So the woman who used to spend her time arranging events to help girls sustain their virginity, says to me "So what are you doing now.... You!?" She's happy with her, "and I told them I'm a wife first, then mother, then the job" but she wants to know about me, after I've filled her in on John and the kids. I come up with an answer but I'm pissed. It's a normal simple question. One I've uttered myself oh, a billion times? But I still hate it. Because in me, it triggers defensiveness. I've never had the bluster to say with a straightface I'm doing ______and feel it enough. I've never had the simple answer. Ten years ago I was complaining about this to my friend Peggy Orenstein and she included it in her book, Flux: My wish for an __er. You know, as in a writer, orator, landscaper, lawyer.
Because my life, while highly enjoyable and full, is hard to define. Yesterday, checking into my Saturday salsa class, I ask the receptionist, "so what were you doing at the TXMPA/screen door party earlier this week?" "I'm a filmmaker" she responds. No hesitation, no irony. Turns out her partner is a cameraman. She's had a couple of shorts at Sxsw but had to take the last two years off, nursing her Dad with cancer. Now she's ready to get back into it. "I'm a filmmaker" she proudly says from behind the dance counter as she checks me in. I never say that. I shuffle and stutter. Sometimes I manage a "oh, lots of different stuff in the film business." John of course, just laughs. Because he's so sure. Sometimes he grabs an easy handle. Somedays he deflects the question. We live through it together but our public faces,are very, very different.
And what do I do? Spent hours today screening talking seriously with John & the filmmakers about an interesting new doc that's not quite finished. Yesterday took a lovely Peruvian grad student to lunch, mentoring her on how to capitalize on her indigenious connections here in the U.S. and discussing a thorny legal situation. Friday, I met with an ambitious young enterainment lawyer who hopes to produce eventually. Thursday, spent some hours with a highly committed serious doc filmmaker passing through. Earlier in the week enjoyed quality time with a wonderful filmmaking duo here for John's class who we'd already helped make an impact in the world. As an aside, I make a connection for them with a software rep who lives to support filmmakers. There's the recent grad who's waiting to hear if the pr woman I set him up with is calling with a job offer. God this sounds defensive and grasping. SK wants me to participate in her new interactive blog venture. Blah, blah, blah. Some broad strokes anyway. There were other emails and phone calls and hashing out of various film related issues in the community. What do you call that? What am I doing? And wouldn't it be the best thing in the world if I could laugh and outgrow this pathetic defensiveness? If I could answer to the perennial, "And what are you doing?" could in all good conscience, reply, "Really enjoying my life."