Journaling Turkey-Paris

I managed to fit some writing into my Turkey travel. Most of the time I was talking to my cousin about our childhood traumas and helping her watch after her baby. I honestly felt like a straight up aunty while I was there. I was able to write, but it was mostly journaling about the dynamics between the men and women in Turkey. I have to say, most of the men I encountered in Turkey are remarkably handsome. Part of me wondered why? Part of me enjoyed the view.

Now I am in Paris, trying to get some work done but finding it hard to focus. Had a spiritual conversation with my friend today and it was very intense.

But do I have tons of writing material? Oh yes. Plenty. My journal is full of mini-stories and encounters I’ve had with people and or environments.

Here’s one of my favorite ones thus far:

I went into a garden store and asked a man if he could let me wander and take pictures. He said of course in his mannerisms – I walked in and found a lighthouse clothes hook and instantly fell in love with it. I asked him how much on a notepad, and he wrote down 30 L, then I wrote down 25 L? and gave him a goofy smile. He laughed and said “Okay!”

I am sure he overcharged me. I am sure it was a restaurant with lots of plants, and I just grabbed one of his ornaments to take home with me. But it was his graciousness that was absolutely wonderful to be around.

The lighthouse now will live in my luggage until I reach the states later this month.

I arrived in Paris yesterday, and wandered the streets with my friend. She got flirted on by some waiters as I stuffed a crêpe into my mouth. But overall, it was a magical night.

Now onto some plain working time. Then maybe tonight, some serious writing inspired by my journaling travel stories.

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Writing when you travel, it’s freaking hard!

I am having a creative meltdown … or just a massive case of traveling itch, Blog Land. I’m off to Turkey, then jumping on a plane to Paris and then maybe doing a weekend trip to England. I have no idea what I am doing — I mean, technically some of it involves videography and art — yet I am concerned about managing my writing time. I barely did any when I went to see family for 2 weeks in March.

I head over to my laptop or bring a small notebook with me, the BLAM! – something happens. Sometimes I have to lock myself in a room, but then family or friends get concerned because I should be relaxing or in vacation mode…and they don’t understand sitting down to write. It’s quite impossible with Peruvians who want to feed and get you drunk all the time.

Also, when I travel – there are wonderful mundane things happening all around me. If my brain could produce bubble thoughts, it would be ongoing and non stop with – sunsets, dance classes, brunches, conversations with people who are not tourists, me trying to order croissants at a bakery, Metro riding, or seeing the moon from a different part of the world. Sometimes it doesn’t look like a man’s face…like in Perú, for example, the moon looks like lips blowing you a kiss, for example. And I want to write it all down, but sometimes just looking at something is enough. Other times there are no ways to describe the atmosphere, and you have to LIVE.

So how do I focus?

I don’t know. This is an experiment. I will try to make it my prerogative to not be such a creeper on this trip and actually try to make friends with the interesting people, I tend to just write about. Maybe some of them will be writers. Maybe some of them could give me tips. And then I can share these tips on this blog.

Only time will tell. Leaving in April, coming back in May. I should have something to share.

And to answer your question (the one I am assuming you are asking), I am going abroad because I am running away from responsibilities that don’t involve writing or art. You know, growing up, getting a real job, and etc. etc. etc. I think a workaholic who has been sitting behind a desk for a little over a year should be allowed to have a meltdown at least once in their lifetime – or at least once per decade. Here is my thirties meltdown!

I’m just lucky enough to have my meltdown be a creative one, and not…like…heroin. I’m also lucky I have family and friends in these places to house me. Otherwise that would suck. I’m going to destroy my savings and eat with my credit cards. Bring it on world!

#WritingAbroad

reporting from peru

I´ve been staying in Peru these past few days trying to figure when I can find a writing hole/escape in Lima, and so far Barranco seems the most fun. Why? There´s a cluster of all types there, thiefs, rich, tourists, weirdos, sex addicts, various generation, denominations, immigrants, artists, clowns, and finally damn good sea food. I found a hut on a hill, and I think maybe I will try and do some research online on how I can find me a two week getaway to focus on the novel next time I am down.

I don´t think one should wait to get invited to a retreat to start working hard. We must be proactive and Peru is pretty inexpensive.

It´s either Barranco or my grandmother´s house in Callao…but frankly, that place is full of nut jobs and I hardly have time to think.

We will see.

Returning to the states in two days. What a world!

Writing Meetings

For some writers, being part of a WRITING GROUP is kind of risky. Who’s hearing your story? Who will stab you in the back and use a story without your permission? Is the feedback any good? Is everyone contributing the same amount of work? Did someone mistake the group for an onsite dating event? Etc. etc. etc.

I’ve had some encounters with these type of fears before. But I really do love writing groups. I think they are valuable and interesting and weird and above all – they usually have fun snacks. And that’s always a plus in my book.

However, in this industry (here in La-La Land), people are a bit more cautious with sharing their stories, and rightly so. You never know when your idea might show up in someone’s tv spec/episode/improv show/stand-up routine/open mic event/you name it — it lives here in Hollyweird.

So I’ve taken it upon myself to start WRITING MEETINGS. Which, unlike a WRITING GROUP — where everyone just looks at each other and people take turns explaining their plot and character, and in some cases (when texts are long) — talk about ONE person each week (or however many days you meet in a month) — no. A writing meeting has slightly less pressure for the writer to have a finished product; especially in the first few meetings. It involves a writer meeting another writer, or two or however many you can stand, and sit with them in a space of your choosing to write.

My friend and I have been meeting at a café for about a month now, and it’s been really rewarding. Because it’s a blocked time when I will sit my butt down and write. Also, she’s really on top of her sh*t, so when I see her tapping away at the computer it urges me to keep on going myself. Actually, it’s encouraging to have her there. And then if I have any questions, or if there’s a passage I want her to read – she does it and visa-versa. We’re right there when the moment of inspiration happens, and if we choose to – we can talk about it.

Personally, I have found that a WRITING MEETING is much more productive for me. It allows me time to write, to feel a little competitive (but mostly supportive and supported), and it also it gives me instant feedback.

I did not invent Writing Meetings — I’m sure some cave person did long long ago when storytelling because the rave with us human species. But I thought I should share.

If you are one of those frightened writers who needs a little privacy and motivation, get out and meet with someone. I think I will try meeting with non-writers to see what that enables in me next.

#LiveLOVEwrite

After Movie Thoughts: A little love for “Chappie” (spoilers)


The moment the last credits scrolled on “Chappie” (directed by Neill Blomkamp), I took a deep breath and reverted back to the scenes that were most interesting to me as a viewer: (1) the scene where his “daddy,” played by Ninja of Die Antwoord, forces him to hold a gun, and (2) the scene when Chappie is attacked by street kids, and (3) the scene when Chappie saves his maker, played by Dev Patel. I know this film is getting a lot of flack from reviewers. I mean, they have valid points in the most technical sense. Yes, films do appear to be on repeat nowadays in terms of “original” material, and yes the writing could have been more – I don’t know – existential or deep? But frankly, I had no problem with the dialogue. I enjoyed the world I was introduced to. As chaotic and cold as it was, there were elements of warm colors that stood out and beautified the set making the world look bizarre, familiar, fresh, interesting, funny, disconcerting, innocent, and tragic.

I was expecting a Frankenstein Sci-fi remake, and (MIND YOU) it was that — ending in a quasi message that humans are the real monsters. Even so, the film provided me with the opportunity to process some of the most dangerous topics discussed in our world today: abuse, violence, warfare, kidnapping/trafficking, and brainwashing. Things I know about, but have a hard time processing when sitting alone in my living room watching the late news. Children used as weapons in war, innocence being twisted and disregarded because of greed, and assuming that in all situations the adult has all the answers.

Maybe it is because I enjoy character development so much, but for me — it was a film about a kidnapped child being forced to learn and adapt to a violent environment for the purpose of money. That is what I am focusing on. I know in the real world there are deeper reasons for these issues: the cycle of violence, lack of education in troubled areas, poverty, and racism. But I am going to focus solely on the way innocence plays a role in this film. This theme was most prevalent to me in the following scenes.

The first being Ninja showing Chappie how to hold and shoot a gun. Chappie retreats his body first from Ninja, his self proclaimed father, and then from the sound of the gun. Violence, much like love, is nurtured into his psyche here as a young baby. Later as he grows and matures into a child, and Ninja uses his emotional connection to Chappie to manipulate him into thinking that people have stolen from “daddy.” Thus, Chappie must retrieve these stolen goods. Chappie, worried for his father, turns into a robot car jacking machine. I sat back and reflected on the many innocent lives in this world being lied to and used for the purpose of someone else’s desire for power/money.

The next scene that was incredibly difficult to watch as Chappie (still a robot child) being dropped off in the middle of nowhere, so that he can learn to be tough. In this scene, he is attacked by street kids. The scene touches on bullying, and how someone’s exterior doesn’t necessarily reflect what or who they are on the inside. Chappie still has his “POLICE” sign on his chest, and as the street kids approach him (for fear themselves), they say he’s “broken” when they realize he speaks like a child, and attack him. Chappie is powerless against their physical abuse. He cannot compute why on earth they would want to stone and burn his body. I was in tears as his voice pleaded with them, “Why do you throw at me?” His language underdeveloped and his desire to understand mixed in with confusion and pain was difficult to watch. Additionally, Ninja’s wish for Chappie to be more manly and tough also provides us with the issue of gender roles. Earlier in the film, Chappie is caught playing with a doll that looks like his “mommy” (played by Yo-Landi Visser of Die Antwoord), thus making Ninja lose it and take him out to the streets to find his own way home.

One of the last scenes shows Chappie saving his creator, Dev Patel. Now as a grown adolescent, Chappie saves his creator by making him into a robot machine. Symbolically, this part was brilliant as Chappie gave his creator a chance to be a better version of himself, a pure hearted robot. I am, of course, basing this on the themes of the film, not necessarily because I believe that robots are indeed purer than human beings.

It was the innocence prevailing in the world’s harshness that made this film for me. Plus, it was kind of cool to think that our consciousness could be transferred into a machine with use of a USB. What?!

Watch this film, make your own conclusions, and above all — have fun!

For more film facts visit sonypictures.com and chappie-movie.com.

* 4 out of 5 Alien Heads from me. *  

Bubbly toes

I just came back from dancing with friends. Oy. I don’t remember dancing out at night being such a difficult ordeal. First of all, I decided to become their wing woman for the night. Since I already have a boo and all. So I sit with them, and what’s the first thing these 30-something ladies do? ORDER FOOD. Okay, well now we have to eat this food before getting people to approach us. So the food takes forever, and finally it occurs to one of the ladies that sitting down is a bad idea. So we go to the dance floor, and I do what I was called upon to do. I approach a guy for my friend and this is what happens. Mind you, he was with a bunch of people.

Me: “Hey, are you here alone?”

Him: “No, I’m with my friends.”

Me: “No, I mean are you single?”

Him: “Um, actually yes. Why do you ask?” (He looks at me and stops dancing)

Me: “My friend over there thinks you’re cute and wanted to come and talk to you.”

Him: “Who?” She comes over.

She: “What are you doing?” (She’s totally pretending that she didn’t know what I was doing, I am thrown for a loop)

Me: “Um, talking to him for you. His name is…what’s your name?”

Him: “Jerry”

Me: “Jerry, this is Jean. Jean – Jerry.” (They shake hands and she grabs my arm like I’m a drunk. This was not part of the plan. Now this guy and his friend think I’m drunk.)

His friend: “Is everything okay?”

Me: (Walking up to him a little frustrated) My friend likes your friend.”

His friend: “Oh!”

Then ass wipe proceeds on acting aloof with my friend after that awkward ordeal. I was like, dude get a clue! Ugh being in your 30s and trying to connect with people on the dance floor is hard. I don’t know how guys do it. Mad respect after talking to that little skinny nerd for my friend, who ended up being a dud.   She was trying to talk to him, and a Michael Jackson song came on and he disappeared into another world via the moon walk. His friend leaned into me.

His friend: “He just got out of a relationship.”

Me: “Ah.”

My friend: “Done.”

The good thing that happened tonight is that she got a number from another guy, and I got to dance. Also, some beautiful chubby gay man kept coming to me just to say, “I love you! I love your hair, your lips, your curves!” and then later at the night he came over again and said, “I forgot to mention your legs!” Made my night.

Now I’m home thinking about how I can make this sad broken hearted guy in this story the next character in my script. Maybe his description will read, “Jerry, a late 20s guy oblivious to reality because he’s broken hearted,” or something along the lines like that. We will see. Me and my bubbly toes tingling from the high heels tonight – we shall see.

Back in Los Angeles, and I want to write…

Moving back to the City of Angels has proven to be an interesting task. For one thing, my family is driving me nuts. I have moved back in with them temporarily. There is a place I am moving into in the summer…maybe…(meh) we’ll see how it goes. But meantime, I’ve bunked up with them and listened to all of their thoughts about my thirty-something life. Wow, I’m in my thirties now. Questions about marriage, the future, grad school, my weight (which has fluctuated since I was twelve years old) have become breakfast, lunch and dinner topics.

Are you telling me I can’t be happy without a man? 

So, what you’re saying is…my body is the reason I can’t seem to find a job in Hollywood?

I’ve told you a million times, I want to write. I know it’s competitive and crazy, hence why I was in NorCal for five years going to school and exploring other types of work. I just didn’t like where I was at up there.

I want to write. 

However, getting into a television writing room requires a lot of planning, a lot of cunning, a lot of meet and greets, and networking, and all those things that used to give me anxiety. Now, not so much. I suppose the stuffy chitter-chatter of what’s new with you and what project are you into now? — are genuine things I want to know about. Am I growing up? Or am I getting desperate?

Who knows?!

All I know is that I want to be making films again, writing stories and plot and developing characters that are three-dimensional and complex (but with a hint of humor because everyone likes to laugh at a hero every now and then).  I went to a screening and Q&A tonight and felt emotions of excitement. Creative juices overfilling my brain with ideas of projects to collaborate on, or places I can write about — San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, Callao, Lima —etc. etc. etc.

To keep me busy, I’ve been working on video editing and other remote work. And I’ve had two amazing writing sessions with an old friend who was recently laid off by a major studio. The writing session was cathartic and wonderful and funny and relational. It was good to hear her thoughts on a webisode I’ve been developing with an SF writing group.

I suppose it’s now up to me, and how far I want to go. I hope to make a dent here in Los Angeles; I sure had fun in San Francisco and the East Bay. It’s time to find what next-level-Lis is all about.

NOW TO WRITE, WRITE, WRITE!!

Raining in Los Angeles

Although I am working remotely for two companies (PT) … technically, I am still unemployed in Los Angeles. I’ve reached otu to some potential gigs, but have been debating if whether my next step is work — or travel/work. The company I recently applied to (and was hoping to get a bite from) recently laid off a surmountable amount of people…and I’m like, is that a sign? The temp work with my friend and her dog was just not the place for me, and the film/tv industry is rapidly changing. YouTube, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, and other online sources have become THE places to receive and try out new forms of entertainment. From television shows, to programs made for some of these online networks exclusively, and everyone in the industry — from P.A. to talent are trying to adapt to this new found way of entertaining the public.

And again, what about the writer? Before leaving for the Bay Area, I worked at a studio and witnessed a Writer’s Strike. It was kind of scary. Storytellers refusing to write, studios not giving up funds for creatives, and all the other technicalities that come with the contract: distribution rights, titles, royalties, etc. etc. etc.

So where does a writer who was raised in LA, left for Bay Area schooling, and is now BACK in LA  fit in?

I can dwell in the dark abyss, but really — this is also an opportunity to return to my writing. With this extra time, I can go back to my unfinished projects – polish them to get them up and running.

Also–I hereby offer my services to:

  • musicians (I writer lyrics!)
  • writers who need an assistant
  • creative writing groups that need a facilitator

I have to think of more (fun) things to do (potential work?) … but this list will do for now.

It’s raining in LA, and all I can do is drink this weak instant coffee and eat my 2 day old birthday cake. Sigh.

Penpal cheater

The penpal cheater never thought she would find the love letters in his email account. He had been writing his father’s friend in Columbia as “a favor.” Well, actually his father’s student; a woman daddy believed to be a better fit for his son than his current South American girlfriend, my friend. The father was playing matchmaker. What we South Americans call, an “alcahuete” (aka one who meddles).

Meantime, in Paris, his girlfriend reads the emails on their bed, in their apartment. She stumbled on them while searching for a document that she had emailed him a month before. In her hand she had a cup of tea that was slowly spilling onto their mattress soiling the sheets with a green tea hue.

Between gasps of air and frantic speed reading, she discovers that her boyfriend — who she had left the states for–was CORRESPONDING with another woman. A woman who, on a page, could communicate her desires and aspirations to him. A woman who thought it was absolutely fine to pursue a man who was already in a committed relationship. He replied to her with admiration, with soft longing, and a veiled innocence of we can write each other but that’s about it. To which she would respond, but I think I love you. And it continued for more pages.

Oh the written word.

Like Shakespeare teaches us, every word holds many truths and meanings. And my friend was smart enough to read between the lines and see her boyfriend with this Columbian woman swimming in sheets of passion — letters of innocence coated in red ink — stories of family reunions speckled with lust and desire.

It’s only been days, days I can count on one hand and she tells me this through a smile. I can’t tell if it’s pain or relinquishing. What seemed as the perfect love, has become a tortured romance in Paris; he betraying her with words. Words, words, words.

Ay penpal cheater. You forget how powerful they are.

I wish you luck.

Hell hath no fury like a South American woman scorned.

And to my friend, you are more beautiful than he’ll ever understand.

The Clown

I was in the bathroom doing my business and thinking about death, as I sometimes do when I am in a vulnerable position. I washed my hands and looked in the mirror; I stared at my aging face. In just a few months…31. Wow, time flies. I traced the sleep mark that was still on my face. A small crease between the side of my lip and my nose. Hello crease, I said to myself and then focused on my neck and went down to the rest of the body. Time catches up and so do all those burritos and burgers I had in high school. I giggled to myself and opened the door like a good germ-a-phobe, with the outside of my sweater. Walking down the narrow hallway I admired the markings on the wall, much like the indent on my face. The faded blue paint was scratched up with words and gibberish that someone had cared to leave behind. Scratches to remember me by…some from food trays, some from delivery boxes, and some from people who don’t want to be forgotten.

I love Jenna forevah.
Tommy sucks b@lls!
Never forget how beautiful you are. <—sidenote: only ugly people say this. <— f*ck whoever this is, stop trolling.

And then there’s the non legible writing that makes me squint; the words that will take work to decipher and I give up and return to the restaurant. I enter the back part of the diner and pass by an old broken juke box. The waitress who brought me water with a smile greeted me in the back room with a twisted nose. Is it sad to say I am used to it?

Sometimes young girls like me and find me ridiculous and silly. Sometimes young girls hate me because I remind them of someone they hate. Who am I kidding! This also applies to anyone! Not just womyn. Anyways, I keep walking and pretend I don’t see her grimace and decide to focus instead at the poster of Elvis by the entrance door of the restaurant. I knew I was almost to my table as I reached the new electronic juke box; it was telling everyone the song it was playing and the era it came in. It resembled an oversized iPod — the old original clunky one.

I was feeling heavier by the time I reached the side of the restaurant where my boyfriend waited. I was feeling fatter, older, slower and then just before I reached the booth I something in the corner of my eye. Something I would have missed if I would have continued focusing on Elvis. I see a clown.

He was sitting in the booth in front of ours. He had taken off his hat, and you could only tell he was a clown by seeing his face. White cloudy eyes, and bulbous blue lips too big for his face. The drawing was a large smile on his face, though he was not smiling. He was staring out into space. He must have been in his early 50s; grey hair, a tiny overweight and before him a sweaty glass of water.

I sat down and tried to motion to my boyfriend that the clown was behind me, and that he looked sad. But gave up after my boyfriend proceeded to ignore my game of charades, he bent over and took a bite of his meatballs. I sighed to myself.

It was a lazy Sunday. There was no one else in the restaurant beside two servers, the clown, me and the boyfriend. I imagined his life — he must have come from a birthday party, or maybe he’s a street performer, or maybe he’s just a local Berkelyan who dresses as a clown on Sundays to confuse people around him. Did he draw a smile on his face because he could not keep it up himself? I had so many questions.

We walked out of the diner feeling bloated and ready for the movie. I looked back before exciting the restaurant and noticed the clown  was no longer there. Was there a back exit? Or was he now in the bathroom staring at his reflection. And what was he thinking about? What did he see when he looked at his reflection? Did he wonder when his pores got so big? Did he look at his balding head and re-imagine a full set of hair? Was he hiding a sleep crease behind the blue markings around his mouth?

I wondered if when the clown walked out of the bathroom, he would focus and be able to read those markings that seemed foreign to me. I giggled again, and it confused my boyfriend. He waited for me to say something, but instead I pulled out my phone and pulled out of the potential conversation.

Sometimes it’s hard to describe to people what makes you laugh. Sometimes, it’s hard to say, today just feels like a giant joke without a punchline.

Sometimes it takes too much damn energy to explain crazy. It’s better just to live it.