Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Fund my habit

"Sure, some people transcend their circumstances, but it’s callous for those born on second or third base to denounce the poor for failing to hit home runs." http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/28/opinion/kristof-where-is-the-love.html?_r=0

Unfortunately for the world (but mostly me), I am a woman of many ideas and zero follow through. That acknowledged, I was gazing in my bathroom mirror this morning, attempting - fruitlessly - to tame my mangled mane, when an idea struck me!

In this flash of brilliance (ie. hair-woe haze), I decided I should begin a non-profit, dubbed "Born on Base," where those of us born on first, second, or third (read example above for reference), could offer goods and services to those who were born up to bat without even the benefit of a practice swing.

I thought, if I could muster up enough influence, I might even be able to convince our All Star pitcher to give a hapless batter or two a free base on balls. Sure, the Ethics Board might have a thing (or eight) to say about it, but I'd proudly wear the Black Sox emblem if it meant someone less fortunate got a real shot at feeling the victory of a score.

Now all I have to do is come into millions of dollars.

Or develop an actual work ethic.

THIS JUST IN! BLACK SOX TAKING BETS ON WHICH COMES FIRST: UNEARNED, UNDESERVED MILLIONS, OR DEVELOPMENT OF WORK ETHIC.

My money's on the millions.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Single and ready to mingle! or Vengeance is mine, sayeth the gmail...

Sometimes Life, in its infinite goodness, sees fit to giftwrap a present and deliver it straight to your inbox.

Today was one such day.

Once upon a time, about a year and a half ago I'd say, a single me found myself on a date with a good-on-paper guy (attractive, steady job, single, Jewish). But as any single gal or guy can tell you, a pristine whitewashed profile can go from "swell" to "hell" in a heartbeat.

This particular transformation took three.

Date one went well, with the exception of the parking ticket I attained when the meter ran out. No worries though, DATE took the ticket and offered to pay for it, as the restaurant (and therefore the shitty, timed parking) were his choice. "That's awfully nice," I thought.

Then came day 2.

Not D-A-T-E 2, D-A-Y 2.

The next day, after attending class, I return to my apartment and there are flowers on my doorstep, with a note thanking me for a nice time. Like the offer to pay the ticket, the flowers were a nice gesture too... but one with a glaring catch: I HAD NOT YET TOLD DATE WHERE I LIVED.

Yeah.

Apparently Dude had means, time, and inclination to track down my abode. Well...at least he's thorough? ...

Despite my better judgement, I decided that having a rose-laden romance stalker was a forgivable offense and agreed to a second, noneventful date. Then a third. And that, my friends, is where it all went awry.

Third date, his place (I still had not invited him to mine). He begins the date by asking me to take a trip with him (we've had two dinners). He then spends the rest of the evening doing the "pressure you for third date sex" dance.

I, however, wasn't feelin' the tune.

I left, and assumed that'd be the end of that.

But that's when he started with the hedgy communications. You know the ones. The "I'm gonna text you, but I'm gonna be vague"s. The "I'm not going to ask you on a date, but I'm not going to stop talking to you either"s. The "I'm gonna punish you for slighting me with this passive-aggressive onslaught"s.

Tedious.

I just stopped responding.

And then, one day, I went to the mailbox...and what surprise do I find inside?

MY TICKET!

NEVER PAID and NOW OVERDUE (and therefore TWICE THE PRICE), along with a note that read "Sorry, but you're going to have to take care of this." Signed by - you guessed it! DATE!

...

Fast forward to today.

Gmail.

Noon.

I recognize a name in my inbox...Like the Beacon of a human being it represents, the name shines through my spam, and, like moth to flame, I click on it.

...

My friends, there are times when Life delivers up the sweet nectar of Justice in a glass so perfect as to merit the "He chose wisely" Cup of Christ. Today, Life sent me an email letting me know that, not only is DATE still single, but also that HE HAS WRITTEN A HOW-TO GUIDE FOR ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS AND WANTS ME TO PURCHASE IT!!!

(ACT NOW friends, because THIS GUY!?!? IS STILL SINGLE! Don't miss your chance at this Bastion of Romance!)

Fucking. Perfection.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Touche

When I was in undergraduate, my friend John-From-The-Play made an observation that I continue to find poignant: "I don't want to be involved with any action prefaced by the words 'This is for the good of all mankind,' 'cause you KNOW that shit's not gonna go well."

Touche, John-From-The-Play. Touche.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Temerity

I am forever having brilliant ideas I do not follow through on.

As I am at least a decade before my time, every dozen years or so, some other half-witted (but well-intentioned), like-minded spirit comes along and actually has the wherewithal to act on my initial schemes.

And it always works out well for them. And ruins my day.

Case in point? THIS FELLOW:

As the caption states, this young man has translated my middle school Halloween costume idea into a real money maker.

Naturally, I hate him for it.

While for most people - and likely this guy - dressing as a Port O' John marks the apex of creative endeavors, I could not and would not be limited to one snazzy shithouse. No sir!

I also had this idea - to do as Eleanor Roosevelt instructed and "Do one thing everyday that scares [me]." And write about it. I was totally gonna do this one. I even got a good head start: tackling my fear of loud noises by celebrating July 4th on the D.C. Mall, tackling my fear of needles by getting piercings, tackling my fear of death by skydiving. And then writing about it.

I did the first three. But I skipped out on the last one.

Which is where stupid Noelle Hancock comes in. Like me, Noelle lost her job. Like me, she set about to obey Mrs. 'velt and conquer her fears. But stupid Noelle actually wrote about it. And now "My Year with Eleanor: A Memoir" is all up in The New York Times. And my sassy ass is just getting around to blogging about it.

I'm sure there's some sort of lesson here. Something about having the temerity to follow through.

But I'm pretty sure I'm scared of being successful.

And I wonder what Eleanor Roosevelt would have to say about that.

*Image from The Oatmeal.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Personified Orphans

While most abandon the practice to childhood fancy, to this day I continue to personify inanimate objects.

Yesterday, while walking to brunch, I bemoaned the loss of some chopped trunk trees at the all-too-familiar Inman construction site. Like it was fucking "Fern Gully," I immediately felt the dual pain of loss and of being eviscerated at the waist - surely the pain the pines had felt at the moment of their demise.

But lest you think me lofty, or an "environmentalist", or - worse - someone who actually gives a damn enough to take a stand, let me assure you of my banal sociopolitical malaise by demonstrating that my personifying empathies reach far beyond just social causes to places like...Target.

When buying a face wash, blouse, or hair dye, I always - and I wish I were lying - feel a pang of guilt and remorse for the Noxzema, Isaac Mizrahi, or Cinnamon Apple option not chosen. As if it were the kid not picked for kickball, I give each still-shelved product a sad eye, a knowing nod. A feeble acknowledgement that I KNOW I hurt its feelings, and I'm sorry.

Maybe next time, my eyes say. Maybe if I had more expandable income, my nod placates.

But I know as I exit the store that the damage I've done is irreversible. That there are tears in the isle, poisoned memories in the heart, and holes in the souls (and soles) of those products not chosen.

Like Little Orphan(t) Annie and her ilk, the discards of my human life - and the lives of those who saw the trees to make room for the shopping malls that will house those items I pass over - wait, hopefully, for one among us to "pick" them, to deem them "worthy."

Someone to call them their baby. Maybe.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Confessions of an ugly stepsister

On the day of my father's wedding, I was in the hall bathroom, trying - and failing - to get my hair to cooperate.

Recently dyed an amber brown, the color was flattering but the individual strands were staging a revolt in protest.

Still, in my lavender gown and matching jewelry, I felt pretty.

As I continued fighting the battle de tresse, my paternal grandmother came into the bathroom, presumably to oversee the process. Little did I realize, I was about to be waging a war on two fronts.

In retrospect, I feel that my grandmother staged a brilliant maneuver. Having lived with - and braced for - her antics for two decades, I knew to come emotionally armor-clad when visiting with Granny Greer. But on this particular occasion, she caught me unaware.

Brilliant, in a way.

"I want you to make me a promise," she said.

An odd request on any occasion, but infinitely moreso considering the source.

"Um...sure thing, grandma."

To my recollection, this woman had never asked me for a favor before. Not that she was really around often enough to do so. I do not know if my eyebrows raised, but in the mental replay, they most definitely should have.

"I want you to promise me you'll save up money, and, when you have enough, you'll go to the surgeon and get your ears fixed."

...

When I was a child, before I knew to be self conscious about my hips or breasts or whether or not my stirrup pants made me look fat, I instead fixated on my ears. Lacking cartilage at the top, mis orielles had very early taken on an appearance of what could lovingly be called "elvin," but was more often regarded as ugly.

So I began considering plastic surgery. In elementary school.

...

As Fate so often does, It orchestrated its own answer to my grandma's behest by queueing my sister to enter the bathroom. Though it was me she was looking for, it was she who filled the silence and space.

Though only in elementary school herself at the time, my sister was already a beauty. Her hair - which should have been disheveled for a girl of her age and activity, was perfectly pinned in a way most becoming to her well-proportioned face. And while I had tried to hide mine behind a half up-do, her ears were on display. Perfectly symmetrical and decorated, as perfect ears should be, with perfect little earrings.

On her, my grandmother's eyes fell approvingly, and, with insight unbecoming a woman at war, I realized that I had never seen Janelle offer that same look of approval to any other young lady.

Yes, it was undeniable in that moment - and in every moment since - that my sister, my darling sister, was and is the beautiful one.

And I am the Ugly Stepsister.

...

In the dozen plus years that have followed, I have watched from the sidelines as my sister's beauty has won her favor in every circle in which she travels. I have watched the doors open, the heads turn, the favors fall into her perfectly narrow lap.

I've watched her, unaware as a swan to its own superiority, take such gifts in stride. And why shouldn't she? After all, she knows no different.

For while I have watched with envy, she has never known a world in which she was not beautiful. The looks, which would mean the world to so many mes, are but Tuesdays to her. And it isn't her fault.

I have watched how, bewitched by her beauty, some have overlooked her brains. And her kindness.

I have tried to harness these observations as a yolk to master my own insecurities and longings. "Look," I tell myself. "Even beauty has its downside."

Sometimes, I even believe it.

But on mornings when I wake, like I did today, 22 pounds over my ideal weight, and still feeling the sort of ugly that makeup and hair dye can't ever mask, I feel that same, familiar tremor in my heart that always presents itself.

That feeling of low-flying terror that grips me whenever my sister encircles my waist with her slender, perfectly proportioned arms to take a "sisters" photo.

That ceaseless rumbling in the gut that can't be filled with brunch or booze or the knowledge that you have garnered two degrees, have a lovely home, and are working in the industry of your choosing.

It's the sin of the apple. It's knowledge.

It's knowing that you like her better than me. That, by virtue of her genetic makeup, that she exists in a different caste, while I remain an untouchable.

It's knowing that I warrant a stop at a fast food dive while her arrival is met with a steak dinner. It's being granted audience with you in sweatpants at your house, when she is dress slacks and "I'll take you out somewhere."

...

I love my sister. I love her as you do. I stare in awe, as you do.

I'm proud of her.

But my pride lies not in that she is of my stock.

She is not of my stock.

She is of yours.

And I know I'll never warrant that extra shower. That extra trip. That extra mile.

For I am the Ugly Stepsister.

Even in my own life.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

An epitaph to Harley Quinn

On my best days, I am a miniscule voice of dissent - a tiny, near inconsequential reverberation of noise in the hustle and bustle that comprises the daily, ruckus-filled bric-a-brac of human existence.

Today, I hope, will be one of those best days.

Lately my righteous anger radar has registered a spike in the cosplay sector. Specifically, the double-edged sword that is "women must dress sexily to accurately portray female heroines and yet, in doing so, they objectify themselves and therefore incur scrutiny."

In the scheme of things, it is a minor injustice - a mustard stain on the blood-soaked cloth that is gender inequality - so I've let others spew rhetoric while I've remained silent. I felt it best, as I've had nothing pertinent to add to the conversation.

But today it was brought to my attention that those responsible for the super sexy femme fatales we presently recognize as female superheroes - those giants among men who brought us XX heroines/supervillains Wonder Woman, Catwoman and Black Canary - those self-same promoters of the idea that female sexuality is oxymoronically equal to empowerment and vulnerability, to innocence and guilt... These paragons among men, who package and sell gender and sex stereotypes to our youth of both sexes...have started a contest. A contest to engage the young reader. A contest to elicit his or her creative response. A contest with an unusual call.

A contest to draw a character beloved by many.

Harley Quinn.

Naked.

Committing suicide.

...

I am tempted to end here. Furious. Literally angered to the point of silence, because the levels of "wrong" related to this contest are so glaringly obvious as to need no words of explanation. But silence now would moot my goal - my accomplishment on my best days - my miniscule voice of dissent.

To be silent might in some way be seen as complacent. Or worse. Accepting.

Please be assured, I am neither.

...

Generally speaking, I write quickly and well when moved - either positively or negatively - by something. But today, I find myself listing the consequences of sexualized violence toward women (or violence toward women in general), espousing its wrongs, which are compounded when we consider that this specific circumstance is marketed toward children - and then promptly deleting every sentence. Because my arguments prior to this point have been about the problem en masse, and that, in and of itself, is a problem.

You see, you can espouse the horrors of a certain action to a subset of the population all you like, and, while some will agree with you, many will write off the arguments as "someone else's problem."

As with rape, murder, and genocide, no one seems to care until you give the atrocity a face it can recognize. Knowing this, ladies and gentlemen, I give you Harley Quinn:

In loving memory of Dr. Harleen Francis Quinzel, Sept. 11, 1992 - Sept. 11, 2013.

A stand out for both brains and athleticism, Harleen is remembered by classmates and colleagues as a star student, an agile gymnast, and the ultimate caregiver. As a therapist, Harleen dedicated her life and career to serving those Gothamites whom society shunned as "lost causes." Sympathetic and thoughtful, Dr. Quinn was able to reach patients deemed by others in the medical profession as "unreachable."

Her ability to relate to her patients proved both her salvation and demise, as the close bond she forged with "The Joker" granted her unprecedented insight into the mind of madness. In this void she found and forged Harley Quinn, an unendingly devoted companion to a man under whom she would suffer much abuse.

Despite numerous abuses by "The Joker" and battles with law enforcement, Dr. Quinn met her end today - on her 21st birthday - not at the will of a psychopath or by a policeman's bullet. And not, as some have reported, by her own hand. Rather, Dr. Quinn met her untimely demise at the hands of a group so heinous - so undeniably evil - that the perpetrators dare not show their faces. They hide behind the guise of "entertainment," conscripting children to do the dirty deed, not even under the cloak of darkness that shields both the guilty and the innocent.

No.

Her killers remain at large, protected by shady lawyers and a seedy marketing campaign.

While it's rumored that Batman is on the case, what's known is that Dr. Quinn was lain to rest today. Due to controversy, the location of her burial will be kept from the public, but at least one admirer already discovered the site. Just under the numbered cross, a bouquet of red and black roses. The card reads "Mr. J."

...

We live in a world of injustice. Almost every article I read (and certainly the majority of news I cover in my publication) attests to the fact that nothing in life is fair. Which is why we need heroes. Heroes like Batman, who, despite tiring of pursuing her for her many offenses, would never have ended the life of Dr. Quinn.

I do not know if there will be justice for Harleen Quinn. But what I do know is that Batman would never stand for this. And that Wonder Woman, with her spectacular strength and lasso of truth, would fight this. That Black Canary would wail for this.

And that DC should be ashamed of this because even Lex Luthor never sunk so low.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Now ain't that a cryin' shame!

So often, what's right fails to line up with what's prudent.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Please pay by this date ____

Interminable dumbassery should be a finable offense.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Peculiar Proclivities

I think I might be an eye racist. Or an eye sexist. Or an eye bigot.

See, I have this odd inclination, whenever I am in a public place, to make a mental catalog (sometimes it's worse. Sometimes I jot down an ACTUAL, PHYSICAL catalog!) of the eye colors of the people I encounter. Once inventory is taken on all people within eye-shot, I compare the numbers of eye colors to create ratios for the room. ie. The ratio of browns to blues in McDonald's just now (I WISH I were making this up), is 5:8, thanks in large part to the Aryan-looking family of five sitting kitty-corner to me.

Though I definitely lump people together by it, I'm not sure as I could be called an eye biggot per se. I don't have a preference for color, really, though I do feel rather accomplished when I find a more rare "green" in the mix. (Jane Elliot would have a field day with me. Seriously). And I don't count colors for some noble "window to the soul" reason either.

Nope. Nuthin' noble here folks. Keep movin'. Nuthin to see.

I honestly think I'm just fascinated by the genetic likelihood of certain eye colors to appear. (I'm really, really bad about this with families. You have a parent with blue eyes and a parent with brown? I could fixate on what color an offspring is likely to have for hours.)

Genetics - specifically the outward manifestation of recessive genes - was the only aspect of high school biology that even remotely caught my interest. That my class was taught by a wrestling coach who, when attempts to euthanize the frogs at WHS resulted in a sit-in, resolved to host a "Frog Olympics," might have had something to do with it. But I cannot entirely blame Coach Krug.

In general, I do not boast an overly developed, keen interest in the workings of the natural world. I don't care how atoms move or how plants use photosynthesis. It could all be magic and faery dust so far as I'm concerned (it totally is in my head anyway). Just so long as whatever it is keeps working, I could really care less about how it do what it do.

But recessive genes - the "if you have a white bunny rabbit with red eyes and a black bunny rabbit with black eyes and they have 6 kids, what are the odds of their offspring including a white haired, black eyed rabbit" - Suddenly I am sitting up straight in my chair!

WHY does this fascinate me so? And why is it just eye color?

Hair color? Skin color? Straight vs. curly? Tall vs. short? YAWN. All that stuff is magic and faery dust and who cares so long as everybody's got some of one and some of the other. But eye color!?!? STOP THE PRESSES! NOW you have my attention!

Last week, I had lunch with a long-time friend and her 2 year old son. Leslie has blue eyes. Her husband? Has brown. While both brown and blue are dominant genes, between the two, brown is MORE dominant than blue...at least according to grain-of-salt pseudo science that I've read. Based on this "science," Leslie's offspring are more likely to have brown eyes than blue. But her son has blue eyes!

I found this so fascinating over lunch that I literally had difficulty paying attention to the conversation. (Sorry Leslie. You truly are riveting. And I promise we will get together and watch the Jodi Arias Lifetime masterpiece soon!)

I've done it with my own family, which I find falls somewhere in the "Superior" category of interesting as half of my kin - including myself - boast green eyes. A whole 'nother factor in the equation!

I've analysed the families of close relatives, of friends, and now the interest has extended to strangers. And perhaps this analysis is not so unique. Perhaps many people do this. (I don't know of any, but I'd like to give myself some credit before I let me freak flag fly.)

In an attempt to delve into the very recesses of my green-eyed brain (know how green eyes came to be associated with envy? I do. I looked it up. Before today.), I fear I have descended into crazy crevices from which there is no escape. I fear that, no matter how many italicized words I use to drive home my point, the fact remains that I stand alone in my passtime of eye color cataloging. I renounce forever the fantasy that one day, while pondering the blue to green ratios of the local Starbucks, that a kindred spirit will see me in my quest, recognize the mania, and ask if she and her cinnamon dolce latte can sit and join me in my macular festivities.

No.

It will never be.

Sigh...

...

Finished with my sammiches and therefore devoid of food distractions, I look up from my McD's cup to search the face of the girl in the corner once more. She has a t-shirt, boy shorts and a mohawk. She catches me looking at her! Aha! Got it! Tally her down with the blue eye crew! Boy am I proud of myself! Guess that makes the ratio 5:9...

Oh wait...did she think I was looking at her because she had a mohawk? Does she think I'm one of those crazy people who stares at anyone "different"? Maybe I should tell her I have no "issues" with her alternative appearance - that I was merely cataloging her eye color from across the room for a completely harmless, non-scientific, spontaneous tally I keep. Maybe then I could get close enough to her to really make sure her eyes are blue and not green. Maybe...

Oh G-d. This peculiar proclivity will get me sent to prison. I just know it.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Why is everybody always pickin' on me?

People are astonished when they find out I left the world of professional modeling and film acting behind voluntarily.

The response is always the same - 1. What would I have seen you in? and 2. WHY!?!?!

I suppose it's because we're brought up to see these jobs as glamorous. After all, it's what the beautiful people do. And it makes them rich.

To this I would reply "Yes, and yes. But does it make them happy?"

"I know I'd be happy if I had that kind of money, that spouse, that ass," is what I usually get in return.

But I'm telling you people, no you wouldn't. Because it's not what you see on red carpets and in the theatres.

And that, dear masses, is why I left.

I left because no amount of being on set with famous people (many of whom are vapid. Or shallow. Or batshit crazy. So, you know, they're people just like you and me), receiving that SAG paycheck, or boasting to my friends that they should TiVo X,Y,Z at such-and-such time because I was gonna be on it was enough to make me continue to endure the following:

1. Actors. There are people who act, who have a craft, who are there for the love of the story. And then there are actors. People too obsessed with their hair, their makeup, and who's watching to care if their character has more than one dimension. These are the people more invested in being in the promo than being on time. These are the folks more worried about the number of credits on their IMDB page than the quality of the work they're putting out. These are the people who want to be famous. And mark my words, ladies and gentlemen, there is a decided difference between people who want to be famous and people who want to act. Film is choc-full of the first category. And I couldn't stand it.

2. Kiss-asses. You know the type. Cast or crew, doesn't matter. Those folks who are far more concerned with getting the card of the right person/people on set than they are about adequately doing their job. And woebetide you if you happen to be one of the people they think they need to impress. They'll follow you around. They'll "like" everything that you like. They'll make every attempt to be your best friend by the end of the day, all without recognizing that you're actually there because you have a job to do. And they're impeding it. (Talking to you there movie extra; you know who you are. The one who wants to chat me up and get my card when I'm trying to get the cameras rolling so we come in on time and on budget).

3. The time. Set time is slow time. It's arduous time. It's let's-do-it-again-for-the-15th-time-in-a-row time. It's "Okay, let's film that exact same scene again from another angle; We're gonna be late to lunch, Can I get grace?" time. It's touchups and bounceboards and soundchecks and roomtemps time. Some folks genuinely have fun with it. It exhausts me.

4. Inconsistency. When it comes to work, I thrive on having a plan. I guess that's why I am happiest when in the role of AD or Producer. But, as film is such a collaborative experience, I am constantly plagued by the lack of consistency. Even if your director is prepared and knows exactly what he/she wants (This seldom happens. For those directors who have come to set prepared, knowing what they want - I solute you. A million and two times.), the lead actor will be late, thus throwing off the whole schedule. Or props will be missing a towel, and therefore have to go to the store - and Walmart is 10 miles away. Hair will be out of bobbypins or camera will have forgotten to charge the batteries. Lighting will be short on...lights. Generally speaking, it's a rule of thumb that something, somewhere is going to go wrong. You just have to roll with the punches. I? Do not excel at rolling with the punches.

5. Body image issues. While this one applies to modeling directly, it also applies to a solid 75% of actresses with whom I've worked. The insecurities come out. The I-wish-I-were-this and if-only-I-were-that comes out. It's a very poisonous way of thinking. Very detrimental. Here I am, on modeling sets with some of the prettiest girls in Atlanta, and all we can talk about is what we have too much or not enough of. What we wish we had. And thinking that way is nothing short of mind pollution and soul poison. I had to get out.

6. Lack of control. A considerable while back, I opted to switch from in front of the camera stuff to behind the camera stuff - mostly to have more control. But no matter what position I held, control was eventually passed to the next person, who, for better or for worse, put their stamp on the project. Type A people (talking to you, Tyler Perry) have a very hard time with this. And I am, admittedly, a Type A. It's gonna kill me. Likely in my 40s. I've come to peace with it.

Some of you have gotten this far and done so fuming with offense. To those of you I say, "I'm ending this relationship," which I quickly follow with, "It's not you; it's me."

Because it is.

Even if you fit into one or more of the categories above, if you love what you're doin,' then by all means, keep doin' what you do.

What I'm trying to say here is that I didn't love it. I don't. Which is why I can walk away without looking back.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ode to a Thesis

The immortal Oscar Wilde once said, "There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.”

For a long time now - about a year - I have wanted to complete my screenplay. Born from screening a late-night, can't sleep documentary that somehow burrowed itself into my cranial cavity and set up shop, this one really meant something to me. Unlike so many earth-shattering ideas that I leave by the wayside, this story had meaning. It needed to be written.

And it needed me to write it.

Not unlike its predecessor, which I finished the year before, this particular screenplay was inspired by true (or semi-true) events and people whose stores fascinate. For me, many of these stories have been lost to time, and, for some reason, I feel an inexplicable duty to bring these stories to light.

My professors call it a thesis.

I? Call it a...well...calling.

So while more balanced people who are not presently living under the burden of magical thinking go out with friends or spend time with their families, I, with my self-imposed cognitive quest, bang away at the keyboard on this old-but-still-kickin' MacBook, churning out tales of people who actually went out and did things instead of just sitting around writing about them.

I sometimes feel this is my lot: to be the chronicler for people greater than myself. To ensure that their legacy, not mine, somehow stands the test of time while somewhere far-less-important, my bones turn to dust as bones are want to do.

It's not a wholly thankless job. Some writers who immortalize the epic works of others are remembered in their own right for style or grace or manner. Plato, for example, remains a household name, despite his literary efforts being largely a spirited retelling of the teachings of Socrates.

But I am no Plato.

And what I write? No treatise on Socrates.

And perhaps that's why I feel as I do presently.

For others, I am certain that penning the last line of what amounts to three years of your life and study, would elicit some sort of intense emotional or intellectual response. Some feeling of pride or relief or superiority or...something.

But I feel none of these things.

In truth, I feel nothing at all.

By definition, a thesis is a noun, specifically "A statement or theory that is put forward as a premise to be maintained or proved: 'can you support your thesis?'."

Can I support my thesis?

It's an interesting question.

I think so. I mean, I've spent more time over the past year with these characters than I have with my parents, my siblings, and my closest friends. Maybe combined.

And why shouldn't I? They were born of their mothers but their actions played out in my brains.

I decided what they wore.

I decided what they said.

I decided what they did.

I decided when they died.

And for a codependent creative like me, that kind of power is the ultimate dream gift.

Because there's not a day that goes by where someone doesn't say or do or die in a way that I wouldn't somehow modify.

And I think that this would make me happy.

But it doesn't.

Because this level of control doesn't deliver any surprises. And, as everyone hopefully knows, when the good things do come, they are so much sweeter if they arrive, not by force and in the way you meticulously pre-imagined, but rather by kismet-ic, chaotic circumstance in an unidentifiable package.

Maybe that's why the pride won't come today. Or the relief. Or the superiority.

Maybe that's why Hemingway put a bullet through his brain. Because, after all, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

Thursday, June 20, 2013

THUMPER SLUMP. I'm all copyright and shit.

I admit it.

I've been M.I.A. lately.

It's easy to say I've been busy. Or tired. Or troubled.

It's easy to say a litany of things. All of them true.

But what it isn't easy to say...is that I have absolutely nothing to say. About anything. Maybe for the first time in my life.

In recent weeks I've dealt with my diagnosis. I've attempted to come to terms with my impending surgery. I've faced work headaches and personal woes. I've scouted countless houses for the upcoming move. I've made infrequent but definitive strides toward the completion of my thesis.

I've read stories that broke or touched my heart. I've even written some that, at least for the moment, piqued my interest.

In light of these developments, you'd think I'd be brimming with a cacophony of things to say.

But I am at a loss.

Perhaps I've lost my words to the stress. Or to acknowledging just how terrible (or tedious) some people can be.

I cannot pinpoint the cause. And while that should sadden me, I haven't the words to articulate it.

I haven't any words at all.

Some call this writer's block.

I usually call it depression. Or stress. The two are pretty dependent on each other anyway.

But today I figured I'd muster the one iota of creativity I have to blatantly bogart someone else's intellectual property.

Today, I will not acknowledge my stress or depression. I will not acknowledge the truth - that I've completely given up lately.

Today, I will instead introduce you to a new term I have concocted:

THUMPER SLUMP.

Named for the Disney character that I do not own/cannot claim rights to/will steal regardless, my term refers to those times in life where you are so low - so physically and psychologically drained that leaving the bed for the bathroom seems like an excruciating effort - that you simply cannot say something nice.

And, as we all know, if you can't bring yourself to say something nice, you're better off saying nothing at all.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I71cY9Ysy5U

Monday, May 20, 2013

Innovation: Terrifying

Our modern world is lived at a break-neck pace.

Before technology reaches mass availability, it is already obsolete. (Why else do we feel the need to buy a new iPhone every year?)

Yet, despite innovations making newer, faster and (arguably) better within easy reach, many of us, either personally or professionally, refuse to release our death grip on the past.

Rather than embrace where we are or where we're going, we hunker down, white knuckled in "this is the way it's always been done." We chain ourselves to "tried and true" until someone - usually a new 30-something CEO with a Crest smile and a televangelist's suit - sweeps in and drags us, kicking and screaming, into the present.

Once there, we grumble and groan.

We lament how much "easier" it was to follow the old ways.

Until we learn the new ways, which are, in fact, easier. And faster. And arguably better.

And then we wonder why we put up such a fight in the first place.

Until the next change comes, and the cycle lovingly continues.

So what is it about change that seems to scare us?

Why do we cling to the familiar when progress can only be achieved by moving forward?

Why do we insist on older, slower, costlier means of personal and professional production?

And should we stop?

...

I drive a 2003 Chevy Tracker. It lacks bells and whistles. The gas mileage is less than ideal. Boasting more than 100,000 miles, the gears grind when I release the clutch. But it's a great little car. It's cheap to maintain, gets me where I need to be, and I haven't had one problem with it.

Basically, it's everything my Audi wasn't.

Cherry-red and top-of-the-line, my Audi was heaven to drive and head-turning gorgeous. It was also in the shop at least once a season. And you can forget leaving the garage owing anything less than a grand. The car was flashy, new, fast - and more trouble than it was worth.

Is this why we fear technological innovation? Somewhere in our recesses are we certain that we're gonna leave the lot with a luxury lemon?

I don't know.

But what I do know is that, when William Shockley and his cohorts left their respective conventionally-minded corporations to found Silicone Valley, they did so as a conscious rejection of outdated operations that were holding them, the country, and eventually the world in a bureaucratic stalemate.

They saw an avenue for progress - for change - and they seized it. And because they did, we put the first man on the moon. (And that computer on your desk.)

Change is terrifying - often because we paint the unknown with a doomsday brush.

But while you white-knuckle the processes of old, the Shockleys of the world or processing advanced processors.

And while you perpetuate the status quo, you're being passed by and passed up for those who dare to let go.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Meth for Two

A meth ring operates out of my office parking lot. I just know it.

Today, while circling the asphalt because I am too cheap and lazy to write another $3 check to the Park Service (sad, but true, fact), I began to take notice of two truths:

1. There are an uncanny number of lizards lurking in the parking islands and

2. Questionable people come here to do questionable things.

In recent weeks, I've noticed an uncomfortable number of police cars and bullet shells.

It can be argued that any number of either of these would be too many. But let's just say - for the devil's sake - that the two dozen I've seen of each would constitute a cause for concern.

For those of you who don't know, I work in an office building that's just off the beaten path. A little secluded, the place shares a lot with an abandoned office building and, as mentioned, a lot of lizards. There are multiple entrances (and therefore exits), and many places to hide.

What I'm telling you is, it's a "you won't get caught here" kind of spot.

The kind of place you take your mistress to cheat on your wife.

The kind of place you go to sneak a smoke of something less than legal.

The kind of place you go to hide just after you've done something nefarious.

So, you know, it's great people watching.

Anyway, among the litter of shady souls I saw enter and exit the lot on my hour-walk, there was a woman - dark shades, car with had-to-be-illegal tint on the windows -, several men who looked over their respective shoulders too often and too quickly for comfort, and a cop who parked entirely too far away from the action to actually be "in pursuit" of anything other than a dark corner.

I like to think the cop is the leader of the ring.

And glasses lady and the trio of shoulder starers?

His henchmen.

I say that, of course, with no proverbial "smoking gun." (Do shells count?)

I don't have a discarded bag of meth or tube of meth or flask of meth or whatever meth comes in. There's no telling stain on the pavement. I haven't found a body in the woods (yet!).

But baggies and bodies aside, I remain convinced that my lot is the place to be for folks at whose place it ain't safe to be.

And that makes me feel like I'm midday walking up on some of ATL's seediest, degenerate, depraved, corrupt criminals.

So naturally I waved to them.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

So you know

There's a beauty in brevity, but journalism pays by the word...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Disarmed

I played it all out in my head on the way home – exactly what she would have to say to apologize. How she would fuck it all up. How my completely justified anger would put her on the defensive. The ensuing fight.

I thought about how I would nail her to the cross about defending her indefensible behavior. I practiced my righteous indignation. In the front seat of The Tracker, I mimed my haughty sign off.

We were destined to leave this day with a mutual hatred of each other.

Now all I had to do was wait...

And sure enough, the phone rang.

My heart began to beat. Rapidly. This was it.

The hurt came rushing back to me. As did the anticipation - the certainty. The knowledge that I'd been here a hundred times before and that a hundred times out of a hundred, the result had been the same.

This time would be no different.

This time would end just like all the others.

This time...

From the first moment, this time was somehow different...This time...dammit if she didn’t do everything right.

She apologized, and, try though I might, I couldn’t pick apart the sincerity in her voice.

She said she understood how she had let me down. She said she knew that she had inconvenienced me. She said she would very much like to see me – to make it up to me. She offered to make ammends in the way that she, herself, would desire ammends if the same situation had happened to her.

She said all of this without one word of prompting from me.

In fact, I didn’t have to say anything at all.

In about 5 minutes, she managed to disarm a bomb of deep, personal hurt that I’d been building since I mastered the dexterity.

With one phone call, she showed me that someone out there knew – instinctively – how to love me.

That it is possible. That I am not a human porcupine; or jarred lightening bug.

That I was and am a human being, worthy of respect and care. That my feelings mattered, and were justified, and not just in my own mind.

She called in one moment. She secured a friend for a lifetime.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Patriotism for the Disillusioned

Days like today - weeks like this week - I find it difficult to identify with my own country.

And this is very distressing to me.

You see, I was raised to be proud of where I am from. To think America is the best damned place on earth and, as a "one up," that the South represented the best of the best.

You've heard "American by birth, Southerner by the grace of God"?

Yeah.

That's THIS girl.

But this week someone bombed the Boston Marathon.

As people lay mutilated, body parts strewn on the ground, I had to write up the carnage for the nearly 70,000 people who subscribe to my magazine.

My support system reminded me to look to the heroes during this tragedy.

It helped.

But something about it - something other than the obvious - continued to claw at me.

Today, a fertilizer plant in Texas exploded, killing - hell, I don't know how many people.

Likewise today, the representatives of our national government voted down a mandate for background checks for gun purchases.

...

I always felt safe in this country.

Even after narrowly escaping a kidnapping as a four-year old.

Even after 9/11.

Like a child, I had this naive and innocent belief that living in the best damned place on earth would always protect me.

That nothing bad could happen to me.

That I could sleep well at night.

I think that feeling - that clawing feeling that's come over me this week - may be a loss of that innocence.

Because for perhaps the first time, I feel like my nation as a whole has failed me.

...

I know the U.S. didn't plant the explosives at the finish line. I know we didn't set fire to the fertilizer. I know citizens stand behind protection legislation.

But I can't help feeling that some underlying current of how we are living is somehow lending itself to these disasters.

Don't get me wrong - I haven't joined the Westboro Baptist Church, and I don't think our benevolent Father is punishing us for anything - but I do think that we are clinging to ideals and practices which are of detriment to us as a people. And I think some of these tragedies are repercussions.

Critics will say I am victim blaming, but I think this is an incorrect or limited view.

Rather I am saying that we, as a people, are clinging desperately to volcanoes, claiming "This is where we're from, This is our heritage, and we're sticking put." But then we're somehow outraged when we get burned.

Rather than blame the people - or the volcano - I am simply suggesting we let go, and come down from the mountain. Because that ticking time bomb may have been what we were born into and raised with, but that doesn't make it good for us.

Generally speaking, we wait for a disasters to force our hand, preferring instead to remain inactive until it's too late and lives are lost.

It's why we should have repaired the failing levies before Katrina. It's why we should have had an emergency plan in place before Sandy ever touched down.

It's why I no longer feel safe in a place I know I'd fight for, if the situation called for it.

And I really hate feeling like this.

I hate feeling like the solution to terrorism is every citizen carrying a handgun just to get groceries at Publix.

I hate that I cannot walk down the street in my beloved city without worrying that some random somebody with a history of mental illness is also walking Euclid with a gun on his person.

Is this really what I have to do to get along in this country?

Because every place I've ever seen - either in person or on the news - where folks have to carry a gun for their own personal safety, is a place Americans are typically warned not to visit.

...

I hear a lot of hemming and hawing about the loss of our freedoms. About how regulation will lead to elimination. About how the government is out to rob us of the ideals we hold dear.

And much of it is coming from people who supported The Patriot Act.

...

Look, I don't know what the answer is, but I do know this:

My rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Include my ability to walk down the street - without a gun - and not have to be terrified for my safety. They involve me knowing preventative measures are being taken - without regard to cost and difficulty level- so that maybe I have a good chance of making it through the day unharmed.

My rights consist of peace of mind. Of certainty of safety, like I had when I was little. Like I had until this past week.

...

Life isn't perfect.

It's hard, and there are bad people in the world.

But - given these facts - I still refuse to see the world as "not good." As "scary" and "evil" and any other terms you'd see in a banal write up of a slasher film.

I refuse these things, because I was brought up to believe I live in the best damned place on earth.

And I still believe America - its citizens - have the capacity to prove me right.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Match Game

When it comes to relationships, most people I know are attempting 11th grade chemistry - trying to change their partner (and themselves) through a series of complex mathematical equations that result in a quasi-stable arrangement of give and take.

With bunsen burners.

The relationship provides the fire, and, rather than consider whether the elements (us) can stand the flames, we immediately try to adapt ourselves to the heat.

What results is a fucking fire-y mess. And baby, you know it burns.

Because what begins rather simply as a chemical attraction somehow becomes a scientific bartering system; an atomic-level tit-for-tat exchange that transforms the participants, not into the "ideal" 2 hydrogens + 1 oxygen = water equation - but rather into relationship mad scientists, running frantically about our romance labs, convinced that, if we just "get the right chemical combination" that somehow everything will work out.

If I just add this other element...but no...that leaves an extra ion...Oh no! It's unstable...better factor in the atomic weight...and drop the "t" and multiply by a mole and dance a muthafuckin' jig. "It'll work!," you swear. "It'll work, so help me G-d!"

Hair plastered to your brow, sweat beading at the temples, eyes red from weeks of poor sleep, you're barely aware you're grasping at straws: "If I am a base," you say, "and he is an acid, we'll balance each other out, see? Science!"

Yeah.

Science.

Fiction.

Because if you have to force it, change it, fix it?

Bitches, it's broken.

And no amount of mathematical jig dancing is gonna finagle you a proper match.

So let me enlighten you as to what will.

...

Everything you ever needed to know about romantic relationships, you knew when you were 4.

You just decided to complicate it when you got older.

Because you? Are an idiot.

By age 4 you had a basic command of language, motor movement, and the concept of "alike" and "different." As it turns out, this is really all you need.

Because that's all you need to play The Match Game.

And romantic relationships are really nothing more (or less) than The Match Game.

As anyone with good parents or an invested grandfather will remember, The Match Game was pretty straighforward. Pictures on cards: ice cream cone, fire truck, circus seal. You shuffle the cards, turn their faces to the floor and draw two, trying to make a pair. If the pair don't match? You put 'em back.

Simple as that.

Relationships are just the same.

Forget the fucking "I'm a base, he's an acid, we balance each other out" mentality.

It's bullshit, and it's not about balance. It's about SAME.

Same behaviors. Same likes. Same dislikes. Same values.

4 year old you knew all about same. Adult you? Is still trying to do chemistry. And why? You KNOW you're gonna fail. You're not even that good at math.

4 year old you was completely aware of him/herself. 4 year old you knew exactly what s/he wanted and when. Because that's what 4 year olds do. So when 4 year old you drew an ice cream cone, s/he knew s/he was looking for another ice cream cone. Not a fire truck. Not a circus seal. AN ICE CREAM CONE.

But...but...you sputter, "I like fire trucks. I like the hook and ladder. And...I know I'm an ice cream cone, and she's a fire truck, but I'm sure we can make it work..."

Oh you can, can you?

First of all, 4 year old you calls "bullshit" and says ice cream cone DOES NOT MATCH fire truck, and demands you put the card back. But let's come back to 4 year old you, as he is obviously so far ahead of your present curve.

You like the fire truck do you? Nice hook and ladder system eh?

"Yeah," you say, shrugging your shoulders. "And, I mean, she puts out fires in houses, and, as an ice cream cone I put out fires in people's mouths so...you know...it can work, right? If I just..."

My G-d you're an idiot.

NO.

NO. It can't.

Why?

Because you may like her hook and ladder, but at the end of the day, she's a fire truck and you're an ice cream cone. And when you start to drip? She's gonna think you're gross. And when you hear her siren? You're gonna wanna bail. Pronto.

Why? Because like matches like, and she is not a match to you.

A cone is a cone and a truck is a truck and a circus seal is a circus seal. Ain't nuthin' gonna change that.

And the sooner you get that 4 year old wisdom through your 11th grade skull, the happier you'll be.

Start looking for someone who already matches you - because, like it or not, we choose how we grow. And if you grow to be a to-bed early, conservative Christian who likes to eat healthy, a gorgeous up-all-night, liberal agnostic with an addiction to cake is not a good match for you. No matter how much you like her hook and ladder.

Stop hunting for someone you have to change. Or who has to change you.

Start looking for someone whose waffle cone matches yours. Someone who'll understand when you drip, 'cause she does too. Someone who looks great in sprinkles and, even though she can't take the heat, she makes you smile whenever you think of her Rocky Road.

A fire truck shoots water and a circus seal swims in it. But that's one ugly fucking baby, if you think about it.

On the other hand, if you're a chocolate vanilla swirl and she's a strawberry, then you've got yourself a Neapolitan.

And that sounds fucking delicious.

No matter how old you are.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Peter Pan was played by a girl you know

Perhaps nothing fills me with such wonder and dismay as the ever-changing nature of the hopes and desires of the people I hold dear.

Most of the time, I operate in the naive bliss usually reserved for certain underdeveloped grammarschool children - skipping about, shamelessly, completely engulfed in a world of my own making where things are fair, the sun ever-shines and cakes of all flavors have zero calories.

In this little land o' mine, you and I and all of our ilk are precisely on the same page.

We think the same, act the same, want the same.

And while the first two in this list are endlessly fascinating, it's the latter - the list caboose - with which I am presently obsessed.

In short, I think I stumbled in my fields of flowers today to realize - completely winded, on my back, with dirt in my hair - that you and I don't want the same.

Surface-level thinkers can take that one, scamper off with it, and write a banal thesis. But I? Am going to lay (lie? I never know) here on my back, and take in an even deeper *gasp!* of realization.

Because I am pretty sure that you and I wanted the same things once...and I still want those things...so...therefore...you. must've. changed.

And now, like a child, I am angry at you.

Angry for changing our plans.

Angry for changing our wants.

Angry for changing our lives with your completely unfair desire to grow up, have a mortgage, have a house, have kids.

When all I seem to want to do is be one.

If you were here? I'd slap your face. Throw a fit. Push you down in the mud.

Because that's what children do when they're hurting...

Best friend? Best friend! Where are you going?

And why are you leaving me?

When did you decide to trade play palaces for ranch-style houses? To don a suit and "sensible" shoes and drive a sedan to work?

When did you decide that tangled hair and dirty knees had fallen away in favor of finances, fiances, and fetuses of your very own?

Was it when I was off jumping or climbing or crawling through Neverland woods?

Because I swear, you were just here beside me in the brambles.

Did I get lost or did you?

Monday, March 11, 2013

On Flowers

Of the thousands of ways to scar a child for life, I have witnessed perhaps none so insidious - so covertly malevolent - so...decidedly bourgeois as the mal-mannered slight I beheld Saturday.

Slap a child silly. Poke them with pointies. Tell them to their face that you like their sibling better and that the dog does too.

All of these? Will leave a mark.

But if you truly want to irrevocably injure - if your goal is utter and lifelong destruction at the subconscious level - if it's kill or be killed, generational-style...my friends, there is just no better way to tell a child that they don't matter than oversight.

...

Saturday I attended a middle school choir concert. My first and only middle school concert since I was, in fact, in middle school. (And it should be noted that I wouldn't have attended that one, had I not been performing in it.)

So when I tell you I am a Jew in a pew of an Episcopalian church, outside of the perimeter, to watch a group of children half my age (none of which are mine) perform songs I don't know, well...

...

Let me start again.

Much of my kid life was lived on stage.

At first by mandate, but soon by choice.

I learned early and at the subconscious level that mass performance was a way to elicit momentary "love"...and I was a child hungry for it.

A disappointment since birth, (A surprise. And a girl. So basically the human fetus equivalent of a Double Fault.) I came into this world with a debt on my account, and I knew before I knew that I had to make it up somehow.

The stage provided my medium.

Somehow, if I was singing, dancing, or acting for a crowd, the individuals who judged suddenly became a crowd that approved, if not of me then at least of my flailing arms and tapping feet.

When the show was done, the hands would clap. The smiles would come. There would be flowers. Flowers for me.

...

Every child deserves flowers.

This is an indisputable fact.

Because flowers, like children, are beautiful and small. They are delicate and special. Their time is fleeting and should be treasured.

Every child. Every. Child. Deserves flowers.

...

So Saturday evening saw Jew in a pew with a pot of yellow tea roses, all because a child with a voice who was special to me was using that voice to sing songs I don't know in not-quite-right pitches and just-off tempos.

And it was fucking beautiful to hear.

Hundreds watched as Rebecca gave her very first choir concert. A shy child, Rebecca had been the girl in my drama class two years ago who, despite (or perhaps because of) not having the natural gifts of voice or movement or theatrical character, showed notable improvement through the sheer will to be better.

Like clockwork,I could expect an email or text or telephone call from Rebecca once every three months or so. Despite having not taught her for two years, she continues to call with questions. Concerns. Can I go to the park with her? She knows she's not a good singer, perhaps she should take voice lessons. And where is the best place to get extra help with her dance?

Rebecca isn't a natural singer. So Rebecca joined an extra-curricular choir to learn.

Rebecca? DESERVES FLOWERS.

...

And of the hundreds of people gathered to see their chosen 13-year-old daughter/sister/niece/granddaughter perform, I am ONE OF TWO members of the audience with flowers in my arms.

One. Of. Two.

What. THE FUCK. is wrongwithyoupeople!?

I may take a walk right now, just so I don't spew my mind brains all over this desktop MAC.

Because this really upsets me. I mean, really upsets me. I'm talking, call my mother on the way home and thank her for every time she brought me flowers after a concert/recital/show upsets me.

And I can't understand it.

I mean first - and least importantly but still importantly - flowers are a tradition in the performing arts. They are a mark of honor. Cut and placed in a vase, they serve as a reminder to the recipient that he or she did well. That he or she worked hard for something and achieved. That he or she not only dreamed something but did something. And that? Is no small accomplishment.

It's a life lesson. And it's a history lesson. Theatre, stage, performance - these things are steeped in tradition. And tradition is important. Respect it. Bring some fucking flowers.

Second - and where I really want to start throwing punches - you know what? I may need to go take a walk again...

Ok. Second.

That performance - that imperfect, far-too-long, I'd-rather-be-watching-"Breaking-Bad" performance, was a one-of-a-kind, never to be duplicated, moment in your life. And you know what's more? THIS MOMENT is a moment of pride in the accomplishments and life of a person you love.

I mean - did you not see what I just saw? Did you not somehow just witness a fucking miracle in that this tiny person - this human life that you made and shaped - got up in front of hundreds of people and did an amazingly brave and scary thing. In a frumpy black dress!?

What were you - in the bathroom for the last two hours? Are you a fucking human ostrich? Is your head perpetually buried in the sand!?!

How are you not beaming with pride? How are there not tears in your eyes? HOW ARE THERE NOT FLOWERS IN YOUR ARMS!?!?

...

Perhaps, as you see these mini people day in and day out, you take for granted the little goofus things they do.

It's an easy oversight. And one of which I am guilty.

We all take for granted those we see every day.

But a performance is not an everyday occurrence. And if it is, well, you've got a real problem.

Because every external performance comes as a result of a thousand inner-monologues. A thousand solo dances of the mind. A thousand denouements of the heart.

And we only progress in those areas in which we practice.

...

One little girl went home with multicolored tulips.

Rebecca went home with a potted plant sporting five yellow blooms.

And, if there is any justice in the world, that plant will not die and will continue to bloom and will ever serve as a reminder that she saw her own weakness and decided to do something about it. That she came out better because of her own choices.That she can continue to be better because she can, to a degree, plot the path of her future.

It is a reaping and a sewing.

Assuming she doesn't kill it, I'm hoping that each bloom serves as a reminder that she, too, is beautiful, and, given the right soil and conditions, is capable of ceaseless growth.

I hope the plant connects her in some small way to every singer who's taken stage - I hope it brings her a sense of belonging and pride.

Because that's what flowers are for. And every child deserves flowers.

Every. Single. One.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Round One

I jumped when I heard my name in the toiletries aisle at the neighborhood Kroger. Recognition was the last thing I expected when weighing the merits of Powder Fresh vs. Clean Linen scents in aisle 6.

I turned to see an old friend, Carrie, struggling to catch my attention while at the same time wrestling a bag of kale from the reaches of her young son. I knew Carrie’d had a baby, just as I knew the extent of her recent work projects and the issues she and her husband were having in trying to find a reliable sitter. Thing is, I knew all of this despite not having spoken to or seen Carrie in over a year. Two years? When was the last time I saw Carrie…

Between the blur of Yahoo news, Gmail, e-blasts and social networking sites, we are all informed. Each of us can carry a conversation (with varying degrees of accuracy) about The State of the Union Address. Or Gun Control. Or J.J. Abrams and the new Star Wars movie. Or which of our friends just got married/had a baby/got a new job.

We live our lives little short of a click away from being a wiki-expert in nearly every subject, because information, these days, is available in spades.

By and large, this is a good thing. The majority of human history has been marked—and marred—by the power of knowledge: who has it, who has access to it, and how to keep it out of the “wrong” hands. Princes, paupers, kingdoms and empires have risen and fallen in its pursuit. Martyrs have died in its name.

Knowledge? It’s a powerful thing.

And a slippery slope.

And a double-edged sword.

And a veritable cornucopia of other well-worn clich├ęs.

Because in today’s marketplace, most Americans have unlimited access to storehouses of information. Need to know if a restaurant’s good? Yelp will tell you. Need recommendations for a t.v. show? Netflix can offer a slew of options based on your personal, previous preferences. Need to know what Carrie’s been up to? No need to pick up the phone and call, as 10 seconds spent on her FaceBook page will provide all the answers. But at what cost?

As social stewards, you and I are in the business of communication. To communicate effectively, we must therefore be informed on a variety of issues. That’s just gospel.

But while representatives of any constituency have always needed to be informed about their base, the means by which modern reps gather intel has changed, and not necessarily for the better. Because Yelp can’t tell you why certain restaurants in your district are struggling. Netflix can’t stream you a cop-drama solution to the proposed pension cuts for local firefighters and policemen. And FaceBook may tell you what the middle school principal had for lunch today, but it won’t shed light on whether or not a county-wide anti-bullying campaign is yielding results.

A face-to-face meeting will. A handshake will. Engagement will.

Friends, I fear we’ve settled for a substitution–one we shruggingly accept as “progress.” In this period of technological “progress,” I fear we are, in fact, regressing in a key area where our predecessors were forced to excel. Fellow stewards, we are exchanging first-hand experiences for second-hand data; we’re forgoing life experience for pre-packaged thought processes; we’re sacrificing engagement on the cold, hard altar of information.

And we have to stop. Because we’re losing our greatest source of empirical knowledge – first-hand experience – to Wikipedia.

To “pen” this article, I used one word-processing program, one design program, and about a half-dozen internet sites.

I didn’t pick up the phone once.

I didn’t have to.

I had all the information I needed.

SIGN OFF Deck to sign off: Engage me. Call me at XXX

Friday, January 18, 2013

TREASURE!

So...we all agree my dumpster is a place of magic.

.......Full set of plates last week people! Full set! Annnnd coffee mugs!......

But what some of the less fortunate might not know is that my hallway is, likewise, a treasure trove of...treaures.

For residents of "The Pen," my hallway is the Cave of Wonders for all things free. Yes, my friends, you heard me right! If a bric-a-brac is home-oriented, sporting equal levels of well-loved and well-used, there's a very good chance said item will make its way to my little co-op on Euclid.

Where you can snag it.

For free.

To date, my acquisitions have been small. A few books here. A vintage coin purse there.

But there are times, dear readers, when a fortunate renter can pinch a priceless print, a half-full bottle of Chardonnay, or - if you're very, very lucky - a slightly-used hair piece with sequins.

...

Today's offerings are of an always-special but mundane variety. There are a few coffee mugs. And it appears the management seized the two Renoirs. There's something for the kitchen, too, but as we all know I don't ever go there...

...

These items have been making the rounds for a few days now. I picked through them. Decided to leave them for lesser mortals.

But today, my friends! Oh today!

Today "The Pen" gods have once again shone their heavenly light on me! Today I shall once again seize a prize worthy of my lowly but well-fashioned station!

Today, I swipe...

THE HOOLA HOOP!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

KEEP MOVING!

There are sharks in the water. Do you languish?

Because while you're paralyzed with fear, he's passing you.

While you tread water, praying for a miracle; he's halfway to the island.

Because he knows it's easier to hit a sitting duck than a moving target.

His head's in the game. Yours? Is on the sharks.

...

There are sharks in the water.

Keep moving.

They may see you.

Keep moving.

They may hunt you.

Keep moving.

They may come for you.

Let them come. Fight like hell. Keep moving.

Your blood's in the water?

Keep moving.

Can't go any farther?

Keep moving.

...

Because there will always be sharks in the water.

And the beaches?

Normandy.

Because life is hard, and success is harder.

And we all end up casualties.

But it's your choice how you go; in fright or a fight.

And we all end up casualties.

Fear leaves you dead in the water.

Keep moving. Keep Moving. KEEP MOVING!

On to Normandy!

Friday, January 11, 2013

You are They; And so am I

Pretty sure that "putting your best foot forward" is - lamp shades and scented candles aside - really just colloquial PR speak for lying.

With make up, designer clothes, and a chin held high we leave the house. The face we show to the world? Happy and confident. "Fake it 'til you make it." That's what they say. And after all, when's the last time THEY were wrong about something?

I know I'm not the first to relate that it's all smoke and mirrors. All "Quick! Look over there!" and then hiding the evidence under the rug.

And our reasons for the charades are obvious. We dont' want our secrets known, underbellies exposed. If we're convincing enough, agile enough in our very own Real Me Disappearing Act, then the world - so full of better, more perfect people - won't know how defective we truly are.

My friends, we are lily-livered little cowards.

As capitalists, we are constantly seeking to self-improve. Be the best. Excel. And to do so, we must buy. Because the products of our society are products. And I'm beginning to think the inanimate noun form, "product," and the noun/verb forms, "production," have become the measure of man.

...

Where is our inherent worth?

...

In this "Eat, Pray, Love" world we pay lip service to the bullshit mantras of "love yourself," "pamper yourself," "take care of yourself." The self has become the epicenter of our collective mindspace.

But while Narcissus had a love affair with the self, the aforementioned capitalistic obsession with self has produced dual affects: specifically speaking, a self-love/self-loathe combo.

And it's delivering a self-inflicted one-two punch.

In America, narcissism may reign supreme, but beneath that mask of "Hey, ain't I awesome!" lies the leprous face of insecurity, doubt, and shame that somehow refuses to stay buried under mountains of market.

Seems that amid all the make-up, plastic surgery, sports cars, mountain homes, trophy wives and the traditional mid-life banging of the young, hot secretary, we're still miserably unhappy.

We have all we've ever wanted - or are avidly pursuing it like rabid manbearpigs - but we're still so fucking preoccupied with nit-picking ourselves that, left to our own devices, we poke and prod 'til the mirror reflects the very monsters and demons we see inside.

So we deflect.

Deflect the reflection.

And then we hide it.

We fake it.

We "fake it 'til we make it."

How?

We "put our best foot forward."

...

Why are we so insecure about who we are?

Why do we feel the need to hide behind a false face?

Why have "vulnerability" and "fallibility" become synonymous with "liability"?

And why must we lie about it?

...

My father recently told me never to say anything negative on a job interview.

He related - with guilt still fresh despite the expiration date on the memory - that on his first interview after graduating from Georgia Tech, the man across the table asked how Daddy-O felt about the education he'd received at alma mater. My father responded honestly.

"I felt it stifled my creativity," he said.

Apparently, this? Was not the right answer.

To this day, padre knows - and laments - that he lost the lucrative position because his answer, though honest, wasn't upbeat.

And you know what?

He may be right.

Because people like positive people. Friendly people. Outgoing people.

People like pretty people.

And ain't none of us always all of these things.

So we fake it.

We fake it 'til we make it.

'Cause that's what THEY tell us to do.

And THEY? - though comprised of fallible, loathable, hideously imperfect "us"es - are never wrong.

That makes sense.

Right?