You Blow Stuff Up


Before my dad disappeared to sail around the world when I was 11, I spent every other weekend with him. All he wanted to watch was war movies. I HATED war movies — I was a little girl. A girly-girl. Before my world exploded.

Now, all I watch is war footage — documentaries, YouTube videos, movies about Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s because I’m completing a pilot about Iraq — and thinking about turning the pilot’s cut file into a feature. But the fact remains, that I’m watching my dad’s movies now. I am awake to symmetries in my life. Motifs. There are no accidents.

My dad loved watching people blow stuff up. I love watching what happens to people when they get blown up. War thrusts our worst inwards outward. I am compelled by people losing that much, that quickly.

I posted this story on Twitter a few days ago, in which Capt. Alexander Allan discusses pictures from his new book Afghanistan: A Tour of Duty. One of his comrades had his leg blown off. His buddies found the leg some time later, wrapped in a sheet. They made sure it wasn’t booby-trapped and took it back to camp. They burned it, manning the fire in shifts. Each took his turn to say goodbye. They let go.

I can’t stop thinking of these soldiers burning the leg. Can’t stop thinking of what I’ve left behind, that needs burning.

4 thoughts on “You Blow Stuff Up

  1. I just wanted to say how much I appreciate the peeks into both your writing process and your life. I’m an “older” woman studying acting, and you and some of the other women writers make me hopeful that the film industry can change, and show us more who we really are instead of feeding us ridiculous air-brushed, vapid fantasies. Give us texture! And complexity!

    And thank you for sharing about your father. My father abused one of my sisters and me in a time when nobody spoke of such things, and I still am working out how it’s informed my life. So often, men do blow things up, and leave everyone around them to figure out what to do with that. Sometimes we do really cool things with it. Like you are. 🙂

    1. Dear Patti,
      Thank you so much for leaving such an interesting response here. I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to respond — I’ve gotten kind of busy all of a sudden.

      First let me say that you are as you define yourself. If you think of yourself and tell the world constantly that you are an “older” woman — that’s what you are. If you say you are a woman, that’s what you are. If you say you are an actor that’s what you are. If you say you are a person, that’s what you are. Words matter, in your head and out loud. I understand the fear and concern that actresses and really everyone faces about getting older, but I’m here to tell you that you decide. You decide that you’re the perfect age at whatever age you’re at now, and the world will rise up to meet that expectation.

      I also know there are many good writers and filmmakers out there writing roles for people like you. Trust that the world is good, and help them find you (and you find them) by putting yourself in their path.

      As for what you shared about your father, I am very sorry. I hope you’re finding a way to process that grief in a way that makes sense and meaning for you.

      Thank you so much for your lovely support — and nice to sort of meet you!


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