Sunday, October 4, 2015

California Dreamin'

It's much easier to dream about a house with a white picket fence when you don't see one. Then you can imagine yourself there with your golden retriever, partner calling in from the front porch. But when you drive through neighborhoods with one house after another beautiful and big and wonderful, it hurts to think "you don't live there." I live in the city where Waner Brothers and ABC call home. It's hard for me to drive past these buildings and not grow hard and envious. I wonder what it takes to get in there, on those shows, what Shonda Rhimes did to become the creator of her own series. I wonder what I have to do, who I have to compete with and I see no sign. No direction.  Interning my way through would have been easier had I gone to grad school here, instead of Frisco. But I wouldn't be who I am if it wasn't for Chinatown, Louis & Angie, City Lights, Jean Parker and Adore.

So now what? Do I try to get in through a different position, instead of the creatives, and hope one day I can cross over to the writer's room and create my own show? I always try to boil down my behavior and try to figure out what it is that I enjoy the most. What must I do for a living? What do I need to do to be happy and satisfied?

A lot of artists give up because of financial concerns. I don't want to do that. I'm learning that in order to realistically be what I want and do the things I long to do, my expectations have to change. I have to rethink the white picket fence and perhaps be happy with a nice apartment in a safe neighborhood. I might have to reconsider how high up I go in my day job in order to ensure I have the energy to purse art.

It's complicated.

One image though, that keeps coming up in my mind as I question all of these things was the image of a woman I saw on stage at the ACT theater one night.  This picture is of the amazing solo performance I saw by Seanna McKenna's "Testament" where she played Mary the mother of Jesus. I wept that night, in a theater full of 300+ strangers watching her demand of God a reason for the death of her own son. She questioned loyalty and she questioned purpose and shed light on how easily people can overlook the deep hurt it must have been for a woman like Mary and Hannah to have given up their own sons. Sometimes I think I feel the same betrayal by God - being gay. He could have made me normal and simple but he didn't.

It's complicated.

What isn't complicated though, was a dream that birthed that night sitting up in the balcony watching this woman. I realized for the first time, that I want to direct theater. I want to direct actors in THAT particular ACT theater and as I pass by ABC and Warner Brothers studios each night I know, at least on stage I have a chance.

I know God was blessing me when I was woven and spun and he made me into a complicated and thoughtful woman who happens to be a lesbian. It was just hard, for a long time, to accept it. I think I'm at a place now, having read Kerouac and the Bible and Choi and my own writing to truly accept whatever comes knowing that God's divine hand is holding mine and he loves the every thought that graces my face with the same fever he loves his son.

To dreams of Marys.

The mad ones

I began reading Jack Kerouac after reading Allen Ginsberg's epic poem "Howl." A friend of mine turned me onto the movement. I bought a biography on the main characters of the Beat generation and immediately fell in love. These men were passionate and vigorous and full of a heart of words to say. It was aweinspiring to read about their journey WHILE living in San Francisco - their need for spiritual, emotional and physical freedom from societal norms. I felt like I was reading the words of my own father - words of a man who probably could have raised me. Always pointing toward the road, pushing me not to be afraid of the thoughts that cross my mind and heart on a moment by moment basis.

Before I moved to San Francisco, I had strong feelings about love and marriage. Love was obedience and marriage inevitable. All respectable people aspire to it. You want to be a 55 year old woman with someone to lean on, count on because youth got you that.You can't get that when you're old. Youth got you that. But something about what I saw and experienced with the lesbian/queer community there changed or developed my understanding of it all. I do believe in love verses all. I do believe in commitment and a wholeness of pursuit. But I don't think it's for everyone. I think that sometimes, the greatest commitment we need to make is to ourselves and to our happiness and truth. Truth at best, is a half told lie - not always. Sometimes, true, is what is right for you. In the Christian faith, we call it God's calling. We say "God may have called me there but not you and that's okay." We don't feel the same about love and that's a shame.

Keruoac and his crew of friends taught me that. They taught me to embrace "the road" -  a life without certainty, expectations and typical boundaries. They taught me to travel and see and love and experience pleasure, according to what I define as pleasure. 

There are a lot of magical quotes from this amazing novel - but here are a few of my favorite:

"Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together; sophistication demands that they submit to sex immediately without the proper preliminary talk. Not courting talk - real straight talk about souls, for life is holy and every moment is precious. "

"This is the story of America. Everybody's doing what they think they're supposed to do. So what if a bunch of men talk in loud voices and drink the night?"

"...wishing I were a Negro, feeling that the best the white world had offered was not enough ecstasy for me, not enough life, joy, kicks, darkness, music, not enough night." 

"I wish I were a Denver Mexican, or even a poor overworked Jap, anything but what I was so drearily, a "white man" disillusioned. All my life I'd had white ambitions; that was why I abandoned a good woman like Terry in the San Joaquin Valley. I passed the dark porches of Mexican and Negro homes; soft voices were there, occasionally the dusky knee of some mysterious sensual gal; and dark faces of the men behind rose arbors."

Above is a picture of the "original scroll" of "On the Road." When Kerouac wrote the novel, he wrote it all on this big scroll and from that he put together his masterpiece.

There are parts of this novel that are quite disturbing. His sexual adventures with Dean become quite worrisome and he feels it. He experiences it. He writes about the terror and the shame and the confusion he feels being caught up in it all. Maybe that's why I like the Beat generation so much. They wrote what people of the time had a hard time voicing. People today still don't have such bravery - well most of us don't. But reading this book and reading Susan Choi's novel were the two major works that catapulted me into thinking I could write my own novel and so I began - Adore.

Writing a novel is so much more terrifying and intimate and exposing than a script. No matter how much you try to show instead of tell you end up telling and revealing so much of yourself in order to commit to the "truth" of what fills you and pushes you to type this story.

If you haven't seen the movie you should read the book first and then watch it. Directed by Walter Salles, the film gives off that free inhibition Jack feels as he writes and experiences everything. But if you don't read the book and do a little research, you'll think this is just a story of boys pursing pleasure - which it isn't.

Sunday, September 27, 2015


I'm writing poetry!! Get ready for it :)


 Per the recommendation of my amazing new friend I went to Tarrantino's official movie house call the  New Beverly Cinema. See the line out the door? The tickets were reasonably priced and the popcorn and soda unreal - you could get both for $4.

 It was quite an eventful night. I saw the lead actress from HBO's "Big Love." I couldn't believe my eyes. There I was, stuffing myself with too much popcorn and all of the sudden she walks up in front of me with her middle school aged son, who obviously would rather be playing video games. She scolds him a few times and then gives her husband "the look." It was so funny.

I ended up watching two Hitchcock films - original prints. The one of note was "Suspicion" (1941) with Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine. It's basically an allegory for marriage, or maybe that's too strong. But it's all about the ridiculous tension married couples have with one another - the constant seesawing between trust and a lack of trust they have for one another. It's quite ridiculous to think about it, after having watched this film. Why can't we just trust each other??

Thought for the day

Some stories....

I finally got the chance to see the play of a film I really enjoy. "August: Osage County" (2014) with Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts was awesome. It's one of those rare screen gems that depict women as strong, competent and deeply troublesome. A very good friend of mine wanted me to see the actual stage play because she felt that the film depicted the story a bit differently. I bought the actual script from City Lights a few months back and saw where she was coming from. The play itself is less intense and far more comical. So when the chance came up for me to see the play live I was so excited.

Nestled in the woods of Topenga Canyon is this wonderful theater in a garden. You get to watch the play outdoors in the cool of the night under a canopy of green leaves and branches. The trees are even part of the sets. It's magical. I now want to see every play produced there. What was even more magical was that the director was a woman. You know how the director usually comes out before a play and introduces the production, special thanks, house rules? Well, I realized that night, I had never seen a woman do that before. It was so good for me to see her walk around with her big hand bag between acts talking to all of the amazing theater goers.

I sent a text to my friend but it failed to go through because of the lack of service out there. It actually turned out to be a good thing - or maybe convenient - the text didn't go through because the play was too much for me. I couldn't talk about it. I didn't want to relieve the pain it brought up and the memories that flooded as I watched these incredible actors bring these sins to light.

Sometimes I feel that I'm too heavy. I put too much on my friends, not that any complain, and it makes me feel like everytime I talk to them I'm laying some piece of this heavy burden I carry onto them I didn't want to do that that night. I just wanted to find someway to pull my head out from the overwhelming feeling of despair that play gives me and just forget about it. The play was far more intense and hopeless than the film. Yes, it's comical at certain moments. But there is this evident hopelessness that permeates the eldest daughter in the end that just hurts me so much. I identify with the lead daughter-Robert's character. I want to "survive" like her daughter and take ownership of my future and make every effort to seize the day with an open heart. But this performance of the story hit too close to home and I was left just hurt.

Maybe that's what makes great art - ?

LA in Black & White