This Has Been: December 2013/2013

This has been quite the month. Quite the year. My goals this month were pretty simple. I wanted to finish school on a good note and get back to blogging, both of which I would call semi-successful. I’ll admit that this semester was pretty bad for my academically, but I’m okay with that because I know that the energy that usually would have gone into school actually went into my two internships and something tells me that since I’ll still be graduating (cum laude!) the connections I made through my internship will be more useful in the long run.

After I turned in all my papers and submitted everything that needed submitting, I felt a little lost. I spent a lot of time in my apartment watching TV (a desperate attempt to catch up on everything I had fallen behind on over the semester). I was glad to go home to San Francisco for the week of Christmas. It was good to get away from Car-land and spend some time with MUNI. Christmas was just my immediate family, but it was nice for my sister and I to both be home at the same time. I got something I wanted, something I needed, something to wear, and somethings to read.

Another great part about San Francisco is that I was able to spend time with some old friends from high school. I got to reconnect with a bunch of people from my class that I probably haven’t talked to since graduation. We are all so different from what we were, the dynamics are familiar, but a stretched to include people we may not have been as close within the past, as well as a few significant others.

As wonderful as it was to spend time with friends and family, it has also been good for me to get back to Los Angeles. I got to spend some time reflecting on the year and thinking about all the plans I have for the next days, weeks, and months that will make up a brand new year. I will ring in the New Year tonight with my MOSAIC family, and I couldn’t be more excited.

As for the year? 2013 was a year full of growth and movement. I knew from the beginning that I would be ending this year in Los Angeles, but I had no idea how that was going to work. Getting to where I’m at has been a bumpy road, but I am very excited to be here. I learned a lot this year, probably most of it in the last few months of figuring out what I want from my life and how to live better, and I hope to be able to take those lessons and apply them to my life next year with new-found freedom.

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A Letter to My Future Self

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This time last year I was in such a different place that I can barely even picture myself. I had a normal, college schedule. I was working for Frequency TV and starting to plan out the semester’s worth of web series episodes. I was filling out applications for study abroad. I was spending long nights in with television and long Sundays with friends from church. I suppose some things don’t change.

Since my life right now would be hardly recognizable by my former self, I want to preserve where I’m at for my future self to remember better. I suppose this is a letter to myself in a way. A letter to my future self so that I can remember where I was and look back to see how far I’ve come a year from now. Perhaps more.

Dear Future Self,

This week in the first week of school. School is a loose interpretation of what’s started this week after labor day, the week after Terra Nova (was it as good the second time?). This week you started two internships in Hollywood and Beverly Hills.

The Hollywood office feels official and real. The Beverly Hills office feels glamorous and exotic simply because of it’s location. This is your life. You are really working, really living, and really existing in part in this industry. And I hope that’s still true. Plans for these two internships include working hard and finishing my final semester strong.

Meanwhile, you’ve also been starting to meet with your old class – Drama writing, SiLA – weekly. Not that you’ve got anything to show for yourself yet, but it’s a work in process. Writing hasn’t been coming easily lately, but you’re hoping that a more solid schedule with school will help that along. Or it will hinder it, it’s hard to know right yet.

You’ve been blogging fairly consistently for the past year. It’s been a great system without really putting much of a system in place at all. July and August were harder months, but you seem to be back for September…. for the most part.

Every day is a choice to either write or not write. Unfortunately, lately the choice has been not. It’s not that you don’t want to, it’s just a choice that you seem to be making unconsciously. Focus. I believe that it can happen and that means that you much believe too. Pray about it. Never stop praying.

Speaking of prayer, this month you are set to join the church you’ve been going to in LA. You’ve been going to MOSAIC since Easter, and from then to now you’ve joined two community groups (one neighborhood, one college), gone on two retreats (SHE retreat and Terra Nova), and have been attending the early evening service and the mid-week service. They’ve just begun a weekly Wednesday gathering.

The community there is fantastic. Lean on them when you’re uncertain. Grow into those relationships. I hope you have already, but always lean in. Lean into your MOSAIC community and the old Columbia friends in whatever way possible. Go play Ultimate Frisbee. Because you haven’t been to a yoga class since you left San Francisco and it’s starting to show. Because what you really need is a good session at the climbing gym, but no one seems interested. Because living alone can be great, but also isolating.

In fact, I don’t even know that you live alone still. You do now. With a tiny studio apartment and no air conditioning. It’s a love/hate thing. Perhaps you are settled now into a house with four roommates. An apartment with one. Or still the same, ever the same. Whatever it is, right now you are living alone and for the most part that is a good thing. All the mess is yours and there’s no one to tell you to clean it.

You have been using a scooter to get around. It’s a wonderful thing. The time that’s lost in speed (not much) is gained back by squeezing between cars while they wait at a stop light. Your scooter seems a bit rickety sometimes, but it gets the job done. Once or twice a week you park it at the pump closest to the convenience store, pay two dollars in cash, and fill the entire tank. You don’t think that will ever get old.

I hope you are still living, working, and thriving in Los Angeles.  It wasn’t quite what you had been imagining, but it seems that God’s imagination is better than yours.  Go where he leads you, always say in reply, “Here I am Lord, send me.”

Here is what you were, and here’s to whatever you’ve become.

Much love, and God Bless,
Your Former Self

Living Proof

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I am a life-long christian who made it through adolescence relatively unscathed with her faith in tact. I have always been a christian in that I cannot remember not being one. From banging on a piano in a small town church basement at five to stepping out in college ministry and every stage in between I have “Fought the good fight, run the race”.

Throughout my Sunday School career I sang songs and did crafts and gave insufficient answers to my mom’s constant “What did you learn in Sunday School today?” question. I think this question had a magical ability to stunt my short term memory. I spent the entire car ride back from my first church retreat trying to come up with an answer to the inevitable question. I think I landed on “Prayer.”

Through it all I have stuck to my faith. I can tell you all the stories, I know all the answers. I have taken the spiritual gift tests, I have served others and been served by others. I have memorized parts of the catechism, I have recited the Lord’s Prayer in infinite variations (including Latin). I have participated in Vacation Bible School, scouts, pancake breakfasts, ski retreats, snow retreats, summer camps, and everything else you can think of and I have kept the faith.

Even with all this I have no testimony. When asked for one I spout on about things such as moving cross-country, choosing a college, a major and career path, or a city to live in. These things don’t feel like they were major decisions to me. I simply went with my gut and trusted that God would be there if I fell. There was no transformation. No conversion story. Just faith.

This in and of itself is a little bit scary to me. Because everyone faces adversity. Everyone goes through hard times. In every message I’ve ever heard those words are followed by “and if you haven’t yet, you will.” It feels like the longer until I hit challenges in my faith the tougher those challenges will be. I’m not sure how true that will be, but I can’t help but think it.

When I was home in the last months I got a chance to talk with my old youth pastor. He told me that I am living proof that it’s possible to grow up in the church and keep the faith. I’m told that this is not the norm. That to grow up in faith and continue to believe is rare. Even unheard of.

I’m told how remarkable that is, but I’m not quite sure I believe it. I didn’t do anything spectacular. I just kept my eyes on what I feel God has called me to and wound up here, in Los Angeles, finishing a degree and trying to figure out how to make an industry career work.

Here I am LORD, send me. Whatever you have planned, let it be to your glory and honor. Here I am. Send me.

Moving Through the Ages

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I don’t remember the first time I moved. Memories of swimming in a kiddie pool with neighbors in Chicago runs together with running around the crazy daisy with my sister in our yard in Milwaukee. Playing tag with my mom runs in our condo turns to teaching myself how to dribble in the driveway. I have no memoriy of packing, moving, and leaving. Only vagueities of both places.

I remember when I was told that we were moving to New York from Wisconsin. I was wearing a red dress and I sat in my moms lap and cried my eyes out. When I finished crying we set off the library. We checked out stacks of books on New York. Eloise, and Lyle, Lyle Crocodile. We got sticker books with bagels and hot dogs, buses and subways, guide books that told about famous landmarks in the city. When we arrived in New York we were greeted by a doorman, a balcony, and a phone that cackled like a roster. Maybe it wouldn’t be as terrible as I had envisioned.

When we went house hunting in DC, I announced to our doorman that we were going to Washington. “Which one?” I hadn’t realized there were two. I wanted a house like in my favorite books I imagined a place covered with ivy like in the Secret Garden and a well in the backyard like in Little House on the Prairie. We got a colonial-esque house on a street lined with cheery trees. After a two year contract we were out and on our way back to the New York tri-state area.

I don’t remember much about moving from Washington to New Jersey. At that point, with moving every two years I had become desensitized to moving paraphernalia. I do remember laying on my sisters bed, facing that wall and crying a little bit. I quickly dried my tears, not wanting anyone to see my feelings.

We had only ever really spent two years in any city at that point, so I went into friendships in New Jersey with the idea that we would move again in two years. Two years past, then three, and four and I came to the realization that I was stuck in the suburbs. At least for the foreseeable future.

I had just gotten back from camp when I was told we would be moving again. I wanted to tell everyone as soon as I knew. I was so excited to explore a new city and learn a new place. I was adamant that we live within walking distance to the bus or train. Even with three homes in less than two years, I was so ecstatic to be in the middle of it all. When I graduated high school I spent my last days in San Francsico planning to set up in Chicago for the next four years.

Since starting college I’ve lived in four apartments and returned multiple times to the house I left in San Francisco. The process of moving quickly has turned from large-scale production to small-scale to do. At one point I finished moving the last of my belongings into an apartment with a granny cart and a backpack.

Now this sea-saw of transitions is settling into equilibrium. I just signed a lease for a year. A whole year. And I’ll be living here the whole time as opposed to going home to San Francisco for extended summer breaks and thinking of it as a sloppy second. I am amazed that this new home is not in Chicago, but in Los Angeles, a city of traffic and heat I don’t even quite fully understand yet.

I have to keep telling myself that I’ve found a place to live in Los Angeles. And somehow with everything, I have decided that I will make this place home. It’s been a long time coming, but I’m excited once again to get started in this new city where I can begin to build the kind of community that I will thrive in. Are you ready for this? Don’t answer that, because ready or not here I come.

Good-Bye My San Francisco

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I have a “Book of Lists” dating from probably the beginning of high school in which the first list is places I want to go. When I wrote it I was living in New Jersey, watching too much TV, and not really enjoying school. The list is full of domestic and international cities on every continent, and the first place on the list is my San Francisco.

When writing this list I had no way of knowing that that far-away place would become my home. I am so glad and grateful for my family’s cross-country move, for all the people I have met though church, school, and happenstance. And as I move to LA (again), I am saddened to think that an era may be coming to an end. Soon I will be not only moving myself and some of my belongings to a new city, but within the year I will also be changing my official address with the state to say that I live in Los Angeles. This is a bitter-sweet moment.

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I remember very clearly my first time coming to San Francisco. It was November 2008. Our six hour flight got in very late, and we took a taxi from the airport to our hotel. I remember looking out the window as we flew down an empty Market Street and thinking to myself, “Soon this will be home.” The next day I went to a Waldorf Open House where I met Allason, still one of my best friends.

In January I packed two suitcases, got on a plane, and came home. San Francisco was home almost immediately. My sister and I shared a bedroom in a temporary apartment we called the IKEA showroom. The place had no decent knives and everything was either white or black. It was an awkward layout and we never invited anyone over. But all the same I was home in this new city like I had never quite felt at home in suburban New Jersey.

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I took a bus and a rail-line to get to school, quickly deciding that my MUNI pass was my ticket to freedom. I could go anywhere in the city. The electric buzz of the bus lines took me to my first In and Out. The bell of the California cable car took me to the Farmers Market. I could ride the bus for hours at a time, I didn’t even care where it took me.

The heat wave that April happened to coincide with our performance of Once Upon A Mattress. Of course, the week that we spend in tights and long dresses under hot lights rehearsing and performing for hours, is the hottest week of the year.

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At the end of the school year my dad and I schlepped stuff from the IKEA showroom to a new rental apartment on Fillmore. My parents were very specific about what they wanted in a house, and we didn’t want to rely on the temporary apartment anymore. When I first saw the room sister!Emma and I would share I cried. The apartment was the same size as the IKEA showroom, but with more of our own furniture. With our pots and pans and table and chairs we invited friends to our home in the hood… Yeah, we had accidentally moved into the Western Addition without quite realizing what that meant.

For a year we spotted drug deals while waiting for the bus, and don’t forget my mom’s interesting interaction with a pimp while on the way home from the grocery store. I fell even more in love with the city and the fog, layering sweaters, jackets, and scarves. My senior year in high school included two plays and cast parties on the bus, Teatro Zinzanni, a trip to Joshua Tree which ended with me sitting next to my backpack on the 31 bus, and a re-introduction to rock climbing.

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On my last week as a senior we bought a house that is walking distance from my school. Yes, really. And so I spent a summer in my beautiful San Francisco and then left for Chicago. I love Chicago too, but it’s a completely different kind of love. In the past three years I have had the privilege of calling my San Francisco home. San Francisco is the smallest of the large cities, a place where you can run into your high school drama teacher at the Farmers Market. It’s a city of hills and fog, of bonfires so windy it forces us to retreat. Of free knit cap night at the ballpark in mid-June.

San Francisco is a city that will forever stay in my bones. A city that I never want to move away from, but can’t help but leave. Because as wonderful as it is, it isn’t the city that holds my dreams. Somehow, inexplicably, my dreams seem to be held in Los Angeles. Despite the traffic and the sun, I am drawn to the studios and sprawl. My place is in a writers room I have never been to, next to writers, producers, camera people, and talent, most of whom I have yet to meet. And so I say a sad good-bye to my San Francisco to cautiously enter a new world. Good-bye San Francisco, we will meet again, this much I know, I can only hope and pray that it is on good terms.

What Moves You der Film

 

I didn’t know I was waiting for this until it arrived.  They have just released the trailer for the documentary shot during What Moves You, the Eurythmy conference I participated in last July (read my thoughts).  I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited for a movie in my life.

When this showed up on my Facebook feed last Saturday I watched it on a loop for a half an hour, doing the movements from the pieces they show, recognizing and remembering the things that went on during that month of preparing and performing; seeing people I knew, and even a clip of myself and getting so excited despite understanding only a small handful of what was said.  I shared it with every social networking platform I have an account with, liked it, subscribed to the channel, and now I am sharing it with you all.

It has been just over seven months since we took our bows on our final performance, but the relationships I gained and strengthened over the course of this program, the knowledge I came to, have made it an unforgettable experience.

Eurythmy is a strange language to speak, but I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of the project that is bringing it to a slightly larger stage.

As I eagerly await the next announcement of this movie, I can’t help but wonder in where it will take me.  In many ways it is too soon to tell what taking part in this project has brought me, but I have seen in myself already a better awareness of the world, a pride in what I’ve been a part of, and connections all over the world.

To What Moves You: here’s to the hope that we will all be friends for many years to come.  Here’s to the connections we’ve made and are holding onto.  To where we’ve been and where we’re sure to go.  You are all in my heart every day and I cannot wait for the day when we meet again.  Because of course, WE WILL MEET AGAIN.

The Fine Line Between A Young Adult and Me

Jessie Willcox Smith's illustration of Alice s...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my newly acquired free time, I have been reading constantly.  I’m surprising myself even, by reading more than I am watching television.  I have finished five books since the start of the new year, and am set into a sixth.

The interesting part though, is the books that I’ve been choosing.  Out of the five finished, three have been young adult books, and a fourth was a rehash of sorts of Alice in Wonderland.  Clearly I have a type.  On one side I feel this needs no explanation   What’s not to like?  But all the same I want to share my exuberance for this genre with you.

Besides being short, well-written, and easy to read–at least from a college level’s perspective–young adult novels have a lot going for them.  They often deal with big themes that are still just as scary as a “grown up” as they are for kids.  Things like self-discovery and knowledge, love and loss.  As a teenager I wished these things would happen to me.  Now, I’m glad that most of them didn’t.

Books have a way of highlighting and heightening the good times that I remember from my own past.  Characters in books were not bogged down by things like math homework and chores.  Or at least, if they were they didn’t seem to take over a character’s life.  Books remind me of the times that I like to remember; an idealized version of my childhood and teen years in which I spent hours at friends houses and the only homework that needed doing was the fun parts.

Furthermore, I find the books that I’m finding or returning to are by the same authors I read as a kid.  Their voices and writing styles are quietly familiar.  Sometimes, they are loudly recalling the books I read as a kid (as is the case of Son, the final in a quartet by Lois Lowry).  Other times they are simply a similar feel (I never read John Green’s books as a kid, but love them now).

Whatever the reason, I will happily continue to read books “below my reading level” as long as they interest me.  While I am glad to read more grown up books, I see no reason to stop reading my current favorites as well.  Besides, the fiction section of the library is huge!  How am I going to find stuff I like in that monstrosity?

9/11

Things change, but things stay the same.  Our country is growing as a nation, but we must never forget our past–the things that brought us to where we are.  While some of those stories are victories and successes, the failures and hardships are the places where we have the most to learn.  Things like slavery and segregation, and the backlash against them, are what makes us the diverse place we are today.

As the Republican and Democratic National conventions and the presidential campaigns that follow are shown on TV I am reminded of that so strongly.  We must look to the past to learn the lessons for the future.  But we must look to the future to make way for a better world.

Yes, things change.  Technology is growing, and we are more linked together for it, but also further apart.  Security has increased since eleven years ago, mostly because of what happened eleven years ago.  But things stay the same.  We are still having the same arguments, the same debates holding court next to new topics.  We are still hired and fired, insulted and respected in equal amounts.  We still love.  We still remember.

And it is the remembering and the emotions that make us human.  We are a part of a time that has never moved so fast.  But we can never stop remembering.  Take a minute today and remember the place we were.  Say a prayer for those who are still in the line of fire.  Look forward to the future when we will live in a different world.  One that looks remarkably similar, but is worlds away.