This Has Been: April Edition 2013

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Looking at my “Will Be” post from the beginning of this month and then comparing it to what actually happened is… humbling.  I had some very lofty goals for the month and some sky-high expectations.  Was I fearless?  In fact I think I was the opposite.  

This month I’ve been terrified of how things started turning out.  I didn’t think I would be here.  This was not my plan A.  But as I said last week, my plan is not what’s important here, though I may be getting ahead of myself.

My first stumbling block of the month was that I don’t want to commit to an internship without having some place to live.  I didn’t want to sign a lease without being sure that I would be able to be online-only with my coursework in the fall.  I couldn’t be online-only without petitioning for a different course.  So, I was depending entirely on this petition being accepted and waiting impatiently for the results.  Spoiler alert: I’m still waiting.

Meanwhile, there were a lot of things I wasn’t sure about committing to without knowing where I was going to live by the end of the month (I was still looking for apartments, not yet knowing how long the petition would take to be processed).  I didn’t look for jobs or internships, I didn’t try to get a motorcycle licence, and, while I did write some, it wasn’t nearly as much as I had hoped to.

With all the “didn’t”s there it’s hard to see what I did manage to do, but there were a few things.  I spent some time working on my relationship with God.  I joined a community group through my church and I read a lot.  I started to cultivate a habit of writing every day on a specific project.  I watched good TV.

With my academic calendar in limbo I wound up just waiting.  And as hard as it was to admit, waiting around in LA wasn’t really much different than waiting around in San Francisco would be.  So last week my mom drove down to LA, we packed all my things in her car, and I went home.

Typing that feels like defeat.  It feels like giving up, and even though I know it’s only for a little while, it’s only a temporary solution, it still makes me cry.  It didn’t feel real until church on Sunday.  Having to answer to a bunch of people who know in some part that this was not the plan I had at the start was painful.

Even knowing that these people will think no less of me for it, it was hard to say out loud that ‘no, I’m not just visiting, I’m going to be here for a little while’.  And ‘yes, Los Angeles was great, and school was wonderful, but I am once again in a period of stasis’.

I am once again in a period of stasis.  Where are you?

Writing About Writing (week of April 22)

Monday: journal (5)
original spec – theme and drive ideas
Tuesday: journal (1)
orig. spec – characters
Wednesday: journal (3)
Thursday: journal (4)
Friday: journal (1)
Saturday: journal (4)
Sunday: journal (2)
blog – Has Been
blog – this post

Last week included an in-state move of all my belongings from LA to SF.  As such I’m okay with the severe fall off of writing besides journaling from Wednesday onward.  I’m just starting to get back into the swing of things.  I was pretty happy with the work I was able to do on original specs in the mornings and hope to return to that this week as I re-stabilize my routine here in San Francisco.

This week I’m just hoping for a return to my set writing routine, and some blogging.  I really don’t know what else to anticipate of this week on any front, so I think I’ll leave it at that.

Plan A vs. Plan A

My plan A:
Come to Los Angeles in late February for school.  After school, register for a summer course here, and online classes in the fall, get cleared to do this instantly, find a permanent apartment here in LA, and move in.  Volunteer until I start my summer program in July.  Build a community.  Buy things from IKEA.

At the end of summer take a road trip.  Either with a friend in her car, or with a crazy Uncle to get my stuff to LA.  Set up a full apartment.  Have a bit of a housewarming party now that I can cook things properly in a full kitchen.

In the fall, take online classes while interning, all the while building up my portfolio to apply for writing fellowships in the spring.  Apply and get into writing fellowships.  Get paid from said fellowships.  Finish school in December.  Graduate and walk in May 2014, right back to LA to start working.  Become financially independent.

Mom’s plan:
Go to LA in late February for school.  Come back to San Francisco afterwards.  In May go to Chicago to take a summer history class.  Return to LA in June to find a place to live.  Summer program in July.

God’s plan A:
LA for condensed spring semester.  Back home to SF for an unknown amount of time.  Volunteer?  Intern?  Class in Chicago?  Probably stay til mid-June before coming back to LA to prepare for Summer program.

*

I wish I knew what the future held.  But apparently God’s plan is only revealed on a need-to-know basis.  I guess I don’t need to know yet.  God’s plan is better than any plan I could ever have for myself.  Whatever God has for me will be so much better than my plan A.

Right now, God’s plan A looks a lot like my plan C or D or E.  Parts of it look terrifyingly like plan Z.  But I have to trust Him.  I have to obey.  Because right now I’m miserable.  And that’s never part of the plan.

Thoughts of Oz

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If there’s one thing you should know about me it’s that I am a HUGE Wizard of Oz fan.  Ever since I was little kid I’ve been a fan of the book and the many that followed.  Judy Garland movie?  Yes.  Wicked?  Read the books and seen the show three times?  Tin Man?  Own it.  Anything having to do with Oz, Ozma, and Dorthy will be watched by me.

So when I heard about Oz: The Great and Powerful?  I knew it was only a matter of time.  Perhaps a little more time than I would have liked, but a matter of time.  Last weekend I saw it in 3D at The Grove.  Side note: The Grove is sort of like DisneyLand.  Sweet Oz do I have feels on this one.  Good and bad, technical and narrative.

Oz: The Great and Powerful is to the wizard as Wicked is to the Wicked Witch of the West.  It creates an origin story for the Wizard and his adventure of how he first came to power.  Along the way it also creates an alternative origin story for the Wicked Witch of the West and creates a background from which the original story can emerge.

The movie looked fantastic.  The move from black and white to color was a lovely nod to the Judy Garland movie, and the visuals were stunning.  As I mentioned I saw it in 3D, more due to time than wanting to (What can I say, I’m cheep), but I’m so glad I did.  The effect was not wasted as fireworks, flying minions, and cheerful creatures jumped off the screen towards me.  I did notice that some of the faster movements were a bit blurry.  Perhaps the 48 fps of The Hobbit would have been beneficial here?

I appreciated the women of Oz taking a strong role in the plot, but couldn’t help but feel they could have been stronger.  One of the messages that Oz stories have always taught me is that girls and women can be the driving force of their own destiny.  While they have always had a galaxy of friends for support, the women of Oz never needed to be saved in the traditional sense.  I didn’t see that in this story.

These women of Oz were… petty?  Theodora comes in to explain how Oz is the only one who can safe the kingdom.  She jumps very quickly from “let me show you how our world works” to “I’ll be your queen and live happily ever after.”  Scary fast transition right there.  And when he leaves her she is so easily convinced by Evanora that revenge is the best way.  My dear, my dear.  And this is how sisters treat each other?  Not in my Oz.

Even Glinda the Good is very quick to jump on the “only a man can save us” boat.  Yeah, yeah prophesy and all that, but look at the world Glinda rules.  Tinkers, and Munchkins, and Farmers, that’s not so bad.  Not only does she jump on the Oz-boat really fast, she also ends up with him.  I – for one – am not convinced that there was enough of a change to warrant jumping into a relationship with him.

While the women of Oz were a big disappointment, the visuals and the way they used Ozian legend were two huge wins.  I loved the use of Chinatown and the China Girl in the movie (though technically she should have frozen into a figurine once she left the city).  They correctly reference Gillikin country, Munchkinland, and other geographical features of Oz.  I wish there had been more, but I was pleased with what was.

Overall, I’d say this was an okay movie.  The visuals were superb, but I was quite disappointed with the plot and the characters.  I expect a lot out of Oz, and this movie didn’t deliver what I had hoped.  While I will continue to look to this a way of visualizing the Land of Oz, I’m not sure how much of their explanation will make it’s way into my personal Oz cannon.  I suppose only time will tell.

9 Things To Do When Unemployed

I’m not sure weather or not I’m technically unemployed.  True, I don’t have a job.  But I’m also still a student and registered for school.  Even though my truncated semester is over, the semester as a whole and general entity is still going on.  So I’m a student.  With nothing to do.  It feels an awful lot like unemployment.  Or at least what I imagine unemployment feels like.

So at the moment I’m “unemployed”.  For me that’s meant a lot of looking for apartments and not quite finding what I’m looking for.  Too expensive or in not-so-nice neighborhoods.  On a too-busy street or too far from where I want to be.  It’s tedious, and I’m working though it.  Here’s how:

  1. Read books.  I’ve finished two books in the past week, and am in the midst of three, maybe four more.  I am reading all sorts of different things at the same time and it’s wonderful.  Granted, I’m not sure I’ll ever finish Infinite Jest.
  2. Watch TV.  I try to find a balance between older shows (a part of my television education) and something new that I haven’t seen yet.  Right now I’m working on Freaks and Geeks, Torchwood, and Roots.
  3. Go to the library.  Partly because you need some sort of source to find the first two.  Both of which can be found at the library.  I currently hold library cards in three cities.  Going to the library also gets you off the couch and interacting with real people.
  4. Yoga.  Any sort of movement will do really, yoga has just been my activity of choice lately.  Super awesome bonus points if you can get others to join in.  Roller blading with an old co-worker and friend?  Yup.  Hiking with a roommate?  Done.
  5. Visit a new neighborhood.  I particularly like the activity Sharon Beasley did with her kids.  It sounds like a lot of fun and who says you need kids to do fun, sometimes slightly silly activities?  Kill-joys, that’s who.
  6. Cook extravagant meals.  Or simple ones.  Now is your chance to prefect the recipes you love so that when you become busy again and need to make things quickly, you’ll be able to do it without thinking.
  7. Re-Organize your… closet/desk/bookshelf/fill-in -the-blank.  Cause you’ve got nothing but time and you might as well fill it with something useful.  That sounded bitter.  It’s not.  I actually really like organizing.
  8. Volunteer.  Still working on this.  I’m trying to find a place where I can do office work so that I get some experience, while also supporting a cause I believe in.  When I was in high school I did volunteer night at the San Francisco Bike Coalition, and it was great.  I met tons of people who were interesting and kind.
  9. Make something.  I don’t know what you make, but just be working on something.  I knit while I watch TV and am debating what kind of spec I want to write next.  While I decide, I’ve got this blog as a way of getting pen to paper.

What do you do when you have longer stretches of down time?  Have you ever been unemployed?  How did you fill your time?

Writing About Writing (week of April 15)

Monday: journal (6)
school – letter of petition
Tuesday: journal (3)
blog – Remember Boston
Wednesday: journal (1)
Thursday: journal (2)
blog – I Ship It
Friday: journal (3)
blog – this post
Saturday: journal (3)
blog – Dollhouse pt.1
blog – book reviews 2
Sunday: journal (2)
original spec – notion and letter plots
notes – Oz, Mosaic

Last week was both eventful and slow.  I kept busy, mostly reading, going to the library, and watching movie musicals about the founding of the United States.  Writing-wise I didn’t get in as much as I would have wanted, but in other areas I’ve been quite chuffed with all I’ve been able to do.  Also, while it wasn’t writing I did manage to pull out a project from last semester that I’m interested in revisiting.  I just re-read what I have and came up with a few ideas of where it could go.

I found a potential apartment and applied for academic clearance to determine if I can actually stay here.  I joined a small group and found an organization to volunteer with, assuming I’m able to stay.  Of course immediately after I determined a plan I found out that it could be weeks before I get cleared.

This week I’d like to add to the routine I’ve started of journaling and quiet time in the mornings.  I want to add some more serious writing to that list, starting with the project I read through last week.  Down the line I’d like to be waking up early to get in at least an hour or two of writing, but this week I’ll start small.  I’d like to write for half an hour every morning before breakfast.

It’s Not the Money I’m After

My relationship with money is complicated.  My dad makes good money and growing up I never really felt like I was major league missing out on anything in particular.  At least not that I can think of looking back.  God knows I may have felt differently at the time.

I got an allowance.  It started in 5th grade.  I remember sitting in the back seat of the car while my parents discussed what my sisters and my’s allowance should be. It was determined that I would get 5 dollars and my sister would get 3.  Coincidentally I was in 5th grade and my sister was in 3rd.  Once we realized this, we proceeded to get a raise in allowance as we moved up the grades.  Once I got to high school they decided that we would max out at $10 a week.

There were plenty of ways to circumvent the system.  My dad is the man you want to pick up the phone if you’re a telemarketer.  With a little convincing I could get him to buy me things.  Mom said it was because he was the one earning the money, so he felt freer to spend it.  I have no idea how accurate that is.  I just know that one weekend my dad stood up and declared “I haven’t spent enough money yet this weekend, let’s go to the mall,” and I will still sometimes remind him of that moment.

When I turned 15–the age that they bank would allow me to have my own bank account–we signed me up.  For my first bank account my mom had to be there to sign for anything.  It didn’t feel like a real account.  A few years later I got a proper account with a checking account and a savings account linked together and online banking and a debit card.

After we moved cross-country allowances kind of fell apart.  A lot of things stopped after that move.  Saturday morning breakfasts with dad.  Family trips to the mall.  It’s not that they were scorned, simply that they had run their course and were replaced.  We went to the farmers market on Saturday mornings.  My sister and I made grocery store runs where she would drive and I would rant about the inadequacies of 2-way stop signs.

When I started school in Chicago a few years later, I was given a monthly allowance.  It covered groceries, sundries, clothes when needed, and–after I moved out of the dorms–rent.  This changed by the month, but I was never in need of money.  If I ran a little too close to the edge in a month I would call mom and she would transfer more money into my account.

Now as I’m starting to do my own taxes and look for my own apartment, I’m starting to think of the day-to-day realities of being financially independent.  A huge part of me is scared of money.  What is there to spend money on anyway?  A place to live, food to eat, clothes to wear.  Yoga classes, eating out, travel, camping/climbing equipment?  It seems that the best things in life cannot be bought.  But how do we find them?

I want to have friends to hang out with.  I want to have some way of being busy every day, a routine to get into.  I want to make things.  Physical things with yarn and string, and more ambiguous things with words on a page.  In my life it is the relationships and the accomplishments that I hope to be proud of.  Not the state of my bank account.

The Doc of the Matter

I have been a pretty terrible television student.  In the past few weeks I have not watched nearly enough television.  I am keeping up fine with a few shows (Once Upon A Time, Elementary, and Community), but am not watching anything besides. A few weeks ago it was because I was on a deadline, but now that excuse is out and I am grasping at straws.

What was I watching while I should have been working on my spec?  Documentaries about design and social justice.  It started while I was still in San Francisco when I saw an ad for 56 Up.  When my mom heard of it we decided to watch all of the Up Series and then see the new one.  Then one day I had some time to kill and watched Eames: The Architect and the Painter, about Charles and Ray Eames.  Really interesting.  One thing lead to another and… here’s a short list of interesting docs on Netflix.

  • The Up Series.  Mentioned above, The Up Series consists of 7 Up, 7 Plus 7, 21 Up, and so on.  It’s a series of TV documentaries following kids who were 7 in 1964.  It’s a commitment if you’re truly going to watch all of them (56 Up is just coming out), but it’s interesting.
  • Eames: The Architect and the Painter.  I watched this on a whim a few weeks ago and was completely entranced.  It’s the story of Charles and Ray Eames, designers who created the Eames chair and many other architectural and product design-y things.  They made movies and furniture and curated art exhibits.  They lived really interesting lives and it made me want to do something with myself.
  • Urbanized.  A documentary about urban planning and all the nuances of designing a city.  This film looked at maybe 10 specific projects or situations.  A bit nerdy, but interesting.  Perhaps a bit long?  Worth checking out if you’re interested, but I found myself drifting.
  • Helvetica.  This is actually one that I watched a while ago, but it fits so well with the rest that I have to include it.  It’s about the creation of the font, Helvetica, and the process of creating fonts and how they are precised.  Really, really cool and super-duper nerdy.
  • Objectified.  By the same people as Helvetica, Objectified looks at the design and creation of the things that we use every day.  After watching it I wanted to create myself an oasis where everything that beautifully constructed to flow together.  I still wish that I lived in that world.
  • Vidal Sasson: The Movie.  This was made about a year before he died and includes interviews with Sasson.  It’s gorgeous, if a little long, and made me want to get the 5 point haircut that this guy invented.  Sasson has an interesting story and his interviews are captivating.

I think the thing that these docs had in common was that they all made me want to do something.  When we watch movies or television we want to be moved.  Moved to tears, to laughter, or in the case of documentaries, called to action.  These aren’t really “call to action” movies as much as some of the genre can be, but still moving in their own way.

There are a bunch more that I’m interested in too.  About architecture, origami, newspapers, dancing, puppetry, and happiness.  Documentaries get a bad rap for being boring, but I think you just need to find something you’re interested in.

What good documentaries have you seen?  Any suggestions for me?

But Also Live

Boston Marathon: What do I even say?

It doesn’t make me lose faith in humanity.  I don’t cry for the people involved.  I feel no sudden surge of hope or kinship from the heroics.  Perhaps I would feel differently if I living in Boston, but I’ve always had a similar reaction to crisis’.  Not emptiness or angry, grief or hope, no feeling of change.  The emotions come later.

I feel for the survivors.  Years later we hear reports of the survivors getting remarried.  Having another child.  Having moved on.  This is when I feel a sudden wave of “How could they!?” followed by joy.  Joy that they have found happiness in the pain.

But for now I only see.  And re-blog on Tumblr.  Because even if I don’t understand, maybe this will help someone else.  This picture.  This information.  This quote from Mr. Rodgers.

My prayers are with the survivors.  Grieve.  Remember.  But also live.

Writing About Writing (week of April 8)

Monday: journal (2)
blog – 10 things I like about me
blog – transit
Tuesday: journal (2)
Wednesday: journal (1)
Thursday: journal (3)
Friday: journal (1)
blog – this post
blog – reflections
Saturday: journal (4)
Sunday:journal (2)

Last week was tough.  I spent most of the week looking at apartments and trying to motivate myself to do my taxes.  Not a fun week.  I had been hoping to start writing or start re-writing a new spec script, but I can’t seem to motivate myself for that even.  It seems that apartment hunting has sort of completely zapped me of any and all energy.

I’m not sure I should expect anything more out of next week.  I don’t even know where I’m going to be next week much less how much writing I should expect to get done.  My intentions for this week are pretty much what my intentions for last week were that I didn’t get to.  Keep writing, start a spec, blog more.