F*cking up

Hi. I have not written in a couple of weeks and I want to stick to my commitment. I did write last night but something happened and I did not save what I had written, so I abandoned it.

I have not been feeling great lately; I am experiencing quite a bit of anxiety and some depression. Thankfully the depression mostly passed, I think it was due to the weather. The anxiety is still pretty bad, I have had several days where I have trouble breathing and it affects my ability to sleep. It sucks. I have given a lot of thought to why I am feeling this way, there are many things that might make me feel anxious, like the fact that my seasonal job as a teaching artist is coming to an end. And the fact that I need to generate new work for myself both creatively and monetarily. But I think one of the main reasons for my anxiety is that I have been trying so hard to do everything “right” and I am so afraid of doing anything to disrupt my emotional balance that I think I am driving myself into this anxiety as a rebellion against all of my efforts to be BETTER! So I have come to the conclusion that I just need to allow myself to fuck up. I need to be in a situation and not work so hard to do or say everything in the most clear and productive way. I can just be bad at communicating and not apologize or try to explain WHY I am imperfect. No one thinks I am perfect.

This fucking perfectionism is what kept me from blogging for so long. And by the way, NO ONE reads this blog and I KNEW THAT, but I still kept myself from writing. That’s silly. But hey, since I am accepting my fuck up’s I am going to accept that one as well.

That’s it. I am just here to say that I am going to fuck up some and I am going to enjoy the FUCK out of it!

Here are some things I recommend:

Books: Heartland by Sarah Smarsh

T.V.: Chernobyl on HBO and Fleabag (unfortunately) on AmazonPrime.

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!