Monday, October 20, 2014

power to the people! (i love you, john)

"every dollar you spend...or don't a vote you cast for the world you want." -l.n. smith

i have changed in many ways the last few years. college has had a lot to do with it. noticing the ways i've changed is the best evidence that college has positively impacted my life. i hope the positive impacts will continue to reverberate throughout my life.

i've been deeply affected by the idea of consumerism and it's relationship to large corporations and the dwindling middle class. during my college years i have felt very much a part of the 1%. for all of 2013, i worked at planet fitness, a barely-above-minimum-wage job. i should not have worked there at all and absolutely not for as long as i did. i had my reasons. it was completely flexible with my school schedule and i needed that that year. it was a two minute bike ride away from home. it was a mostly low-stress work environment. i was casually looking for other opportunities but nothing just right came my way. working for a large company (that treats it's lowest level employees like peons) taught me a lot about the economy.

it taught me that i want to work for people and organizations that enrich their communities, rather than rob them. it taught me that i want to spend my dollars supporting local businesses first and thus strengthening myself and my home, rather than weakening it.

planet fitness was willing to pay me as little as possible for as much work as possible for as long as i was willing to work there. planet fitness had no interest at any level of the organization in improving the world by helping people. i am not naive to think that planet fitness is evil, or even the only company that functions this way. in fact, most companies thrive by valuing profit above people.

someone could read that last sentence and tear it apart by saying that all companies HAVE to value profit about people to stay in business, because they are just that--businesses--not charities. but i must disagree. i have worked for organizations who value people above profit. and as a consumer, i gladly spend a few extra on local products whenever i can. it's a delicate dance, but i will never be an employer who values profit above people.

it makes me sad that many americans are making rich the very corporations keeping them poor. but for many people, there seems to be no other choice. in some cases, there aren't. but in others, there are some solutions. i could suggest education, both as a vehicle to obtaining and creating better jobs and as a way to improve intellect. i cannot sing the praises of education enough.

another way that i have felt empowered in this inescapably corporate world is minimalism. i have chosen to let go of the white knuckle grip of consumerism. it is natural to desire possessions. it is very human. but in general, americans let it go too far.

for too long, i let my desire to own control too much of my life. i've been realizing the last few years just how how high the cost of consumerism really is. it's terrifying how constant and deep-seated advertising is in our lives. little by little, i've been loosening the hold consumerism has had on me. i have found myself shopping around a store only to realize i don't need any of it. i have been purging my home like crazy, as i have mentioned here before. it's actually been quite startling to realize:

i don't want things.

i want memories. i want experiences. i want healthy food. i want functional furniture and clothing. i want happy, healthy bodies. i want conversation.

i don't want to buy stuff.
i want to improve the world.

so that's just the thing about consumerism. it's not only disempowering to individuals, but it slows the progress of humanity. we could spend our time, energy, and money helping others or improving the world. but often we spend our resources on disposable products that don't help people in meaningful ways or improve the world. actually, our ravenous consumerism of crap directly damages the environment and in most cases involves slave labor. but both of those are entire blog posts of their own.

allowing myself to be content with what i already have has been life changing. i am less jittery. i sleep better at night. i feel free. consumerism hurts most everyone involved, while minimalism benefits anyone who tries it out. consumerism is a prison. the only people who benefit are the few at the top.

the key to saving the middle class are both minimalism and shopping local. power to the people! (2014 really needs it's own john lennon.)

Monday, September 8, 2014

i'm declaring it now:

if i pass my classes this semester it will be by just a hair.

some might read that and think i am setting myself up for failure. actually, just the opposite. if i soared in all my classes, i would be failing at what really matters in life. i wouldn't get as much sleep as i need, i wouldn't have as much time to spend with my husband, my house would be messier, i wouldn't get nearly as much exercise or any at all, my brain would be completely bogged down by perfection.

instead i am reminding myself that at graduation, my gpa will not hardly matter at all. but in a year from now, it will matter that i spent time with my husband, that i rode my bike through the mountains on the weekends, that i invited people over for dinner, that i threw holiday parties, that i had time enough to listen to my subconscious yearnings, that i spent entire evenings burning candles, painting my nails, and watching tv. it will matter. because a life is not a life without those things, i'm certain of it, and i don't care if all of academia disagrees.

now some people can do both. but i'm convinced those people do not have jobs to go to or apartments to maintain or laundromats to wait at or balconies to lounge on or people in their lives who they absolutely must spend time loving. i don't know for certain though. but i'm the one who chooses my life. i choose it to be well-rounded and i am choosing meh grades from here on out!

in the name of living!

writing from my heart, because i am stuck at home with the flu, i think

yesterday i told jared i had those sharp pains in my inner organs that always precede the stomach flu. he replied that i always claim to have the stomach flu. he was right. but i told him, this time, this time it's for real. those sharp inner organ pains do not lie.

about 11pm the nausea set in and we decided to call it a day and turn out the lights. i laid there and whimpered for an hour because to me, nausea is the absolute worst that my body can experience. give me a head cold for a year over a day with nausea. oh but get this, head cold symptoms were setting in at exactly the same time as my stomach flu symptoms. i finally got my brain to focus on slow, deep breathing enough to fall asleep.

by 6am i was wide awake and dry heaving again. barf-pocalypse hit around 7am and round two around 8am. i forced myself to fall back asleep hoping i wouldn't wake up until that same time the next day when it had all passed. it's a universal law that one can only be nauseous for 24 hours, right? with my head cold symptoms and my barf symptoms, i'm officially diagnosing myself with the actual flu.

isn't this the weirdest time of year to get the flu? or am i wrong? i thought flu season was winter to early spring? either way, the flu does not care what time of year it is, the flu attacks and it attacks hard. so of course i didn't sleep the day through, instead i woke up at 11am, all groggy from oversleeping and feeling just slightly less nauseous but a pounding headache had ensued. i remembered someone said to eat yogurt when you have flu symptoms, so i did and i'm not so sure about it. and for the last two hours i have laid in bed looking at pinterest and ignoring the stack of textbooks burning a hole on the bed next to me. because when you're feeling terrible, do you really have to put your brain through the unpleasant as well? also, jack, our cat, has not seemed to mind or notice that i am sick at all. but i guess that's cat for you. when it comes to being sick in bed, dogs totally win.

so speaking of college, it seems that everybody loves college. and i can sometimes hop on that train, but most of the time it's unpleasant and i wish day in and day out that it was over and that i could be done with it already. and most days i just want to quit. sticking with it for this long has required a good deal of determination that i didn't know i had.

while lying in this bed, looking around at the same objects in my room all day today, and throughout the day most other days, it makes me want to live with less. why do we seem to think we need all this stuff? how does it all accumulate so quickly? i have become acutely aware in recent months how we think we own our possessions, but in reality they own us. i think about this a lot. some objects are exempt from that idea though, those that are both timelessly beautiful and provide a real utilitarian service on a regular basis. for example jared's antique dresser. we bought it two years ago and it has not once come into question as something that really, truly needs to be there. it is beautiful, it has stood the test of time in both style and strength, it durably does it's duty day-in and day-out.

plants. that vintage lamp that always hangs out in our bedroom, no matter which apartment we have. our bed. mirrors. our wool living room rug. the good bowls i bought last week. candles. the items that your eye almost doesn't notice, that you don't seem to hate but you forget to love, the pieces that do their job so well that you forget they are there at all. those are the items worth keeping around.

you can ask my husband, almost every single morning when i am getting dressed, i inevitably find one or two items in my closet with which i can finally part and yank them down off their hangers and toss them from our bedroom to the front door, which is the designated place for items that need to be donated. the above photo is actually a few months old and many of the clothes hanging up are already long out the door.

even though i don't have any energy, the thought of moving my body from a horizontal position makes me sad, and i'm sure my nausea and pounding headache will revive full force, i'm thinking about standing up and parting with about half of the wardrobe i have left. oh and i plan to sip chicken broth and watch amelie.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

i've come here to write three times this week and then deleted the tab before i could type a word. school started this week, and it feels so good to be back. back into the swing of a normal, reasonable lifestyle, back on campus, back into my college student world.

you know that high after completing an unbearable, near impossible task? yeah i'm riding that high pretty good right now. i was telling my friend last night that i'm still not sure if i'm proud of myself for completing the film, or disappointed in myself for not respecting myself (+ team) enough to walk away.

in this case, it is both. let me share a bit more about this experience. the director and producer, in their personal lives, may possibly be perfectly wonderful people. but on set, they were not. they did not say thank you, they did not say please, they did not consider or acknowledge that myself and my "team" (my dear friend and her mother), were working for nearly free, and they did not frequently use salutations typical of respectful human interaction.

yes, this is the nature of a film set. yes, the project was wildly ambitious for the budget. yes, it is hollywood and i was lucky to be there.

yes. but.

even in the fakest of fake hollywood world, people must be decent, civil, and respectful for a project to happen well.

i'm proud of myself for surviving. i'm sad that relations weren't more professional, at least, and that there wasn't a spirit of teamwork, at best.

i respect myself. i don't allow inconsiderate, disrespectful people into my life, at work or otherwise. i have very high standards for myself and relationships. it felt foreign and wrong to not walk away from such terrible behavior, but i was committed to completing the project enough to deal with it.

production wrapped a week ago today. the greatest shame would be if i didn't learn anything from this experience. i have learned a lot, and the test will be if or when i apply this knowledge to my next experience.

but for now, college.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

summer 2014: dedicated to my ten year old self

when i was ten years old i asked my stepmom, "how many people does it take to make a movie?"

knowing that i was about ten pages into my first screenplay, she quickly responded with, "...A LOT of people. it takes a lot of people to make a movie."

she probably didn't give much thought to her response. she may have been in the middle of a conversation with someone else or working on a big project or who knows what, i have no idea. but i'm pretty sure she didn't give much thought at all to her response.

she probably had no idea how much her response affected me. it shot me down and kind of devastated me. it is a vivid memory from my childhood. i had chosen my three best friends as my main actors and i had already asked my friend's dad if i could use his camcorder. i had a yellow legal pad filled with script lines. think little miss sunshine. i was dead seriously willing to make a movie and i was so excited at that idea. of course i was also working on song lyrics for my hit song that would surely appear on radio disney that next year, so i got a bit too busy to make my movie happen.

it wasn't until the next year that i sang in front of the whole school during an assembly, "america the beautiful" that i realized i absolutely could not sing. my best friend, one of the actors i had cast in my movie, told me she defended me in front of the mean boys making fun of my singing voice by telling them i had a cold.

i did not have a cold.

i would guess it was that year i began to be self-aware and started to lose the ability to dream without a care in the world. as life went on, that movie dream slowly started to die.

flash forward to last fall when i had some time to deeply reflect on where my life was going. we were in portland and jared was attending bicycle mechanic school. i spent most days reading, doing some homework, going out for casual jogs, and exploring the city. if that wasn't a time for reflection, i don't know what is. i found myself spending a lot of time reading about film production. i learned about typical positions and roles on movie sets and read a lot of firsthand accounts from people who had worked in the industry.

my impression was that film sets attract bratty people, that the work is long and hard, that gigs are unpredictable, and that you can never have a guaranteed career, because you can only jump from one gig to the next. despite all that, i was still interested in working on a film set. i remember thinking about the idea of working on a film set and feeling like it was such an unrealistic opportunity. at the time, i literally did not know a single person who worked in film.

then in may, earlier this year, i got a message from my friend asking if i might be interested collecting vintage furniture for a low budget film. i immediately got that stupid sick feeling you get when you know you can't say no but you're not sure you can do what you're being invited to do. you know that feeling? and then it all happened so fast, i gave him my email address, a few days later i got a call from the producer, and then before i could blink i was contractually obligated to purchase props for an actual feature film.

after spending the last several months (which is what we in the business call "pre-production" [said as uptight as possible]) purchasing furniture and props for their movie (and doing a screaming job staying within their budget, might i add), and managing the difficulty of the gig exploding into twenty times the work of that which i originally agreed, i find myself halfway through "production", which is the part where the lights and cameras appear and the director sits on a director chair and people with actual clapper boards actually yell, "action!" and "cut!", yes this is that part.

and i think i will take some time to write about how awful and wonderful this last week has been, and how i've learned from this experience, and how in some way i will never do this project ever, ever, ever again, and how in some ways, i will do another movie project again in a heartbeat. but not tonight. because it's 12:06am, but feels like 2:06am, and my body needs to rest.

because for now i am making my ten year old self proud, and doing something that i can say i've always, always wanted to do.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

a note to any and all future or current employers (movie director, i'm looking at you):

days off doing absolutely nothing besides whatever the hell i feel like doing are absolutely necessary for me. and if i don't have one of those AT LEAST once a week, i start to blow things off.

i'm sorry

that i'm not sorry about that.

my husband is not human, he is a robot who is capable of working inhumane hours, then running errands until collapsing into bed for a few hours until he sits straight up and goes about everything all over again. he is a robot and he is unstoppable.

i'm a hard worker. but i'm not a robot.

i need breaks.
i need leisurely uninterrupted lunch with my girlfriends.
i need hours of browsing pinterest and not realizing it's been hours.
i need sleeping in.
i need time to clean my house and swing in my hammock.

and at this moment, i seriously need a vacation.

Monday, July 28, 2014

i've been thinking a lot about privilege recently--and how privileged i am. it's like a physical weight that i attempt to remedy by working hard and not complaining and sharing what i have with others and doing things like simplifying my belongings and inviting people over to eat dinner in my home.

because i can't change that i have been very privileged. but i can share what i have with others and work hard to not let all these opportunities and head-starts go to waste.