in Curfew (definitely in my Top 10 of the year, despite the fact that it is 19 minutes long). Review here, interview with Christensen here

There’s still quite a bit this year that I have not seen. I have not seen Amour (I am avoiding it like the plague, although I will get to it.) I haven’t seen The Perks of Being a Wallflower or Holy Motors.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I didn’t do anything on my birthday, and none of your business.

31.What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
More sex.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
Clearly it had to do with finding the right pair of jeans.

33. What kept you sane?
My friends.
Stephen King.
My family.
My writing.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Healthcare and the anti-woman rhetoric filling the airwaves.

35. Whom did you miss?
Dad. Every day.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
Aaron Mathias and Greg Santos. True friends.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012:
I can do anything I set my mind to. I can move mountains. I can make shit happen. It’s easy in New York to feel like you are spinning your wheels. I had felt that way for about five years, even though I wrote a whole damn book in that time (un-published, but whatever, I wrote the damn thing). But the hustle for this script was distinct and different. The point is to hustle so hard for yourself that other people end up hustling for you. Shit starts to happen when other people are doing the heavy-lifting for you. That’s what it means to have a team, to have representation. But that can only happen if you’ve put in the hours and hours (and years) of work. People don’t back flukes. They back what they think is a winning prospect. I worked my ass off from 2009 to 2011 on that damn script. With help from cousin Mike, and Mitchell in Chicago, I had two readings of that thing in Los Angeles and Chicago in 2011. I could have stopped there. I could have waited for Steppenwolf to call. There were a couple of interesting Chicago bites after the reading (including Steppenwolf), but the lesson is: keep moving, always keep moving. Next, next, next. So I upped my game, and asked for help. I knew I had to move it out of my circle for the next New York reading. I couldn’t limit it to people I knew. I needed to pack that audience with not just friends and family who loved me (although I needed them there too), I needed to pack it with industry people and theatre people hungry for a new voice, for a new project, for new material. My cousin Kerry was instrumental in making that happen, as was Greg Santos’ brilliance with press releases and invitations. It took a LOT to get that reading organized. It basically took from November of 2011 until almost the week before the reading, June 2012. We had an actor signed up for it, a big star, but his schedule wouldn’t allow him to do the reading. But we hung on there with his schedule for no less than three months, and the reading was canceled three times. Finally, with no hard feelings, we moved on to find someone else. I looped my casting friend Brooke in. Kerry reached out to people. And I started racking my brains of actors I could approach – people with a little bit of New York cache. I found him in Aaron Mathias. I had seen him in an independent film, Things You Don’t Understand, and fell in love with his performance. I had interviewed David Spaltro, the director, so I decided, what the hell, let’s take a risk and see if I can talk to Aaron. Spaltro arranged an introduction, Aaron responded to the script like crazy (“Thank you for ruining my afternoon” was the first thing he said to me after reading it), and was absolutely a dream in the role. It all seems inevitable, now that it went down that way, but it was pretty touch-and-go there for about four months. And Kerry was moving to Los Angeles in July. We HAD to do it the week we did it. It is amazing how complicated it is to get two actors in one room for a rehearsal and a reading. But anyway, it worked. And the audience was made up of loved ones, friends and colleagues, as well as industry people, who immediately began circling me like sharks afterwards. It was beyond my wildest dreams. I am still proud of myself that I stuck with it, that I not only wrote the damn thing, and got it to a place where I felt ready to start shopping it around … but that I kept pushing on with the “reading” process, an essential part of making sure the thing had legs, was play-able, was something an audience would respond to. The amount of work that went into it is something I almost think of with dread now, as I launch my next two projects, like: “Ugh. Here go the next two years of my life.” But it was amazing what I was capable of once I put my mind to it. NOTHING would stop me. I still feel unstoppable. Nobody can take it away from me. That train has left the station.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

Look at her face
She’s crying
See her disgrace
It’s blinding
I hope you figure it out

Look at her face
She’s blinded
By her mistakes
It’s lying
I hope you figure it out

I wanted you bad
Regretful and true
You looked back in front of me
Completely in view

This kid’s got your back
The sunlight is true
Look back in front of me
Completely anew
I want you to notice

Feeling your styles the causes your blankets that saved me
Over and over and over and over you played me
Afraid of rejection the places we went that defaced me
Over and over and over and over you saved me

Look at her face
She’s crying
See her mistakes
They’re blinding

I hope you figure it out

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34 Responses to 2012. Love You, Hate You, Next.

  1. Greg says:

    Here’s to an even more fabulous year for you in 2013, Sheila. I’m so glad the reading went well!

    • sheila says:

      Me too Greg – I miss you on FB, but it’s good to see you on Twitter. Had to get off FB for a bit. I’ll be back.

      So glad we met this year! More to come!!

  2. Kate says:

    You sure do make things happen Sheila. The very number of words you are able to string together so incredibly articulately each week blows me away. And makes me feel like a plodding worm! I’m grateful for your insights and perspective which always return to me for days. I don’t always comment on what I read because I’m afraid of saying something stupid but your blog is a highlight of my life! You have much to be proud of and I hope life continues to deliver!

  3. Kent says:

    It seems that 2012 was worth the wait for you, Sheila! A pivotal year, and a source for much hope and hard work into the future.

  4. ted says:

    A year to be celebrated! I’ll see Amour with you, if you want. I’m dying to see it.

  5. Kerry says:

    Thanks for the shout-outs, cousin! You rock! Your script rocks! Your blog rocks! This is your year!!

  6. Helena says:

    Looks like 2012 was an awesome year for you. Hope 2013 is where you can reap ALL the benefits of your hard work!

    About Amour … don’t dread it ;-) You won’t be able to take your eyes off Riva and Trintignant.

    • sheila says:

      Helena – I will continue to dread the film and its subject matter – but I will definitely see it anyway!

      • Helena says:

        I look forward to reading about what you think of the film. And I’m so pleased Dogfight is back out on DVD. Even though there is probably still no UK DVD release.

        • sheila says:

          I will definitely report back. Everyone I know who has seen it is just awe-struck by it. My mother and I have been talking about it a lot too – neither of us have even seen it yet!

  7. DBW says:

    If trusting is a failure, the failure is in the one trusted, not the one who trusted. I trust that 2013 will bring even bigger and better things for you, Sheila.

  8. Jaquandor says:

    I do this quiz each and every year, and I just now got round to seeing that you’ve done it now, as well. I do want to thank you for the “life lesson” answer, as I’m now starting the process of trying to get my own book published. The writing and the working on it and the editing and the farming it out to people I hoped were (and who turned out to be) perceptive beta-readers and the reshaping parts of it based on their feedback? All that was glorious; it felt like what I should have been doing years ago. But this next part? The submitting, the querying of agents, the writing of query letters, the writing of synopses that don’t make the story seem utterly silly, all of that — it all goes against the strong strain of introversion that has often paralyzed me in the past. To beat my own drum has never been in my nature, but now I’m realizing that it has to be, if I want to get anywhere. And there are times — many, many, MANY of them in the last couple of weeks — when self-doubt has risen strongly and when I’ve felt that I’m just not up to the task.

    But enough of that. Working quietly in the background and not making much of a fuss hasn’t really taken me to any lofty heights. Time to, as you say, hustle myself until someone else notices and takes over! So thanks, again. OK, I’m done now. Writing to be done!

    • sheila says:

      Jaquandor – good luck! I know your struggle, I feel you!

      Things really only started happening for me when other people started hustling my stuff for me. But of course that meant that I had to have already created said stuff!

      I have become very good at whipping off a proposal or a mission statement, tooting my own horn – and of course a lot of that has to do with the confidence inherent in having OTHER people behind my work.

      anyway: best of luck. Keep at it!

  9. Sean O says:

    #28 “The substance of things hoped for.” What a beautiful, sad phrase of longing. How did I go thru 16yrs of Catholic schooling and not come across it? It may have be St.Paul or maybe his gifted translators discussing faith with the Hebrews, but it seems like a phrase so full of melancholy that Yeats or somebody Irish would have formed it.

    Congrats on your 2012 success. Hope you get some more lovin’ in 2013. Don’t we all.


    • sheila says:

      I know, it does sound Irish. It is one of my favorite phrases – and describes that particular feeling of mourning/loss/hope so perfectly, I use it all the time. It’s not the thing LOST that hurts, it’s the “substance” (great word – because our hopes and dreams are not flimsy and ephemeral – they have substance and reality) of the things “hoped for”. It’s just perfect.

      and yes. More love (and sex – haha) in 2013, for all. Love, the great healer and redeemer (potentially. More of that hoped-for substance).

  10. devtob says:

    Wonderful, funny, true writing , as usual.

    Especially No. 37, a truly inspiring credo that is relevant to us all in our mortal coil.

    Here’s hoping the “Next” in the title portends another year of you making shit happen in all your ways (a Julie & Juliaish book/play/movie about your Elvis revisionist quest?), another year when no one close to you dies, and continued Slainte.

    P.S. The Republican rape insanity continues this year — a female State Rep. in New Mexico has proposed a bill to make a rape victim’s abortion a destruction of evidence felony.

    • sheila says:

      devtob – Slainte!!

      Ha. “Next” really means let’s put this shit behind us and move on. I don’t enjoy looking back, unless it’s on a triumph. But yes: there are kinds of possible “Nexts”, which I am working on now. It never stops!! :)

      And I had heard about that latest atrocity, but I certainly don’t need reminders about misogynistic statements, which come so fast and furious I can’t keep up (and have done so for years, only during this election year it seemed worse). As a woman, living in the world today, I see it every day. I am glad that men are now waking up to the reality of it as well. Where the hell have the men been all these years? Oh yeah, telling us to relax and that we can’t take a joke, that’s where.

      And the liberals can be just as bad – even worse, because they THINK they are tolerant and enlightened.

  11. devtob says:

    I disagree that liberals/Democrats can be just as bad or even worse than conservatives/Republicans, on any issue, because of what they might think.

    On the two (rare) political issues you mention — gay civil rights and rape — liberals/Democrats have overwhelmingly been on the side of tolerance and compassion.

    Unlike conservatives/Republicans.

    Individual liberals/Democrats may be misogynists or homophobes, but their party as a whole is not.

    • sheila says:

      Yes, that is certainly true – and one of the reasons I was actually glad that all of these bozos were coming out and talking about rape in the way they were was that it actually revealed the true feelings of the “base” – these were not fringe, they were elected officials. I have known for YEARS that this was their true feeling, but nobody really came out and said it. So once it started happening, I almost felt relieved. Because – and here is my point – women have had NO backup when they complain about such attitudes. And liberal men (in my experience – as a woman, remember – so it’s relevant) are far worse and far more likely to put blinders on, due to their own hostility towards women. We live in a misogynistic culture. I don’t think Men are the enemy, but I learned a long time ago that vicious hostility towards women is everywhere, and not owned by one party. And I have found liberal men to be far more toxic, because they have an idea of themselves that they are enlightened and tolerant. So they have blinders on. This is a widespread issue. We have to stop talking about women the way we do, and men need to LISTEN when women tell them that they are being hostile, or that a certain situation is hostile. They have to stop telling us to relax and “take a joke”.

      Growing up as a woman, I learned young that assholes who look to objectify me, put me in my place, keep me down, condescend to me, come in all shapes and sizes, and it has nothing to do with how they vote.

      My favorite boyfriend was a right-wing Republican. He was the most egalitarian man I have ever known. With not a DROP of misogyny in him.

      Anecdotal, surely, but again this is based on an entire lifetime as a woman.

      • sheila says:

        AND to the men who finally woke up this year and were like, “Can you BELIEVE how these guys are talking??” It was my turn to have a condescending attitude. “Dudes. We live in a misogynistic world. But you haven’t been listening to us for years when we tell you that. So welcome to MY world. This is the world your women live in. You wanna back us up now?”

  12. Anne says:

    You are so awesome, Sheila. I’m glad you made things happen for yourself. Happy 2013!

    • sheila says:

      Anne! Always so good to hear from you!! (If you ever started writing publicly again, or had a site, or anything like that – could you drop me a line and let me know? To this day I miss your writing and refuse to take your old site off my old-fashioned blog roll – just in case). Hope you are well!

  13. Anne says:

    Thanks, Sheila. I haven’t been writing so much. While having wee ones seems to encourage some people to express more, it has turned me more inward. I have been having trouble sleeping lately, though, because of a story idea that I keep going over in my head. And you really are inspiring me to stop faffing around and get it down already!

    I’ve often had a problem with finishing things. Partly because I have too many ideas at once, and get pulled in different directions. But my resolution for 2013 is to finish at least one thing that I’ve been rolling around in my head for a while.

    Thanks for showing the value of doing the work.

    • sheila says:

      Anne – well, “having trouble sleeping” because you have a story idea is exciting news!

      I so relate to the having too many ideas at once. I can certainly focus on things, but there is always something in there that I need to “let go” and it’s really hard.

      It’s interesting that you would show up here and comment – because just yesterday I read this piece and, I’ll be honest, you flashed into my mind.


      So I’ll just say here and now – I thought of you when i read that essay, you immediately popped into my mind. Your writing really meant a lot to me. You have something special, and a unique voice.

      I hope you have a wonderful 2013 with your wee ones!

  14. Anne says:

    Thanks for the encouragement, Sheila. Really. This conversation was well-timed.

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