Tuesday, January 12, 2010

So far this year

So far this year, I have exercised every day but one day since it has become 2010 but I have not gotten on the scale really. I have kind of modified my diet a little- but mostly tried to just stick to the 1200 calorie goal. I have discovered through a recommendation online that livestrong.com has a diet tracker on The Daily Plate that keeps a food diary for me and it is way cooler than the one on Spark People- this one is really easy to use and easy to put in the amount of exercise I do- which today consisted of the Pilates ball and rearranging the whole entire living room.
I like it.
So far this year I have had an argument with a sexist prick and his wife on facebook and they are now trying to harrass me via email after I blocked them both they continue to find other ways. I want to be done with those close minded fools so I can move on to something positive.
So far this year I have not made my vision board but I intend to by the end of the week.
So far this year I have not edited my film because the hard drive was bad but the new ones came in the mail so we should be able to get started soon!
So far this year I talked to someone really cool about doing music for my film and he said yes!
So far this year I have not made time for my online class but I have to do that soon.
I need to make commitments to myself and stick to them. I need to establish deadlines- so this week I promise I will create my vision board and work on my online class!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Musings on a New decade

2009 was an interesting and challenging year. When I was a child, the year 2000 seemed like this distant dream that would never come, it seemed so far away. In fact, film makers had dreamed up a far different reality for us that what we have. I'm not sure science could have imagined what we have today.

I've seen a lot of people wondering where our hover boards and jet packs are. For Christmas, my son gave me "2001" and it was funny to see what the future looked like in 1968, our imaginations were never bigger or further off. In that vein, now surviving the first decade of a new millenium, I am feeling reflective on what I have learned and seen.

First, I have learned profoundly that people really can change and really do change. I have seen so much evidence in myself of change, and I have always been a believer in second chances that I cannot now imagine why I was afraid to let myself see it in others. Facebook has opened up a whole world of people I used to know- that I never really knew, so all my classmates from the past, some of you I knew- but lots of you I had no idea. I never imagined that you- who seemed to have so much together had the same fears, shyness and insecurities as I did. In those years, I think we are so wrapped up in our own profound struggle, and opening up to others was a deadly game of social chance, that I don't know that we could know one another in any safe way. The fact that we connected at all was kind of a miracle.

But I welcome the opportunity to know you now and to hear your story. So much of my own pain has been healed this year by talking with people who walked the halls with me then and walked through their own fires. My mind has been opened and challenged and it has been gratifying and real to re-connect with so many people. And I will greet you as if this is the first time we meet- welcoming the door to getting to know who you are today without the baggage of the past hanging over us.

Second- in a wholly different capacity- I learned once again, some people are not my friends and that even though they are in grown up bodies that they are not mature and there are still users and liars and thieves in this world. I'm grateful, though that I came across them. Important lessons were learned.
So, part of my new year is to stop beating myself up for giving my friendship to a few women (and a few men) who mightily abused it, and to focus on those who support me and deserve my loyalty and goodness. My challenge now is to let go of the people that have made me feel bad over and over and to embrace the ones who have come into my life in a good way. This has been an interesting year for this challenge because I have always had true friends, real friends. I have always been exactly who I am- there is little pretense with me- and I ask for real in return.
I have no time for superficial in those very close to me, I'd rather know how you really feel- even if it is painful. So, it was very difficult for me to realize that I have misjudged. I was wrong about a few people. I have been lucky with good instincts and good friends but I forgive myself for not being right all the time. It was a hard and necessary lesson. I think the biggest lesson was that it was not my fault. I gave something real and received a lie in return. There was good faith there that was broken.

Third- I learned I can make my own dreams come true. That the only thing holding me back was me and that luck is preparation meeting opportunity. I began to prepare for my future- and live the life I am meant to live instead of the one I lament that did not turn out the way I planned.
This was the year when I found myself more completely as a film maker and a director and I will continue to move forward, challenging myself by writing more and producing more and finding more talented people with dreams. I am profoundly grateful for film and theater in my life. I have always felt when I am acting and directing that this is what I was put on this earth to do. There is a peace in my soul when I am doing these things. This dream that seemed so distant when I was a child is a reality now and I am grateful to be fulfilling this. To do the work is what matters and what makes me happy.
I began the year playing the lead in a play and closed the year directing my film.
I'm grateful to those that took that journey with me- that took the time to come with me and create art.

Lastly- I am grateful for good friends and for my family.
Let me begin with my friends. This journey would not be the same without you. I would fall down without your support and encouragement. I am so blessed with so many special people in my life- some have been there for what seems like forever- my bestest friend Annie, my life would not be the same without you- no one knows me like you- and you love me anyway!
My mother has always been my rock and my inspiration. She is smart, savvy, talented and brave, she amazes me every day and she has a huge and generous heart. If I can be half the human being she is, I will have succeeded in life. There have been so many times I have disappointed her and not been worthy of her support but she has always been there, picking me up and pushing me out there again and never letting me give up on me.
I am grateful for my children- all five of them have taught me lessons in love and challenges in patience and perserverance in life. They are all unique and special and have woven their own places in my heart. I have not always been a perfect mother but I try every day to be worthy of being their mother and I am proud of them every day.
And my amazing husband, I thought I was done with men, really. I knew he was the one fifteen years ago, not when I kissed him for the first time on New Year's Eve- that was unexpected and random but the first time I saw him get up in the middle of the night to let the cat out and never a solitary complaint about it. I could never have imagined that when I made a list of the perfect guy for me that I would meet him. It has not always been the easiest relationship, we have had some tough challenges but I never once thought I would quit on this- because he is the most loving and supportive person. My heart still flutters when I hear his car pull into the driveway and he is the one I want to tell everything to. I feel safe letting him know my every secret. Safe from judgment. Safe from jealousy. He is my soft place to fall when things are tough.
We are a team. He is my partner in every sense, and I feel there is nothing we cannot face together.
So, I look forward to the next decade, the next year. To my old friends, I cherish you, you have been there in the best of times and worst of times, we have grown together.
To my new friends, I look forward to knowing you better and can't wait to listen to your stories with an open heart.
I wish for all of you that you face this new year with courage and that you are blessed with wisdom and that you believe in yourself and your ability to matter to yourself and to someone else.
Happy New Year

Friday, January 1, 2010


The picture in my blog is from El Matador Beach in California. I've been there a couple of times- this last picture was taken on Independence Day. 2009.
I was staring at it, thinking it was quite symbolic for a few reasons.
First, I think the ocean has always contained the whisper of my soul. I was born near the ocean, Santa Monica- and I always feel at home there- as tumultuous and windy and wild and beautiful as it is- the ocean holds my key.
I love the rocks, I love the mountains.
So, in this picture is a very tall cliff. It represents the journey I am on, and the high wall I have to climb. In this picture, you'll notice there are some tangles of algae and seaweed, they are the everyday things I have to step over- and try not to step in. Those messes are both out in the open and hiding, I'll have to work hard not to tangle myself in my own mess and that of other people- and of course the rise and fall of the ocean itself. It both breathes and renews as well as takes from me.
The ocean is a powerful force. It makes me strong and can sap my strength away. The beach is my solace- my peace. The sun, shining down on me, illuminating me and giving me hope.
In all that I see are life saving and life endangering, to not take the risks that life has given, unthinkable for me. The ocean is a gift. My soul is inspired.

Reflections on the past from the New year

This I wrote several years ago:

What was Left Out

Current mood: indignant

Category: Writing and Poetry
Monday June 23, 2008

My dad is a poet. He's kind of famous in his own right. A few years ago, he wrote an autobiography. I went to visit New College in Oxford in 2002 where my dad was the guest speaker. The class was studying my dad. It's creepy to me. My brother's and I are not in it. It was explained to me that "IT wasn't about you."

That really wasn't the point. Part of me is relieved I'm not in it. I don't have to tell him he got me wrong, which he usually does. I didn't have to watch him gloss over the truth or just flat deny it.

But I cannot imagine writing an autobiography without mentioning my children. He goes back and forth in time a lot and even references points where we were definitely alive but nada. My brothers are not offended or shocked by this. Their attitude is "whatever". It's just more proof to me that he is an incredibly self centered individual.

Here's what else he left out.

His mother was Irish and his father was French and American Indian. His father abandoned the family shortly after he and his twin sister were born and I don't think he ever saw the man again so his mother relied a great deal on her family to help her out. My dad was always looking for father figures and was pretty close with his maternal grandpa and one of his favorite uncles was his mother's brother, Woody.

He had great affection for Woody, but I never liked him. He always made my skin crawl but I never thought about it too overmuch. He was drunk a lot and kids tend to be frightened by drunken uncles that are loud and talk too much. My dad grew up in rural Oklahoma on an Indian Reservation. His step father was full blooded Osage Indian and he was raised in the tribe. Most of this is in the autobiography. Here is what isn't.

Woody married a Ponca Indian woman named Jewell. They had a few kids and he spent his married life being drunk and unreliable and abusing the hell out of his wife and kids. Wish I could say this wasn't the norm in that time, that area, that culture, but it was. That didn't mean that it was patently okay cause it wasn't. There were quite a few folks who thought it was NOT okay to beat up on your wife.

I don't know how many years into that marriage this happened but the story goes, Woody and Jewell were driving, Woody was half drunk as usual and the car blew out a tire. Somehow this became Jewell's fault and a fight broke out on the side of the road. He beat her up pretty good that day and everyone driving by got a front row seat. No one bothered to stop or intervene. But something must have snapped in Jewell that day.

I'd like to think she was just done. Done with all of it and the public humiliation just sent her right over that edge. While Woody had his hands under the car, Jewell managed to pull the jack out and drop the car on him, trapping him. Then she walked away, hitched a ride and never looked back.

Woody survived it, albeit with a broken hand and a huge ego poke but he never laid a hand on that woman again.

I like the imagery of her dropping the weight of the car on the hands that beat her. My dad continued to adore his Aunt Jewell as well as his Uncle Woody even long after the divorce. But somehow he could never see that bad side of Woody.

Jewell was a seer, a highly sensitive individual and she could take your hands and tell you something you wouldn't understand for years. I was alternately fascinated with her and a little frightened of the intense way she looked at me. She did seem to me to be an overwhelmingly good person and when I finally heard this story (my mother told it to me, not my dad) I had so much respect and admiration for her, I hardly knew what to say. What a brave, terrifying and amazing thing to do. In general, I don't accept that violence is the response to violence but getting away is the goal and I think she did what she had to do.

Those are the stories I wish went in that book. But they live in me. He can't admit them because they would reveal too much about him. I thought that was what you were supposed to do in an autobiography.

Film Making 201

In depth- from what I can remember.
The night before I slept in a deep way- forcing myself to relax knowing I had set the alarm and trusting in technology.
I'm glad I slept.  It would have been nice if the clock had not had the AM and PM mixed up.  My daughter woke me up at 6:45 am.  We were supposed to be there at 7.  I took a deep breath and said- guess what, I am going to be late but there is nothing I can do about that right now so I will accept it.
And I was late.  About a half hour. Not really so bad all in all.  It was a rough start but we got through it. What was worse was my daughter's attitude.  She was whiny, combative, mean and uncooperative.  Like I was forcing her to be there and making her do something unpleasant.  Like this wasn't her idea and her story and what she was excited about for the last month. As if I was some loony stage mom.
I felt shreds of my sanity ripping away.  I was exhausted, nervous, stressed out and this brat was giving me lip.  My own brat who was making a point of letting everyone know I can't control her.  She is twelve.  You know, the age when kids start to think their parents are stupid and she was making the biggest diva show.  Part showing off, part showing her ass.  I was almost in tears most of the day.  She fought me on every direction I gave her- from take a step to the left to do it again.
It was a very long day.  Fourteen hours.
I had to have a confrontation with a crew member that was unpleasant but we got past it. I had to assert myself as in control and it was frustrating to have to do that.  But once I got there, it was okay. It was better.
I think the biggest struggle as a female director is that the guys want to test you.  I think part of them want to take you down or push you around.  Part of me is easy going and is cool with being part of the team.  I remember when I was in grade school, I think in fifth grade when we were electing class officers- I thought these words to myself.
 "I can never be a leader.  I'm not strong enough and I don't have a big enough voice.  I'm too shy and I'm too uncomfortable with everyone looking at me. But I don't want to be just a follower, either.  I don't want to just do what people tell me to do.  I have a brain and I have ideas and I have thoughts that need to get out.  I can be part of a strong team where people listen to my ideas and someone else takes the spotlight but I help them lead from behind the scenes."
    I was half right.  The first time this became a problem was when the idiots were in charge.  I should have known I could never sit back.  I was self aware enough to know my own limitations.  I had no idea how key a skill that would become. Also, I discovered I could force myself to overcome shyness- which, for the most part, I have overcome- except for the times when it creeps back and I have no idea it is coming and it catches me by surprise.
   But I like to be familiar with my skill set.  Taking charge became a skill I mastered out of necessity. There is no sense bitching about incompetance if you aren't willing to step up and fix it.  However, in surrounding myself with the best, I often end up with strong personalities and I find I have to assert myself.  I hate having to puff out my chest and have that showdown.  I'd much rather do the work but it becomes necessary at some point to have a conversation.
   That night after I got home with my daughter, after I had repeatedly tried to talk to her about her attitude and her wasting time and her fighting me, I threw up my hands and said "Well, I guess after this, we just can't work together any more."
She turned around with tears in her eyes and said "But- WHY?"
I stood there, in my kitchen, too stunned to speak for a minute. "Surely you can't be enjoying this? Because I would rather be burned alive than have to suffer another day like this one."
It is amazing to me the capacity for the child to completely tune out the effect their behavior has on another person.
And yet, there she was nodding and crying, having no clue that her behavior was negatively affecting everyone.
I do have to say this, between the words action and cut- she was nearly flawless.  The kid is riduculously talented and has never behaved badly on set before or during rehearsal.  When I called action, she was one hundred percent in the moment-
It was her other behavior that was driving me up a wall.
I tossed and turned all night- trying to find a way to fix this, to deal with this.
The following morning on the way to the set, I said to her:
"For the rest of the day I am going to be your director but I am also going to be your mom.  When you find yourself disagreeing with me or feeling the need to act against me, I'm going to offer you a quarter- if you accept the quarter, you have to shut up and do what I want you to do- in spite of feeling like you don't want to.  Keep track of what I owe you, and you'll have a payout at the end of the shoot."
    Now, some people will think I bribed her- but what I really did here was give her a sense of control about her options.  Once she had that, her behavior completely modified and became positively reinforced. She had control, she had power and the relationship was balanced for her. In fact, it was only her perception that she had no control that was causing her attitude.  I had to just figure it out.
In reality, the $8 she tallied up meant nothing- in fact two weeks after the shoot was over, she hadn't even asked for it. And thankfully, she became more willing to listen to me about direction, communication became more open and the whole machine worked much better.  She even apologized to the crew for being a pain in the ass the day before.
Now- I'm not saying this was perfect.  It was not- but I had a much better kid the next day and some of the work she did was simply amazing.  And we were able to survive the rest of the shoot with one another. It will be a long time before I cast her again. Let some other director get her ray of sunshine- she is much nicer to them!