Saturday, June 28, 2014

Dinner With Friends: A Discussion About Art & Instagram

Morgan, Neal, Me & Matt at NYU, 2001
Last night, Mike and I carpooled with Morgan and Scott and their daughter, Dee, out of the valley and into the hills where we had dinner at Neal and Jodi's house and spent some time with their new baby. Aside from how amazing it is to watch friends become parents, it is damn near breathtaking to see the gorgeous little creations that they have put on this earth. I can't imagine how I will feel when it is our turn because I feel such instant love for my friends' kids. (And they are all kicking butt at this whole parenting thing.)

One of the things I have loved about coming back to LA is reconnecting with these dudes. (Well, not Matt just yet, but soon I hope!) It's not that we were ever disconnected. We were just living our lives and they were making people and I was making my way. But, like with any solid group of friends, the conversations never skip a beat and the years and time we weren't in touch as much don't really seem to matter, especially when you can connect over laughter and homemade berry crumble with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. We talked about blogs and writing, the horror that can be Facebook and the disconnect with Instagram. At this table were some of the smartest people I know, but their smarts are not what impress me. It is their ability to communicate their ideas and thoughts that impress me.

At one point Neal was talking about the problem with this idea of "curating the image." We talked about so many Instagram shots that focus on, lets say, a beautiful table setting with eggshell linen and porcelain dishes and glistening silver with glowing amber candles littering the table. He said something to the effect of Just because you have the ability to buy nice things doesn't make it art. This idea of "Instagram art" as classist is something I have both fallen for, engaged in, and been turned off by. But the clarity of that thought was what struck me. Yes! Instagram promotes classism, as LinkedIn promotes discrimination, as Facebook promotes false story as all of this constant "social" connection truly fosters loneliness under the guise of fostering friendships. Then again, having lived on the East Coast for six years away from my family, it was because of social media that I was able to watch my godsons win trophies and my father get engaged and my friends have children. Facebook has fostered friendships for me, just as Instagram has inspired me and Twitter has informed me. But it has come at a cost - the cost of disconnecting from the present moment by spreading my presence too thin. It has taken my need to hear "Good Job" and blended it with my fear of losing people, my fear of missing out, and my NYU-style ambition and turned into this adapted new piece of my personality.  I can't remember the last time I was with a big group of friends or family that I didn't feel the need to take a picture, to capture the moment, hang on to it for future proof, validation, memory or some deep-seated need to be relevant, liked, even loved. But, what I find so interesting is that because of the life I have curated and shared on social media, at least when I am with my family, there is also an assumption that I will take that picture, shoot that video, post that moment. And they are not wrong, I usually do. Sometimes more compulsively than others and yet those are the posts I respect even more because I don't think about editing or polishing them, I just hit "Share."

Jodi & Neal at my wedding in New York, 2012 Photo cred: @saramoe and @graceroth
I try to start my day with some meditations and prayer (if you will), one of which asks the universe to help me "divorce my thoughts from self-seeking motives." But what I am finding is that my thoughts and my actions are not even truly connected at this point. My brain has been rewired in the last six years. My actions untethered. My needs are not as secretive as I think they are. They are, in fact, somewhat transparent, as are everyone else's. What am I truly putting out in the world that is art? And what am I putting out there that is really a need? And the bigger question: so what if it is a need?

How do we continue to grow as artists and as people? Parents? Wives and husbands and friends? How do we separate the self from the masses? The art from the product? The moment from the Instagram feed? Hold onto the sacred while exploring the inescapable truth that in 2014, we live in public?

What I loved most about traveling was coming to a new place I had never seen. Not in books, not in movies, not on "Google image search." What I loved the most was truly experiencing something, whether it be a food or a place or a person, for the very first time with absolutely no knowledge about it. And then I loved to take a picture of it and share it with whoever was watching. I wanted to pass on that awe. Share the inspiration. Tell a story. Traveling gave me new eyes and one of the gifts I have taken home with me is seeing my hometown with these new eyes. It  has recently made me rethink about what I put up on my Instagram feed or post on Facebook or even write about on this blog. And yet still at the end of dinner tonight, I said, "Shoot! We should have taken a picture!"

I am so grateful to have smart, talented friends that have welcomed me back home with dinner parties and twilight summer nights sipping wine at a table overlooking pink skies and silhouetted palm trees. I am so grateful to have friends who have hooked me up with jobs and family who have put absolutely no pressure on me while they support me and my husband through this transitional time. I am so grateful that Jodi reads this blog and that she called me out on my sad "I miss New York" post telling me that it seemed like I was possibly in limbo and possibly headed back. (Thanks, Jodi!) And I'm so grateful that I have a full life in New York and here in LA, and out there in the world and its not because of where I am, but who is in my life. From the friend reading a short story on a porch in Vermont that texted me with a line from it that made her laugh out loud, to the other friend trying to put her baby down for bed while hosting a dinner party downstairs, to the friend in Philadelphia posting a picture of her daughter taking her first steps, to the friend I actually just had a phone conversation with in San Francisco, the world we live in now is not different from the one we nostalgically remember, its just the way we communicate it that is.  It's the way it keeps all of our touchstones right there before us so we are never just one feeling but all feelings sometimes in all the same minute - love, fear, envy, grief. I am heartbroken over leaving New York and grateful to be back in LA. I am terrified of my future and so envious of others' present. I miss the feeling I had with me everyday when traveling and also welcome the comfort of a soft bed, home-cooked food, and dinner with some amazing friends.

Friday, June 27, 2014

This Face: Grant

To know this kid is to know that he cannot sit still for one second and because of that it is almost impossible to get a candid shot of him or just a shot where he is not making a silly face. He loves to ham it up.  BUT, I caught this moment in between 10 blurry shots of these two messing around and it felt like a "Eureka!" moment.

I don't think I have ever met a kid as rambunctious as he is a cuddle-bug. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

E.Z.L.A., It's Another Beautiful Day

Los Angeles, CA (Taken from The Getty)
One of my favorite songs about Los Angeles is an old song by Folk Implosion called, you guessed it, E.Z.L.A.

Without the seasons will I know how to change
Are we helpless to the wind?

Along with an unusual beat and disarming yet haunting melody, the lyrics have always stuck in my head as this beautiful portrait of the culture of this city. But just before he gets too dark, he pulls out with a very light and easy chorus, much like the weather here, "It's another beautiful day."

If life is stranger than fiction, then LA is as mythical as you want it to be. And although it is my hometown, I have always felt a bit like a stranger in this land, which I can only guess is exactly what a native Los Angelino feels like. I am home, but I don't remember anything. I can't remember the freeway rhythms or the street shortcuts or which canyon to take to get to which neighborhood. And yet what I do remember is everything all the time. That house where I slapped the kid on Halloween for pinching my butt when I was fifteen. That driveway when I saw a strong wind come by and blow my friend's mother's skirt up and I learned what a thong was when I was twelve. That dirt track at Van Nuys Sherman Oaks where I ran so many miles around. That offramp that used to make me shutter whenever I passed it. That street my grandparents lived on that used to bring me such joy as a kid, fear as a teenager, and now such deep regret and sadness.  

Feel the ground, it's always moving
Down a mountain through a valley
Watch it all collide

When we first landed here, I felt two earthquakes within a week of each other. My world was spinning and then the ground was trembling beneath my feet. I panicked and woke Mike up. Got him ready in case we needed to run to a door jamb, no wait, you are not supposed to do that anymore...a table...no wait, where the fuck do you go in an earthquake?!" I couldn't remember. So I sat up frozen, heart beating, waiting for the walls to come crumbling down. 

Two weeks ago, a guy was running around my neighborhood with an assault rifle while I decided to work with the door open to get some fresh air. My friend posted it on facebook about the same time the news picked up the story. But that's not why I closed the door. I didn't see the news and I hadn't checked facebook, but I finally noticed the helicopters circling and circling. I remembered what that meant in LA. It meant OJ Simpson was fleeing. It meant there was a shoot out at a bank in North Hollywood. It mean car chase. It meant guns. And without knowing the news, I felt the news, and closed the door. 

Hear the other ocean churning
Helicopters up above


Sometimes I think that I might never feel at home here- that part of being home here is the discomfort, along with the awe of it all. Today, I had lunch in a glass restaurant high up in the hills above this strange land. I reconnected with a family member I never got to really know and we talked about family and place. How the scent of the air here brings a flood of emotions for her, just like the cadence in her speech can bring about my own flood. In New York I feel strong. In LA I feel vulnerable. In New York I feel at home. At home I feel a stranger. But from atop of the hills, I feel neither. I just feel open. 




The Birds


Santa Barbara, CA

Friday, June 20, 2014

Late Spring Cleaning

I'm cleaning up my blog, folks! Thanks for reading and please stay tuned! You can also Follow my blog with Bloglovin which is my favorite of blog reading platforms. You can get all the blogs you love delivered to you in one snippet of email and then click on what suits your fancy!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Gavin

A couple of weeks ago, Mike stood as the only New York Rangers fan in a house full of LA Kings fans during The Stanley Cup Finals. It was decided that if the Rangers won, my cousins would toss Mike into the pool. If the Kings won, my cousins would still toss Mike into the pool. Getting thrown into the pool at my Aunt Gail's house is a sort of baptism in my family.

This is my godson, Gavin, who has always had a very intuitive and sensitive nature. He pulled Mike aside and whispered, "If the Rangers win, you can throw me in the pool, Mike."

I love this kid. 

Stealing Thunder


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Move Over Iggy Azalea, We Want Fancy Jean Baker!

Chris Farah as Fancy Jean Baker at the Hollywood Fringe Festival 2014
The world is now a better, happier, sexier place because Chris Farah, an amazing talent, has given us Fancy Jean Baker, a seasoned prostitute with Southern Belle charm, a voice like Liza and boobs like Dolly, answering all of our #realtalk questions via live tweet like "Does using tinder make me tacky. I am gay though"  or "which soap should I use to clean my dildos?"

Fancy: Secrets From My Bootydoir playing NOW at the Hollywood Fringe Festival 2014 is one of the best pieces of comedy theatre I have seen in a long time. Chris Farah's Fancy is a mixture of cabaret-musical-comedy with a live pianist (whom Fancy lovingly refers to as her penist) showcasing Farah's dynamic vocals with modified show-tune favorites cut with sharp improv enticed by audience participation and a wicked but fresh humor peppered with all the naughty things we theatre lovers live to applaud for.  The show has a "loveyourselfie" message promoting love of self and love for each other since that is what it really is all about.

Watching Farah perform her one-woman show was inspiring on a personal level. Her confidence and magnetic personality truly radiates onto the audience, bringing everyone along for the ride. Her humor is also driven by positivity as opposed to picking an audience member or antagonizing hecklers as so many comedy shows tend to go. And while Fancy does not hold back on the sex talk, she also never dips below the line into the crude or worse - the sensational.

I loved this show and look forward to seeing more of Chris Farah around this town. If you are in LA and headed to the Hollywood Fringe Festival - go see FANCY!!!

Monday, June 16, 2014

What They Don't Tell You About Traveling The World


Upon seeing an old friend recently, he reminded me that I knew exactly what I would be dealing with when I came home from traveling the world. These were my decisions: take our nest egg and spend it on world travel. We knew it would be difficult coming back and getting back on our feet. We knew it would be difficult to stop traveling. We knew we would be different and not.

Except that we didn't know anything.

Before we left, we researched our trip by reading a hundred different excerpts from blogs and articles about traveling the world. We had pack lists and pinterest boards and guide books and maps. We had excel sheets and several jobs and bank accounts that reimbursed ATM fees around the globe. We had jobs lined up for when we returned. But the one thing we didn't have was an apartment to come home to. We had try to sublet and after a couple people who were interested and then fell through, it got down to the wire and we gave up our beautiful big apartment in the best damn neighborhood in New York: Park Slope. I was heartbroken to leave this home, this home that we had worked so hard to get. This apartment with its beautiful big windows facing 7th Avenue, streaming light into our blue-walled bedroom. The open kitchen, the huge living room, the tiny office with the fire escape. The neighbors who were all cool. The kind of people you really could borrow a cup of sugar from. We had a crazy deal on the place and the minute we gave it up the rent went up. It was the first place I lived in that I really felt was my home. Everything in it was a creation, a collaboration, a symbol of me and Mike. We had put so much love into that apartment and then we gave it all up for another dream - a bigger dream.
Me trying to talk with a bunch of kids in Tibet. They followed us around shouting, "Hallo!"

I panicked when our move-out day became official. I doubted everything. We were at a crossroads. Travel or Stay here. Enjoy this sweet little home, unpack our wedding gifts, host dinner parties, repaint the living room a different color, start a family. It was hard to give up the one thing we actually did not have in place for our return - a place to live. And somewhere in my heart I knew this would come to mean much more than a roof over our head. It was the true anchor to New York. It was the carved out real estate we had made for ourselves in a city that elbows the weak out and rewards the strong by giving them roaches and rats as pests and hurricanes and Nor'Easters  as seasons. It was home. But I convinced myself that this was the universe's way of telling me that there was a better home out there. I never in a million years thought we would come back from traveling and head west.

View from my old apartment office
When we came back, something had shifted for us- that was certain. We wanted a change. We couldn't go back to the jobs we had left. We had spent a long time away from family. And for me, the years away from my family had seemed to really add up while adding more miles further and further away. While traveling, we had two days of rain in 8 months and the times we experienced the cold, it was bone-chilling cold, as in no indoor heat, as in you are cold every single hour of the day, taking cold showers, shivering at all times. In fact, when we flew out of freezing Tibet and into 80 degrees Thailand, the trip took a noticeable turn. Where Europe felt like a honeymoon, and Morocco, India, Nepal and Tibet felt like an adventure, Southeast Asia and Australia and New Zealand, felt like an adventure-vacation. Our moods lightened. We kicked our lingering colds and we got rid of our wool hats in exchange for flip flops and sunglasses. We were so happy simply because of the good weather.


We came to California, and I felt like I always do when I come here. LA is so pretty. There are gardens year round. Everyone has a dog and a tan. There are parking spots for electric cars and farmers markets every day of the week and artichokes and avocados. There is family and kids. We decided this was the change we wanted. And then we went to New York and after one of those great New York City nights where you roll with a group of friends from their apartment to a new bar that just opened up in that gritty neighborhood that is opening their doors to new pubs and artists and we laughed our way down a long cold avenue with scarfs flapping and noses running, I turned to Mike and said, how can we leave this place? This is home!

And he said, I know.


With friends at a friend's wedding the day before we left!
And we still left. But not until last week after weeks and weeks of arguing and apologizing and job searching and resume sending and coming home to a collapsed closet because we are trying to squeeze two people into a spare room meant for a child, the child we are not having because we made our choices and now we need jobs to get out of debt before x - y - z....and it all came. I miss my life. I miss my home. I miss my unpacked wedding gifts and my bed in pieces stored in a basement in New Jersey. I miss my East Coast friends. I miss the coffee shop down the street. I miss the summer concerts at Prospect Park. I miss rooftop films. I miss the fucking subway.  I miss comfortability. I miss a home of my own. I miss my sweet little marriage when our biggest fights were about me discarding my winter layers all over the living room or his aggressive driving. I miss our weekend getaways to Vermont. I miss that canoe we never really used but it was still ours and represented this piece of us that was still wild, adventurous and accessible. I miss my friends' kids so much that watching a two minute piano recital clip can bring me to tears. I miss late night walks along those long gritty avenues that by now are starting to steam up and release the roaches. I miss what we worked for and what we cherished. And yet, I feel like a complete asshole expressing any of this.

Poor me, right? I traveled the world and spent all my money and boo-hoo, now I have to get my shit together in another fabulous city in the United States of America where I have wonderful friends and awesome family, an abundant support system and sunshine all the time. I know, I know. My misery does not deserve any company and this could be seen as the most grotesque pity party ever. I am so damn lucky. I have a great life. Even now. I am not a girl in India fearing for my safety or struggling for justice. I am not freezing my ass off in oppressed Tibet wondering when the next time the Chinese police is going to harass me. I'm not a young woman in Vietnam who can't give birth because I'm suffering the effects of a war that happened over 40 years ago. I'm not a girl in the Moroccan desert trying to schedule out how much clean water I have for the rest of the week. I have perspective for it all. I'm a privileged, educated and wealthy citizen of the world with experiences beyond my comprehension and about fifteen pounds of extra weight solely gained by excessive eating of delicious foods. And yet, sometimes, it feels like the trip never even happened.

That's the bitch of it all. In a blink, it was over. And sometimes, it really does all feel like it was just a dream.

Cappadocia, Turkey
We rarely talk about the trip. And with each time we have another argument over what the hell we are doing about our future or each time we discuss whether we need more almond milk or every time we figure out something else that "we need" like hair product or a bikini wax or a newer, faster phone, the trip slips away just a little bit more.

One thing people tell you before you leave to travel the world is "Take lots of pictures!" But only when you return will you realize why. It's not for anyone but you. And when you look through your pictures, only then will you be able to feel just a piece of that fearlessness, a piece of that adventure, a piece of that part of you that made the best or stupidest decision of your life.

When you come home, your pictures will be where the trip lives while you wade through the current of consequences stirred from the bravest thing you ever did.


Friday, June 13, 2014

Twenty Things I Learned From My Father

My dad at my wedding
1. Tell the truth. 

2. Do the right thing. If you are not sure what that is and are presented with two choices, choose the more difficult one.

3. There's always room for gelato. 

4. Don't let anyone rob you of your name. They may take your money and your business, but never let them take your good name. 

5. Dance.

6. Never make a threat you don't intend to carry out. 

7. Keep it simple. 

8. It's not your business what other people think of you. 

9. Always send a card. 

10. Every day we have is a good day. 

11. "I'm right where I'm supposed to be." On that note, "It's when we lose everything we have the most hope."

12. How to tell a story. 


13. When you go camping, don't put the kids in the van where you've packed all the food.

14. Camping part two: always bring a compass.

15. Plan an exit route. 

16. Choose your battles carefully. But if the battle chooses you, give 'em hell. 

17. I am not perfect. 

18. When people we love end up in the hospital, go visit them. 

19. You have to work for it- all of it. 

20. Remember to turn the iron off. 

Happy Father's Day, Dad. 



Thursday, June 12, 2014

"You Play Soccer Like A Girl!"

The Thighmasters, 2009

Today was the kick off to the World Cup 2014!!! This means two things:  Number one, I am busy until July 14th. Number two, not having full time employment right now is looking up! I first put on a pair of cleats when I was five years old. I did this alongside seven of my cousins and my brother. My aunt and uncle ran the referee tent, my father was a coach and a referee. We spent every weekend - all day Saturday, all day Sunday  - at the fields hopping to and from each other's games.

Growing up, playing soccer was an identity for me. Towards the end of high school I decided I wanted to try out some other identities, but soccer is what I have always come back to. And nothing gets me pumped like the World Cup!!!

In 1994 when the World Cup was in the USA, my dad took my brother and I to a semi-final game - Sweden versus Brazil - where towards the end of the game we saw a Brazilian fan TKO a Swedish fan. I have always rooted for Brazil not because they are usually the best but because they play the game more beautifully and passionately then any other team out there. (Minus the dives).

Today was Brazil versus Croatia and although the ref totally favored Brazil - even gave them an undeserved penalty shot which resulted in their second goal and took away Croatia's second goal - Brazil deserved to win. Dear readers, are you ready for World Cup recaps and heated debates?!

To the bar! #becausefutbol

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Children Are Our Only True Markers Of Time


Today I got to watch my godson graduate from fifth grade. In addition to racking up a ton of "Certificates of Merit" in subjects ranging from Math to Dance and French, he also got to make a speech since he was the Student Body President of his elementary school. I think I was most impressed by this because he spoke clearly, calmly and with such confidence. I had a nostalgic moment seeing him standing up there all tall and poised. When I came home from backpacking around Ireland and Europe after college at the end of 2003, my first job was to babysit this kid who was all of 10 months old. I still remember this as the most exhausting and rewarding job I have ever had. But I can remember helping him balance, holding his hands so he could stand on his own and then letting them go to see how long he could hold his own. 

To see him today, a little over ten years later, standing strong and giving a speech to a filled auditorium took me by surprise. It feels like he grew up over night. But I guess that's the thing about kids. They are our only true markers of time. 

Congratulations, Garrett!

Monday, June 9, 2014

How To Flip A Bitch: Left-Hand Turns in LA

Santa Monica Pier

Perhaps one of my favorite things about returning to LA is the freedom of flipping a bitch. I didn't realize this was "a thing" until I told my husband from New Jersey to just "flip a bitch" and he was like, "what the hell is that?"

It never occurred to me that his East-Coast-jughandle-left-turns-that-are-really-right-turns experience was exactly that. I pointed out that in LA, unless otherwise posted, you can make a left turn anywhere and we call that flipping a bitch. Likewise, when at an intersection in LA, waiting to turn left, the rule of thumb is "Two on a red, sometimes three." Pay attention to the Lefties, LA!

I never realized this left-hand turn chaos was something unique to my hometown. But I do remember cursing the gods when stuck on any goddamn road in New Jersey and I was forbidden to make a left hand turn, instead forced to make a right and go around on these ridiculous jughandles and then wait at a light to cross the street. I especially cursed the gods when I did not know about said jughandles.

After Mike successfully made a left-hand turn across four lanes and we parked at our destination, I informed him that, "Here in LA, we flip bitches and get fro-yo."

(Drops mic.)  For more on the crazy history of the madness we Los Angelenos call "left-hand turns," you can actually check out the history of flipping a bitch in this awesome article from Los Angeles Magazine. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Happy Birthday To My Cousin Gret

Today is my cousin Gret's birthday. When we were kids, my friends called him my "Brad Pitt Cousin."

From top to bottom: Gret, Me, Shaun, Gian, Gary
There was a time when my parents didn't have it figured out. Divorce snuck up on them the way all life's heartbreaks do - slowly and suddenly. My parents's split snuck up on me the way my brother and I snuck up on Gret. He was sixteen - the oldest of my Aunt Gail's four boys. While my parents tried to navigate custody battles and alimony debates, my Aunt Gail invited us over to her house every night for dinner, homework and video games. We were two more pre-teen bodies invading a sixteen year old's space and I'm pretty sure we were too shell shocked to ever realize what that meant. Gret was suddenly given the task of picking up two more kids from school and soccer practice, babysitting two more kids when our parents were working, and keeping two more attitudes in check when typical kid fights broke out among the ranks.

Needless to say, he was a pretty important person in my life when I was growing up and continues to be, especially now that he is a father and I get to enjoy watching him play the same tricks he played on us with his three sons.

Happy birthday, Gret. May your humor always be wicked.

Gilen and Gret



Thursday, June 5, 2014

If You Could Say One Thing To America...

Me & Carmen the morning we set off for our 8 week adventure - Dear America
When I was 23, I quit my job, packed up my Toyota with a bag of clothes, stolen tapes, a borrowed video camera with a dead pixel, and my best friend and drove around the country interviewing kids between the ages of 18-30 about their country. The documentary was called Dear America and we interviewed over 100 young Americans in post 9-11, mid-Bush era. We were in Texas when Camp Casey was parked down the street from President Bush's Crawford ranch home. We were headed to New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit. We were at Camp Pendleton, Jacksonville Naval Base, Ivy League schools, farms, malls, streets and homes. We asked twenty questions to each individual but the three questions I remember the most were:

If you could describe your generation in one word what would it be?

If you could say one thing to America, what would you say?

How do you want to be remembered?

It has been almost ten years since we shot that documentary - a documentary that I subsequently worked on for three years on two different coasts with two extremely talented editors, a number of gracious test viewers, Carmen, and the producer of the film who I had been dating before the shoot, throughout the shoot, and after. As my relationship with the producer ended, I decided the documentary needed to end, too. We wrapped it up, submitted it to festivals and ended up in Philadelphia at the International Independent Film Festival in 2008.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to re-interview some of the same people on the ten year anniversary and see how their views have changed or how their convictions have shaped the past decade. I wonder about some of these people who I spent hundreds of hours listening to, splicing their images together, and trying to construct a story of their words which at best came out more like a portrait of my generation. My generation which I keep hearing being referred to as "The Millennials." In 2005, no one was calling this generation Millennials. In fact, most of the people we interviewed were calling this generation "lazy" and "apathetic."

I still wonder what we really are. For anyone reading, I would so love to hear your answers to these questions now, whether I interviewed you or not. What are your answers to these questions? Have they changed in the past ten years? How do you want to be remembered now?


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

When All of the Feelings Come...

Transitions

As of today it has been 72 days since I got back from traveling around the world. In those seventy two days, I have decided to move back to California, been to New York and packed up half of my life, driven across the entire country, helped my mom through an intense surgery, reconnected with friends I haven't seen in ten years, picked up a couple of part time jobs, settled into my father's spare bedroom with my husband from New Jersey and this past weekend I cut bangs, the most drastic thing I have done to my hair since chopping it all off five years ago. When I do transitions, I go big. Or at least that is what it looks like. But the truth is, I can't stand to sit still.

And sitting still really equates to something more like experiencing uncertainty. Since getting back I have been busting my hump to try and find a job/career. And when I'm not yielding results there, I take it upon myself to manage Mike's job search. If you ever want to give yourself an undying resentment, try to control someone's else's job search. You will only meet frustration, you will only express "nag," and you will guarantee only one mutually fostered feeling - unhappiness.

Now, I know in my heart that when my controlling thing crops up that this is my shit. That my motives are self-seeking. That my persistence in trying to manage Mike's job search actually has nothing to do with Mike and everything to do with my fears and frustrations with my own job search. And beyond the fears and frustrations is a sadness that our great big adventure around the world is over. There is a kind of grief underneath it all. Like with any passage of time, that big great dream of ours was experienced and now it is settling into our memories. We are no longer haggling for water in India or freezing our butts off in Tibet or drinking cappuccinos overlooking the Amalfi Coast. We are now here, in it - marriage, unemployment, transition. We have our feet in two worlds but don't belong to either. In 24 hours we found ourselves bar hopping in Santa Barbara with my brother and his friends and then bringing a quiche to a Sunday brunch and meeting our friends' adorable newborn. We are childless and without careers. But we are married and we have been around the entire world. A friend who spent several years abroad and has done a lot of travel reached out to me to sort of check in with what we might really be experiencing. He mentioned coming home from his travels with a heaviness, like his heart knew too much.

I do feel that heaviness also tempered with overwhelming gratitude. But trying to put my feet down and take a step in one direction has been tougher than I imagined. I find myself taking one step in lots of directions, but the other foot is having trouble following. So, instead, I focus on Mike.

I found myself in this vicious cycle of not being able to stop myself when my controlling began, to getting angry and bossy, followed by sadness, and then apologizing because I knew I was out of line. Nag, fight, apologize, repeat. It wasn't until I put the focus back on myself, forced myself to breathe, and let the feelings I have been keeping at bay all come and wash over in the thing I hate to do most - cry. But after crumpling into a puddle and letting out the ugly cries I could admit to myself that these past two months have been really fucking hard. They have been great and full of wonderful change and beautiful visits with friends and family. But they have been really hard, too. And with that acknowledgment I could give myself a little bit of a break. I have everything I need right now, and if I keep taking small steps, the rest will work out exactly how it is supposed to.





Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Ten Mistakes You Will Make in College (if you are anything like me)

Me at my high school graduation in 1999
To the graduating classes of 2014, congratulations and your welcome. Here are ten mistakes you will make in college if you are anything like me. May your life lessons be learned quickly and hopefully only once, your hangovers be less wicked, and your tattoos be un-trendy.

1. You will cheat on someone. But don't beat yourself up about it because someone will cheat on you. Try your best to stay away from those who are dating your friends.

2. You will think you magically don't have a hangover and come to realize mid-class, that you do indeed have a hangover. You were just still drunk when you woke up.

3. You will forget which one goes first several times. For the record, it's "liquor before beer, you're in the clear." But, don't worry, you will forget reading this.

4. You will find yourself at some point pleading before a professor for leniency and most likely you will make up some excuse by invoking a dead relative. Don't feel bad. Everybody gets one.

5. You will think whiskey sours are delicious.

6. You will try on several bad haircuts and bad hair dyes and acquire at least one tattoo you will regret ten years later. See: Tramp Stamp Thursdays. 

7. You will work out in old gym clothes from high school. Not cool.

8. You will listen to obscure indie bands and whether you realize it or not, you will secretly think this "unique" taste in music makes you superior.

9. You will bitch about your roommate while unknowingly disrespecting them in similar ways you feel they are disrespecting you.

10.  If you leave your hometown to go to school, over time you will think you have lost touch with said hometown. But, one day you will come to realize just how much you treasure this hometown and all of the beautiful people it has to offer who also so graciously accept your return.

Monday, June 2, 2014

What Happened to Theatre Etiquette? - The ABC's of Audience Etiquette

Last week, Mike and I went to see my brother perform in John Logan's Tony award winning play, RED at the New Vic Theatre in Santa Barbara.  My brother, Shaun, played the part of Ken, opposite the part of Mark Rothko played by Matt Gottlieb. We went back again this past weekend for closing day and caught the matinee. What I liked about this production is that the play begins when Rothko begins, a clever choice by the director. This also means that there is no cue for the audience to know when they should begin. When Rothko stands from his seat, you are now in his world, along for the journey.

Theatre has always been my first love. At 17, I had a play produced by the Blank Theatre Company in Los Angeles, an event that changed the direction of my life. Playwriting is what I went to college for - B.F.A. in Dramatic Writing from Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. But before this life changing event there was a teacher who pointed me this way. My acting teacher in high school is the first person who sparked my interest in little black box theatres. She was the first person to really expose me to theatre on both grand and small scales and when I was sixteen, she organized a trip to Broadway. My father who had lost his business the year before, saved up enough to send me on the week long trip which became a defining moment in my life. I have never felt more glamourous than stepping into a theatre on Broadway.

Since that trip, theatre has become a sort of temple for me. I dress up for the theatre. I do my hair and make-up and sometimes I even wear heels. I wear dresses. I don't like to talk before the show, because the moment I step inside the theatre I am somewhere sacred. I don't talk, I don't whisper, I don't put my phone on vibrate - I turn it off. I respect the theatre and all it has given me. It has helped shape my life.

It is not lost on me that I have become old fashioned in this regard. I don't see as much theatre anymore and when I do, I have noticed a decline in etiquette and respect. People no longer dress up for the theatre. People forget to turn their phones on silent. People chew gum.  But in just two shows in one week I witnessed a lady sitting in the front row fanning herself the entire play, a guy in the front row with his feet propped up on stage and might I add his cell phone went off. I have heard running commentary. I have seen people switching seats in the middle of the play. I have seen sneakers and shorts. Yesterday, I sat behind a guy who wore his sunglasses on the back of his head.

I get it. We are a denim-wearing country. Long gone are the days of fedoras and trench coats in the theatre. But, when did we welcome Tevas and Miley Cyrus ringtones? What happened to theatre etiquette? Better yet, what happened to our manners? Maybe it just got lost. Maybe we don't know. Maybe it's up to this blog post to help us remember the ABC's of audience etiquette:

Always turn your phone off.

Be respectful in both your actions and your attire.

Cool it with the commentary. You are not more interesting than what is happening on stage.

sssssshhhhhhh!