John Singleton

Noam Chomsky says that the factors predicting success in our “meritocracy” are a “combination of greed, cynicism, obsequiousness and subordination, lack of curiosity and independence of mind, [and] self-serving disregard for others.” 

“But he was known as a guardian of black cinema. He warned a younger generation of filmmakers against the “slavery Zeitgeist” of contemporary Hollywood, a system that homogenizes the work of black creators into soulless content. “They want black people to be who they want them to be, as opposed to who they are,” he said, in 2014.”- Doreen St. Felix on John Singleton for The New Yorker 4/30.19 .

John Singleton died last week at the age of 51. I have been thinking about him all week and reading a few pieces about him and his life and his work. I was a fan. I was 13 or 14 when Boyz n the Hood came out. That movie meant a lot to me for a lot of reasons. As a Mexican kid growing up poor in a small town, I related more to stories of black people portrayed on screen than the middle class and wealthy white people that were portrayed on 99% of T.V. and film screens. Often those black people were poor and worked in service jobs, just like my family. The characters also embodied this feeling that the world treats and sees you as Other, which was also relatable.

But Boyz n the Hood was special. It took place in L.A. which was just over an hour from where I lived and it was where some of my relatives lived. It took place on streets that looked similar to the streets where my cousins lived in Wilmington; a suburb of Long, Beach CA. Streets where my cousins also found themselves fighting for their lives and futures in a war not of their making. Streets where my aunt and uncle spent sleepless nights worrying about their kids and grand kids and mourning the fact that their son, my cousin, had been sentenced to life in prison.

I sometimes feel that the most defining moment of mine and my brothers lives was that my dad took a job as a fry cook in a small town called Lebec, rather than in one of the many poor, predominantly black and hispanic cities that surround Los Angeles. I was born in Torrance, which is one of those cities. But that was only because our only relatives here in the States were my aunt and uncle who had been in Long Beach, CA many years. They were the ones that helped my mom and took to the hospital when she went into labor with me. Since my father had been deported days prior she had to rely on them to get her to the hospital. But I never lived in Torrance or San Pedro or Long Beach.

My uncle was my dads older brother, he and his wife and their four kids had come to the states in the 60’s from Chihuahua Mexico and that’s where they settled. My uncle worked on the loading docks in San Pedro. Three of my four cousins who grew up there, were in jail for long periods of their adult lives, and suffered with drug addiction. My cousin who has been in jail since I was 11years old died of cancer this past January, while in prison. He was in his 54 years old.

My brothers and I played Little League, went to proms and finished high school. Two of my brothers went into the Army; one retired and now has his own business, the other has the highest rank of a NCO (non commissioned officer) and is still serving. My third brother has a good job that he has for close to two decades and has a wife and kids and owns a home. I ,eventually, in my early 40’s found my way to living my dreams. But from a lot of my family members’ perspectives, we’ve always been living the dream.

Fear

Hi Again, Look at me blogging twice in one week! Wow.  Today I want to talk about fear. Something funny just happened when I typed the title of this post, in the title box, I misspelled it as Frear. When I saw it misspelled I thought: ” Oh maybe that’s a sign, if I write this I will get free of my fear”. I will be ‘Frear’. Honestly I do not expect to become free of my fear, my hope is to keep moving in spite of it and to use it as a compass. One way I am doing that is by writing here on this site. I have been afraid of it and therefore putting it off for a really long time.

This week all kinds of fears came up. Last Sunday I closed a play, it was the second play I had performed in back to back. So I had been in rehearsals and performances for the past nine weeks. Then on Monday I started Spring Break from my day job as a teaching artist. So was thrust into some serious free time. I imagine a lot of you are already shaking your heads saying “Yup, that’s scary”. But I had all these grand plans. I had been ‘looking forward‘ to the time off. I planned to start writing this blog and begin making new goals and submitting for acting work and get back to my satire writing and stand-up. Well, it did not turn out that way. The first couple of days were nice, my partner took two days off to spend with me and we did some fun stuff. But I had this restless feeling even during our picnic in the park and dinner dates. I was feeling, untethered? Disconnected? Alone? I really don’t know. But by Wednesday I had an anxiety attack and canceled plans. Thursday I did not leave the house (except to do laundry). But Friday I was back-tentatively. I had made plans to see a friend for coffee and another friend invited me to be their plus one to a play. I hadn’t necessarily resolved anything but I made myself keep these dates-IN THE RAIN! I took myself to those things in the state that I found myself. I had not all of the sudden felt great or back to normal or motivated. I still felt scared and unsure but I did not expect myself to feel differently. I took myself to life as is. This is something that I have found makes a huge difference in creating change for myself. It requires me accepting who and where I am and bringing myself towards the life I want in spite of whether I think I am good enough for that life. It really works (for me).

As I thought more about where this fear might be coming from, that I was experiencing this week, I considered that it might be a feeling or worry that I may not get cast in anything for a while. I was not consciously thinking that way at all but maybe in some deep corner of me that thought was occurring. Maybe in some deep corner of me, that thought has an apartment and gets its groceries delivered there. I also considered if the fear was about the fact that now that I finished this period of productivity and creative satisfaction, that now I have to move up a notch. And maybe I fear that I am not ready or strong enough or capable enough to do what it takes to move up a notch. I kinda think that’s it. Now that I have landed on that, I get to choose how I am going to tackle it. Here are some ideas I have; one is to keep posting on this blog because it scares me and I feel like I am bad at it. The second and I really hate to admit this is that I have to audition for scarier things. I want to get my Equity card but I avoid Equity auditions. I have not had to do a monologue for an audition in a while and I feel like I do not know how to do that, right now. So I think that I have to do that. I have to go to a “really scary” Equity audition, do a monologue, leave and then show myself how I survived it. Those are some plans for the moment.

I want to say one or two final things about fear. This week while I was experiencing fear about what I just mentioned above-mostly career stuff, I began to get scared about unrelated things like money, my families’ safety and my health. That is what’s so insidious about irrational fear, it does not stay in it’s lane. And I really had to figure out where the fear’s root was in order to tackle it because otherwise I might start making decisions about stuff that’s unrelated. If I decided to focus on being worried about money I might decide to get a second job or cut out a bunch of stuff from my life because I think I’m worried about money. Then I would just get further from what I really want and who I really am. This is really important to remember about fear. It’s a distraction in it’s most dangerous form, but when used as a tool it can be a compass of sorts.

Lastly, I want to talk about fear of the unknown. That is our biggest issue as humans right? This is what causes us the most cosmic distress; there is very little we can control, there is no such thing as certainty. This is one of the gifts of creativity, it is a thing that thrives on uncertainty and invention. I think this is why people love artists so much, though they don’t realize it. One of the things an artist HAS TO EMBRACE is uncertainty. Uncertainty about our careers, about our vision, about our choices but we do it anyway, because we learn that the outcome does not matter, the act of doing is why we live. I think people are responding to that aspect of art when they revere an art or an artist. They just don’t know it. Btw I’m not saying that artists love the unknown, some do, maybe most, but it’s not about loving it, it’s about doing it anyway. Okay let me make my point, my point is that this embracing the unknown is one of the only ways to get good at life, to be more easy on yourself, to enjoy life, to be easier with other people, to making better decisions. Basically it’s a really VITAL element to being alive. And I think that the internet and our culture of convenience is taking that away from people. It is our nature to shy away from the unknown but it is vital to our survival to embrace it and the internet is making us weaker and shittier. This occurred to me last night when my partner and I were getting ready to see the new Avengers movie and he told me he was reading an article that said what the best times were to go to the bathroom during the movie, because it’s a three hour movie. And I was like “WHATT????!??!??!!”. Seriously that is so fucked up. We can’t just go through life and maybe have to go to the bathroom during a movie and miss a couple of minutes? We have to design a way to mitigate the affects of missing a couple of minutes of a movie? We are fucked if we do not believe in our own ability to sustain the emotional trauma of missing A COUPLE OF MINUTES OF A MOVIE. We are stronger than that. But this media is making us believe that we are weaker, that we need it. That we NEED to know how many stars a restaurant has before we go eat there, because how will we possibly survive an imperfect meal?

I will end with this. Convenience is needing to put gas in your car and being thirsty at the same time- lo the gas station sells drinks- convenience. Never leaving your house for anything is Agoraphobia.

blogging

Hello, hi. I am here to write, again. I am going to start writing more regularly. This post is a statement of intent. That’s a thing, right?

Anyway, I intend to write with regularity starting now. My reasons are as follows: I have a website now and on that website I link to this blog site. And the guru, acting/marketing coach that I follow and from whom I have taken online courses, says that you should write at least once a month if you are going to link to your blog. Also I want to improve my writing skills.

My other intention for this blog is to share a little bit more of myself and my creative process. It’s strange to start out with that intention especially since my output has not necessarily been prolific but a big part of being creative is thinking about being creative. In other words, things don’t just get made they go through a long, painful, circuitous process first. I want to put some of that in this blog. My hope is that it is useful to someone reading but also I think it will help me to stay consistent. For example, I have 17 drafts in my draft folder on this site. They were all blog posts that I deemed not ready or not worthy or not right. I want to stop doing that. However, I do not intend to just dump nonsense in here. Though, I do hope some of it will be nonsense because I love nonsense. So more posting, less sitting in drafts folder never seeing the light of day.

As far as “share a little bit more of myself”, I want to do that because it is hard for me to talk about myself. By sharing my “process” I will be doing that indirectly but I also want to share about myself in a direct way. For example I am truly cringing about posting this, one of the reasons things stay in the drafts folder is because I can’t find the exact, perfect way to express what I want to say. I know there is no such thing as the perfect way to do anything but I keep waiting for the moment when I am able to express myself in a way that feels right. What I have decided is that the only way I will ever arrive at that is by writing and revealing more. So here I am!

And in the spirit of sharing about myself, I want to give recommendations for things like books, movies, t.v. shows etc. Here is the first list of recommendations:

Books(fiction)- The Friend by Sigrid Nunez, The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante.

Books(nonfiction)- It Chooses You by Miranda July, Your Art will Save your Life by Beth Pickens, In a Day’s Work by Bernice Yeung.

Movies: Destroyer directed by Karyn Kusama, Widows directed by Steve McQueen.

Podcast: Under the Skin with Russell Brand

T.V. shows: Bodyguard on Netflix, Shrill on Hulu, Vida on Starz and Insecure on HBO (I’m guessing you’re all already watching Veep, Atlanta and Broad City right? Because those are the greatest!)

Diversifying? Try again.

I was just thinking today about a job I wanted to apply for, I reached out to a few of my networks asking if anyone has a connection at the organization for which I am applying. Then I had to get my laundry and do some cleaning. When I came back to thinking about what else I could do to help my chances in getting this job I thought about the need to get to know the organization better. This is an organization that hosts events and has a website that can be visited and patronized regularly. I have not done any of those things, except for the time when I applied for a job with this same organization about a year ago. I am not trying to be coy, it is very important for me to make a rational, comprehensible point and I worry that if I name names (of organizations, industries) people will then read my words with a sense of how they feel about said industry or organization. So please bear with me. I applied to this place a year ago and at that time I did a sort of cursory search of their origins, mission etc. I listened to some of their content. I had a knowledge of them because I follow this industry and they are well known so it’s not like I knew nothing.  That being said, I also applied to a different organization about three weeks. I knew a little about this particular organization because they have had a lot of good press. I have never visited their website prior to applying for a job there and I had never been to one of their productions. It occurred to me after applying that I should try to attend one. At this time they did not have anything in NYC where I live. But they do have something in Boston. So I looked for cheap seats on a weekend when I can take the chinatown bus to Boston and see this show. I ended up not following through on that. I have a feeling that I am not being considered heavily for the position as I have not heard a peep since sending my cover letter and resumé three weeks ago. I do hope to catch one of their NYC productions in the near future.

What I got to thinking after trying to come up with more ways to get an “in” was “Why?” Why should I have to do all this stuff? I know you are probably furious right now and ready to condemn my poor job hunting skills. Please wait before you make your final decision. I started thinking about all the ways of operating (professionally/socially) that are deemed not only standard and acceptable but Righteous! And this got me thinking about my own experience with social standards like sending Thank You cards and follow-up emails and showing up to networking events or gatherings (where I do not feel comfortable), and bringing things like host/ess gifts etc. Sure I realize that a lot of people do not feel comfortable with this stuff but there are those of us for whom it is totally foreign and against our true nature. Not that we are unkind, impolite or lack follow through we simply express those qualities in different ways. And then it got me thinking about diversity. I have been thinking about how organizations can create true diversity. I am frustrated by the fact that I hear so many organizations and their leaders talking about creating a diverse environment and workforce but I do not see it happening. I do believe it will take a little time and the process will be bumpy and clumsy; I’m ok with that. But what I see is these proclamations being made without any significant  effort to adjust operating procedures. I read an article recently about a woman who quit drinking and at first she expected her life to go on the same but just without alcohol. She ended up moving to another state and surrounding herself with different people in different professional and social environments. She has not had a drink in eight years. This strikes me as a perfect analogy to the issue of creating diversity. We can’t just expect to operate the same in every other way and somehow magically expect diversity to happen.

This brings me back to my job search. Why should we have to follow those same rules that have been around for decades? This approach boxes out all the people who are not socialized to operate that way. My parents never sent thank you cards. Not because they were rude but because they had no reason to do it. My Mexican, immigrant parents worked in restaurants, my dad a fry cook and my mom a waitress, who were they going to send a thank you card to? What kind of research were they going to do? Yes I have been in this world for a long time now and I have learned these social mores. I have been advised and coached. But as a person who got their college degree at the age of 38, it still does not feel natural to me. You might wonder why it matters that is feel natural to me, I should just to it right? But doing something from a place of not fully feeling comfortable with the act of  it results in me not presenting my best self. Just because I do not know everything about an organization, nor have I been able to be a member of said organization, does not mean I do not have a best self that I want to present. Also a lot of it is economics and access. I have not been to many of the productions of the latter organization for which I applied because it costs money to see plays. The factor of economics and access should be at the top of the minds of those leaders looking to diversify their ranks. A good place to start is by understanding that our best selves look and sound and feel different than your best selves.

Top ten phrases to mask disappointment when opening gifts!

  1. Gee, I sure wasn’t expecting this!
  2. Wow, I’ve never owned one of these!
  3. Ooh! How does it work?!
  4. Ah! Certainly isn’t something I would think to buy for myself!
  5. Oh Thank you! I’m genuinely surprised!
  6. Now this is a unique gift!!
  7. Hey look at that! It matches my outfit!
  8. I’m impressed! How did you know my foot (head, wrist, ankle, bicep) size?
  9. Well this is going to be very useful and for that I am thankful!
  10. Interesting! Does it run on batteries or sheer will?

Stop calling us “Girls”

I am so sick of hearing women being referred to as girls. I am a stand up comic and nightly I hear MEN on stage talking about dating, working with, living with, fighting with, falling in love with GIRLS! I am sure that is not true because it would be illegal! These are grown women they are talking about! Girl, by definition, means human, female child. Woman is human, female adult. That’s it!  Two options! Why only two options? Because Lady is nonsense. Lady is an archaic term for landed gentry or nobility. We do not live in a monarchy so lady does not make sense. I also think Lady is a term used to make women fit into some idea of femininity i.e. “That is un-lady like”  and also because the word lady conjures images of a small, mud-fearing, delicate, lace clad, petticoat-wearing woman. Fuck that!

It is my opinion that men have a difficult time calling us women because it is a word that is awfully close to the word “men”, which would suggest some level of equality. That is frightening for men. I am not attacking men, I think most of this fear is subconscious, but I think it as about time we all wake up. There are also women out there who are uncomfortable with being called woman, and it is for similar reasons; fear. Also because it makes them “feel old”. That is bullshit! This is another way in which women are held at a second class status; not being allowed to age! You are as old as you are, that is that. A word cannot make you older. We’re not allowed to shit, eat or age? Come on! We are human animals, all animals eat and shit and age and die. Give us that much dignity. I am referring to the fact that women feel like they need to eat very little or not at all on dates. And when we first start dating someone we do not want to piss or shit around them. Granted men also feel a little embarrassed about shitting in front of a new partner. But a woman would never say anything about it to him or to her friends. Men actually do make jabs at a women after she has taken a shit. They may seem like they are being jokey or like they think it’s cute. But both of those are harmful. Just don’t talk about it. A woman shits, we are animals like you, when you think it’s funny or weird or cute that we do a normal human thing, you are reinforcing the fact that you see us as other.

Also stop referring to groups of people as “Guys”, Guy means man or boy. That is the literal dictionary definition. The second dictionary definition is: “Guys-informal, persons of either sex; people”. So your telling me that when referring to groups of people it’s o.k. to disappear women from the equation? Fuck that! We need to stop doing that. I work with children and I always say “Boys and Girls”. I do stand up and when I reference the audience I say ‘everyone’ or I say ‘people’. ‘Guys’ is not helping our cause so stop saying it. Here is more on that if your interested:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-jascz/why-we-should-stop-callin_b_8091436.html

https://mic.com/articles/115090/guys-can-we-stop-calling-everyone-guys-already#.LH7sr6Y4W

Language Matters: Stop Using “Guys” to Address Mix-Gender Groups

See! I’m not the only one!

 

 

Top Ten Proven Anti-Aging techniques

I turned 40 a couple of weeks ago and I feel it is my responsibility to pass along some wisdom to those younger than me. Enjoy and good luck!

1.) Go back to College (Undergrad) in your mid-forties and when people ask your age say “ I lived in a  Europe for a year before starting college, I had to see what was out there” pointing up at the sky while saying “Out there”.

2.) Stop paying your rent on time for a few months then stop paying it altogether.

3.) Get a haircut or  hair extensions.

4.) Mispronounce the names of countries and foods, constantly.

5.) Look down at your shoes when someone asks you a question you don’t want to answer. 

6.) Start crying when someone sits in a chair that you wanted to sit in.

7.) Use the phrase “My guy Friend” when referring to a male friend that you have.

8.) Pee your pants.

9.) When you’re done eating ‘accidentally’ spit up some of the food you just ate.

10.) Grab onto other women’s hair and jewelry when they’re at arms length, then put said hair and jewelry in your mouth.   

F%^& Equal Pay for Women!

Yea I said it! F%^& equal pay for women. And I mean it. As a woman I want UNequal pay. I want to make $1.20 for every dollar that a man makes. That’s right I want to make MORE money for the same job. No, I am not promoting the notion of two wrongs in order to make a right. I am saying that this is what it is going to take to right this wrong! Women deserve more pay because we work harder! Yes, we do. And you know it. We work harder because we have always had to in order to prove ourselves. In order to prove that we deserve to be in the room at all, we have had to work harder. We always go above and beyond because that is what we were taught. By the way most of us were not taught that in the traditional sense; through malevolent instruction by a teacher, tutor or mentor. No, we learned it through all of the shit that got flung on us the moment we started trying to be in the “room”. You know the room I am talking about. The room where ideas are born, where creativity flows, where minds are shared and expanded, where money is made, where connections are made, where pats on the back are passed around, the room that men have always controlled. That room. We learned to work harder by walking through fire, naked, while shit was being flung at us.

And you know what?  We have been working harder all this time for $.77 on the dollar!! On second thought, I take back what I said earlier I want to make $1.25 for every dollar that a man makes. Because I am angry and the payback is hella late. We’ve been having this equal pay discussion for way too long. And during that time women have continued to work harder!

I know we have some brothers out there on our side and they are much appreciated. This conversation has been going on for a long time and many men have allowed their eyes to be opened. But there is still a majority of comfortable and complicit dummies (men) out there who don’t think we belong in the room. They don’t want us there and they make it known in subtle, not so subtle, insidious and damaging ways. And we women have to sit in a room with these assholes and deal with their shit, because we love our work and we know we’re good and we wanna be in the ROOM! And then we gotta listen to assholes tell us how to dress! Uh uh! I’ve had it.

As a matter of fact we deserve more pay for all the shit we have to go through just to get to work: on our way to the subway, on the subway, in our cars, at stop lights, at the coffee shop, at the dry cleaner, at the grocery store, at the laundry mat, at the gym, at the DMV… You get the picture. And you know what else? Fuck all the dummies who don’t what to buy us drinks anymore because “feminism”. You make an actual dollar when you work asshole! We make $.77 so buy the f%^&in drink! Plus men are always the ones drooling. I haven’t seen that change because “feminism”. They should buy the drinks for getting drool all over the place. Look at it as a cleaning fee, if you like. And if your too broke to buy drinks then you shouldn’t even be talking to a woman. And if your dating a bad-ass goddess who makes six figures and she wants to pay, that’s her prerogative and you better be grateful and worship her for the impressive, goddess, super woman that she is.

 

Aside

Not only are the rich getting richer but the privileged are getting more privileged in today’s society. I know this sounds redundant but these are two separate things. I just read today that Beyoncé is getting a journalism award. I’ll admit I was angry before I read the piece for which she is receiving the award, but I made myself read it before determining whether I was in agreement with the many dissenter’s claiming that it lessened the award. And after reading her article entitled “Eat, Play, Love” in Essence magazine ( I know, she couldn’t even come up with an original title) my response is, not surprisingly I’m afraid, that it does NOT deserve any award. It is a total fluff piece. It is a personal account of a NINE month VACATION! Now there is nothing wrong with writing about travel but this is not compelling writing by any stretch of the imagination. When talking about struggle and learning to forge on in difficult time the only anecdote she could muster was when she (and her group) lost on Star Search at age 13. I got some news for you sister you were on Star Search at age 13 you’ve already won. I’ll admit that awards are not the end all be all especially in artistic or creative mediums. But they often help some one get a little more notice than they have been able to generate on their own and awards often come with some financial prize or they result in a bump in pay for the recipient. Beyoncé is not in need of any of these advantages to such an award. Again even if she weren’t in need of these things but she had written something of note I might shut my face about this but I cannot stress enough that the writing does not merit any notice.

Beyoncé is not the only privileged person. There is, of course, the entire cast of the new HBO show “Girls”, most of you may have seen the doctored poster of the show titling it “Nepotism”. The four lead actors on the show including the writer creator all come from very privileged backgrounds. Lena Dunham the lead/writer/creator is the daughter of two well known and successful New York artists who grew up in Tribeca, Allison Williams is the daughter of the NBC nightly news anchor Brian Williams, Zosia Mamet is the daughter of the playwright and screenwriter David Mamet and Jemima Kirk is the daughter of Bad Company drummer Simon Kirk. These are all very clever and talented women but are we headed towards an era where only the one percent are allowed to pursue creative endeavors or a fulfilling life, for that matter. When will it end? I saw Lena Dunham’s film “Tiny Furniture” and I wanted to hate it. But it is exceedingly clever and brilliantly shot. I do not dispute her talents. The problem we have  in society is not her making. But she may not have had the opportunity to show off her writing skills if she did not have the help that comes with her affluence. She made “Tiny Furniture” on a budget of $40,000. Where does a 23 year old recent college graduate without a job get $40,000 to make a movie? Sure, investors but how do you meet those investors? This is the larger issue; access. People from affluent, privileged families meet and know other affluent and privileged people so just like the wealth in our society; access does not circulated to those who need it most.

I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t another clever 23 year old “girl” out there with a brilliant idea but no one to help her with it. This is the other issue: help. People need help. No one gets anywhere on their own. Malcolm Gladwell helped to dispense with this idea in his brilliant book “ Outliers” and the writers Brian Miller and Mike Lapham have just written a book titled  “The Self-Made Myth” they also have a website www.faireconomy.org whose aim is to help build a social movement for greater equality. Mr. Miller and Mr. Lapham discuss the myriad ways government has helped individuals and businesses and the fact that government aid is slowly disappearing at a time when it is most needed. The myth lies in the fact that many very famous and lucrative businesses and their famous owner’s got some government help at some point but nobody acknowledges that fact. People rely on the misconception that success was a result of hard work and dedication. Bullshit success comes from hard work dedication and a lot of help.

A recent New York Times article entitled “Harder for Americans to Rise from Lower Rungs” talked about the increasing mobility gap in America. This quote illustrates my point exactly “ Since children generally follow their parents educational trajectory, that premium increases the importance of family background that stymies people with less schooling”. The article goes on to give these statistics: “ 62 percent of Americans (male and female) raised in the top fifth of incomes stay in the top two-fifths” and “65 percent born in the bottom fifth stay in the bottom two-fifths”. With chances like this how hopeful can a person be?

Ironically in the same Times issue the Arts section did a piece on a budding actress making her Broadway debut: Condola Rashad; recent graduate of the prestigious Cal Arts University and daughter of Phylicia Rashad and Ahmad Rashad. Again I am not doubting that her acting is worth note but there are probably many actors making their Broadway debut this season, a milestone for any actor but for many other actors, without famous parents, a mention in the Times might boost their career in ways that a person of privilege already has built into their every action. As you might have guessed this is in fact a personal conquest. I am that young lady that might have made a clever film at age 23 if I have some help and the means to get $40,000. I am an actor and writer and my creative life (or life in general) has been plagued with fits and starts because I did not have the right background. I have always wanted to pursue a career in the arts, in acting. But as the daughter of Mexican immigrant parents without any education who worked as a fry cook and waitress. It seemed like an impossible idea. I could never really take myself seriously although I never changed my mind about it. I just sort of floated along hoping that one day acting would find me.  When I finally decided to give it a try at age 23 I was, as I always suspected, a natural. So with a little bit of confidence and some encouragement from teachers I gave it a shot, as much as I knew how to at the time. But I was waiting tables and trying to audition and doing shows and missing shifts at work, which led to not paying bills and getting kicked out of my apartment. All of this led to depression and ultimately to me giving up my dream for a time. I decided to return again years later because I was going to turn 30 and I had still not given up hope and life felt like it was just an exercise in survival until I I was ready to try again. I went back to acting classes I auditioned some, I still had it. But I was not well practiced so it was difficult to build a resumé and I had lost some confidence. But I was determined so I moved to New York (from L.A) because I wanted to do theater and study where the most of my teachers had studied. I gave it a go and shortly thereafter I met the man I would later marry and I got a full time job and my acting has been just a small part of my life here. Until this year, I have decided to go back to school and get my degree, something that I have always wanted to finish. I will be the first person in my family with a Bachelor’s degree. I am doing this because I am still trying to give myself the life I never had. I am helping myself in ways that I never knew were available to me. I am hoping to legitimize myself as a member of society. Not just as a statistic. I am 35 and I am entering a BFA acting program. When I received the acceptance letter in the mail I was flooded with contradictory emotions. I was relieved because the letter came a month after the auditions, I was happy but stoic because I couldn’t help but thinking “Wow how wonderful this would have felt if I were my 17 year old self opening this letter”. I had to convince myself to be happy about it, to be proud. I still have moments where I imagine that everyone there is going to say: “what are doing here?”, “aren’t you a little OLD?”.

I am slowly starting to accept the wonderfulness of this moment in my life. After all it is all my life; these years that I have amassed so far and the years to come. But it still stings when I see how hard life is for those of us who have to fight so hard to legitimize ourselves in an increasingly unfair society. And the fact that it is going unnoticed and not talked about just makes me angry.

7th Ave. Concierge

I was sitting on 7th ave. in Park Slope enjoying a rare Frozen Yogurt from Yogomonster (aptly named) when I unexpectedly became a young Russian fellow’s personal concierge. I guess I was asking for it by sitting on a plastic chair in the middle of the sidewalk; I took a chair from the Yogomonster patio and placed it on the sidewalk so as to have a better view of Beautiful Blue Bianchi, which belongs to my husband, so you can understand the concern. First he ( the Russian)  approaches me head on as if I have a sign on reading “ask me anything” and he says “You know this place Leaf and Bean?” I think for a moment because it does sound familiar, but I would never have known where it was (I had to google “frozen yogurt park slope” just to find yogomonster). I look up in thought, and there it is right accross the street: “Leaf n Bean” so I point authoritatively. He ( the Russian) says ( a little embarrassed) “ah I thought was on this side of street”. I nod cockily and form one of those “whataya gonna do” frowns with my mouth. He crosses and heads to his destination. I stare down at 7th ave eating my froyo feeling victorious (this constitutes a victory these days). A couple of minutes later he (the Russian) returns, apparently having finished his business at Leaf n Bean. This time he says “you know where I can buy nice chocolate?” I look down, then up in thought, and there it is caddy corner to my plastic concierge chair “Blue Apron Foods” I’ve only been there once but I know it is a fancy provisioins store so I point. He (the Russian) turns to look at where I am pointing and says ” I can get nice chocolate?”. “Yes” I say with certainty. He thanks me then walks over to his aged infiniti  parked about 20 feet away from me and then drives away.  I take the last two or three bites of  my froyo, walk over to Beautiful Blue Bianchi, unlock and ride away. My job here is done.