Tuesday, May 31, 2016

thoughts on being defined by the act of knocking -- not on whether or not the door opens

I knew that once I got a summer job, there would be nothing holding me back from focusing on fall job applications.

For my move back to LA, I'm looking into industry jobs first.
If nothing comes of those applications, I will continue on in retail --
no shame in this whatsoever.

My first industry application, I must admit, has me terrified.

I run on fear and discomfort and challenge -- especially
in the workforce and my creativity.

But I've already caught a glimpse of just how brutal the entertainment industry is.

I don't usually ask myself this, but this morning I have been:

Is this what I really want? 

Is it worth it?

What's all the hype about anyway?

Today I asked these questions of one of my best friends.
And he quickly, and without hesitation, responded that I'm absolutely
supposed to pursue this. And that he won't let fear cause me to back down.

Such a golden friend I have.

I think that the conclusion I have to continually bring myself back to is the reality
that I cannot find my definition in the industry and in all of my impending rejection.

I've already convinced myself that none of my pursuit can be about fame or money or status.
I'm at peace with knowing that my career as a writer might always be me sitting at a coffee shop, typing away, never making a penny off of my words.

And this is okay.

This is more than okay.

It means that in spite of all rejection, I have continued to cultivate the craft I love.

And isn't the continuation of cultivation a more accurate depiction of success, and a greater source of contentment and joy than the risk of selling out, burning out, or being in a room filled with people who want your ideas and not the root of those ideas: aka, you?

Stories of people who try for a while and then give up are excessively common.

Stories of the few who actually strike gold are one in a million, and are often deemed as luck. And, I feel that those people tend to be pretty unreachable in a relatable sense.

We talk about those who try for a small time and all too soon walk away because the pang of rejection makes a small time of trying actually feel like an eternity...and who doesn't want to feel alone in what feels like failure? Especially when the shadow of a one in a million is an exaggerated notion.

We talk about those one in a millions because we glorify status, and we crave the fruit that we assume only grows at the highest heights of a totem poll. As if the fruits of a simple life are not sweet or plentiful enough.

"It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life."

What people typically fail to realize is that those one in a millions are not derived simply out of luck. Sure, the blessedness of a right-place-right-time has proven itself real in the lives of some.

But I doubt that anyone has happened upon success without years of prior effort. And I firmly believe that right-place-right-time only goes noted when the preparation for such a moment has been made. And, made well.

What needs to be talked about is the fruit that grows in places that aren't as loud or as large as, say, Los Angeles.

And I think that this need is more applicable to the cities where individuals are striving for the right-place-right-time-if-not-by-sheer-luck moment.

What needs to be talked about is the fact that totem polls are man made;
that fruit grows in more than just one season, and it doesn't have to be
the sweetest to indicate worth or determine the amount of labor behind the harvest.

What needs to be talked about is the ability of building a door.
And if a building one's own door into (in my instance) Hollywood is
in fact impossible and improbable, then I sure as hell need to hold onto the
reality that my own definition and value isn't determined by the number of doors
I knock on, or what they might lead to, or whether or not I build my own door in a month or a year or a decade.

It just has to be about the effort.

People are only defined by their success in the eyes of strangers, in the eyes of the world.

When it comes to the self, an individual should only define his or her self
on the effort it took, the pain that was endured, the simple pleasures that were had.

The success is in the effort of knocking.
You don't even have to build the door,
just find it,
and learn from it,
and when all hopes of getting in are dashed move on and knock on another door.

Learn another lesson.

Sure -- this is all easier said than done.

But as I focus in on the career path I'm about to pursue
I feel crazy not to assure myself that it's all about standing at the door
and knocking -- and not about whether the door actually opens.

Because on this first round of knocking on doors I know that the level of rejection
against me is insurmountable. But it doesn't have to be who I am.

If I lose sight of all of the other doors, I might lose sight of my happiness.
Who I am. Why the hell I'm doing this in the first place...

I have to hold onto what I told my friend--but really said for the sake of myself:

Everything I ever write. Every job I go after...needs to be about the courage of knocking on the door. Not about whether or not I actually get to go in.

"If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door."

It's the courage,
the effort,
the inspiration,
the uncertainty,
and the craving for something more
that will make me who I am.

And if in the right place at the right time happens,
I'll be ready.

If it doesn't, then I refuse to someday go the rest of my life depriving myself of the simple
joy of waking early, finding myself at a coffee shop, and writing words of my choosing.

If the big dream doesn't come to fruition,
the small dreams that will make up a good, good life shouldn't have to pay a heavy, daily price.

So here's to knocking.
Knocking as loudly and vigorously and enthusiastically as I can -- yes.

Though simultaneously knocking with the mentality that this isn't the only door,
I have the ability to build my own door, and--should the door open--it was the knock that made
me who I am and earned me what I'll have...not whatever accolades might follow once the door is open.

Thanks for reading --


-First quote by J. R. R. Tolkien
-Second quote by Milton Berle


Friday, May 13, 2016

let's talk about clothes! (and our bodies, too...?)

Over the past two weeks I have been slowly acclimating myself (and all of my belongings!) to my childhood room.

I love my room here in the Bay Area. It's cluttered in all of the right ways even before I add my college possessions to it. It has the most windows of all the bedrooms (therefore it gets the best light), and it's very much worn in.

I tried to unpack absolutely everything within the first twenty-four hours of being home, but I'm quickly approaching three weeks of being home and there is still stuff piled in the guest bedroom waiting to be stored away (though I'm pleased to say that I've managed to fit nearly everything into my room -- all kitchen supplies included -- while still sharing half a closet with my mother).

To alleviate some of the storage space in my closet, I decided to purchase a clothing rack. I'd wanted one for some time, more for style purposes than anything else. I also read once that they not only display one's prettiest pieces but they also serve as a way of protecting more delicate clothing because things are less likely to get snagged or stretched amongst the mess that hangers so often create.

So, off to Target I went!

I bought a really cheap clothing rack and 100% expected it to collapse in the middle of the night and give me a heart attack, but it didn't! And as long as I even out the weight, it stands sturdily.

My life has revolved predominantly around writing and film these past several months, but this doesn't mean that my love of fashion has dwindled. In fact, my love for clothes is at an all time high because I finally feel confident in and aware of my personal style.

In high school, I was always the quirky girl whose clothing choices were either met with "ooooos" and "ahhhs" of compliments (by the same two or three people), or totally mocked by the guys who failed to understand colors and patterns, and girls who prematurely judged the very trends that they would grow to love as they (somewhat) matured post-high school;)

In college, my style changed SO much -- this was partly to do with age, and mostly to do with my annual location changes.

Oregon gave me the confidence to not feel the need to be too girly all of the time. All throughout high school I felt massively insecure in just jeans and a t-shirt. If you would have throw in a ponytail and sneakers, my insecurities would have killed me. I admired the look on other girls, but couldn't help but feel so square and ugle when I wore the look myself. In Oregon, the weather required me to depend on heavier pieces on top and thinner (like t-shirts) pieces underneath. And all of the rain made denim more of a friend than tights and dresses. I slowly embraced a more boyish look...and the insecurities faded in time (while morphing into others, as per usual).

In Irvine, girls either had a hippie, beach style to them or they dressed very preppy and girly. Since I've never been too "girly" with my own style, I found myself admiring the girls with the biker boots, greasy hair, ripped up denim, and cool sunglasses. They were the girls that surfed or played guitar or went to yoga, stuck to vegan diets or knew where the cool coffee shops and spots were by the beach, and were vey laid back and effortlessly cool. I wasn't necessarily friends with these people, but I admired their grungy, with subtle hints of femininity, styles. So naturally I bought the right boots, wore the tattered denim, became friends with dry-shampoo, and tried finding myself in this more polished (though, not literally) boyish look that began in Oregon with flannels, beanies and Hunter rain boots.

By the time I found myself in the Sacramento area, I was way more confident in my own personal style, but still very much working out the kinks. Around this time I became very fascinated with a normcore aesthetic (though I must admit I never really dressed the part). The aesthetic, however, did give me plenty of inspiration. I loved monochromatic looks, structured pieces mixed with slouchier (my way of saying cozier) pieces (such as old sneakers with uneven or mismatched socks), and beige...lots of beige and white. BUT I must say that when I shopped, I found myself buying veryyy girly pieces. And girly is NOT bad! It's beautiful and unique in itself, but I bought clothing that I just wasn't wearing once I got home. As a result, my closet still didn't feel quite like me.

A year later, my shoe obsession reallllly set in. And I figured out that shoes do help make an outfit. I began to make the outfit more about my shoe and less about attempting to wear a dress with a million other layers (i.e. scarf, sweater, jacket, tights, books, jewelry). I also embraced the t-shirt and jeans thing. But I stilllll wasn't sure what was missing in my personal style.

Then (ah ha, this story is going oh-so-long, I'm sorry), I moved to Los Angeles and BAM. I figured out more of what I really love. In the time leading up to my move to LA, I felt really confident in myself because my academics were something I was taking pride in. I also learned to dress solely for myself most days. So I found myself buying pieces that were either loud statements or super basic -- and, in both ways, the clothing speaks clearly for itself without being muddled down by trends.

Los Angeles is filled with so many styles. Literally, anything goes. I've seen it all -- or, I hope I haven't! People with style that I would never take on were SO gorgeous, unique and confident. I loved seeing the way women express themselves there.

I learned to wear whatever the hell I want without a single apology. I learned to not let the heat rise in me when I walk into a room and people look me up and down, rolling their eyes or asking themselves whaaaat is she wearing?

If I wear what makes me happy, I feel pretty.
And having the confidence to wear a variety of pieces allows
me the freedom to experiment within the styles I know look best for me.

This isn't to say that I feel pretty every day. I certainly don't.

But I have learned that we as women need to stop thinking about others when we dress.
We need to look for the reflection in the mirror that shows us who we want and need to see.

Clothing and style is meant for everyone. What works for one doesn't have to work for all, and what works for one doesn't mean it can't work for someone completely different.

Trends flame out so quickly.
Style is continuously evolving.
Expensive clothing is not an indication of worth, size or beauty.
Cluttered closets have character.
That dress you want so badly to fit into someday is not a dictionary that defines who you are.
And beauty doesn't ALWAYS have to be pain.

Jeans and a t-shirt,
those tattered sneakers,
those sky-high heels that people call your hooker heels,
that old college sweatshirt,
those fish-net tights,
that baseball cap or fedora,
that little black (or even red!) dress,
that one pair of jeans that just fits in all of the right places,
those boots that make you a bit uncomfortable because they kind of look like
biker boots and kind of look like cowboy boots (aside from being pink and suede...)

-- these are all modes of thought, personal-style, beauty, confidence, individuality, comfort, experimentation, life...

So...I've said all of this just to say that I really believe in the power of personal style, and--more than that--the power of embracing personal style.

I won't always have the same style that I do now.
I will hoard pieces from when I was eleven and fifteen and twenty-one because
I feel sentimental about them.
I won't always feel beautiful, or skinny enough, or confident enough --

but I have learned to always remember that we as women have the power to tell our stories and express ourselves through clothing just as much as we have the power and the right to not even give a shit about clothing because there are other things to be passionate about.

Regardless, I think that so many times clothes are used to label and to reject and to condemn, and even to praise...and this is where the power of trends and of materialism comes in.

But if we can remember that we make our own rules stylistically, we can walk into a room
wearing whatever we want, knowing that the woman beneath the clothing far exceeds the beauty and worth of the clothing.

Okay, so that's my rant (which was so unplanned).
I was totally intending to write about some styles I've been loving lately, but I'll save that post for a later date.

Happy Friday, ladies. You are all wonderful.

Monday, May 9, 2016

One Week Post-Graduated

How I've been describing my current status to folks:

It's like when you're engaged--not that I know what that's really like.
But...I've been in this relationship for four years and now my title is no longer undergraduate. I'm a graduate. It has a ring to it that I'm still getting used to. 

So, yay for metaphors? 
Is that even a metaphor?
And, since I'm asking this question, did I even get my degree in English?

+++

In the last nine days, I've learned quite a few things:

1. Writing applications is a part-time job in itself.
2. Looking for jobs feels sooo much more enjoyable when you're a student gazing at the job market from afar. But, alas, when you are broke and in need of a job and no longer a student that job market is the easiest thing to avoid.
3. Flowers from Trader Joe's suffice as a mother's day gift. Just keep milking the post-graduate thing for every excuse as to why you cannot afford anything except a tall coffee and films from RedBox.
4. Watch all the films. Seriously. Just do it.
5. Waking up between 5:00-6:00 am is SO MUCH EASIER IN LOS ANGELES than it is here in the Bay Area. In LA the alarm went off and I popped up like a poptart in a toaster. Here?! Here I let my alarm go for an hour (seriously)...thank god I have no roommate to suffer through my snooze.
6. Parents want to cook your meals still. LET THEM -- but say lots of thank yous.
7. Write the damn script. Do it. You're not in a coffee shop filled with other aspiring writers and cineastes. LET THIS MAKE YOU FEEL SPECIAL.
8. That same rude person from high school? (or the many of them) THEY STILL EXIST. But smile at them because it's the right thing to do, and practicing being the bigger person will help for the future workplace you'll find yourself in.
9. It is A-OK to still not know what a 401 K is. I don't. And I'm accepting this fault in myself.
10. It's ok if you still don't quite understand how budgeting bills and life works. I don't, but I'm figuring it out. Talk about this stuff, just because you have a degree doesn't mean you know a thing about life. 
11. That style you picked up whilst away at university? If you like it, continue to wear your clothes proudly. I don't consider myself to be one who dresses extravagantly or uniquely, but boy have my clothes got me stares around this small town. Smile and wave, gals, smile and wave that hand.
12. It's okay to grieve the past four years. Just means that they were worth more than you could have fathomed at the beginning.
13. Let it go. Whatever it is. If it's a healthy choice to let it go, let. the. damn. thing. go.
14. Your mom might not have all of the education you now have, but she's still the wisest woman you will ever know. Remember that.
15. Mind your vulgarity. Flipping people off doesn't work in a place where people aren't dealing with the stresses of the 405, and also where people on the road are likely to be the folks sitting next to you in church. Yeah..
16. The beginning of summer is no a foreshadow of the end of summer. Or the end of the year. Or next year. Just because you are graduated does not mean that the mundane starts now. You haven't lived yet. Embrace this beautiful reality. 
17. Buy the second-hand suede biker/cowboy boots. Just do it.
18. Caffeine. It is still your friend.
19. Build a routine. Especially if you are in between jobs.
20. If you do move home, if you don't have a clear plan, if you are broke, single, etc etc. WONDERFUL. Keep that spunk. Write that resume. Tell yourself that you are beyond qualified. Be your biggest fan. Ask for help. Cry that cry in the shower, but remember that tomorrow is a new day. Remember the people who got you through the past four years (or how ever many it took to graduate). And remember/acknowledge those who were there for you before, those who took a different path. Embrace them, and let them embrace you.

+++

That's all for now, folks. I'm working on two projects that I am SUPER excited about. 

ps. I reserve the rights for all grammatical errors on this post. I may have my Bachelor of Arts in English but I'm still human (cry-face emoji).