Sunday, April 6, 2014

Kids

Watching children's TV shows as an adult is an interesting experience. I'm not really talking about animated Disney movies per se because those films were never intended to be seen only by children. Disney knew adults had to enjoy them as well or they'd just wait for them to be on video and wouldn't take their kids to the theaters to see them.
No, what I'm talking about are the shows created today for children.
As it so happens, I stumbled upon an airing of Pocahontas on Disney Junior. Having written my thesis on the "Architected Architypes of Disney Animated Movie Musicals," I have a grown-up soft spot for these films. After spending considerable time staring at her hair blowing in the wind and trying to figure out why Mel Gibson is in the body of Beast after he's transformed back into a prince, it was time for a commercial break.
I spend the next however many minutes, it felt like three hours, being sung to by to men in what I can only assume are Party City pirate costumes, spliced with clips from this animated show that makes Captain Hook look like the fun uncle with a boat you'd always want to spend the summers with.
I have so many questions. What exactly is this about? When I was a kid, I was immersed in the week-to-week narrative of X-Men. In the first episode, one of the characters dies. They are dealing with issues ranging from racism to homophobia. What are these shows showing kids? That everyone deserves a trophy just for showing up and that everything is "bullying?"
When I was a kid, I learned that people are different and that's okay. I learned to respect others. I also learned to stand up for myself. I learned that from TV shows.
I'm not sure what kids are watching and I've written post after post about how cartoons were much more engaging and well-thought out than the swill that's on today, but I'm thankful I had cartoons like X-Men and Animaniacs that were both entertaining and made kids think. Even when we didn't know we were thinking about bigger things, bigger ideas, pop culture, and how we treated other people, we were thinking about it.
I don't know if shows today do the same thing.
The next commercial was for a show about some shapeless alien creatures who don't say much. I changed the channel at that point.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The true sadness

L'Wren Scott died today, an apparently suicide. Her name was synonymous with fashionistas on red carpets (see Christina Hendricks at right) and now, the light of her life has been snuffed out.
I saw many in Hollywood tweet their condolences and express their grief over the loss of her talent, but I didn't read many about the loss of her spirit.
It's fair to say her spirit needed finding much more than her little black dress, but when an artist dies by their own hand, the go-to sentiment of our culture is to lament the loss of the art and the hands that enabled that art to exist. We tend to skip over the fact that this person was so unhappy and felt so hopeless that they chose to end their existence rather than fight to find their happy.
I've been listening to Pharrell's new album, Girl, on repeat for the past few days. His performance of "Happy" at the Oscars was not only a great performance, but it may have been the best performance at an awards show in years. More than the catchy beat of the song, (and it's a terrific song) the performance was about exactly what the song was about: happiness.
Happiness is under-rated in our society. We value achievement and exploits over personal happiness and fulfillment of spirit. When you're an artist, so many people experience that happiness when they are creating. But no amount of artistry can fill the hole that happiness of spirit fills. Whatever happened in Ms. Scott's life, there was a hole there.
That's what we should be grieving.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Maybe I'm just not that into you either

I'm re-watching "He's Just Not That Into You" tonight. I know, what a raucous New York Friday night I'm having. It's alright that you're jealous. But if you can marshal the strength to overcome your jealousy for long enough, I'm in a moment.
Having just recently started dipping my toes into the dating pool again, I'm finding this film to be accurate on a semi-frightening level. While I don't aspire to be Ginnifer Goodwin in any sort of setting, I'm finding some of her obnoxious behavior familiar (but on a much tamer scale...clearly). The constant checking the cell phone, the over-thinking, the seemingly misplaced optimism - it's all part and partial to those first few dips in the pool.
But let's face it. I'm 30. I've done this before. Many times actually. And now that those first few dips are over, the novelty has worn off. The staring at the phone? Nope. Wondering what's happening? Uh uh. If I don't hear anything, then I'm moving on. Call it grown up self-preservation. That, and once you reach a certain age, you're too busy for the back-and-forth. I just don't have the time to invest in someone who isn't that into me.
Some of the most wise words ever uttered came from a fish. As Dory in "Finding Nemo" said, "Just keep swimming." I'm fairly certain I'm swimming against the current when it comes to what my culture says I should be doing, which is going to make it all the more difficult to hook a killer catch, but perhaps that's exactly what a picky OCD person like me wants. I don't want to be a stereotype. I don't want to go home with anyone who's slightly interested. I want substance and that's hard to find, no matter where you are.
You know, the videos of the bears standing upstream from the jumping fish always show the bear catching the fish, and we think that's amazing. They make for a really terrific Oprah-narrated, flute underscored, slow motion moment. However, they don't show the amount of times that giant bear was too much of a lug to catch the ones that hit them in the face. And as foolish as Smokey may feel for getting slapped in the face with a fish, does that detour him from his hunt? No.
So I'm just gonna stand where I am, be who I am, and stay who I am. And sure I'm gonna reach for those potential catches, and eventually, one will be the right one. Until then, those who are just not that into me will have to move along because they won't be getting anymore of my attention.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Finding God in the 'Cosmos'

"How can we humans, who rarely live more than a century, hope to grasp the vast expanse of time that is the history of the cosmos?"
That was the question proposed tonight on Fox's "Cosmos" and tonight, like so many Americans, I watched with amazement as the visuals took us from the Earth and outward beyond the galaxies and universes. It played out like the most expensive PBS special ever made. Even the animation throughout the historical narrative reminded me of the animation in the last Harry Potter films, which was stylistically incredible. I was hooked.
Then it happened.

The Big Bang.
As soon as those words were spoken, I knew an entire segment of the audience changed the channel. The big bang theory is like a poison dart, meant to be avoided where I come from in the Bible Belt.

"That's not how it happened. It happened in exactly seven calendar days and everything appeared out of thin air. Nothing about evolution could remotely be true. The Bible would have outlined it that way if that had been the case."

There will be sermons that denounce this special as a cog in the vast liberal agenda to tear down the Christian heritage. But in actuality, if you read along with the Bible as this special went played, you'd see it all lined up. Beyond just knowing it does, I double-checked. It does. The argument about creation isn't really about the order in which is happened. It's about the timeline in which it took place. Was it 7 days or was it billions of years? I hate to be the one to say this, but I really don't think it matters.

Even in the special, the narrator spoke of the "extreme contingency" that led to humans being on the Earth. Well I believe that extreme contingency of events were not happenstance. It's sad to me that so many Christians turned off their sets instead of turning on a discussion about how the Bible and science exist hand-in-hand. Blind faith may be the hope in which we believe, but God gave us brains for a reason. He gave us the ability to reason, for a reason.
I saw it play out on Twitter. One man said he was ashamed Fox would air a special about evolution. Another said this was a sign of the end of the times. I'm sorry they feel that way. This incredible special put everything we know about the universe we live in and laid it all out there. And it does suck that Christians during the renaissance and the times that followed were so stringent that they punished people for logic and reason. Much like the Pharisees written about in the Bible, many Christians refuse to look outside what's written in the book and fill in the blanks with the evidence that's buried beneath us or in the stars above.

I personally don't care if I evolved from a monkey. They're cute and I like them. What I do care about is that I'm here right now, meant to be here right now, and try to live each day knowing there's a purpose behind my place in the cosmos. 
And in that, knowing that I'm playing a teeny tiny part in this millisecond in the span of time and space, is pretty cool. As the Animaniacs said, "We're all just tiny little specs about the size of mickey-rooney."



"You, me, everyone. We are made of star stuff." I loved that line in the show. I believe that. Both literally and figuratively.
I hope people will continue to watch this show. It's important to be informed about our past. Maybe that's how the moon was formed. Maybe that's how generations from the past treated people who thought to challenge convention and fuse logic and faith together. Either way, Cosmos is an important show and I'm thankful it's educating and creating a dialogue between millions of people during prime time.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

10 Things...

It's a fascinating concept: come up with ten things you like about yourself. On the outside, it appears as an exercise in arrogance, a platform to gloat about your finer qualities, or even a brazen attempt to self-congratulate ourselves on our own Oprah-induced self awareness.
But on a deeper level, it's an exercise in calling forth the thing in our lives that warrant reminding. It's a chance to marshal ten of the traits that fortify and hold us together when we're falling apart. 
So I'm diving in and thinking deeply about myself, hopefully doing so with as little arrogance and self-back-patting as possible. 

I like that I was born and raised in Texas. While I live in New York now and it's my favorite place in the entire world, I have a Texas flag hanging in my apartment as a reminder that everything that led me to my dream was cultivated in the Lone Star State.

I like that I don't look like everyone else. I'm not perfect, I need to clock more hours on the elliptical at Planet Fitness, but I'm glad I'm not a cookie cutter person, with the same features as everyone else. Being unique is fun.

I like my calves. It's not as morbidly self-indulgent a statement as it may seem. It's just a genetic thing. My father has great calves and so do I. 

I like how much I love television and how much it makes me feel. I like how much life it brings me when Ross yells "PIVOT!", when Liz Lemon high-fives a million angels or when Michael Scott hits Meredith with his car. On the surface, it's entertainment, but within me, it challenges my thinking, enhances the cadence of my language and makes me smile deeply. I like that.

I like my friends. What an amazing group of people insulate me from the banal stupidity in this world. Some are fit, some aren't. Some are gay, some aren't. Some are married. Some are oh so single. Boys, girls, young, old...how lucky am I to have such a human safety net just a subway ride, phone call, or text message away.

I like that I believe in people. Some call it naive and others might call it silly, but I am glad that my default is to believe in people and the dreams they have dared to dream for themselves. If that's silly, then I am a fan of the silliness.

Speaking of my default, I like that my default mood is a good one. My obnoxiously glass-half-full outlook on life may see my feelings get hurt once or twice, but I'd rather choose to believe in the happy as opposed to the alternative.

I like that I know my limits. Whether it's food, booze, a personality, or a topic of conversation, I like that I know when I need to stop and I have the willpower to make it happen. I also like that I have such strong will. Eating right, getting to the gym, staying in from the party to work on what I moved to the city to do...I have a freakishly strong will. That's two likes in one (and I like how that combination worked out too).
Lastly, I like that I was able to finish this list and not feel awesome about myself. Rather, I see the areas I need to work on to hopefully extend this list in the future. I'm an unfinished product, full of flaws, and I'm determined to work on me every day. I like that I've learned to accept that.

I encourage you to also put together a list of the ways you like yourself. It's fulfilling, it's challenging and it's inspiring for your tomorrow. 

Thank you to Christy from www.avoidingatrophy.com for extending this challenge to make this list. You inspire me.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Confessional: Real World Style

I learn something every day.
I suppose that's the point of living: to always be learning. You're either learning about something that's happening on the other side of the world, you're learning how to do something in your office, or you're learning a life lesson from someplace unexpected.
I have the honor of running an online magazine and it's been the tool to teach me more than I ever thought I didn't know about various industries, working with people and about myself. I have had the privilege of working with some of the most talented artists in the world, both in front of and behind the camera, and not a day goes by where I'm not unbelievably thankful and overwhelmed by that. I've worked with artists who have such a genuine love for creating and collaborating, and that is deeply fulfilling, no matter what industry they may herald from.
But I've also been given the...opportunity...to work with people who are less than wonderful. It's from those people and those situations where I learn the most about myself.
I am such an optimist and when I'm so excited about interviewing someone I've looked up to for one reason or another, and they end up being an empty shell wrapped in an attractive exterior, I become depressed. I don't like people, no matter how famous they may be, who buy into their own hype. It's a turn off to me and not the reason I got into this business.
I got into this business to share the stories of artists who might not get their stories told otherwise. To give voice to creative people. As we've grown, it's become more important to speckle our issues with more known creative people because their draw will bring eyes and ears to read the stories of all of the other artists in the issue. And for the most part, those people have been lovely.
I'm not naming any names or specific people who have upset me - that's not important and it's been something that's been building for a while - but it's caused me some honest reflection and having to re-think some things.
My default mood is happy and when I can't seem to break out of being unhappy, that means I have to make a change. So I'm going to be making changes. I love what I do, I love what I get to do. But I can't indulge unappreciative and arrogant artists any longer.
Magazines are different than newspapers, in my opinion. Magazines are a part of the conversation, and at times, are creating the conversation - not just reporting it. I want the conversation that we create to be positive, uplifting to all types of artists and creative mediums, and to be a source readers can rely on solid content. I also want our issues to be full of artists worth caring about.
So as we grow, as things continue to change, one thing will remain the same: We love creative people. We do or we wouldn't kill ourselves every month to make these issues a reality. I am just going to be more choosy with who we love enough to put in our issues. My happiness depends on it.

Friday, December 13, 2013

6 months

It's been exactly six months since I last blogged, an eternity in the blogger continuum. Why even bother at this point? There's so much to recap, it's not even worth saying it.

This year has been a true mountaintop experience. Well, the middle part of it was. The beginning and end felt more like climbing up and subsequently sliding down that mountain. The triumph of turning 30 this summer and releasing "I Laughed Too Hard," a work four years in the making (technically 30 years in the making but that's neither here nor there) was bookended by breakups on either end of the year. The first initiated a slow climb back to fresh air. I slowly climbed back into myself, finding my footing and shedding the weight (both figuratively and literally) that had kept me pressed down to the ground. The second felt like an awkward stumble down the mountain, away from what I'd worked for and stepped into.

It's interesting to me, nay, I say ironic, that as I look at the calendar pages turning from 2013 to 2014, I'm also at another turning point in my life. A moment of reinvention. A moment to pivot and change directions again. I don't think that's by accident. There's something profound about the fact that I don't have to set resolutions for the New Year, because my entire existence is a resolution currently. I was able to reinvent myself in the opening months of 2013, and by doing so, becoming a better version of myself. Now, I'm afforded the same opportunity yet again.

This year has been the greatest year of my life. I marched fully into who I am, what I love and who I can be. I accomplished goals I'd set for myself. I found love. But with every great thing, there was a counterbalance of loss, but that's what keeps us rational. That's what keeps us human. That's what keeps us from becoming Kanye.

I feel like I'm in attack mode again, and that's an awesome feeling.
I have some new goals to attack and demolish.
I have some new visions I want to see materialize. 
And I'm writing again.

And furthermore, this year isn't even over yet. There's still so much life to live. And I'm going to live.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Turning the page


Tomorrow, I turn 30.
I tried to write down what my brain was processing and it just wasn't working but I realized I'd been listening to music all day that has meant something to me over the course of these years. In moment that would seem strange to anyone else but me, I found myself listening to two mice singing.
The song "Somewhere Out There" has always resonated with me for some reason. Actually, since I was a little kid, this song made me cry.  It did today too.
It's such a simple song from a kid's movie, but it's so hopeful. I can't think of a song that is more hopeful and so full of love actually. I knew that even when I was kid, even if I couldn't articulate it.
All I've done this week was think about the people I love and whose love I feel in return. In all honesty, I've been thinking about this for the past few months as I've completed "I Laughed Too Hard." In my book, I write about how I believe life is nothing but the people who are in it. In that respect, I've never been more grateful for my life.

"Somewhere out there, someone's saying a prayer
That we'll find one another in that big somewhere out there
And even though I know how very far apart we are
It helps to think we might be wishing on the same bright star."

So as I sit in my office and cry like a little girl while two mice sing, I'm so thankful. Tomorrow, that number on my age changes but that love in my life will not. I'm at a place in my life where I am comfortable with who I am, who I have in my life and what I'm doing with it. I want to celebrate that. But none of that matters without the love I feel from near and far. So if you're reading this, somewhere out there, wherever you are, thank you. I love you too.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Inhale

I am on the cusp of something great.
You know that moment right before it starts to rain? You can almost feel the clouds collectively inhale before letting go of everything they have been storing up inside them. That's what I feel like right now. I'm living in an inhaling cloud that's about to let go. 

In less than a month, I will turn 30. That's not scary to me in the slightest. In actuality, it's rather exciting. A new phase of life! I'm ready. About a month later, I release my first book through Amazon and Kindle. A celebration of the first Act of my life, I'm going to be able to articulate in a digestible form what I've learned from becoming myself. There are elements of fear wrapped up in that as well but the good kind of fear. The kind of fear that's a motivator and not a hindrance.The summer is full of being able to see most of the people in my life who I love and that seems daunting for some reason but so potentially fulfilling as well. That and I have someone new to share all of this with. Perhaps that's the most exciting thing of them all.

There's something about letting go and letting life happen. We work hard to control what we can control about our schedule, our future plans, and our dreams, but when you have worked so hard to put things in place and it's all happening, taking your hands off the wheel for a moment and letting life's cruise control take over for a minute is incredibly freeing. It's no secret I like to be in control, Janet Jackson and I have that in common, but I'm ready to let go of the wheel for a minute.
I'm ready to let the clouds exhale and just bask in the rain for a moment.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Unsettled

After a weekend of running around the city and having the time of my life doing it, it's always an important moment to come back to my little studio apartment, where I live alone, and take a moment to be alone. I have a love/hate relationship with that moment, though it is, perhaps, the most important moment of the week.
It's easy to become wrapped up in the happenings of the week and what we do to fill our days on the weekend. I over-commit usually and spend most of my time running from this place to that place. I'm okay with that honestly. But the moment I get home, stare at my empty apartment and allow everything to settle, I can see clearly again for the next step, which in this case is the week ahead of me. There's such a power in that silence and that emptiness. It's at once calming and unnerving.
The cloud of text message conversations, phone calls, chats, emails and lists on a calendar all settle to the bottom of the apartment and all I see is what's left dangling above. Those things don't seem to change from week to week, at least they haven't in a while.
But I think what's been the most unnerving over the past month is that nothing has settled. There's been no clarity. Nothing has landed and everything is still floating out in the void that happens to be my headspace.
I'm not sure what to do about this and I don't know that anyone else will have the answer either. But it's just a fact of life right now. Just writing about it has given me the upper hand. It's no longer in control because I had the audacity to write about something honest in public. There's a lot more of that to come this year and in that, I am allowing myself to be powerful.
Goodnight, dear void. It's been a good one. But tomorrow, I'm going to make you go away for good.