Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Missing Someone, But You Know, That's Okay

Dear Friend in Limbo/LA: (because I originally started this as an email to you):
I have been missing my ex-husband a lot recently.  There are reasons around it, but they don't matter.  I must constantly remind myself that it is not actually him I miss, but the way I was able to hide from my own life when I was with him.  It was so much easier to be miserable with him than to find my way along this rocky path of life.  

There are a thousand reasons to miss a person, but there is only one reason to leave.  One must leave to preserve oneself, to honor one's own path.

To leave a love, to rip a hole in your own heart is to open a pathway to a new and better version of yourself.  There is no toll, there is no expense.  It is the choice of everyone involved to grow or to remain stagnant.  The emotional toll we talk about is only the choice to remain in the past, to remain in the pain.

I am growing.

I hope, for his happiness, and therefore my happiness, that he is growing too.

I am sharing this with you because, well I am sad, and I think you get that.

Much love and remember -- the journey with all of its hills and valleys is the joy of life. 


Sunday, September 8, 2013

I May Live In A Red State, But I'm Blue

I once had a person tell me I had no idea how hard it was to be pretty; I also don't have any idea how hard it is to be rich, thin, or deeply satisfied. 

So that's a little depressing.

And I guess it's safe to say that I've been pretty depressed recently.  I had a lot of amaze-balls things happen to me this year.  They were painful, and full of growth, and joyous moments.  I won a fellowship, got divorced, graduated from an MFA program, and  won a prestigious film award.  I made a movie!  I went to Beijing! I got a dog!  One thing fell quickly on the heels of the other.  Most of these events were huge life-changers.  It's fair to say that a major life change can leave one prone to depression -- I fully expected that to happen after I finished three years of graduate school.  But instead I won a trip to Beijing and a budget to make a film.  So I did that.

Now you might be thinking, "Quit your whinging!  Yours is a first world problem at best."  And it's true.  I'm not hungry, or homeless, or in fear of my life.  I am healthy and have many opportunities ahead of me. 

That doesn't mean that right now, in this moment of solitude and stillness that I shouldn't allow myself to feel the sadness.

I had a lot of great things happen to me.  I also had some very traumatic things happen, which made me relish the great happenings all the more.

And now, none of that is happening.  My body doesn't know what to do.  I'm not in trauma, I'm not in exuberant joy. 

I'm in stasis.

So some of the sad creeps in. 

It feels so personal to be sad.  No one gets it.  Everyone wants the sadness to go away.  It makes them uncomfortable.  So I spend more time alone, to avoid the looks of others that seem to say, "You really ought to stop feeling sorry for yourself."  But I'm not feeling sorry for myself.  I'm just feeling.


It didn't help that today was very rainy, a thing that happens infrequently in this desert.  The rain makes the heart beat a different pattern.  The lub-dub of life becomes the tom-tom of tears.  You can cry in the rain.  No one really looks at you when you do that.  They've seen enough movies to know that it's expected that a few Sad Sallies will be out and about.

I thought I'd take the D-O-G out for some comforting play in the deluge, but my dog wouldn't walk in the rain.  He hid under the shelter of a neighbor's balcony instead.  I get it.  We're not here to meet each other's expectations -cliche or otherwise. 

We are here to learn and grow. 

Sometimes that's painful. 

Sometimes it's lonely. 

Sometimes it's sad.

I'm blue.  I'm sad.  I feel melancholy. 

I guess I'll just sit here and feel that for a little bit.  That's okay.

When the next great thing comes along, I'll have something to compare it to.  I'll be able to say that I know what joy is, because I know what joy is not.

This is not joy.

But this is necessary so that the other stuff can be appreciated, too.

I'll get through it.  I mean the rain's gone already, so the gloom in my heart will lift, too.  Eventually. 

Maybe after a night's sleep and a cuddle with my dog.

If he lets me.  If that's not expecting too much.  I mean, it is rather cliche.

I still don't know how hard it is to be pretty, rich, thin or deeply satisfied.  But I do know that I understand how to stand in the rain and listen to the dripping water, be in the moment, feel the sadness and weight of it all, then let it go when the sun comes back.  I know how to pick myself up, dust myself off and start again when the sun comes out.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Phoenix to Beijing: A Filmmaker's Journey

Because my friend who is on top of everything and organized and together wants me to blog about my trip to Beijing....

I went to Beijing.  It was a business trip.  But it was a very special business trip because I won a screenwriting contest, and was flown to Beijing and treated like a dignitary and given an honor and prize.

But it was business, because I'm in the business of making myself into a professional filmmaker.  This was a step up for me from being a grad student and a local filmmaker.

The thing I want to say here as I blog about my trip to Beijing is this:

When I stood on the ground in Beijing, met with filmmakers, accepted my award, I stood on the shoulders of dozens of Phoenix and LA filmmakers.  I learn alongside these people, am mentored by some great producers, directors, DP's, actors, and crew members.  My film schooling came in the form of sweat, frustration, creative collaboration, reading, trial and error, practice, divorce, and friendship.

One of the main reasons I have not journaled or posted pictures is that this was a business trip for me.  The tourism I did was scouting, location hunting, inspiration seeking.  I didn't go to Beijing with the idea that I'd post a million pictures and tell you all about the Great Wall of China.  I went there to make a film.  And a film is being made.

So yeah, I went to Beijing.  It was amazing.  It was beautiful.  It was challenging.  It was a moment of growth.

I'll get around to posting some photographs sometime soon.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Hey Fat Face. I'm Talkin' To You

That's right. Those are the words Will Ferrell shouted at the audience from the movie screen tonight in the preview for his latest movie.

This was followed by a movie in which Max Minghella's character continuously derided another for, you guessed it, being fat.

Here's what I've been taught growing up and living in both a thin woman's and a fat woman's body:

Fat.  A character defect.

Fat.  A trait for which a person is belittled, treated as an "other", ostracized, put to the side, in the corner, swept under the carpet.

Fat.  Your fault.

Fat.  You deserve to be treated differently because you aren't "normal."

It seems to be a favorite past-time of society and entertainers to make jokes about being fat.

MatchGame circa 1970:

"Large Marge is so big, when she sits around the house, she sits, aaaaaaaroooouuuunnnndd the house."

Junior High circa 1980:

"Best" friends sing about you to  Devo's "Whip It" but substitute the words "bubble butt".  Go ahead and sing it in your head.  You can hear it.  That's pretty funny, right?

Grown up life, 2012:

One of my dear friends picks her small child up and says, "Ugh!  You are so fat!  You must weight 237 pounds!" They giggle.  I die. Her child does not weight 237 pounds, but I weighed that much.  I've weighed more than that.

Even I --the woman who has lost and gained a cumulative 1,000 pounds in her life -- even I joke about it, because, you know, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right?  I refer to my maximum weight as my Oprah weight.  "Ha, ha, ha, Lee!  You are so funny."

Maybe I am, but at what expense?

My own?  Oprah's?  The person who is crying on the inside because they are thought of us unattractive, unworthy, less-than?


I don't want to talk about people's feelings being hurt when we make fun of them.  (I'm guessing if you're reading this blog, you're not in elementary school, so hurt feelings be damned.)

By creating an "other" in society, we create a hierarchy of those who are better than and those who are less than.

It is not the "other's" job to stop being an "other".

Can the black woman stop being black in order to eradicate your prejudice against the color of her skin?  If she could, SHOULD she?

Can the persecuted Jew of the Holocaust remove the thousands of years of tradition that make them who they are in order to bend to the demands of a crazed dictator?  SHOULD they?

Can the gay man stop sharing his life with his partner because a crazy church sect protested their wedding? SHOULD he?

The first question is CAN the person do something about stopping the abuse and treatment as "other".  In the case of a fat person, for the most part, yes, of course a fat person CAN lose weight.  But the real question when facing prejudice is SHOULD they lose weight in order to be treated justly and kindly?

It is no more the fat person's job to change themselves to fit in than it is the job of the victim of any other form of persecution.

So I'm calling you to action people, writers, entertainers, and perpetuators of paradigms.

Think about your use of language, think about who you are targeting.  Can your words be changed to something that does not separate, or belittle?  What is the point of targeting one group and mocking them?

Is it really important to make people laugh at the expense of someone else?

It's no easy task. I am not perfect, but I am aware.  And I'm asking you to be too.  Awareness leads to action.

I'll be there to call you on it when I hear you talking trash about anyone because of their "otherly" qualities.  Don't do it.  Period.

Prejudice is an ugly thing.

Fat is not.

Ever vigilant, ever sad to know that the fight must always be fought.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I Look Like I'm 46

Last week I was upset because I plucked three gray hairs from my left eyebrow.  I watched my mother begin to go gray around this age, but she never made it beyond 45, poor lamb.  So she is eternally youthful in my mind, brown hair, bobbing with energy and vim.  She never aged beyond the few grays that popped up on her Mary Tyler Moore-like coiffure.

My good friend stopped by yesterday and sat on my sofa joking and laughing with her adorable and twinkly ways.  We talk about dating and films and food and the adventures we find in Phoenix.  She's pretty damn awesome. And she's ten years younger than I am.

But that doesn't matter.


Age does not matter when it comes to human interaction.

The value I gain from my experiences with people is what matters.  I have a student who is really talented.  I mean he is star material.  He could be the next Leonardo or Brad if he had the motivation to be so.  And he's easy on the eyes.  And he's deep.  He's 21.

But that doesn't matter.


Age does not matter when it comes to sharing talent and art.

My best friend of the last 28 years is six weeks younger than I am.  Each year when I turn the dial up one notch she insists on teasing me about always being older.

And that bothered me.

So much so that when I turned 40 I told her she had to stop teasing me about being old.

And she did.

But really.

That doesn't matter.

She's a wonderful woman.  She's funnier than any comedian and wiser than the Pope.  She's intelligent and curious and a hopeless romantic.

So why worry about how old we are?

We are a culture that reveres the young.  We think of chances as slipping by.  We think of ourselves as too old to experience things such as love, hot sex, and sky diving.  But age doesn't matter.

It does not matter.


I am 46.  I am proud of my age because my rebirth began a year ago.  I am new.  46 means new.  46 means possibility.

So when people tell me, "But you don't look your age," I am supposed to feel flattered.

But I do look my age.  Because I AM my age.

I look 46.

This is what 46 looks like people.

It looks like a woman who is reinventing herself.

It looks like a woman who is curious.

It looks like a woman who is sensual.

It looks like a woman who has given birth, lost and gained over a thousand pounds cumulatively throughout the course of her eating disordered life, and has chosen to drink green smoothies and exercise to feel well.  It looks like a woman who has slept with dozens of people, and enjoyed some of it.  Especially that Russian.  WOW! Zing!  It looks like a woman who has endured agony and loneliness.  It looks like a woman who has been fired while her bosses sat in her living room.  It looks like a woman who has been panned, revered, and overlooked by critics.  It looks like a woman who is a little crazy but at least can recognize that she's a little crazy.  It looks like a woman who is a mother.

46 looks like a woman who doesn't want to be a crazy cat lady, but somehow turned into one.

46 looks like a woman who has to remind herself to drink water because she lives in the desert.

46 looks like a woman who eats dessert more than a few times a week and does not feel guilty about it.

46 looks a little codependent, but not as codependent as 36.

46 wears purple eyeshadow after a decade of no makeup whatsoever.

46 looks like a woman who has to go to the doctor a few times a year because she's a little hypochondriacal.

46 looks like a woman who drives a 17 year old vehicle and has a Costco club card.

Being 46 is a gift.  I have grown, learned, earned, and given.

 I bear the scars of my abuse, trials, joys and tribulations.

46 looks like me, because I am 46.

When you tell me that I don't look my age, well that's important to you, I guess.

My mother is eternally young to me.  She is dead and gone.  She died 31 years ago at the age of 45.  So she is what I guess most would revere.

I however am vital, alive, new, graying and full of possibility.  Who cares what I look like?

I am 46.

And that doesn't matter.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Downtown Phoenix from 1st and Washington north to Roosevelt

Ginger and I went for mochi at Canvas.  They have cool hammock chairs.  We met Tristan there.  She let me take her photograph.  Ginger did not.

Still figuring out the lighting, but I love the hammock.

Stars on the sidewalk outside the Hotel San Carlos.  Used to be a luxury spot for The Coop, Ingrid Bergman, Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable.

Barber shop.  No barber.  No shoppers.

This makes me think of a diaphragm.

Here it looks more like a tornado.  Not sure which is more disturbing to me as public art.

Striated with flock of pigeons.

Face lift.

Paintings on the Turf Irish Pub exterior.

Beautiful signage.  

Have a beer, angel.

Support your local filmmaker; get drunk.

This is the way I feel inside most of the time.  Beautiful, grim, devilish and exotic. Exterior of Carley's on 2nd and Roosevelt.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Baby Steps, Grand Schemes

My friend, Nancy, reminded me yesterday that each day is an opportunity. She read my tarot cards for me and said that the 24th was supposed to be a really big day for me.  That was the day I cowered on the sofa.  I told her I had made a huge decision and spent the day crippled with fear.  And Nancy said the wisest thing of all to me.

No matter.  Today is a new day and you know that it is all up to you.  It rests on your shoulders now.  You are free from your marriage and the chains that bound you.  You are free to do as you please, but it is your responsibility.  Meet the challenges of the Universe and it will give you all you desire and more.

And I knew she was right.

So I came home, I set 1 hour appointments on my google calendar to do specific tasks today, and I am happy to report that I have achieved all on schedule or ahead of schedule this morning.  I am now off to meet my 12:30 appointment with fitness and return for a 2:00 p.m. appointment with a fabulous cinematographer.

Thank you, Nancy, for the reminder that the Universe is at my disposal, but that I must take the action to achieve the gifts it wishes to bestow upon me.

The big picture is that in a few years' time, I shall be a newly transformed woman once again, this time because I have taken the reigns in hand and guided my destiny.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Hiding Is an Option

Today was supposed to be the day I embraced my new life, forged ahead and opened new doors.  You know, metaphor, metaphor, metaphor, followed by a smiling Youtube post.

Instead it was a day spent cowering on the sofa, surfing the internet, watching "The Walking Dead" in microburst because I can't sit through an entire episode at once, and sucking my thumb.

Fear overcomes us sometimes.  Also sadness.  And regret.  All of this is often followed by apathy, ennui and eating whilst standing in front of the open refrigerator.

Today was that day.

Then I went to teach my acting class, and Universe gave me words that I needed to hear.  From a new friend.

Paraphrasing is about to happen...

"You have to decide to live for your passions or else you get to the end of your life, look back and say, what did I do with my life?  You have to step into the fear because that is where the Truth lies. "

He said it so much better than I did. He told me his quick life's story and it was very similar to mine.  He told me he had been on a five year journey that lead him to my class.

And I felt like I'd been on a long journey too, just to hear this stranger tell me to lean into the fear, to remember that hiding for a little while is okay -- it's a form of self preservation -- but I must force myself out of my comfort zone and into my new life eventually so it might as well be now.

It's been a long journey so far.  I hid for a long time.  And now I don't want to hide anymore.  Except that I really DO want to hide, which is an excellent sign that I'm ONTO something, which then means that I really DON'T want to hide.

See how easy it is?

Life.  You are complex.  New friend, you floor me with your wisdom.  Welcome the fray.

Turf Paradise and Starbucks

I'm curious about Phoenix.  There are so many things that I thought only existed in the movies.  And then there's Starbucks.

My photo adventure yesterday took me to Turf Paradise, a horse track at 19th Avenue and Bell Road.  I will go back another day when there are races.  It's a fascinating dichotomy (or trichotomy if you will.)  Lush turf and desert mountains in the background.  A 1940's, Humphrey Bogart setting, but in color.   And a sense of exclusivity married to the impoverished mindset of the poor-tax called gambling.

Ivy makes everything seem cool.  A/C makes everything actually cool.

Where "four" art thou?

Starbucks waiting for AK and TJ.  Even chairs look better in the golden hour.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Take-away from Jake Pinholster

One of the things I value most about my grad school experience is this little tidbit:

There is a great value in arriving at the intended destination when it comes to art.

I audited a class on performance technology last semester.  There were tons of amazing projects that were presented during the term, but one sticks out because it was graceful, intelligent, simple and stunning.  One of the students worked with physical motion and the Kinect to create a real time digital display of light and motion.  It was an alluring piece in that it took an already beautiful thing -- the motion of the human form -- and turned it into a Universe of lights.

Jake asked the student if he had stumbled upon the patch to make the Kinect work or if the student had started out to achieve this outcome.

The student had indeed known what he intended to do, found a way to do it, and made it happen.  This was no happy accident.

So many pieces of theatre and performance that I've seen have had the "happy accident" syndrome.  It's a high for a performer to make an accident "work."  But we must take these as learning experiences more than art, I think.

Jake's question reset my thinking to a new purpose.  Get to where you want to be, plow the path before you.  Don't settle for what you get, make what you WANT what you GET.

You've heard of that old sexist adage of separating the men from the boys.  Well this is the artistic equivalent.  By finding the path to a goal you separate the artist in you from the accidentalist in you.

Yes happy accidents are aptly named.  They make you happy. and they are accidents.

Preproduction is all about prior planning preventing poor performance.  Don't rely on the happy factor, rely on your ability to get to the destination.

So there you have it.  Jake Pinholster summed up my grad school experience in one question:  Did you mean to do that?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Downtown Phoenix 3rd St to 3rd Ave on Roosevelt

A walk through Downtown Roosevelt District of Phoenix, 
between 3rd Street and 3rd Avenue
 during the golden hour of sunlight.

Angry Birds.