Friday, December 5, 2008

Birds of a Cyber-Feather Flock Together?

A few days ago my roommate and I had a cookie making party at our place. A couple of neighbors and a friend came over to bake and nibble, drink cheap wine and decorate the branch that we nailed to the wall (our poor girls' Christmas tree). We made the plan the day before and coordinated the details via texting and a few Facebook messages but it was a real, live, face-to-face hangout session. That night one of my friends mentioned an interesting article to me during a conversation about society and the impact that technology has on our friendships and relationships. I texted him today to get the title, Googled it and poof!

"I'm So Totally, Digitally Close To You", by Clive Thompson for The New York Times

I loved this article because I spend a lot of time thinking about the impact that technology has on my relationships. I think it's fascinating and also important to analyze ourselves as we change our interactive behaviors because then we can make better decisions about how we choose to participate in something like Facebook, for example. The rate at which these "awareness tools" develop is extremely fast and it's easy to get swept away...

In the article, Thompson begins by focusing on a "revolt" that happened when Facebook users took issue with the addition of the News Feed; "users didn’t think they wanted constant, up-to-the-minute updates on what other people are doing. Yet when they experienced this sort of omnipresent knowledge, they found it intriguing and addictive." As Facebook has changed so have the people who use it. Some of us get used to the way things were and resist the changes at first but usually, we all come around. I've had my account since college and I've watched it morph and grow so fast that I sometimes find myself starting to predict what will be next, like some weird, giant chess game, only I have no idea who's winning!

Thompson goes on to describe what social scientists call "ambient awareness", something that's "very much like being physically near someone and picking up on his mood through the little things he does — body language, sighs, stray comments — out of the corner of your eye". The thing is, the "ambient awareness" we experience online comes from picking up the mood of our friends based on the tidbits shared through "'microblogging': posting frequent tiny updates on what you’re doing".

Most people I know "microblog" by changing the status on their Facebook or Gmail accounts throughout the day. Another popular way is through Twitter. In fact, I believe that's all it's for. Twitter is something I've just recently heard of and have never used but I think I'll probably keep it that way. You're reading this blog right now, so there's a good chance you clicked on the link that I posted as my Facebook Status or the one I have in Google mail. I think that means I'm microblogging my blog... weird.

When I think about my online world I often tend to focus on what strikes me as negative or potentially harmful. Maybe that's just because new can be scary; however, I'm starting to observe it in a more neutral way. Towards the end of the article a few interesting ideas came up about "awareness tools" and mindfulness. As someone who practices meditation I still don't think I'd have made this connection but it kind of makes sense in a strange way:

"It is easy to become unsettled by privacy-eroding aspects of awareness tools. But there is another — quite different — result of all this incessant updating: a culture of people who know much more about themselves [...] The act of stopping several times a day to observe what you’re feeling or thinking can become, after weeks and weeks, a sort of philosophical act. It’s like the Greek dictum to “know thyself,” or the therapeutic concept of mindfulness. (Indeed, the question that floats eternally at the top of Twitter’s Web site — “What are you doing?” — can come to seem existentially freighted. What are you doing?) Having an audience can make the self-reflection even more acute, since, as my interviewees noted, they’re trying to describe their activities in a way that is not only accurate but also interesting to others: the status update as a literary form."

Status updates as a literary form? Woah. I could discuss this for, well, a long time but I'll save my ramblings for the lucky few who do me the courtesy of tolerating my wine-induced monologuing. Little Twitter updates are apparently called "Tweets" which makes us the chatty birds. When I think of "ambient awareness" and the strange, almost telepathic connection we seem to be developing by staying constantly plugged in, it makes me think of a flock of birds. They move together with a secret connection that has nothing to do with talking or even body language, they can sense each other, can we?

*Randomly Related?
Yesterday I woke up missing a certain (sort of) ex. It was one of those moments where you kind of wish you hadn't said "stop texting" or start thinking to yourself, "I wonder what he's up to today?" This guy is not a Facebook friend and I would fall over laughing if I found out he had a "Twitter" account. There is no profile for me to visit, no digital image of him for me to pine over and I think I like it that way. Right now a memory feels better, fleeting though it may be, than a cold computer screen.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"Look at this stuff isn't it neat?"

"Wouldn't you think my collection's complete?
Wouldn't you think I'm the girl
The girl who has everything?"
Um, I hope not...

Oh no! I've been brainwashed!

Ok, maybe that sounds a little dramatic but the feeling I had after watching Disney's "The Little Mermaid" this weekend was a strong one! I babysat a four-year-old girl (for a friend/co-worker) and along with reading out loud, making up stories, running around the house, playing robots and drawing pictures she wanted to "watch Ariel".

Here's a little summary of what went on in my head as the movie played: It started with, "Yay, I loved this movie when I was a kid... Oh, my god I know all the words, oh my god I know all the songs", then I started to see what was going on in a different light, "Oh my god, Ariel is sixteen and totally anorexic, she thinks she's in love with this guy and they haven't even spoken! Now she's rejecting her family for him, now she's going to see this witch (demonized single women), who lives alone, is fat, bitter and power hungry..."

I basically started to tear it to shreds and maybe I over-analyzed a little but I feel secure in saying that Disney Princesses are anti-feminist. I've read about this in essays, learned about it in college classes and even noticed it on my own but what freaked me out as I watched the movie was the presence of the two voices in my head. Logically, I could see it for what it was but there was this little tiny voice (that I'm embarrassed to even admit I have) that kept saying, "well, she is really pretty and skinny and she seems happy, maybe that really is what I want". Fortunately for me, my not-brainwashed voice was able to say, "no! This is crazy-pants!" I made it through the movie enjoying parts and feeling horrified at others. When Eric and Ariel finally kissed, the little girl I was watching ran around the room clapping her hands and cheering for them. It was easy to see that once upon a time that was me.

When I started to talk about this with different friends I observed a range of reactions. When it came to my girl friends it went from, "wow, I've never really thought of it like that but you're right" to "don't ruin the princess movies!" and then a few feminist friends who saw eye to eye and got into long, interesting conversations about what this means for us now as 20-somethings. When I mentioned these thoughts to a guy friend he kind of laughed, not in a mean way exactly but he had no idea what I was talking about, looked at me like I was literally crazy and then said something about "feminist bullshit". I felt so silly at that moment that I wanted to go home and delete the draft of this blog. I realized that rather than letting that feeling stop me from sharing my thoughts and opinions I must do the exact opposite.

It's hard to stand up against something or someone when you're afraid of being different and when what seems wrong is so subtle that you sometimes question it yourself but how else can we create change? With a topic like Disney, I'm not filled with some kind of passion or rage but it irritates me enough to talk about among friends. There are many problems with the Princess movies and yet they contain elements we all love. The thing that bugs me the most is the fact that the success of these women is completely based on getting together with or being rescued by the Prince. It also occurred to me that I am prime Disney-Princess-brainwash-age. All of these movies came out one after another throughout my childhood and my sisters and I watched everything from "Snow White" to "Mulan". Even though we had lots of other toys, books and movies, the presence of Disney in our lives was HUGE!

When I let myself think too much about stuff like this I start to feel angry and frustrated and that doesn't do anyone any good. So, instead of trying to convince you of something negative or dwelling on what has already happened I'm going to start from where I am at this moment: No, I do not think the Disney Princess movies are evil but I also do not think they do a lot of good for young girls. What can I do for myself and other women right now? Well, I can have these conversations with friends and be open and sensitive to issues that other people may bring up, even if they might seem crazy at first. It is a male dominated society that I live in and sometimes it's scary to challenge the way things are. As we all know, Walt Disney was not a woman and even though women can be anti-feminists and men can be feminists I like to seek out the women in news, arts and politics for the sake of balance.

Here are some women that have come under my radar lately:

  • This is an article that came out when Disney released "Enchanted", it touches on some of the things I mentioned earlier and is written by a woman.

  • This is an interesting note written to Barack Obama by author and feminist Alice Walker.

  • And here's a woman to get the news from: Amy Goodman

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Big Kid Now

You may not have or even teach a child but you were one and whether it was to a parent, friend or teacher you probably used to say:

"When I grow up I'm gonna be a _____!"

For me, the "blank" was everything from spy to pilot to writer! (Of course no kid's gonna say "struggling actor/painter/front desk receptionist"... but uh, I'm workin' on it.) When I thought of being a writer back then, what I had in mind was based on what I was reading at the time and that, of course, meant Children's Literature. Kid's are known for being innocent and pure but a child's mind is not all love and light. Just like the "big people" we become, a kid's mind has its dark corners too and even as a little girl, I got my thrills from poking around in the dark.

I've never taken a course on Children's Literature; however, due to the fact that both of my parents teach elementary school I've read my fair share of children's books. The books we read as kids can be anything from classic fairy tales to instructional stories and everything in between. There are talking animals, great adventures, morals and even warnings. I don't know about all kids but I was often drawn to the darker stories. Rather than the mouse-ballerina-type stuff I was into stories with an element of danger.

Looking back on some of my old favorites I recognize different interpretations and levels of meaning. Some are seemingly inappropriate for a young mind but how much was I really absorbing back then? We learn to analyze literature and poetry and we read into everything more but we don't often revisit the books we read before we thought critically. When it comes to Children's Literature how much do the darker themed stories affect the subconscious? It'd be interesting to take a class on this in relationship to early childhood development studies.

I recently stumbled upon this NY Times Sunday Book Review about some new children's books that seem edgier than most, it's an interesting article... Below is a list of a few of my childhood favorites and if you've ever studied Children's Literature or just have an opinion about any of this I'd love to hear what you think!

The Night Flight by Joanne Ryder
This little girl escapes in the night by flying out her window and embarks on an adventure in the park that puts her on the back of a wild lion statue come-to-life. The image of the roaring lion at a roaring waterfall makes me wonder if she ended up with a little more than she'd set out for.

Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China by Ed Young
The illustrations are haunting and the tale of caution is a familiar one involving a big bad, you know.

Outside Over There by Maurice Sendak
Goblins kidnap Ida's sibling and replace it with a changeling. Creepy? Yeah... but beautiful illustrations and the simple, poetic writing leaves you wondering about more than just why these kids were left alone.

Heckedy Peg by Audrey Wood
Don't talk to strangers... especially if they want to turn you into food and eat you! Once again it's the illustrations that make this one so stunning, even now.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

$$$ Money $$$ Money $$$ Money $$$

Times are tough and money is tight but this is nothing new for some of us. My family always had an abundance of love and creativity to thrive on but we never had an abundance of money (*love you guys!*). Lucky for me, this made for a very interesting childhood to say the least. It also primed me for survival during times of economic crisis... like now!

From about 1985 to '97 my two parents, two sisters and I moved from one trailer to the next almost once a year. And although these trailers were located amidst the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, filled with my father's art and surrounded by my mother's garden, they were still trailers and we were still a poor, young family. Trailers suck. As money would dwindle at the end of each month, everything from our meals to our family outings would down-shift like clockwork. Things never became bleak though because our dad was always there to read to us and our mom, the eternal optimist, made everything into a game.

"Time to play 'poor girls'" our mom would say. When this was declared we would make the scrimping and saving into something romantic and exciting. We would bake our own bread along with big batches of soup that could be portioned out for a week's worth of lunches and we would find more free ways to have fun! For me, that was then in Virginia and this is now in California. The economy's bad everywhere and depending on how things go next Tuesday we have to be prepared for anything!

Recession getting you down? Turn that frown around in this fabulous town...

Poor Boy/Girl's Guide to SF:
Food and Drink
Cutting back on eating out? Try cutting in half instead! Every time you eat at a restaurant take half to go and make one meal into two. For groceries Trader Joe's seems to have the best prices and offers the the lovely and amazing 2-buck-Chuck for budget drinkers, if beer is your thing it may be time to say hello to PBR. When it comes to morning coffee say goodbye to pumpkin-spice lattes and hello to good 'ol tea and coffee. If you make it at home you're saving a ton, but if you have to grab it on the run I've never seen a large coffee for more than $2.00 and you can spice it up with cinnamon and nutmeg if you want it to taste special. My favorite cafe is my neighborhood spot: Atlas

Dude, if you don't already ride a bike now is the time! Save the environment and fatten that piggy bank. My bike is a clunky French bike from the 70s, nothing fancy, but it gets me all over the city and I love it! I spent $150 bucks to make it my own and so far I've saved at least $270 in Muni passes not to mention cab fees and if you drive think about the freedom from gas and parking tickets! Favorite bike shop: Mojo's

Forget Union Square, San Francisco's best shopping can be found in the Mission and Lower Haight. First see what you can find at the Goodwill then if you need something more try Out of the Closet and Crossroads. If you want name-brand shit the Crossroads on Fillmore is where rich people seem to sell in this city...

So many great things to do and see here! But my newest favorites are both free live music nights: Sundays at Revolution and Mondays at Amnesia. Both have cozy and intimate atmospheres, interesting people and of course drinks! You get to save on cover fees but try to spare a little for the musicians if the hat is passed, they need it to do what they do!

Money can be lost or stolen but no one can take away your knowledge! No money to spend on a class right now? Reading is the best free learning I can think of! Peel you're eyes off that computer screen and visit the Public Library for hours of no-charge education. Not in the mood for reading... check out some of our great San Francisco museums on the free days!

And Don't Forget To Offer Something Back!
There are lots of free things offered in a big city but it's only because people are generous! Try to find something that you can give freely it feels good and it keeps the whole thing flowing. I cut hair for my friends and decided at some point that I would try to give it away whenever I could. It's a small service to offer but it seems to help people out and it makes me feel good to do something for people I like! So maybe play a song, bake a cake or teach a friend how to make something new! Our city is big but our community is tight, we may get low on money but we all have each other and we rock!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll... and little kids?

Do you have a connection to Valentín Gómez Farías Primary School? You might if you do coke.

I live in San Francisco and after a weekend in LA I especially appreciate it here! My city is full of artists and creative people, culture and diversity. I live in the Mission District and happen to go out a lot in the area surrounding 16th and Valencia, as do many people I know. Walking (or riding your bike) around my neighborhood you'll see lot's of Hipsters out and about and since it's a culture I'm surrounded by it's a culture I'm influenced by. Out on this "scene" I've been exposed to interesting people, great music, art and fashion but an element (that I used to be) unaware of seems to be popping up more and more. Easy to miss if your not looking but not surprising once you notice it; cocaine seems to be everywhere.

What does this have to do with Valentín Gómez Farías Primary School in Tiujana Mexico? More than you might think...

I don't post this as judgement or criticism towards anyone, none of us are perfect. Today I write in an effort to expand the self-centered bubble that a lot of us operate from (myself included).

As I sat in a cafe yesterday sipping tea and reading the NY Times I came across this article. I was shocked and disturbed but mostly I felt a deep sadness for the children who will never be able to remove those violent images and events from their minds. As I contemplated what I had read it occurred to me that the demand for drugs like cocaine, especially in big cities like San Francisco, is really high and even seems to be rising. I reflected on how many people I've observed either "partying" or just experimenting and got the feeling that people don't often think too much about where their drugs are coming from. When a sack is passing from the dealer's hands to yours you may feel nervous, excited, a little worried about your own safety but mostly it's all about you, you, you. It's easy to be careless and self-destructive with ourselves but we forget how connected we are to everyone else.

According to another article in the NY Times, "Over 3,000 people have been killed this year as Mexico's drug gangs fight for control of smuggling routes into California, Arizona and Texas. The killings and kidnappings have spilled over into the United States, where the demand for illicit drugs drives the trade." These things have been going on for a long time and will (unfortunately) probably continue... But it's just too easy to feel removed and separated from it. Children have impressionable and sensitive minds and these children in Mexico are being bombarded with violence that has nothing to do with them! The first article I linked states that; "Exchanging gruesome stories is nothing new for schoolchildren, who have a way of overstating their brushes with danger. But the 12 tortured, tongueless bodies that were the talk of the playground recently were no exaggeration. In the early hours of Sept. 29, the bodies of 11 men and one woman, bound and partly dressed, were found in an abandoned lot opposite the school."

Drugs are a part of our society, whether prescribed by a doctor or obtained off the black market. From Ibuprofen to Heroin, drugs are used and abused everyday by almost everyone in our society on some level. It's easy to focus on how this affects us and the people in our immediate lives but it was an interesting reminder to me that although I may be the center of my own universe I'm not alone in this world! Like a lot of my friends and acquaintances, I try to practice conscious consuming when it comes to my clothes and the food I put into my body because I know about some of the negative aspects of these industries. When it comes to illegal industries and drug cartels it's not just bad for all involved with production and distribution, it's harming society on so many different levels. If you're a consumer of drugs it's just something else to think about...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cuddle Season

Little by little the nights are getting colder, the soft flannels are coming out and things made with pumpkin can be found in every coffee shop. All of this indicates to me that it is now (as a friend once dubbed it): Cuddle Season. Since the only cuddling I’m doing at the moment is with my books, and everyone around me seems to be in a relationship I must once again return to the ever-relevant topic of love.

I have looked to friends, artists, musicians, writers, poets, philosophers and even a few terrible movies with the hope of finding a truer and clearer definition for love, yet I’m always left wanting a little more. This time I’m trying out science. A few facts can surely sort out this mess… right?

A couple of weeks ago I had a wonderful dinner with a "coupled" friend. She is one of the ones in love and we were discussing relationships and dating, among other things. During the conversation she mentioned a book she had just read called "The Female Brain" and since she's also the reason I read "Cunt" (which I highly recommend) I decided to pick it up and mix up my nighttime reading. Seeing as how all of the women authors I had been reading in the past couple of weeks were ones who’d committed suicide early in life, it seemed like a good idea to switch it up and mellow out with a female scientist; Louann Brizendine, M.D.

The book focuses on the female brain and is broken down into phases starting from the womb and finishing with the postmenopausal brain. It also highlights some of the characteristics of the male brain along the way. A lot of what Brizendine covers seemed somewhat obvious to me but there were certain things that stood out particularly from the chapter entitled "Love and Trust". It’s easy to understand the positive feel-good side of love, (especially if you’re in it) but what about all the other shit? Well, according to this book both sides can be traced back to chemicals.

Romantic love seems to have a way of betraying us, and sometimes that means going against our own better judgment. Brizandine states that, "Once a person is in love, the cautious, critical-thinking pathways in the brain shut down. Evolution may have made these in-love brain circuits to ensure we find a mate and then focus in exclusively on that one person […] Falling in love is one of the most irrational behaviors or brain states imaginable for both men and women. The brain becomes "illogical" in the throes of new romance, literally blind to the shortcomings of the lover. It is an evolutionary state." (p. 65) So, love can make us a dumb version of ourselves? Ok, I think we can find plenty of evidence in books and song lyrics alone to support that idea but what makes love so powerful?

What I find most interesting about the neurology of love is how closely it resembles addiction. "Passionately being in love or so-called infatuation-love is now a documented brain state. It shares brain circuits with states of obsession, mania, intoxication, thirst, and hunger. […] The brain circuits that are activated when we are in love match those of a drug addict desperately craving the next fix." (p. 66) She even goes on to describe how it’s almost the exact same thing as taking Ecstasy and says that, "romantic love is a natural Ecstasy high." (p. 66) If our brain is telling us that the love of our life is on the same level of importance as water it’s a pretty intense sense of need, and yet that’s not the reality! Or is it? We know that biology steers us towards procreation but why do our bodies and brains make us betray our hearts at times? If the physical system is designed for perfect matching why do we seem destined to make so many mistakes along the way?

In an example of the initial meeting between a particular man and woman Brizandine describes how everything falls into place in terms of connection and all of a sudden, "wham, hot, knee-buckling waves of attraction and desire are flooding her body with a heady rush of dopamine – sparking euphoria and excitement." (p.59) As I’ve discussed some of these topics among friends and swapped a few of our "knee-buckling" experiences, it seems to be the same among women I know from the age of 18 to 50; the best feeling ones are always the worst in the end! (This may seem like an unfair generalization regarding men but it just so happens to be the common experience from what I know and hear.) Obviously there are a million other factors that go into this but it got me thinking about how I conduct myself in terms of relationships and physical interactions with men. If all of these chemicals are firing off in my body what level of control do I have?

Whether or not it’s a relationship, casual dating or simply "hooking up", it’s interesting to observe how we can end up submitting ourselves to different levels of torture. We may intend to enter a relationship and take all of the risks that come along with it, and this is often rewarding even if there’s pain involved; but I used to think casual sex could be safe from the emotional let-down as long as I could do it without attachment. I’ve been frustrated to discover that it’s not that simple (even though my logical brain wishes it could be) and now I begin to see why.

Even something as simple as a hug can start the chemical surge that my body will find pleasure in and later crave. "From an experiment on hugging we know that oxytocin is naturally released in the brain after a twenty-second hug from a partner – sealing the bond between the huggers and triggering the brain’s trust circuits." (p. 68) Not only does a hug release the same chemicals as an orgasm, but it can create a trust bond that may not be deserved! So we have to be careful when we’re making physical contact, it can end up being as dangerous as tempting your body with a new and highly addictive drug.

Poetry… chemicals… confusion. The mystery of love still remains. As always, for every question I can answer for myself a million new ones arise. So for now I have to let it (and myself) rest. It’s nice to understand what happens in the body and brain and it can sometimes be nice not to. Tonight I will curl up in my feather down comforter, tomorrow I may drink a pumpkin latte and to all you couples; enjoy your oxytocin-dopamine highs while they last.
Happy Cuddle Season!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Come on baby, light my fire!

When was the last time you felt truly inspired?

Turned on?

Passionate about... anything?

If there is something in your life right now that really gets you going, consider sharing it! You're excitement and motivation has a huge impact on others and there's a lot of apathy in the world right now. I can feel dissatisfaction and boredom infecting me little by little and I'm doing my best to fight it off but it's hard and I don't feel like I'm making a whole lot of progress at the moment...

That, however, is just a selfish side-note. My flame for life may not be burning it's brightest at the moment but it will be back, and when I'm passionate about something I'm bursting at the seams. If you want to post a comment for me about your favorite band or the love-of-your-life I'm all ears, but if blog commenting isn't your thing maybe you could call a friend or even smile at a stranger. Who knows, maybe the energy from the LoveFest this weekend will infect the city with fun! But festival or not, if you care about something share something.

Don't take your passion for granted.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Veg Out!

I guess you could say I've had the good karma of being raised vegetarian. To be specific, lacto-ovo vegetarian. I am grateful for this and it's something that I feel good about mentally as well as physically. I've never had the desire to try meat, it just doesn't appeal to me, and I don't ever intend on becoming a carnivore. This is just my personal upbringing and my personal choice. I have no judgements for anything anyone else chooses to eat or not eat but I do feel like it may be time for a little shift in my own diet, a shift towards veganism.

A couple of years ago, when I was still in school, I took an environmental studies class and my eyes were opened to all kinds of issues I was unaware of as well as a world of things I could do to make an impact! It was great! One of the outcomes of this was my own research and interest in veganism. I read, watched and listened to everything I could and once the information was there, the decision was easy. I was so touched by the profound impact a vegan lifestyle could have on animals, the environment and humanity that I broke down one day and cried for almost an hour for all the harm I was causing. This may seem a little dramatic, I know, but I was moved on a deep level. That same day I donated all my leather products to Goodwill, cleaned out the fridge and started my life as a vegan.

It wasn't one of those things that I had to force myself to do (at first), it was actually quite easy. I was inspired, motivated and self-righteous. I felt amazing inside and out, I found a whole community of support and it didn't hurt that my live-in boyfriend at the time was into it with me. I did this for a year and towards the end of that year I could feel my motivation fading. I just wasn't as into it as I was before, I was overloading my diet with soy and feeling imbalanced and all it took was some fancy French cheese to tip the scale. My French teacher at the time had brought it to class and I just decided then and there, "I want it".

Unfortunately, being the all-or-nothing type of girl I am, this day became the turning point for me... back into the world of dairy. I re-incorporated cheese, milk and other dairy products but eggs still grossed me out for a long time. Eventually I desensitized myself even more and started eating eggs again too! It's such a strange thing to consciously do what you know is [in a way] lazy and harmful but I did it and have never looked back... until now.

Last night I was on the phone with a Buddhist monk for over an hour, (trust me it's not my typical Friday night either). During our conversation I brought up the whole vegan thing, how I felt confused about the fact that I could feel so strongly about it at one point and so unmotivated at another and to make a long story short, I'm going to try the middle way! Instead of using my usual cold-[tofurkey] method I'm going to try something new. Oh, my god! Maybe I am changing with the season like I had hoped! On the suggestion of this monk I'm going to be veganish.

He suggested I start by devoting one meal a week to being vegan and slowly build from there. The idea isn't to build rapidly necessarily or with any timeline but just to build. Meaning; move forward and not back. I know it sounds simple enough but I never take this kind of approach to anything and I'm kind of excited to see where I end up! This morning I substituted the cream in my morning coffee with steamed soy, every other meal I've had has been "the usual" but I would like to have at least one fully vegan meal this week. I was even thinking of getting some friends together for a weekly vegan dinner! Then maybe 5 people would be eating a vegan meal instead of a non-vegan one and it'd be more fun as a group! I don't know where this will lead, but hopefully these actions will start to crate some kind of snowball in terms of health and well-being for myself and the world around me. It's these tiny things that can really make a difference!

This is always a good resource for info and if you have any of your own little tips for a better world I would love to hear some comments!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ennui, Mon Ami

A few days ago I started to write an essay on boredom. I did this as part of a greater effort towards self-realization and deeper understanding and because (apparently) I'm a dork and I like composing essays... My initial dilemma was feeling bored and noticing that the boredom was leading me to unhealthy behavior and an overall sense of disappointment in myself. Not wanting this to continue, I decided to (try) to get to the root of the issue. I researched the word itself, it's origins, boredom and depression, boredom as a theme in literature and I almost posted my findings as a blog. However, once I finished reading what I had written I realized it was boring! Why did I chose to think, read and write about boredom? Well, it's because my mind is obsessive and when an idea is rattling around in my brain (like that coin in the dryer) the only way to make it stop is to give it my full attention. Sometimes this means digging around in the socks but in this case I had to dig into the madness of my own head...

Rather than revisiting the initial impulse that drove me down this rabbit hole of research, I will, instead, share a few random realizations. I frequently go on little quests for knowledge or understanding regarding various topics and end up in a place completely different from where I began. This time no particular questions have been answered fully but there is a feeling of expansiveness and satisfaction that comes from the other things I've learned along the way. In the words of The Rolling Stones, "you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might just find you get what you need".

Apparently, what I needed was the realization that at this point in time (for me) relief from suffering comes in the form of reading. When something is on my mind I start to see it everywhere, like feathers in the city; I never noticed them before and now I see them on the sidewalks and streets every day! The same is true of ideas or themes in life and literature. Sometimes I get the feeling that a book finds me rather than the other way around... One of my favorite things about reading is the way it's such an intimate connection with another person. Although, seemingly one-sided, it's a connection that is able to transcend physical and spacial relationships as well as time. Coming across an idea or feeling that someone else has expressed brings about a sensation of oneness for me.

So, if I haven't bored you too much already I will return, for a moment, to that original topic and then digress a little more by way of quotes. Here are a few things that have sparked my interest lately and created a feeling of connection:

I read that Goethe referred to boredom as "the sorest evil, the heaviest disease", so we agree that it's rather a negative thing... When I was researching boredom and depression this idea of "disease" came around a few times. I found a Dostoevsky quote in an article saying that "excessive consciousness is a disease" and that its "direct inevitable product is inertia" and "boredom". This points not to the boredom but rather the consciousness itself. I feel like there's always a paradox at the bottom of everything and in this case, the idea that excessive consciousness can lead to inertia and boredom is almost depressing in and of itself! I have often thought that thinking too much can feel like a kind of torture. When becoming overwhelmed by the mind there does come a point where any kind of action starts to seem less and less possible.

All of this also brings me back to the idea of the self vs. the awareness of the self. It's something most people are familiar with, it comes up a lot in meditation and it's something I think about frequently because I'm often aware of the split between myself and my awareness. Because of this I sometimes feel like two people! As I've been reading "Tropic of Cancer" by Henry Miller I've come across this theme a few times already. I'm not finished with the book yet but what's grabbing me at the moment are the themes of aloneness and detachment as well as transcendence from [what we know as] reality, freeing oneself from the constraints of the mind and excepting the truth of basic physical activities; eating, drinking, sex, etc...

Here are some random quotes that stood out for me so far and today, that's where I'll end this. With all of this exploration I can feel myself heading towards inertia so it's time to ease up on the thinking for the moment. These words will jingle on, for now, as the pennies in the dryer of my mind:

"It is not difficult to be alone if you are poor and a failure. An artist is always alone - if he is an artist. No, what the artist needs is loneliness" p. 66

"On the meridian of time there is no injustice: there is only the poetry of motion creating the illusion of truth and drama" p. 96

"It seemed to me the great calamity had already manifested itself, that I could be no more truly alone than than at this very moment" p. 98

"I am only spiritually dead. Physically I am alive. Morally I am free. The world which I have departed is a menagerie. The dawn is breaking on a new world, a jungle world in which the lean spirits roam with sharp claws. If I am a hyena I am a lean hungry one: I go forth to fatten myself" p. 99

"It's like I'm two people, and one of them is watching me all the time. I get so goddamned mad at myself that I could kill myself... and in a way, that's what I do every time I have an orgasm. For one second like I obliterate myself" p. 130

Saturday, September 13, 2008

It's Here

At first the feeling is hard to identify.
Something has shifted.
Something is different.
It's hard to mark the actual moment it happens...
But for me it has happened today:
Fall is here.

There's that slight chill in the air, a few brown leaves and I've had the urge to buy apple butter twice in the past week. As someone who grew up on the east coast, it's hard to tell when fall comes around here. The landscape doesn't go through the same kind of dramatic transformation, the weather hardly changes and since I'm between college and [hopefully] grad school, there's no new semester to mark the end of summer. Life goes on as usual, work continues as always and time passes.

Yet, there is something happening, I can feel it. Maybe it's just some kind of internal clock or the result of having the same schedule for so many years but once again it's time for a change. It won't be new notebooks and pencils or a new schedule, it won't involve preparations for a cold snowy winter and it won't even mean new fall clothes, (I'm way to broke for that)... But something will change! There is a sense of possibility.

Fall is marked, in a way, by death. All of my fiery summer energy will shift. Pieces of me may shrivel and drop and then I'll sit bare and quiet for the winter. I will meditate, read, write and wait. I am not a patient person by nature but there's always a chance to change and maybe, just maybe I can change a little with the season.

I'm ready for something new,
so here I go,
I'm stepping up to the edge of summer,
closing my eyes,
taking a deep breath in
and letting myself fall...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Oh yeah, THAT'S what I do!

Today (in most ways) is like any other day in my work week. There was a meeting this morning, a few text messages between myself and my roommate, some online chatting with the other 9-5ers, coffee, coffee, coffee... and this heat!

This heat is getting to my head. Despite the fact that I grew up in humid Virginia, ever since I've lived here I've become a weather wimp. I'm spoiled by our great weather so this past week, (in this heat) I find myself melting and my mind drifting! Dizzy, fuzzy and overwhelmed by boredom and lack of sleep my mind starts its usual mischief; I start daydreaming, fantasizing, staring out the window, pondering my existence, worrying about things, laughing to myself, and then the impulsiveness starts to kick in: How can I do something to affect my state of being? Who can I call? Who can I text? Why didn't that guy ever call me back? What should my next tattoo be? When should I start thinking about moving again? And on and on...

Just when I think I'll be stuck in this rut all day something out of the ordinary happens! A little message in my inbox! Yay! I got it! I have an audition. And my whole body snaps out of the funk, just like that. I have something to work towards now. I have less than a week to get my shit together, brush up my pieces, print out some headshots and resumes, and prepare for my little show. Because that's how I look at auditions these days. It's a chance to perform. A chance to say something and a chance to do a one person show for an intimate audience where the pressure is on but ultimately the outcome is out of my control. It's a chance to do what I love for five minutes. A rush. And I remember who I am again. Everything else momentarily fades into the background and this little project takes center stage. I have an audition, and right now, that's all that I want to think about.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Oh, Art!

After a delicious bite at Mission Pie yesterday, Land Dog and I got into this discussion about our art! We're both involved in theatre, writing, visual art as well as some musical endeavors...
And this is the case with many of my friends (which makes for some really good times!) but there is this feeling of insecurity that seems to come with being an artist. There are all kinds of ego-trips to worry about, there's money (or rather the lack thereof) and there's the motivation. Why do we do it?

This morning, at our weekly breakfast, I sat and guzzled coffee with a few friends. After our orders had been placed Char set down his cup and said, "so guys, how's everyone doing with their quarter life crises?" Ha! I laughed to myself, (it's something I reference often), Land Dog said she's not in it yet and has a few years to go and Alex just changed the subject. Well, Land Dog, it seems to me this questioning of art and what one is doing with one's future might just fall under that quarter-life dilemma...

The thing is, for me, it's becoming more and more clear that I'm doing exactly what I need to be doing! I've spent so many years driven by specific goals and these self-imposed goals have kept me moving forward. At a certain point I started to realize that I might be becoming overly ambitious, that these goals were starting to cause me a lot of suffering and that I was too one-pointed! This became especially painful to me when I failed to achieve one of my biggest goals and had to re-evaluate everything. So reaching that point and having nowhere else to go, I decided to let the pendulum swing in the opposite direction for a bit.

I stopped thinking so much about the future and totally indulged in the present. I stopped pushing myself forward with goals and instead started looking deep within myself. This was really beneficial to me in a lot of ways but now, all of a sudden, I feel like it's time for another change. It's time to mobilize again. And maybe it's time to set a few goals...just a few!

I have some auditions lined up and a couple of my friends and I are going to start setting up figure drawing sessions that suit our schedules. I've been working on some music and of course, writing. But where will all of this get me? I don't know. And sometimes, I start to question the importance of my art. This is where my personal dilemma lies: When I attend my weekly meditation and listen to the Dharma talks that follow I start to crave a completely different lifestyle. I imagine myself devoting my life to service and renouncing materialistic things, I hear stories of people working in prisons, in hospitals, with children and in other countries with people who are far less fortunate and I forget all about art.

I grew up on a Yoga Ashram and when I took a semester off from school after my first year in college I went back for a retreat. When I was on this retreat I basically got to live like a hermit; meditating and doing Hatha Yoga three times a day, practicing Karma Yoga, working in a kitchen or garden and analyzing ancient scriptures. I never thought about doing my hair and makeup a certain way, never watched TV or went on the Internet and I didn't even really make any art. I was totally blissful and relaxed. But like all things, this experience came to an end. When I came back to "reality" I was a little shell-shocked for a minute but quickly got back to my old world. And this time I came with a renewed dedication to my art! I found that my break from painting had actually allowed for a new wave of art to come to life. When I returned to acting I found myself a completely different presence onstage and I felt, in some ways, unblocked. Basically, I found new meaning in everything.

There are moments when I question what I'm doing as an artist but what I try to remember in these moments is how art has inspired and affected me. How it can open the mind, show us the world in different ways, inspire all kinds of feelings and spark discussions, how it can provide relief from pain and suffering and how it can teach us about ourselves. I hope that I can continue to challenge myself and my peers and I hope we can all work together as a community. If we don't know what we're doing or why, let's figure it out together! There is potential to make meaningful change in this world and we are the ones who have the means and good fortune to do just that!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Keep On The Sunny Side!

Lyrics to an old folk song say;

"Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side, keep on the sunny side of life"

Well, I've been on the sunny side, I've been on the shady side, I've been in almost complete darkness and what I've learned is that I can't just keep on one side! Trying to be happy when I'm not seems to backfire in a big way and just when I feel I've totally overindulged in sadness and melodrama the sun comes out! The world is my school right now and I guess this my personal lesson for today.

I used to think that I had some kind of control over all of this flip-flopping. Like if I wanted to I could will myself to be happy, just look at things the right way or put things in perspective. Well, this is true (to a degree) but it just doesn't feel right all the time. What I keep re-learning is that life is full of opposites. Not only are things double sided, things are multi-sided, multi-dimensional and constantly changing.

I can't predict when I'm going to be up or down. I don't know if it's chemical, circumstantial, intellectual, emotional or just a combination of these factors and more. Today I feel like I'm on the sunny side, and it's not because of anything outside of myself. I'm carrying out a normal work day, I'm broke as a joke, I didn't get a ton of sleep last night but I feel clear-minded and strong. The weather is nice, I have everything I could possibly need and more and I have the means and capacity to learn which is the greatest thing I can think of.

I've spent my entire life in school and when I graduated from college (in May 2007) I began discovering my non-school education. Life is full of opportunities for learning and some of the hardest things to learn cannot be taught in a class. For me, now is the time for challenging the way things have been and carefully observing the way that they are in the present. Part of this is flowing with the ups and downs, the sun and the rain. My mistakes are my lessons, my surroundings are my classrooms and the people in my community are my fellow students. When nothing else makes sense my dreams show me parts of the mystery and my art is my way of interpreting it. Some days will be dark and some days will be sunny but on either side there is always something to be learned. Cool.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I woke up feeling foggy. The week has overwhelmed me. I wonder how restful my sleep can be when I sleep with my eyes open? Last night I had dreams of my family, of Olympic swimmers, of a favorite teddy bear getting stolen, of a lake... and I talked in my sleep. Over the past few days I convinced myself I was getting happy, came crashing down, fell into old habits, didn't sleep enough, didn't eat enough, felt OK again, did some performances, went through the motions, talked with friends and tried to come back into myself. Yesterday I meditated and this was satisfying. Later, I contemplated the word should with a friend. We decided not to use it anymore. Today, I spent an hour reading the New York Times in the park and started to feel depressed again. When I got to the Arts section I started to feel inspired. I saw a woman breastfeeding her baby, I bought some sheep's cheese at the market, I tried to go to the library but it was "closed for renovations". I saw people line up for an AA meeting. Last night the teacher at the meditation talked about indecision. He said that when you feel indecisive you can't force a decision, but you can sit with what you're feeling. They talk a lot about being present in Buddhism and it's something that interests me. I spend a lot of time and energy trying to avoid the truth of the moment. I like being present with physical pain and pleasure but I usually do anything I can to avoid emotional pain. This seems to create more. My mind is constantly jumping around all over the place and since I can't seem to get a hold of it I have a hard time feeling present. But today I have decided to ride the choppy waves that are my thoughts. I will spend this day being in the moment and observing all of the chaos that usually overwhelms me. I am surrounded by strangers in the "Women's Building", a man works on a desk with drill, a little kid screams, I can smell my bread and cheese in my bag and I want to eat it. Tomorrow I'll go back to work.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Love Schmove

Maybe it was due to the bad weather last week or the fact that we just started running our show... or maybe it's just another part of the "quarter-life-crisis". Whatever it may be, I've been feeling emo lately and I can't stop thinking about love...

This pesky-fucking-word has been giving me trouble lately. I can't quite define it but I can't get it off my mind either! This problem is keeping me up at night and taking up my precious dream-space so I've embarked on a mini quest to find out more about the word as well as the concept of love.

Part I: The Problem with Love

How can one word be used in so many ways? Why aren't there more words to describe all the different types of love? The only thing I can think of is that it would be impossible for this to happen because as far as I can tell every time "love" is spoken it's completely new! At least for me, I can't love anything or anyone the exact same way, so I guess I would have to make up a new word each time I wanted to say it. Needless to say, this could end up confusing a lot of people...

"I looe you mom"

"I lev that book so much!"

"God, I lof nachos" Seriously, I couldn't live without them.

"I luuuux the way I feel after good sex"

And yes, I do realize that there are other words in other languages, but they all mean the same thing right? How can we even begin to define this word? I want answers! So I started asking people, and of course, no one can pin it down.

Ia: Love, the word

Because I'm an actor I have a love/hate relationship with words. In theatre (and of course in life) words can be beautiful, powerful tools for communication. When used well words can do things. They can convey as well as evoke feelings, they can paint pictures in the imagination, they can hurt and they can heal. But sometimes words just mess everything up! Sometimes the best communication happens without words and sometimes words are abused.

When it comes to the word love I guess it all boils down to intention and understanding. In acting we try to communicate something to the audience using words, tone, inflection, context, movement and intention. These areas of focus can help make something more clear; but ultimately everyone will interpret the work in their own unique way. People communicating with each other in life can only get so far using these same devices, often unconsciously. How can you ever know if you're truly connecting though? It seems to me that all you can really know is your own intention and the clearer that is the better you can hope to communicate it.

Part II: That Thing

The Beatles said "All you need is love"
Stevie Nicks asked "Mirror in the sky what is love?"
Joni Mitchell has "looked at love from both sides now..."
And the Asteroid in our show has a few things to say about it too!
But really!!! What is it???
Well, being the impatient and impulsive girl I am I thought I could figure it out if I put my mind to it, asked around, did the research, talked about it in therapy. But apparently it doesn't work that way. And it's not that I've never said "I love you" or had it said to me...But each time is different and as these loves become a part of my past they start to feel like dreams I can't quite recall. I know I was there and I remember the feeling, sort of, but I can't get back. I can't identify with it in the same way so I guess I have to let it go and make space for something new.
Sometimes it feels like a silly thing to chase but at some point I hope I can rediscover love and find out once more what all the fuss is about. For now all I can say is:
Love schmove.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


I'm challenging myself to write on this at least once a week but this week has been busy and I've been avoiding it. I wanted to write an article about risk-taking and I figured at least opening my blog might get something rolling. I was thinking that maybe it would work the same way sitting down with a blank canvas gets me painting. So feeling motivated today I opened my "blogger home" and found that I had my first comment!

This is pretty new to me and I'm learning as I go so I was excited to get some feedback. Apparently I have my comments set to be reviewed before I publish them so I clicked on the link and there it was:

"God, you're fucking dumb" posted by: anonymous


First of all, I wish I knew which post this comment was referring to but maybe this anonymous is just not a fan of me as a writer...

In any case, it does hurt. And although this is different, it's not the first time I've been "blog-attacked".

So, it got me thinking...

I wanted to talk about risk-taking because I've been trying to branch out and take more risks in certain areas of my life. I feel that this is especially important as an actor in terms of being able to deliver something meaningful. A lot of actors and directors will agree that the higher the stakes the better the outcome. Being able to take risks is fucking scary though! And not just on stage or in some piece of writing or art; it's scary in life and it's especially scary in relationships. But some risk taking can bring about the greatest experiences life has to offer and these are the kind I hope to take more of. Hopefully a crazy mixture of failure and success will ensue!

So, I guess putting a piece of myself out into the world in this form is a bit of a risk and I just got a taste of the nasty side of that. But I still feel compelled to continue, only now I'm a little more self conscious and I'll carry on with a slightly bruised ego. The small but noticable impact this has had on me brings me to my final thought for today: Words have power so use them well.

Dear Anonymous,
I am not dumb.
You have chosen your words and they have created a ripple in the world but instead of letting this yucky feeling spread I'm going to start a new ripple.
I hope you wake up tomorrow and have a great hair day.
I hope you find a lucky penny and use it to scratch a winning lotto ticket.
I hope you take a rewarding risk.
And I hope you find a better use for your time online.
Please don't call any other people dumb, at least for today.
And if you want to comment again please be constructive!
Thanks for giving me something to write about.

Friday, August 1, 2008


Read This

Who are we?
There is so much going on! So many interesting people, so much art, writing, music, philosophy, blogging, talking, dancing, creating, potential...

I guess reading this just makes me take a second look at myself. Of course I don't want to fit into any category but I can't deny that what this writer describes does sound like a lot of people I know and even myself. A little...

All I keep thinking is what do we stand for? I know that people like to feel a part of something and we all need and want each other but I get the feeling that no one likes to admit to that. To me hipsterness is pretty elitist, right? Us and them. What does this accomplish again? And the shallowness of it has been on my mind a lot lately. Literally "buying" into a lifestyle or culture. Here's one piece of the article that sort of touches on that:

"Hipsterdom is the first “counterculture” to be born under the advertising industry’s microscope, leaving it open to constant manipulation but also forcing its participants to continually shift their interests and affiliations. Less a subculture, the hipster is a consumer group – using their capital to purchase empty authenticity and rebellion. But the moment a trend, band, sound, style or feeling gains too much exposure, it is suddenly looked upon with disdain. Hipsters cannot afford to maintain any cultural loyalties or affiliations for fear they will lose relevance."

This constant shifting is very apparent if you are the kind of person who likes to strike up conversations with random people (as I do)... Good luck being able to relate to any of the music or art they speak of, there's always something new, every weekend and it's always "amazing" and " haven't heard of them?"

I already had two long g-chats about this article today with friends at work and happened upon two other blogs that linked it. I'm sure there are many more.

What I know: We are a generation of smart and passionate people. We have the ability to communicate faster and faster every day and we do! We have ideas and philosophies and we want to share them. We are not doomed but we do have a responsibility [to ourselves] to challenge ourselves. We have to be willing to analyze our culture and lifestyle as it's unfolding rather than years down the line. This means listening, being open to change and once in awhile being able to admit to ourselves that we aren't in control of everything. We are extremely sensitive to advertising and suggestive selling and there are corporations who are trying to manipulate us all the time! The more we admit that it does affect us, the more potential there is for us to make our own choices.

I may know some hipsters; (whatever that even means) but regardless of what they're into, my favorite friends are the ones who keep me in check. They tell me what I might not want to hear but as long as I listen I can always learn something. And asking myself questions always seems to help!

Who are we?
What are we doing?
What do we want to be doing?
I'll keep asking myself these questions and a million others...
What are your questions?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

To be or...

I define myself as an actor but what is the definition of actor?

Actor (n)
1: one that acts: DOER 2 a: one who represents a character in a dramatic production. b: a theatrical performer. c: one that behaves as if acting a part 3: one that takes part in any affair.
(Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary)

An actor, actress, player or rarely thespian (see terminology) is a person who acts in a dramatic production and who works in film, television, theatre, or radio in that capacity. The ancient Greek word for an actor, ὑποκριτής (hypokrites), when rendered as a verb means "to interpret";[1] in this sense, an actor is one who interprets a dramatic character.[2]
(Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Trying to define as well as refine my acting is not only my favorite activity but it encourages me to live actively. It's a way of exploring the world with a specific perspective and purpose.

After trying (and failing) to get into graduate school right out of undergrad, I've had to think a lot about what it means to me to be an actor. Are you an actor even during the times when there is no audience or director? Are you an actor even when you aren't doing the act of acting? It kind of trips me up a bit but I have decided, yes!

I like how the first definition uses the word "doer". In terms of being an actor I think the actual "doing" is extremely important. Taking what you've learned or created and doing it! (As opposed to just thinking and talking about it). But this is especially tricky in terms of acting because unlike some visual art forms, performance art requires, at the very least, an audience.

Part 3 of the first definition kind of makes me smile to myself. If an actor is "one that takes part in any affair", then we are all actors right? It kind of brings you back to the whole, "world is a stage" idea... It's sort of trite sounding but also very true. We put on little plays and scenes every day. Anything from walking down the street to the act of seduction can be a kind of performance.

My favorite concept here, however, is found in the Wikipedia definition. And although the source is not exactly credible, I like the idea of an interpreter. Instead of just someone who "interprets a dramatic character" what if an actor was just an interpreter of the world? Someone who's job it is to take in all that is abstract and mysterious in this life and create something digestible out of it? That would be a cool job.

In any case, I am an actor and I will always be searching for a deeper understanding of what that means.

After I started working on this post a few days ago I flipped open a book on my nightstand and it happened to be on this very relevant page! I came across this excerpt from a Spiritual book called "The Golden Present". This book is a collection of talks given by Swami Satchidananda, a Yoga master and spiritual teacher. If you aren't bored by now, check it out...


Question: Is it possible to develop spiritually while working in a highly competitive and hectic field such as show business?

Sri Gurudev: We call it show business. Why? Do you think that show business is to show somebody else something? No. Show business is to show you something: yourself. It will teach you about the worth and the worthlessness of things in life. Yes. Show business means it's all just made up. It's all superficial. And when you learn that lesson, then you can use that same philosophy in your life. The whole of life is show business. What am I doing here? I'm acting my part. We're having a show. There is no superior and inferior cast in this. We are all needed to make the show. You have taken a part, so play it well. We are all one in spirit, but I am playing the part of the teacher today. You are playing the part of being a little ignorant. Behave that way. Don't get up and say, "I know more than you;" the show will collapse. When the curtain falls, we are all one and the same.

The whole world is superficial; it's constantly, constantly changing. Our relationships change, our situations change, our positions change, our names change. I was a baby, then I became a young boy, then an adult, then an old man. Changes, changes, changes. So what is the reality? The spiritual truth. We are all essentially one. That never changes. Where can you learn this truth faster than in show business?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sometimes You Just Know

At this point in my life most things are up for questioning.

I don't have anything solid to preach or teach but rather a collection of swirling, changing thoughts, questions and ideas.

Part of what makes everyday so amazing is the fact that the imagination is boundless and there is always something new to learn or create! However, it becomes overwhelming when your mind gets too open. All of the swirling and questioning and changing can make a girl dizzy! And every once in awhile it feels good to know something and feel sure of it.

Something clicks, something is clear, something shakes you to your core, something wakes up your entire body and every single cell is screaming "yes!"

These are the moments I live for, these are the moments I would like to create and they can occur in life and in art. Some people would call it a "moment of truth", others might just say that it's "being present" but whatever it is I want more.

It's great to be able to question and ponder and I'll never stop, but it feels so amazing to connect.

Sometimes you just know.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

If Strangers Were My Family

I love people and all of their neurosis!

Maybe it's because I definitely identify as "crazy pants" or maybe it's because I'm an actor and therefor obsessed with behavior in general. But for some reason I'm just tickled by peoples' strange habits, delighted by the awkward and absurd, and fascinated with the freaky! And living in a city like San Francisco there's definitely a lot of crazy to drink in.

One of the milder versions of crazy can be observed right from my work (at the front desk of a hair salon!) Not only do I get a chance to interact with the eleven totally different stylists every day but I've come to know all of their clients on a personal level and sometimes I get the feeling that I'm this kind of mom and they are all my crazy kids...

My eldest (and possibly favorite) daughter would be my dear:
"Blow Out and Set"
She comes in once a week with her long flowing gray hair and tells me about her most recent adventures. Her last trip to India, an exciting estate sale she attended the other day, she always has something going on. She's tall and broad with eclectic style. One time she even wore a silver belt as a necklace and it suited her beautifully!

But it's the way she tears up when she's laughing at her own problems that that really just breaks my heart in the best way possible. She tells me about the 110-year-old house that she lives in, stuffed to the brim with all of the things she's collected over the years; artwork, clothes, trinkets and knick knacks. Her daughters and therapist are making her excavate the basement and get rid of things because they say her collections are "linked to some childhood trauma". She scoffs it off with those brimming eyes and I see into her. I feel her. I love her.

My crazy middle child would be:
"Early Morning Color with Brow Tint"
She comes in every 21 days to be precise. She has this conspiracy theory thing going on where she's always saying, "see you next time, unless of course I get picked up". What is this "picked up"? Who would be doing the picking up and why? She rambles about things you see in tabloid magazines as if it's a part of her life and she tells me she's a very important part of a very important case, some kind of witness or something. It's all very secretive except for the fact that she talks about it all the time! Aside from the crazy, she always has good restaurant recommendations and she always shows up early. Maybe one day all will be revealed...

My youngest little neurotic would be:
"Late Night Blow Dry Switcheroo"
She books these 7pm appointments every week to blow out her mass of unruly hair and every week, without fail, no matter what, she changes the appointment to another day. Why would she even bother to book it in the first place? I don't exactly know, but it's something she's compelled to do. She makes it, breaks it and then comes to the new appointment. It must be some kind of OCD I swear! But it gives me something to count on, something constant. And of course she is my youngest, so maybe she just needs the attention.

These are people in my in my life. Little parts of my world. I'm a peice of their world too, and maybe I'm a peice of yours.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Let's Talk About Text, Baby!

Thanks to a popular little YouTube song, many of us have heard the phrase, "you don't text message breakup!" But what about everything else you should or shouldn't do via texting...
Text messaging has become a huge part of my daily routine, and it seems to be the same with everyone I know. I used to text once in awhile just to convey the simplest of messages, but it has morphed into something so much bigger! And I'm not sure I like it.

When it comes to socializing and dating it's all about communication and communication can happen on many different levels; however, due to our constantly (and rapidly) evolving technology our means of communication keep expanding.

What we're workin' with:
-There's straight up talking; something that can be unpredictable and hard to control, but also spontaneous and natural. Talking seems to be pretty honest because in person and there's also body language to take into account. When talking over the phone there's rhythm, tone and inflection to listen for. All of these factors tell us more than the words alone.

-With letter writing we have a chance to collect our thoughts and be a little more selective with what we want to convey. And as a letter recipient you can look at the handwriting for more clues into the meaning. E-mail can seem slightly less personal but is used ALL the time for little updates, work, invites, and keeping up with family and friends.

-Now we're getting down to the other forms of social networking that take place online; we have facebook and myspace, online chatting, blogging and a million other ways to express ourselves to the world and to our friends. With these methods there's a lot of control over how you choose to present yourself. Creativity can be involved but the appeal seems to be in the speed of it and in the fact that many of us spend hours and hours at a computer every day. Since we aren't always out and about meeting new people or hanging with our friends in person we can talk to each other, look at each other, learn about each other and and build relationships that we may not otherwise have time to build...hmm, this is where I start to feel a little weird. But here I am blogging, so on I go...

-What I'm talkin' about: The Text Message.
It's fast and frequent because we have our cellphones with us at all times. It can be silent and unobtrusive so you can do it in almost any environment. It's ambiguous and due to the limited word count it forces us to be concise.

So, about a year ago I started (sort of dating) this guy who was just text-happy! It started off as playful banter, flirting and plan-making, but as time passed I realized it wasn't just something we did when we were busy. Other than sex, it became the basis for our entire relationship. Now, trust me, there are many other factors to this particular story and I certainly wouldn't call it a healthy relationship in any way, but it's a relationship nonetheless, and as much as I hate admitting it, our dialogue is mainly through texting!

At first I was just going along with it because that's all he seemed to know, and I didn't even really become aware of what a big deal it was until I found myself wanting to lie to my therapist. When recalling some recent drama between us I was doing the old, "he said this, and I said this", and she stopped to ask me (in her lilting therapy voice), "was that in person, or over the phone?". Ha! "Um...", I just felt so stupid telling her it was through texting! This is when I realized it might be getting extreme.

One of my close friends has also been involved in some texting relationships, but she uses it as part of "the game". It reminds us of chess, you're always planning your next move. Choose your words carefully and fill it with as much meaning as possible, wait a long time to respond if you want to build up tension, but don't wait too long or the textee might get mad! Even text interpreting can drive a person crazy because sometimes there's no way to know the tone. It's too easy to waste hours digging for meaning in some stupid message. You know you've done it.

Yesterday I received a long e-mail from a lifelong friend asking for relationship advice. She went into detail about everything that's been going on with her and her man and in the final paragraph, in the middle of "what do you think? Should I fucking rip out of this one?", she changed gears and said, "He just texted me- JUST NOW so I have to tell you. First though, let me explain that fucking dealing with a relationship in text is so fucking retarted and juvenile. The text says: 'Do u think we are getting 2 normal?' Is that the problem?"

Girl, I have SO been there! So what is this!? It's not just me, it's happening everywhere and how do we deal with this issue? Is it a problem? Or do we need to adapt to this new text-filled reality? I think we can all agree that "you don't text message breakup", but do you text message process? Text message converse? Carry on text message relationships?

Hi, my name is ______ and I'm addicted to texting.