Friday, March 30, 2012

Being a Lazybones

I had a good idea for a blog today, but then my day happened and I decided to write it later.

My dad just came into town!  I'm so excited- tomorrow we're going to start a few days' worth of touristy goodness.  We had a little social "soiree" with my piano teacher and a friend this evening.  It was fun to have my dad meet some people from my life here in LA.  Anyway, I'm really tired and I want to sleep, so I'll write a better blog tomorrow (well, I won't promise tomorrow- but in the next few days)- maybe about my day and maybe about something else.

Anyway, goodnight.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Dealing with Transitions

With less than a week to go before I fly home, I've entered transition mode...and it's not going very well.  Just when I finally started settling into life in LA and appreciating the way things work and really getting to know the people I work and interact with on a daily basis, I have to leave.  It's weird because normally, I'm pretty good with transitions.  Actually, I usually really like transitions.  I think I've written about this before (maybe not), but my favorite feeling is the feeling of going somewhere, driving or flying or even walking some place- a destination, because that way I know that there's really something there in my tangible future.  I think that that's also the reason I like transitions, but for whatever reason, I'm really not handling this well.

At this point, I've started feeling some pre-nostalgia about things here that are going to end in the next couple of days.  It's not a pleasant feeling, although nostalgia can be nice.  I've also been having a hard time dealing with the little things that happen during my days that are frustrating.  There are eensy things like an interaction with someone at work that bugged me, or not being able to find parking, or something like that that will totally knock me over the edge and I just think, "Gah!!  Why can't this all just END already?  I'm sick of this!  It sucks!  I'm not going to miss this and it's almost over-- why do I have to keep dealing with it?!"  I actually feel kind of bad because I know that this dilemma has been causing me to be somewhat irritable towards those people I feel more comfortable with.  The other problem is that I'm quite homesick (as happens whenever I'm this close to going home), so everything seems like it's going badly.

Here I am with Marta and her friend while they
played dress-up with me as their doll

I also know, deep down, that I'm even going to miss the bad things about LA, because it's always easier to see the silver lining in things from afar.  That happens to me all the time.  For example, when I was in Panamá, I didn't click very well with my host mom.  Practically from the third week I was there, I was counting the days until I could be done living with her.  I also got really irritated by my host family's dog, Grumpi (pronounced GROOM-pee).  He was adorable, but completely untrained and unrestrained and he tried to eat everything I owned, including my stuffed animal platypus, Platy, and that was just crossing a line.  But now, I find myself wanting to email Marta (host mom) and checking in with her and wishing I could visit her sometime.  So there must have been something good about our relationship when I was there that I wasn't aware of at the time, because now I miss it.  The same thing happened with Grumpi.  I found out a few months after I went back to the U.S. that he had gotten hit by a car and killed.  I was so upset.  I cried and cried.  Now I'd never get to see him again, even if I ever got back to Panamá.  It's really weird how that happens.  I guess absence really does make the heart grow stronger...

Grumpi- see?  He's adorable!  I just couldn't take his insanity...
But my experience in Panamá was the first in many experiences that taught me to make as much of any given situation as I possibly can.  Actually, it's nice that I had already learned that lesson when I started thinking about taking time off.  A lot of what informed my final decision (among many other things) was the idea that if I didn't do it, I would never know if I had missed something (which I know now, I would have).  Now, no matter what happens in the next year, at least I'll know that I gave myself every opportunity to figure it out.

So, is it bad that at this point I'm so homesick that I just want everything to end so that I can miss it?  It might be kind of bad.  But I know I'll appreciate it in retrospect, so why can't we just get on with those positive feelings now?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

In which I interact with famous people

Today's post is going to be short because I'm so exhausted, I can hardly see straight.  Today was my last day with the independent producer.  She took me to Lake Hollywood in the morning and we hiked around it, which was nice.

Later in the evening, we went to a screening of "Rocky" at the Warner Brothers lot (sponsored by NYFA- New York Film Academy), after which the woman I work for held a Q and A with John Avildsen, the director of the film (that and Karate Kid and other things).  After the Q and A, she took a picture of me with him (he was very gracious).  It was extra nice too, because I had met Rob Reiner a couple of weeks before, but didn't have the guts to tell the woman I work for that I wanted a photo with him (because he's AWESOME- I love "The Princess Bride").  I had forgotten how great a movie "Rocky" is.  I haven't seen it in years, and I really enjoyed it.

Near the beginning of the Q and A, John Avildsen told us that he likes to take home videos (in fact, he took a video of us cheering for him as he walked up onto the stage).  So, the other, equally cool thing that happened was, when the woman I work for mentioned to Avildsen that I go to Emerson, he said, "Oh, I have a daughter about your age who's looking at Emerson.  I'm going to take a video...what do you like about Emerson?"  And he proceeded to take out his iPhone and take a video of me giving advice to his daughter about Emerson.  How cool is that?  John Avildsen just took a video of me on his phone...awesome.

It was really great to listen to him talk about film and his experiences.  I could hear a palpable passion in his voice with everything he said.  He was so emphatic about all of his stories, etc.  It was pretty inspiring.

Cat Calls: Flattery in Creepiness...or Something

I'm torn by something.

When I get cat called or whistled at on the street, I know I should be a little bit wary, and I am.  But my first feeling when I hear random strangers making sexy noises at me is flattery.  I know it's weird, because usually the offenders are somewhat senile homeless people or otherwise creepy men who I really shouldn't be mixed up with, but I can't help it-- who doesn't like to be told they're attractive?  I realize that that sounds incredibly sad and desperate, but it's not.  This is a weird thought to try and articulate in writing, but I'll give it a try.

I remember when I turned 13, my parents paid for me to go and visit my sister, A, in New York City and for us to go see a show on Broadway.  At the time, I had little to no exposure to the world of men who felt it wasn't inappropriate to make public their feelings about a complete stranger's body.  I noticed that A got a number of cat calls and men saying things like, "ooh, girl, you so fine," and things like that.  At first, I felt super threatened on A's behalf, but I soon realized that she didn't mind so much.  I mean, she wasn't inviting it or anything like that at all, but she seemed kind of pleased with herself whenever a guy took notice of her.

Get it?
From then on, as I started growing up, I began to realize that it's actually fine to be kind of flattered about things like that, so long as you're not an idiot about it.  When I was living in Boston, I got the most exposure to that kind of thing that I ever had (Maine isn't exactly a giant haven for that crowd).  At first, it was weird to have so many people right around where I lived calling out and whistling to my friends and me, but we got used to it and it sort of became part of what being in Boston meant.  We liked to joke around after a while.  Someone would come back from a walk outside and say, "watch it if you go to CVS-- the homeless guys over there are in major harassment mode today."

My time in Boston has taught me valuable skills in how to handle those types of situations.  I find that it's ok to feel good about them if you aren't really showing that you feel good about it, because then people will think it's ok to maybe do something that isn't so appreciable...I find it best to ignore it and smile on the inside.

There are some times when it's not just a whistle or kissy noises.  Sometimes it's a little harder to just ignore.  The other day, I was at the library reading a script for my friend.  A guy came and sat down across the table from me and started listening to music on some sort of MP3 player.  After a while, he just looked at me and said, "Hi!"  Now, I suppose some people could just ignore this, but it was so direct, and I have a hard time just ignoring that kind of thing.  So I just said "hi" back and kept reading.  He started talking to me about age and how old he felt (he had asked me how old I was-- I lied, but I don't think it really mattered- this guy didn't seem dangerous, necessarily, just...what's the word...pushy?).  He told me about how he was 30 years old and already had gray hairs.  I assured him that I had met younger people with gray hair.  He kept saying things, and I would smile and nod and go back to my reading.  Eventually, he got up to leave, said it was nice to meet me, and told me I had nice feet.  He told me that it reflected well on me that I took care of my feet, and he told me to keep taking care of my feet.

Ok- so it was bizarre.  But COME ON.  If I can handle myself, why not be kind to a creepy stranger?

...I feel like I'm trying to validate myself right now...I don't know why it matters.

It's interesting to see the way different people deal with these things.  Sometimes I'm impressed, and then sometimes I just think, "wow...that girl's such a dumbass."  One time, I was waiting for the T (subway) with a friend of mine, K, from Emerson, and a very clearly mentally challenged older man shuffled up to K and said, "will you go on a date with me?"  I was a little freaked out, because at the time, I still wasn't used to this kind of behavior, but K smoothly (and mercifully apologetically) replied, "I'm sorry; I have a boyfriend," and the guy just walked away.  I don't even think she had a boyfriend at the time.  That response just came really easily for her.  I was impressed.

Another time, a different friend of mine, H, was drunk.  A group of us decided to go for some late night pizza.  H came along and started flirting with some guys outside the pizza place.  Now, it was very clear to us (mainly because we were sober) that these were not guys you wanted to flirt with, particularly at 2 o'clock in the morning in the middle of Boston.  The guy she was flirting with kept grabbing her ass and saying, "come 'ere, baby..." and H didn't seem to mind or sense that the situation wasn't a good one.  Eventually our strong, male friend took H away from the guy and we went back to the dorm with our pizza.  Granted, she was drunk, but I couldn't help but think that if I'd been in a similarly substance-induced situation, I wouldn't have been quite so irresponsible...

Anyway, I'm not really sure what the purpose of this post was except perhaps to make the point that it's ok to be flattered by creepy strangers' behavior as long as you aren't stupid.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Do something this cool with your time. I DARE you.

Some people's creativity and talent never cease to amaze me.  I wrote in a number of previous posts about different people who are incredibly good at what they do.  With some, you could say they were geniuses of their respective fields, but this post is to talk about those people who haven't spent 10,000 hours on one thing in order to become a genius at it.  This is about people who have a talent and use it to do amazing things.  It's also about people who might not even necessarily have a "talent," per se, but they have something, and they take that and run with it.

During my Freshman year at Emerson, my "Foundations in VMA [visual and media arts] Production" class had a whole unit on what you can do with YouTube.  For example, our professor introduced us to this guy:

I know that, a lot of the time, the stereotype of people who sit at their computers all day making videos of themselves is usually some nerdy (somewhat creepy) guy with glasses and acne.  I always knew that that wasn't actually the case, but I was never actually aware of the full extent to which people could take YouTube until that production class.

I look at people who get famous on or create a viral video on YouTube, and I can't help wishing I could do that.  There are people like this, who have a whole channel that is completely made up of vlog-esque videos that are mainly meant to entertain:
I follow both of these guys' channels on YouTube and I think they're fantastic.  But if video blogs aren't your style, not to worry.  I've got other things that are just as great in a completely different way!  I discovered the following about a year ago, but I just sort of rediscovered it recently and it's what gave me the inspiration for this post.  So first, watch this video (it's not the super creative, fun type of video I was talking about earlier-- so just bear with me for 2 minutes and 52 seconds):
Although this isn't really the main point of this post, this girl got a number of threats, etc. after she made this video (I don't know the exact details), and I believe she ended up dropping out of UCLA.  So there's a cautionary YouTube tale for you.  HOWEVER, what I really loved about this was, among all of the angry, inflammatory video responses that this video got, there was one that I think made probably the same point that everyone else was trying to make about how insensitive and ignorant this girl sounds, but this guy did it in a way that 1) actually got his point across in a way that people would listen to him (the video has over 4 million hits), and 2) was completely amazing and hilarious:
So that's another cool way to use YouTube.

THEN, there are things like this, where an ENORMOUS collaboration of (most likely) complete strangers get together and create something huge and creative and legitimately entertaining (it takes a minute for your brain to get used to the way it changes-- I don't actually expect you to watch the whole can just sort of skip around after the beginning- but it's really fascinating):
So anyway, I think that it's incredible how much everyday people can do when they have a camera and the internet.  I tried my hand at YouTubing very briefly (I won't even give you a link to my YouTube channel- that's how undeveloped and lame it is), but I realized that I like the way I come across in writing quite a bit better.  But for what it's worth, I have enormous respect for people who can create things like this.

Ok FINE- here's my favorite video that I made (originally for a class anyway) that I ended up putting on YouTube-- I just got a nice comment on it recently, so it gave me to confidence to put it up.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Blog Is Not Enough

I've recently discovered (well, rediscovered) a new form of writing.  It's called freewriting.  I've done it before with writing classes and such, but it never really worked for me, probably because I was being forced to do it.  But a few days ago, I started getting up a half an hour early to freewrite in my writing notebook (something that has been sorely ignored since I came to LA).

Freewriting is basically writing whatever comes into your head without format or anything.  You're just supposed to sit down and let the pencil move across the paper and see what comes out.  The point is to let your mind do the talking before you over think anything.  I think I cheat a little bit at the beginning, because I have a hard time coming up with something to write about, so I have to actually think for a minute until I think of at least one sentence to write.  From there, things pick up.

When I started doing it on my own (instead of in class or something), it was incredibly effective.  Once I got started, my hand just flew across the page.  In the past four days, I've created and fleshed out a number of characters for scripts I've been meaning to write for a long time but couldn't ever get enough details in my head to start.  I never feel my mind functioning the way it does when I'm freewriting (except perhaps in that limbo state between sleep and consciousness when it just wanders).  That's really what it's like though-- it's like daydreaming, but everything you think gets onto paper, so you won't forget it.

Content wise, my freewrites are great and incredibly helpful for me and my stories.  However, I would never publish them here (or anywhere) in the form they're in right now, because they're probably riddled with spelling and grammatical errors.  If I stop to correct those while I'm writing, my mind will lose its flow.  Of course, I wouldn't want anyone to see them with so many mistakes and do something like this to it (I promise my content is much better than this- be sure to read along):
Anyway, it's also good to practice other forms of writing than just public writing-- this blog is good practice for writing things for other people, but if I just did this kind of writing, I wouldn't be a very well-rounded writer.

Oh my gosh! It's midnight and I literally forgot to blog!!

I got off work late, went to the post office, went grocery shopping (because I had literally run out of food), went home, changed, went climbing, went home again, made dinner, caught up on The Walking Dead (season finale...I expected a little more), and have been playing piano for the last...2 hours...oops.

Huh...I've never actually forgotten to blog.  I've remembered to blog and thought, "eh, don't really feel like it," but wow.  I certainly had other things on my mind today...


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Expect good things and GET MORE!!

Has life been meeting your expectations?  Exceeding them?  Failing them?  Whose fault is that?

IT'S YOUR FAULT!!@!!! (I didn't mean to put that @ there, but I thought it looked good...)

That's right- no matter what uncontrollable things have happened in life that might have been someone else's fault, whether or not life in general meets your expectations is your responsibility.  Whether or not anything meets your expectations is your responsibility.

How, you ask? (or maybe you don't- but I'm going to tell you anyway)

Ok, so imagine that you're driving to your local climbing gym because you have a class tonight.  But you got off work late, so you're rushing.  You get all down on yourself and listen to angsty music on the way there because you hate being late for things, and you know you're going to miss the beginning of class, and it's going to be less meaningful and you're going to look like an idiot.  Then you get there about five minutes late and the instructor isn't even around, nor is anyone else from the class.  Then you realize that you're the first person there and the instructor is elsewhere, just waiting for his other pupils to show up.  So it turns out that there was no risk of anyone thinking you were an idiot (unless you were wearing clown shoes or something) or missing any part of the class.  The class turns out to be incredibly fun and you find a new climbing partner and your instructor is awesome and your whole day just got (literally) 76 times better.  (in case you were wondering, that example is in fact based on a true story...actually it is a true happened today...minus the clown shoes.)

So basically, if you had just said, "well I'm going to be late and that's that.  The class will still be fun, because you'll be with fun people.  Plus, the other two classes you took started late anyway.  You'll be fine," then, not only could you have had a better car ride to the gym, but you could also have better appreciated everything that happened.

But that begs the question, wouldn't it be better to lower your expectations all the time, so everything seems better?  I used to think that, but DON'T BELIEVE IT!  IT'S NOT TRUE!!  Expecting the worst and getting the best is never really what happens.  It only feels that way because of your expectations.  It's a FALSE BEST.  Reality is always better than false goodness.  Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.  Plus, if you expect more, you'll usually get more, instead of getting mediocrity and thinking it's awesome.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Let the good things stay good

I was talking to my mom the other day about a place where I spent a lot of time a few years ago.  I was telling her how much I miss it and want to go back someday.  It was such a wonderful place and I wish I hadn't let it slip into my past.  She told me that sometimes it's good, especially when there's nothing you can do to change the present situation, to just let happy memories be happy memories instead of perseverating over the fact that they're over.  It will make the memories sweeter.  Now, I don't think that necessarily applied to the place I was talking to her about, because I can go back there and visit someday.  But it definitely made me think about things in my life that it does apply to.

The first thing that comes to mind is a relationship I had a few years ago.  It was a good relationship-- it moved at a healthy pace physically and everything.  Emotionally, however, it moved faster.  We (the guy involved and I) got very close, and I (in retrospect) might have become a bit too attached.  The relationship ended up dying in a really weird way.  I'd never really felt like I could be 100% who I was in front of anyone my age.  Because I felt so close and comfortable with this guy (I'll call him Bob), and because it was the first time I'd ever felt exactly that way around a boyfriend (or anyone), it was rough for me to have it end.

Since then, I've realized that I've had really bad luck with guys.  I think that having such a good relationship end before I was ready for it to end may have put up some internal brick walls when it came to romance.  I didn't really have a good relationship after that: little fling things here and there, nothing special or very long-lived.  It was weird because I wanted to have companionship so badly, but I couldn't bring myself to let go and just let myself have it.  I was holding every guy up to Bob's standards when, realistically, I would never actually find someone who was exactly like him- the world doesn't work that way.  A lot of it was also that it felt so awful to get my heart broken the way it did, that I don't really trust other men not to do the same thing.  Whenever I saw or thought about Bob, I felt that classic, butterflies in the stomach, heart pounding, lightheaded sensation.  (one time, I was with my friend when I saw him after not having seen him for a while- I wasn't expecting to see him and my friend looked at me and thought I was going to pass out because my face had gone white as a sheet.)  I kept wanting and trying to get back together with Bob, but we grew apart, and eventually, he became (at the risk of sounding cliché) the one that got away.

What was until recently my outlook on the subject.
So how does this tie into my first point?  Well, as time went on, my memory of my relationship with Bob became very sensationalized as this "perfect" thing that no relationship I have in the future can ever live up to.  If I hadn't let it affect me that way and just listened to the more rational side of me that was saying, "it's ok- there are more fish in the sea.  You'll find someone who's just as good for you if you let this one go," but I couldn't do it.  Even now, I have some (pretty deep-rooted) intimacy problems that keep me from getting into any sort of meaningful relationship.  I look back at my time with Bob and feel the same sort of infatuated feeling, but with some bitterness thrown in, because now, it seems like that relationship cost me a LOT of romantic years.  I feel wounded.

When really, at this point, it's been long enough that I need to turn my finger around and point it at myself.  I need to just let that relationship be something that was great that happened in the past, that I tried (and failed) to resurrect, and that I now need to move on from.  With that mindset, I've gotten to the point where a real relationship no longer feels like a waste of time, but something that is worth my time.  I'm breaking down my mental brick walls.  So that's a start.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Write with your hands.

My dad made a New Year's resolution this year to write a letter to someone every day of the year.  He admits that he's been slacking a little bit, but I bet he's still written more letters this year than any of us have written.  I was lucky enough to be one of the recipients of one of his letters.  It was great to have a whole, two-sided piece of paper with his own handwriting on it-- a nice little piece of home.  Sometimes I wonder how many people in my generation and younger can pick out their family members' handwriting.  I know I can do it with all five of my family members', but I don't ever really talk to other people about their families' handwriting, so I really don't know.

It's easy to forget how nice it is to get a handwritten letter in the mail.  I love to think that that person actually sat down to manually write out an entire letter to you.  It's a dying form of communication.  Honestly, handwriting things in general is dying out because of the intense rise in technology.  I think it affects the quality of handwriting, which is really a shame.  I know that my handwriting is pretty messy, and I think that's at least partially because I hardly ever write things by hand.  I write little notes to myself-- grocery lists and passing thoughts-- but nothing super long.  I wish I had better handwriting.  I love looking at cool handwriting.  My grandfather, for example, had really cool handwriting.  It had a personality (it also may have been that he always had good things to say).  I can't really describe it very well, but it wasn't super neat or super messy.  It was just very him.  Mine is just...well I guess it's "me," but it also looks like shit.

It's so much more authentic, raw, to write something by hand.  Think about how cool it is to see writing samples of famous dead people (even the signatures on the Declaration of Independence are pretty cool).  The problem is that a lot of the time, I have so much going through my head, that I forget the end of the thought I was writing by the time I get to the end of the sentence.  I even had to type up this concept quickly last night so I wouldn't forget to put it in a post.  Our minds are slowly being trained to not need to retain anything for too long.
Remember these?

Yesterday, I found an old playlist that made me feel nostalgic about my time in Wyoming, so I decided to write a letter to my friends out there.  It was incredibly fun.  I haven't talked to any of them in years, and I'm really excited to send the letter along.  It felt good to write it.

So I've decided that I'm going to try to write by hand more.  Even if I'm not going to send it to anyone, I'm going to try to write out all of my story idea notes and things like that by hand-- or at least most of them-- I might have to type some stuff if I have a lot going through my mind and need to get it all down in some sort of text quickly.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

My Love Affair with History

History has always been a favorite subject of mine for some reason.  It might be because, in high school and college, I've had extraordinarily good luck with history professors.  But I think it's also just learning about big events that happened in real places to real people (an interesting perspective, I think, for someone who's so into filmmaking).  I just love the patterns that history forms and the way people break them (and in doing so, change the course of history).  Learning about the way people lived and survived and innovated and ahh!!  It's all so cool!  Today, I can't help thinking that there's not that much left to discover, so history is just going to stop being interesting to people in the future.  That's why I get really excited about things like someone possibly clocking a particle going faster than the speed of light (even though that ended up being sad).

For a while, around the high school/college turnover, I had decided that I had been born in the wrong decade.  I had entered my intense Beatles phase, and really wanted to be a part of Beatlemania (I later learned that there were even more reasons the 60s were so freaking cool).  I thought I should have been born in the 50s, so I could be a teenager in the 60s.  But then I started to realize that every decade had something that I wish I could have been around to see firsthand: the early 1900s with jazz and ragtime, the 20s and their high living before the Depression, the 40s and WWII, the 50s and the rise of rock n' roll, the 70s with the rise of punk (also the Vietnam war), the 80s (ish) and the rise of hip-hop, the 90s and the rise of grunge...

The more I learn about history, film, music, war, politics, etc., the more people there are who get added to my "people I wish weren't dead" list.  I have this weird idea in my head that, as long as someone's alive, I'll always have the chance of meeting them, even if it's a small chance.  So with that in mind, I've created my list (it's longer than this, but I can't think of all of them off the top of my head).

People I Wish Weren't Dead 
(In no particular order)
George Méliès- really interesting in film history-
basically invented special effects
John Lennon- I just wish he were still alive making music.
Sid Vicious- the Sex Pistols were a fascinating band to me, historically.
It's a shame that he died so young.

Paul Newman- I said no particular order...he's number one.
Best actor of his time, in my opinion (please don't refer to him as
"the salad dressing guy").  Very philanthropic too.
He's also one of the most beautiful people I've ever seen.

Frank Sinatra...he's just wonderful.
George Harrison- amazing guitarist.  Should also still be alive making music.

Winston Churchill- he was a great speaker and I also love how badass and
sharply witty he was (e.g. after a woman told him that she would
poison his drink if she were his wife, he said something like,
"Madame, if you were my wife, I'd drink it.") awesome.

George Gershwin- listening to him play piano brings tears to my eyes.  He was so incredibly talented.  Also died too young.  I absolutely love his work.  I'm actually listening to it as I write this.
Scott Joplin- King of Ragtime.  I just love his music and his style- it's amazing
Thomas Jefferson- a great president.  He was really interesting, and I love reading about cool
things he did, like teach himself to write with his opposite hand and things like that.
So, yeah.  Those are a number of people who I REALLY wish were still alive (no, I don't mean I wish Thomas Jefferson was alive and 269 years old).  I said under their photos why they were awesome, but really, I just wish they were alive so I could talk to them- just sit down and have a chat.  I think they'd all have really interesting things to say (particularly Churchill).

I know that a couple of those things above that I said I wanted to experience firsthand were wars.  I'm not actually saying that I want to experience war, per se, but I just think it would be interesting to be alive during such a tumultuous time.  When I really think about it, I don't actually wish I were born in a different time; I just wish I could go back in time and experience all of the things I know about now.  If I were just living it just like anyone else alive then lived it, it probably wouldn't actually be that cool, just like the fact that there are probably things going on right now, in this decade that people 50 years from now will wish they could have been around for.

Hm...I didn't do this on purpose, but (STOP READING THIS SENTENCE IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN MIDNIGHT IN PARIS- skip to the next paragraph) I just came to the exact conclusion that the main character in Midnight in Paris comes to at the end of the movie...I guess Woody Allen was right...

But when I learn about a particularly juicy time or event in history, I get this pain in my chest, a sort of longing to know more about it, to soak it all up and experience it (as much as one can experience something that's already happened).  In the past 24 hours, I've watched two movies about the Vietnam war: Platoon and Full Metal Jacket.  They were different (but at the same time similar) representations of the war from the American soldiers' perspective, and both of them made me feel sick.  I've never really read or watched anything about Vietnam that affected me as strongly as these movies did (particularly Full Metal Jacket).
I knew that it was an awful time for American history, but I never really saw it laid out the way Kubrick did in his film (or Stone did in his).  It was incredible.  I felt a little guilty feeling so awed by the films because of the heavy content, but when I see a good movie like Full Metal Jacket, it also inspires me and fills me with this intense desire to create.  That is what I want to do with film: create something that can reach people on that deep of a level.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Rainy Day = Best Day

I get the impression that people in LA hate rain.  They don't really know what to do with themselves when it rains.  I have no problem driving in rain, but I don't like driving around people who don't know how to drive in rain.  I'm from Maine, people.  I mean, come on-- rain?  Try blinding snowstorms.  Now that's a that I failed royally this past December, my car paying most of the consequences.


I'm not saying that rain is the best thing ever for driving-- that first thing up there was just a comment on how under-appreciated rain goes in LA.  I mean, we all live in a desert out here; shouldn't we be glad for a little hydration now and then?

I really do love rain though, even when I'm not living in a desert as dry as your mouth after eating 7 saltine crackers in 60 seconds (actually I think that's technically impossible...).  It's really peaceful.  Even torrential downpour has this odd serenity to it.  I love sitting inside and listening to the rain beat on my house.  It makes me feel really cozy, something I never really thought I'd feel in my LA's just not a cozy place...nice, but not cozy.  Rain does lots of positive things for my psyche.

Rain makes me want to go for a run.  I feel super intense when I get soaking wet from a run in the rain.  I get back and feel like I accomplished so much more than I did because I'm covered in nature (nature being rain in this case- not leaves or something like that- I don't run through treetops when it's raining...).
Here we are.  Playing cards (I don't think it's poker though).

Rain makes me want to play cards.  Poker, specifically.  I couldn't tell you why.  I think it might have something to do with the fact that I used to play poker a lot with my family at our place where we go in the summer, which I associate with rain for some reason...maybe because it's by the ocean or something.  But today I had no one to play with- so I went to the beach.
There's something great about going places in the rain that were not made to be experienced in the the beach...specifically the Santa Monica Pier, which has a whole little theme park-type thing going on.  The beach itself is also cool when it's overcast and rainy, because it's got this really intense air about it, like the ocean might just swallow you whole.

The waves don't look quite as crazy-big here as they did in real life.

When I first got the beach, I knew it had been a good idea.  I was going to park in one spot when a guy who was leaving his spot came to my window and told me that he still had an hour and a half on his meter and I could park there if I wanted.  IT'S A SIGN!  I thought.  I knew it was a good idea!
The water was full of leaves and things the wind blew into it from the shore

It was really fun to walk barefoot in the sand (even though it was damp) and walk around in the water (even though my pants got all wet) while enormous waves crashed in layers of surf and the wind blew like crazy.  That's the other thing about the beach when it's rainy.  It's always windy too, even if it's not windy in other parts of town, it's always windy by the ocean.  Which makes it all the more intense.  With all its intensity and simultaneous peacefulness, the ocean made me feel very pensive-- a nice thing to feel when there's nothing too deeply emotional going on in your life, so that was good.

After I'd walked around on the beach for a while, I went up to the pier and sat on a bench reading my book for a while, which was nice, because when I'm home I get so distracted by my computer that it's difficult to make myself read, even though I'd love to read SO much more than I do nowadays.

Here's the rest of my solo beach adventure:
A water fountain that couldn't handle the wind.

I kept seeing these tire tracks all over the beach...
Then I found the culprit (I think it's a lifeguard vehicle of some sort).

A seagull digging for scraps...birds are silly.

A disgruntled pigeon...I don't think he liked the weather.
Then, after my beachy fun, I went and had a piano lesson with a fun woman who I met through a friend here.  She's really great at improv piano, which is what I really want to learn how to do (just to be able to sit down and rock out with no music on a song I've never played before).  It was a really fun lesson and she gave me a lot of really good tips and encouragement.  Her main tip for playing the way she plays is to just have fun and not worry about playing for other people; just play for yourself.  "Let it rip," was the motto she gave me; it doesn't matter how many "clams" (bad notes) you hit; just play for the sake of playing.  It was also nice to have someone that talented tell me that she was impressed with my piano-playing skills.  I'm excited for our next lesson.  I think I could potentially get a lot out of lessons with this teacher...even though I'm only out here for another two weeks.

High school and its lasting effects, part 2

Same disclaimer as part 1: I'm not writing this is be catty or to get back at someone or someones who wronged me in high school or whatever.  I'm just writing it because high school took up four years of my life and is therefore worth writing about.  If you're curious to know who a certain story in this post was about, email me and I might tell you.  But I probably won't (there's a reason I never mention anyone in this blog except myself by name).
Let's talk about my reputation in high school.  I can't actually know what my reputation was because most high schoolers (most people for that matter) don't go around saying, "you're the token pothead; you're the prude; you're the slut," so all I can really write about was what I perceived my reputation to be and the clues that I got that supported that perception.

Here I am in a play.
FIRST, I'm going to say what I was, in my own opinion, which I think, in this case, is the most reliable one.  I got good grades.  I enjoyed schoolwork...mostly.  I played soccer.  I was in the chamber choir, show choir, and jazz band.  Outwardly, I was the type of person that people were surprised to hear swear.  I have a vivid memory of talking to a couple of people during freshman year, when one of them heard me say fuck for one reason or another and they were just blown away.  Looking back, it's kind of funny, because I really have an incredibly foul mouth.  

...and with a piano

My niche was with the music/drama club crowd.  I felt the most passion for music and theatre, so I clicked best with the people who had the same kind of interests.  I was kind of in the middle, socially.  Like I said in part 1, I had to learn during my Sophomore year how to be on my own, so by the time that whole fiasco had died off, I enjoyed being on my own.  So, for the latter half of high school, I had friends, but I didn't care quite enough to go out to parties and try to socialize and make new ones.  I didn't have that much against anyone; I just felt too uncomfortable around most people my age for it to be worth putting myself in awkward situations that I just made more awkward by not having any idea how to be a social being.
...and another play
--Although, my sister, A, told me something recently that was incredibly comforting.  She told me that whenever I feel like I’m making an ass of myself in any sort of social situation at all, everyone else feels the same way.  No one actually knows how anything social is supposed to work.  Some are just better at faking it than others. (in case anyone's confused, I have two sisters: N and A.  S is my brother- N's twin.)
Here I am at a party with S and A (on facebook, N was tagged
as the phone-- she couldn't make it)
It also wasn't worth it to me to get caught at a party in my town and get suspended from teams and other things.  Instead, I partied whenever I visited my siblings at college, because I'd already learned that I usually had more fun with them anyway (see part 1).  Because of this, I think I may have given myself a reputation of a bit of a goody two-shoes who never partied or anything.  I got this idea mainly from the fact that when people found out I partied now and then they got these looks on their faces as if they'd just found out that fish can actually breath air (and sometimes they'd say something like, "you don't seem like the type who parties," so that was a pretty good clue as to what they thought of me).

Something else that might have contributed to my reputation in high school is the quarter of my family who is closest in age to me.  S was the valedictorian of his class, and N was the salutatorian.  A lot of people (a lot of the time, teachers) seemed to expect me to be like that.  Of course, they forgot about my other older sister, A, who was totally smart and awesome and NOT number one or two in her class.  That’s how I was.  I think I was in the top tenth percentile or something like that, but I just did the work.  My parents have blessed me with intelligent genes.  But they’ve also given me lazy genes, so I did the work I needed to do, I participated in class, and that was about it.  I did extra on the stuff that was fun for me- projects, creative things- ya know.  Thankfully, doing well in school was one of the things that was fun for me.  I got all As and Bs.  I’m happy with that.

(that's the Emerson logo in
case you didn't know)
I can’t tell you how much it irritated me when people who knew that A and S went to Yale (as well as both of my parents) said with this presumptive air, “So, are you going to Yale?” or “I bet you’re going to Yale then,” or some other pressuring, judging statement that made me want to punch them in the face.  When I told them no, I wasn’t going to Yale, the common response was, “Ooh, breaking the mold,” or “and how do your parents feel about that?” or “uh-oh!”  I really wanted to say to all of these people, “MY OTHER SISTER WENT TO MIDDLEBURY AND SHE’S SUPER HAPPY AND SMART AND WE ALL STILL LOVE HER!!!”  I mean, I liked Yale, but I didn't really want to go there.  My parents were happy with whatever grades I got and whatever college (or not college) decision I made, as long as they thought I was working as hard as I could and doing something that made me happy.  They actually encouraged me to take a gap year in between high school and college.  At one point, I even considered graduating early for social reasons (and because I could have).  I think they would have supported me if I’d decided to do that, but I’m glad that they told me that they thought I might be happier in the long run if I stayed for my senior year (and I was happier). 
I graduated without familial 'bout that?
Honestly, the only place where there was pressure to go to a certain college (or any college at all for that matter) or even get As and Bs (!!) was coming from the people who assumed there was pressure from my family.  Ugh.

It also really bugged me when people were surprised that I was going into film, because I was smart.  Some people actually assumed that I was going into chemistry or something like that (you can be good at things and not want to spend your life studying them…you can also be smart and not study math…).  I got this weird pleasure out of breaking people’s assumptions.  I mean, I would rather have the reputation of the smart, prudish teacher’s pet, or whatever my reputation actually was, than the burnout, going nowhere pothead.  But it was still really oppressive.  Now, if someone tries to pigeonhole me, even if they’re right, I bristle.  It’s really irritating because when people have clearly formed some opinion of you, it’s the hardest thing in the world to break that.  And even if you do break out of it, getting those baffled reactions from people is hardly worth it.  It was things like this stuck reputation that I had (or at least felt I had, which is just as bad, even if it didn’t really exist) that made me want out of high school ASAP.

Me and L (I had to find one that didn't show
her face because I don't have her permission)
So I said earlier that I didn't have that much against the people at my high school, but I think really what I do have against them is that pressure I felt from them concerning my reputation.  But honestly, it was partially a self-inflicted situation.  At this point, it's up to me to forget it and actually be who I want to be (I have a theory that a number of people may try to do this in high school- but no one 100% succeeds).  I mean, here I am in LA, soon to be Greenland and then Puerto Rico or something.  Even though I never thought  in high school that I'd have the guts to do what I'm doing right now (in fact- a big sign that my rep. came somewhat from myself was that I had a HUGELY difficult time making the final decision to take time off because it wasn't what most of my family had done- ah! irony!).  But, thinking about it now, I can't imagine that I would ever have NOT done this.  There were so many times I considered going off the beaten track from "high-school-college-real-life," that it seemed inevitable that I eventually sucked it up and did it.

I just realized that I said in part 1 that I'd talk about romance in this post.  I didn't.  Oops.  Well, that will come in a later post.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

High school and its lasting effects, part 1

Before I write this, I want to post a quick disclaimer.  I'm not writing this is be catty or to get back at someone or someones who wronged me in high school or whatever.  I'm just writing it because high school took up four years of my life and is therefore worth writing about.  If you're curious to know who a certain story in this post was about, email me and I might tell you.  But I probably won't (there's a reason I never mention anyone in this blog except myself by name).
Looking back on it now, high school was a very strange time in my life in many respects.  Among other things, it largely affected the way I interact with people (particularly with my contemporaries, but also with everyone).  It also affected the way I handle relationships in a big way, romantic and otherwise.  But mainly, it affected how I deal with myself.

My high school didn't have really bad cliques like your average high school movie.  I mean, there were definitely a number of separate groups, but it wasn't really exclusive, like Mean Girls or anything.  There were "jocks" and there were "nerds" (and I use both of those terms in the most respectful way), but a number of the starting varsity football players were in our chamber choir.  I like to think that people were quite a bit more accepting of others in my high school than is the common reputation in places like Hollywood.  Instead of cliques, I'm going to say that our school had niches.  That's a more accurate word for it.  At least, from my experience it was.

Obviously, everyone wasn't friends with everyone else (there were 200ish people in my graduating class- where are you going to find a group of 200 people who all like each other?).  There was still drama over whose guy was whose and who hooked up with whom and such.  So that was where the niches came from.  But people didn't generally get slushied in the face or beat up for being "unpopular."  You just don't want to hang out with a girl who stole your boyfriend in Sophomore year, so she and her friends aren't your niche.  I'm not referring to myself there just so we're clear.  No.  I tried to stay out of the way of high-profile drama like that.  It seemed like a waste of time to me.  Yes, it sucked when someone started dating my crush or something, but I wasn't going to burn any bridges simply out of bitterness.

My freshman year was made less scary by the fact that N and S (sister and brother) were seniors at the time.  That year, I got much closer to them and their friends, which was really great.  I sometimes wish I had been in their class just because everyone in it seemed so much more laid back and less concerned with what most high schoolers were concerned least, that's how it seemed to me as a freshman.  I still love hanging out with my siblings and their group of friends because I feel much more comfortable around them than I do around people from my class (with perhaps two or three exceptions).

A lot of what made high school tough for me was striking a balance between being me and finding a niche where I could do that.  As much as I didn't want to care (and in some respects actually didn't care), I was still sucked in by the social expectations of high school.  Because I didn't know how to follow those norms without being untrue to myself, I was all the more tortured by it.  My best friend throughout high school (and before), L, and I still laugh about the fact that we were both parts of niches that were pretty mutually exclusive from each other (with maybe a little overlap), and yet we've still managed a very strong friendship for over 5 years.

Sophomore year however, challenged that quite a bit.  I had boyfriend who didn't like the fact that I had drunk alcohol before.  I was worried that he was going to break up with me, and I wanted to ask my mom for advice.  But of course, to do so, I had to explain to her that I had drunk alcohol before.
My high school...good ol' HA.
**side note here: it's necessary to mention here that I am very close to my parents.  They are both my best friends-- people sometimes think it's strange (less so now that I'm older) that I am so open with them, but it's just the way we are-- I can't explain why I'm close to my family.  I just am.**
So I told my mom about the first time I had gotten drunk, which happened to be a time when L was also there, so when I told L that I had come clean to my mom, she told me that she didn't think that she would be able to trust me again...or for a long time or something.  I don't remember her exact wording.  This was really upsetting to me because trust is one of the most important things two people can have between them, no matter what kind of relationship it is.  Word spread quickly that I had told my parents about drinking and I soon realized that a lot of people were upset with me who weren't even involved in the situation.  In reality, my parents understood that teenagers experiment, and they weren't condoning it, but they didn't ground me for life or anything even close to that.

That whole fiasco was how I eventually learned how to be (and appreciate being) alone.  It felt like a long time (but in reality probably 4 weeks, tops) that I had a number of people who were unhappy with me (it didn't help that my boyfriend and I broke up anyway a month or so after that).  In the end, the only person who had any reason to be mad at me at all, L, was the first person who got over it.  She was also the only person who I really stayed friends with for the rest of high school.  Everyone else just became people I knew and went to school with- no one super important.

So I guess that was the best thing that came out of my fallout in Sophomore year: I can entertain myself when I need to and I don't feel a need to constantly be around people.  (That actually became the topic of my college essay.)  I also was able to sift through the numerous people of my high school world and find the ones that were really going to be good friends in the future.
Okay- I was going to put all of high school in one post, but I'm realizing that it should be split into parts, because this is getting long and strenuous to write.  Part 2 will talk about the rest of high school...maybe some music stuff, maybe some romance stuff...I don't know.

Dreaming: Who Needs Drugs?

I really like dreaming.

I'm not really into things like astrology telling you what kind of person you are and everything, but I think there's definitely something to be said for dreams and what they say about how you think and how you deal with certain things.  It's also great entertainment, even though I don't feel like I sleep very well on the nights when I remember my dreams.

It's weird-- when I have those really realistic-feeling dreams, where you wake up and for a while you don't realize that none of what you just dreamed actually happened, I feel a bit out of sorts for most of the following day because 1) if it was a bad dream, it was so real that I feel really disturbed by it, or 2) if it was a good dream, I'm really sad that it didn't actually happen.

BUT, I still really enjoy having those dreams because I do like thinking about what it means and how it all applies to my life.  Some of them are harder to figure out, like one I had last night where I was chased by a gang down a dark alley and saved by my high school history teacher.  But others are pretty obvious.

I had this one dream in the late Spring of my freshman year in high school that I will never forget.  It was an apocalyptic dream where various members of my family and I were running through a forest being chased by zombies who all looked like characters from the TV show, Lost.  My brother and sister, S and N got caught by the zombies and I ran to get help.  I went into this strange mansion-type thing where there was a nice fire going in the fireplace and my aunts were sitting around it chatting.  I yelled that N and S needed help and they didn't do anything.  I ran to the window and saw all of the dead bodies of the victims of the zombies being thrown into a fire and burned, Holocaust-style.  I have a vivid memory of seeing N and S's bodies being thrown into the burning pile.  The last thing I remember from that dream is seeing that fire and feeling completely helpless.  I woke up crying and had to go into my parents' room and talk to them so I could reassure myself that it wasn't real.  It was the most traumatic dream I can remember having (up there with it is when my best friend died in my arms, when my dad and I were driving on a mountain road and an avalanche started, and when a volcano went off in my town like Vesuvius with Pompeii-- oh, and when I fell off a cliff, and upon hitting the ground, pulled back and saw myself lying there dead).

It was pretty obvious that the dream was a subconscious manifestation of how I was feeling at the time about N and S graduating high school a couple of weeks later and then going to college and leaving me as the only child at home.

I also really like that, most of the time, so I'm told, things in dreams don't literally represent what they are in the dream.  I went through a long phase where I kept having sex dreams with some wonderful, identity-less man.  I asked my aunt about it, who knows a lot about things like this, and she told me that usually when there's another leading character (for lack of a better phrase) in your dream, it's usually representing a side of yourself.  Everyone has a male and a female side to them, so if there's a male involved in the dream, that probably means that you're somehow getting in touch with your male side.  The same thing applies to a female or an animal.  What's happening in the dream also doesn't carry it's literal meaning (i.e. sex)-- I guess it is some positive or negative representation of how you are handling that part of yourself (female, male, etc.)-- for example, I believe that disaster dreams mean you're dealing with a change in your life.  It's so fun to analyze things like this!!!

Aunt K, if you're reading this and I'm explaining it really badly, please correct me.

Then there's LUCID DREAMING!!  I really like lucid dreaming, even though sometimes it's a really unpleasant experience in the moment (of the dream).  Lucid dreaming is when you're aware of the fact that you're dreaming and you can control the dream.  I had my first lucid dream last semester when I was napping in between my classes at school (in fact, the only lucid dreams I've ever had have been while I was napping...don't know what that's about).  It's the trippiest thing I can remember ever experiencing.

When you're in the stage of sleep when you're dreaming lucidly, as I understand it, you're not fully asleep, and your body is paralyzed.  I think that the fact that my body is supposedly completely stiff when I'm dreaming lucidly has contributed to what happened in a number of my lucid dreams.  There have been times when I realized I was dreaming and decided that, in order to end the dream, I had to get out the door of my dorm-suite-- I couldn't get to the door because I kept falling over the furniture that was between me and it.  I couldn't bend my legs.  It was so weird.  There were other times when I realized I was dreaming halfway through the dream. The last time this happened, it turned out I was completely topless.  I was immediately really embarrassed and wanted to end the dream so I told myself, "just open your eyes and it'll stop!" but I kept opening my eyes and being back where I started, usually with more people looking at me.  So I guess I didn't have complete control over the dream, but I had some control, and I was definitely aware that I was dreaming.  So perhaps I've never had a full-on lucid dream...or maybe all this still counts...

The eye-opening thing also reminded me of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  It's not really about dreaming, per se, but it is a little bit.  It's a good movie.  I'd watch it.
Salvador Dalí's Persistance of Memory...very dreamy
There are things online that teach you tips on how to get yourself to dream lucidly, but I don't think I'd like that.  I'd be too afraid that it would make it so I wouldn't ever be able to not dream ever again.  Plus, the tips are things like, "close your eyes and don't move while you're trying to fall asleep," and, "go to sleep in a place with little or no noise."  DO THEY REALIZE HOW HARD BOTH OF THOSE THINGS ARE?!  A place with little or no noise?  For the past year and half or more, I've been living predominantly in Boston and now LA...little or no noise...I ask you!  And trying not to move while falling asleep?  That's WAY harder than it sounds.  When you're trying to sleep and your nose itches, see how easy it is to fall asleep without scratching it first...try it.  I dare you.

I wonder if they make how-tos on how to make sure you don't would probably just be something like- "clear your mind."  Well, most of the time, sleep does that for me, so...

Anyway, dreaming is lots of fun, and it provides me with wonderful fodder for writing and thinking and over-analyzing.