July Blog: Good Morning Baltimore

I’m in the USA for almost a month now and what a hectic time it’s been. My plan to blog mid-month didn’t come to fruition, so I’m writing this blog on a Baltimore bound train and will post as soon as I can find some precious WiFi. My trip to the US started with editing at 40000 feet and that really was an indication of things to come. Etching out time to work on writing has been tricky but I’ve been managing. The heat in Maryland and DC has been incredibly stifling and I’m simply not designed for it, although the locals have also been struggling so at least it’s not just me. The constant changing from outdoor heat to indoor aircon resulted in a chest infection which in turn meant a visit to the doctor. Hand on heart, I’ll never complain about the Irish weather or health care system again, until it rains or I get sick (obviously). Thankfully I’m on the mend now and still have over a week before I go home. It’s not all been bad though- far from it. Overall it’s been a great experience and I’ve gotten to see and do lots. Today I’ll be visiting the home town of John Waters, which is in the second homicide capital of the USA, and also paying respect to Divine out in Prospect Hill Cemetery, Towson.

Whilst I’m never shy of enjoying a little luxury I’m also always drawn to the more mundane elements of life and the everyday experience. It’s usually a seed of the unusual in the usual that sprouts the most interesting stories, in my opinion. A film script I wrote a few years ago, Grand, which will at some stage be rewritten as a novel, tells the story of two women at different life stages having very different crises. Much of it centres around a greasy spoon cafe in Dublin however it was originally conceived as being set in an America mid-Western roadside diner. Through the process of script development, and the old adage of write what you know, it was transposed to Dublin which made more sense. A place I’ve visited probably too frequently while staying in Maryland is the 24-hour Tastee Diner and it brought be back to the original idea of Grand. Places where people congregate are always a hotbed of ideas and inspiration and the Tastee Diner is just that. The waitress on a long shift, her make up reapplied over earlier versions of her face; the laughter coming from the kitchen on wafts of greasy air; the elderly customer with her long grey hair jutting out from beneath an aqua-green cowboy hat. Endless story possibilities, and those examples were all on my first visit there. Places like the Tastee Diner offer up the truth of humanity and the stories, whether real or imagined, cry out to be told.

July was also the anniversary of the death of the Romanovs, Russia’s last imperial family. The entire family were murdered in the early hours of July 1918. As I’ve mentioned before I’ve been working on a script based on the four Romanov sisters which is currently on hiatus due to refocusing on Attrition as part of the novel masterclass with Mia Gallagher. The masterclass is a fantastic opportunity and has given me a fresh focus on Attrition however it does mean putting other plans on hold for the time being. With that comes some frustration and angst, especially when self-imposed deadlines come looming in. None the less, the work that is happening is positive and Attrition progresses in the right direction.

I’ve still plenty of work to do before the next masterclass with Mia and the balancing act of various tasks continues. With Dublin Fringe Festival and Dublin Theater Festival both on the horizon there’s also a bit of planning to do and performances to look forward to. It’s been a busy summer and it looks set to continue into Autumn when I’m back in Dublin. Rather than stress over it I’m going to try to focus on the opportunities it’ll afford me. If that doesn’t work maybe I can get a job at the Tastee Diner. I feel like I’d fit right in.

Tastee Diner, Bethesda, MD.


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