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

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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.

art / ART MAKING / ARTist

I have a younger sister who lives in Los Angeles. Well actually we’re from the San Fernando Valley; a hot place to live. But she currently resides in Temple City. Anyways, sometimes we write each other to keep in touch. Usually we gossip about family or talk about our future as granny’s touring some obscure town in the middle of nowhere drinking whine and talking about how hard it was to be an artist post the economic crash. But let’s be real, it’s always been hard to be an artists.

And that’s what this post is about, I suppose. Not my sister, but the world she and I live in. The world of Art/Art Making/Artists – and their purpose in this world.

As a young person I always thought, oh am I going to be impressed when I see this dance? this performance? this singer? Are they going to show me something I haven’t seen before? I sure hope so!

I suppose I thought that art was there to serve the artists — and in turn impress the audience. Like –you know, art for the sake of art. But the older I get; the more I make my own weird art — short videos, short stories, short dances and share them with people I find that what links us is our ability to connect through these experiences. We connect and wonder and remember together; each our individual journeys, but eternally connected through this one experience.

Once I saw a video that was about a woman turned man that lasted ten minutes long. This person wore a “feminine” outfit and gradually through a rewind effect (editing) the person’s clothes flew off of him to reveal the beginning of the film at the end — a naked man sticking his hand in different parts of his body and then smelling his finger. I sat there thinking, Oh my God—he’s putting his finger there and we are all watching this. 

This.

Art.

Not just that, but I have a bad habit of turning my head and looking at people as they watch something. I like to see their reactions, or I get curious as to who in the room has fallen asleep. But when I turn, the artist is in the center of the room and when his finger goes into … a hole, I remember seeing him cover his face, groan and say “Oh God!” in a loud whisper.

Now, if I would have seeing this video in a gallery on my own. I would have tried to connect it with the space — if it would have been a bare room, I would have thought — oh, this is about being bare, open, vulnerable, and real. But I saw this video in a free performance setting, in the dark, with a bunch of sweaty bodies around me, after performing myself (as a volunteer dancer) and with the artist present — and seeing the artist react to his art.

I fell in love!

Not with the man in the video, nor with the artist, but I fell in love with the feeling I got inside my heart seeing the artist completely fall apart in the center of the room. And I thought, that’s it — that has to be it!

Right?

Art is about sharing the deepest parts of ourselves and just throwing caution to the wind! Yes?

Yes. It’s that and yet every year another layer of it lovingly leans atop my head and piles itself on the other definitions I’ve been collecting as the days go by.

Today, I walked down the stairs of the Civic Center BART and saw a woman singing to herself, “you belong to me…” and I noticed her eyes were closed and she touched her chest as if her heart was ready to leap out. I kept walking through the BART station and saw one of the local musicians do his thing on some drum set. He hummed a tune, probably saving his voice after hours of singing in the hallway. Music just takes over that space, and it’s beautiful!

All kinds of musicians go there. Some do it for money, some for the chat, and some to network. There’s the Country Singer, an Afro-Caribbean performer, a Bob Dylan sound a like, a Lady Violinist with a pink music stand, and a gent who only plays the chorus of “Ho Hey” by the Lumineers.

So today I added another pile of my definition of art, based on this experience and the sister chat. Art is there to remind us of each other, that we are individuals, but that we are also a whole. It unifies us, it invades us, it reminds of our past lovers and our future goals.

Some wonder if it’s ever achievable —happiness— and I think Art helps us touch it.

 

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.

 

Forgetting to love

Hi Blog Land.

I am having a bit of trouble getting my characters to fall in love, or to display “real” love…between “real” people. I don’t know if this is because my relationships have been precarious, or if it’s because I am currently riding on a different wavelength from my partner. We are going through a nasty hump, but it’s nothing to be dramatic about. We are both aware of it and just allowing each other to express the apathy that comes after being with someone for over six year. Ugh, you smell! Ugh, walk faster! Ugh, ugh, ugh! You know what I’m talking about; trivial situations that don’t really mean anything. Or at least don’t really amount to anything that means we are horrible people. Passive aggressive, yes. Weird, yes. Unwilling to grow up, definitely.

My poor characters meet in high school, and they have a child during their last semester. Although I know someone who’s gone through this situation –what I’m really having trouble is, getting into the mind of my male character. Why? Because he also will also enlist in the army. I have interviewed two veterans in this process, and quite frankly the military experience is a sensitive subject. Aside from there being a lot of different titles in the Army, there are also some topics that were really uncomfortable for some of my subjects. I wonder if this is the character I must let go of. It hurts me to say this, but he might be. Or maybe I can work more on my lead character, and focus on him afterwards. Right now, they’re not gelling.

They always end up in some argument in my head, or some dramatic situation that causes my character to do something extreme, which frankly doesn’t fit my current style.

Maybe I’m afraid to go there.

Well, we’ll see where it goes. If you have any good suggestions about the development of love – please share. I have a good idea of my experiences, but sometimes it’s good to get some feedback outside of my personal circle. Ugh, this feels like the time my male acting teacher stood in front of class and asked me to imitate his sexy walk. Apparently, I sucked at being a sexy woman. My life!

Alrighty.

Back to people watching and eavesdropping.

My Awkward Movie Review: Girl Most Likely

http://www.impawards.com/2013/girl_most_likely_ver2_xlg.html
Girl Most Likely Poster borrowed image 🙂

I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I was driving my bony brown butt over to the theaters to catch this flick tonight. I saw one trailer which made me giggle, and I skimmed through the blurb (I don’t like to read about the plot before going to see  a movie). As I parked the car I realized I was alone, which is the sucky part about being in a long distance relationship; my boo is like 300 miles away. To look less pathetic, I put on some coffee colored lip liner and spread it around my mouth with some lip balm and powdered my nose like a boss. I stood in line to get a ticket, and as I waited behind an elderly couple and an outraged thirty-something year old who realized he just paid over $15 for a movie, I thought about popcorn, and wondered should I? Will it complete my movie experience? Just then the nice man behind the glass tapped on the window to alert me that it was my turn.

I stood on the escalators with ticket in hand thinking, wow, I’m about to go see a movie about a writer. I wonder what I will learn about these characters, I wonder who they were inspired by? I literally like to know little to nothing before watching a movie so these were all valid questions. I suppose I was particularly excited because, well –one, I love me some Wiig, and two, because it was the first time I left the house today for entertainment purposes.

The lights dimmed in the theater, the Coke commercial faded out of display, and the music started.    … Readers, this might be a bit of a spoiler, so if you haven’t seen the movie please refrain from reading.

I can count the amount of times I had a real gut trembling laugh during this film: four. Four times. Some of the time I was chuckling. Most of the time,  I was relating to this character — and not in the extreme sense, but relating to her betrayal of self. How she departed from those she loved and in the process lost herself and her will to write. Wiig plays the “awkward woman in denial” very well, she did something similar in Bridesmaids. I watched as the veil of success lifted in a moment of weakness. I watched how this character pulled away from things that made her who she was, in order to fit into a box of what it means to be successful. I was shown how status still thrives through geography and how her Jersey background made this character an outsider to those in the “writers” circle.  I saw a woman coming to terms with a failed relationship. I saw the same woman finally accept  her eccentric mother.   The film had a lot of heart, and I mean a lot of it. So much so that it took over the laughter dial on my experience…which is technically what I went to go see it for. There was a lot of dark humor, but mostly it was just awkward conversations.

So, I give this film three out of five alien heads. If you’re into films like Young Adult you would like this movie. It’s not as dark as Young Adult, but it’s also not as funny as other things I’ve seen Wiig do. It lives in the in between. As I stepped out of the theater I texted my boo, “Sadder than I thought it would be.” But it was still a lot of fun. It definitely made me reflect about my perception of self as a writer. It made me reflect on the choices my parents made while I was growing up. It also gave me a warm fuzzy feeling for actor Matt Dillon who was one of my favorite characters in this movie. He played the patient “stepfather” figure really well. My ultimate favorite character, however,  in this film is the actor who plays Kristen Wiigs brother, Ralph (Christopher Fitzgerald). I was rooting for his character since the first time he came onto the screen. He relayed a lot of information through his eyes, and I felt like he was a real person, not an actor portraying a person. Kudos Fitzgerald.    If you are a writer, I say go watch this movie — but be prepared to be confronted with some ugly truths that I believe to be universal in those of us who enjoy the pen and paper.

Awkward Movie Summary: A woman who thinks she has it all watches as her NY life falls apart. The people she considered dear friends turn their back on her, and all the things she thought were certain turn out to be lies. Much to her embarrassment, she is forced to move back home with her mom and brother in New Jersey. There, she is confronted with more ugly truths about herself. Her heartbreak gives her a better sense of self, which in turn make her a better writer. With the help of her family, and a new found friendship with the man renting out her childhood bedroom, she finds herself on top of the world again. Yet this time our protagonist places value on those who are always there for her, even when she’s broken and mean. In the end, family comes before fame, and our protagonist is no longer living in denial.

Dreaming Big

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Lately I’ve been allowing myself to dream big. This is because I feel like a wave of change is around the corner. Change is coming and no matter how much I drag my feet, and try to think about all the horrible things that can happen it will still creep into my life.  I know that in the end, this change will be for the best.

More writing, more opportunities, more art, more beautiful people to inspire me, more weirdos to eavesdrop on (that’s not an insult because I consider myself a huge weirdo), more parties, more books, more dancing, more love, and etc. etc. etc. All I have to do is be prepared, practice, and do my best.

Then all these big dreams might become big realities. If you ever question if that is true, check out some of the beautiful landscapes in this world. Once, San Francisco burned down, and then San Francisco was rebuilt— all because of big dreams coming to life.   I am going to continue to dream big, and I hope you do too. Never settle Reader.

Never.

 

“Somewhere in that little brain of yours…” AKA Resolutions

Photo on 2012-02-02 at 21.04 #2I am going to make changes in my life Blog Land. I am going to (1) quit drinking soda, (2) write at least 1,000 words a day, and (3) start running in my new neighborhood. Why am I making these changes? Because my nonchalant hermit video editing, casual writing, and caffeine addicted ways have not been working out for me. Also, I have to stop with the negative attitude.   I am those type of people who freak out easily when a job doesn’t come out the way I want it to. I take things too personal, and before thinking about options I decide to attack myself. I say really negative things like, “Somewhere in that little brain of yours,” or “When you get kicked to the curb,” or “If it wasn’t for that (fill in the blank) you would be nothing!”  Gag, I have to stop that because that is no way to live!

It’s time to organize my time. Because in life, we have to make time for everything. Otherwise, we let the important things slip away. I have to make time for peace, for writing, for crying, for laughing, for gatherings, for friends, for family, for love, and for meditation and growth. The Byrds had it right with the song they covered, Turn, Turn, Turn.

 

Here’s wishing you all a blessed and outrageous 2013. 

 

 

Of being 20-something in Paris & without a man for two weeks.

What is LoVE in Paris when you are 20-something wandering the streets without a man? What happens as you absorb the architecture, the art,  the history, and the people?

. . .

Love.

It is virtually everywhere you look in Paris.

It infests the streets and monuments. It gets pushed around in carriages throughout the Luxembourg park. It leans on the other when walking up the steps of a metro station while the other is holding a cane. It spews out ducklings’ chirps as they float on a pond.  It lives in the trees when they shake by the force of a warm summer breeze. At night, it glistens on the water through the reflected boat lights on La Seine. It blows kisses from the sparkling lights turning the ever alluring Tour d’Eiffel into a diamond-like spectacle as the sun sets. It taps you on the shoulder and says, “Pardon,” when you stand in the way in the escalator. It’s two kisses on each cheek. It’s THE LOOK from a stranger across the table. It’s an old French book of poetry. It’s sipping coffee at a cafe and taking the time to do nothing but admire the view–people and buildings alike.   That is what love is.

But when  you are a 20-something person in Paris without a partner (in my case tis my man) for two weeks—the process of experiencing these things alone or with friends can be kind of…lonely. An Au-Pair lady told me yesterday (she’s lived in Paris for a good year)—-“Paris is beautiful! BUT Paris without a lover can often times suck.”

There are so many beautiful moments I have experienced. Moments I wish I could have turned around to ask him,”Did you see that?”

No, he did not. He’s not here to see me be weird, loud, or obnoxious. Only judgmental eyes of those I travel with.

On the other hand, I have to admit…it’s nice getting back to me and what I like. Yes, Paris can be painful if you are single. It seems there are lovers everywhere! French men are also very forward and brave when it comes to approaching ladies. It’s admirable, actually. I have enjoyed my two weeks, and I am looking forward to the next two. Yet, there are moments when I wish I could gossip to my significant other. He gets me and my weird jokes. Sometimes I turn to speak, but only the ghosts beside me get to hear my thoughts. I must look nuts to Parisians. Oh well, c’est la vie.

Viva la France!