Monday, December 13, 2010

To Gasp or Not To Gasp

A while back, I wrote a blog about a little habit I have that drives my good friend, Alicia up a wall. If you don't remember, click here to see the previous post. My love of drama has instilled in me a habit of GASPING. I thought about it the other day when my friend Shannon showed up on crutches due to a twisted ankle, and the sight of her injury elicited one hearty, robust intake of air. Then I remembered that I never posted Part 2 of Alicia's Gasp/No Gasp list.

Before you check it out however, I'd just like to point out to everyone, that the Gasp Worthy list is a lot longer than the Not Gasp Worthy list. Hmmm... interesting. Maybe my habit is not so unfounded after all...

So, without further ado, here it is:

11. finding out the tooth fairy is real

12. waking up with cruella de ville hair

13. if lil kim became a supreme court justice

14. if i were to get chased by ninjas

15. if my poops were electric blue

16. if jason statham gets married to someone that is not me

17. if hammer pants come back into style and anna wintour wears them

18. if my sister jessie were able to levitate (cause it wouldn't be surprising if i could)

19. if you run into the “get off my train” dude from Ghost on the subway – that guy is terrifying

20. if you were to see a real life exorcism

21. if you were to see the alien come out of someone’s stomach in a diner – john hurt style

22. if I were to get braces again and I finally got to kiss ewan mcgreggor and he happened to have braces for a role and our braces get locked together

23. if gael garcia bernal makes a movie that doesn’t show him giving cunnalingus to a woman

24. if the Brooklyn bridge starts to warp while we are crossing it – like that freaky bridge did in Tacoma

25. if while watching a concert at madison square garden, you see the arena get sucked into a sinkhole (like that one in chile) and miraculously our two seats are the only ones that remain

26. spontaneous human combustion – anyone. Anywhere.

27. if you walk into my apartment and I’m having tea with oprah in our jammies

28. if we are getting air-lifted out of the water from some freakish accident and, while climbing up the ladder to the helicopter a Great White Shark jumps at us. (Like that photoshopped photo, but real)

29. If I ever finish a game of monopoly

30. If snuggle the laundry bear is really jack the ripper

31. if mel gibson ever has a comeback

32. if I cut the top of my thumb off – again. gross

Things that are NOT GASP WORTHY

11. if a new serial killer is discovered to be dressed as a clown - they are suspect

12. if you see a ghost – everyone knows they’re real, just stay out of their way

13. at the fact that peter gabriel taught a group of monkeys how to play instruments – that’s just cool

14. if you learn that time travel is possible, cause it is (however, if I time travel and wake up to find I'm getting chased by a saber tooth tiger, I will allow a gasp)

15. if my dog atticus started speaking. We all know he can, itt’s just his choice not to

16. if I pass out – I do it a lot

17. if I’m invited to race the indie 500

18. the line at the movies

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

FAT... and not the Ph(at) Kind

I am a size zero which means I only exist in your imagination.
- Sally, from the web series, In the Can

Last night I was perusing the Internet and found this article: Plus-sized article spurs heavy debate on CNN. Basically, CNN writer, Lisa Respers France writes about maireclaire.com's response to a blog she had written about the significance of having plus-sized people on television. Apparently, the writer for marieclaire.com created a whole skinny-vs.-plus sized sensation where, among other things, she said the following: “To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room — just like I'd find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine addict slumping in a chair.”

I'm sure you won't be surprised when I mention that there was a huge uproar in response to the blog. So much so, that both the writer of the blog and the editor-in-chief at Marie Claire have apologized. Thank goodness for that! To be clear, I am no skinny-minnie... in fact, by Hollywood standards I would be considered plus-sized. By next-door-neighbor standards however, you'd likely think I was average. I like to call it voluptuous(!). Though I am not obese and have not struggled with obesity, I have never related to any of the standard actresses on television or in typical fashion magazines. Plus-sized models would be way more up my alley.

What I find so fascinating about the uproar is how hipprocritical we all are (frankly, me included). Why is it that we live in one of the fattest countries in the world and yet still think that having a fat person on television means that everything about that character needs to relate to him or her being fat? Are we saying to the average (overweight) viewer that the only way that they should view themselves is through their size?

I know what you're thinking - these questions are all fine and good but how in the world do they relate to Best Laid Plans? Well...

I have struggled with keeping my weight down all of my life. I enjoy a burger. I enjoy ice cream and I don't enjoy waking up early to exercise. Thus, I have struggled with my weight my whole life. It used to make me not want to go out. Sometimes when I was out, it used to make me wish I could disappear into the crowd. If I had to walk across a room, I used to wonder whether everyone noticed how heavy I looked that day. I tell you this not because I enjoy blog confessionals, but simply because I feel sad about how willing people seem to be to only look at overweight people as one-dimensional fat people. I am cute. I am funny. I am smart. And I am overweight. I felt like, by the marieclaire.com's writer's standards - I was right to not leave my house. I was right to want to disappear into the crowd. My weight was all everyone would see. Frankly, in our society, whether you're slightly overweight, chubby or obese it doesn't seem to matter... simply... you are not THIN.

We all outwardly gasp at celebrities losing too much weight and yet, inwardly I think many of us wonder: how did they do that? Could I do that? Even if just for one week or one month? In truth, I wondered that all the time.

Now... and here comes the Best Laid Plans tie in... I wonder that less and less. I'm no liar - so I'm certainly not going to say that I'm never self-conscious about my weight. But it's less so now. Why? Because now I am much too busy living my life. If someone sees me walking my dog and needs to think "that's an overweight woman walking her dog" as opposed to, "that's a woman walking her dog," fine. I'm still out there. I'm still walking. I'm still enjoying my dog.

Though I'll admit, a part of me hopes that that someone walks into a tree while watching my size-whatever-tush walking away.

Friday, September 17, 2010

This I Believe

Shooting for and writing on the BLP blog has, understandably, made me incredibly contemplative about the breakup of my marriage. I think it's for this reason that this period of my life has generated so much creative work. The work hasn't necessarily come from the heartbreak - rather - its developed more from this time since being heartbroken. Recently, I've been thinking a lot about what the failure of my marriage means for me as a potential partner. I wonder if long-term relationships are something I'm even good at. Can I use the things that went wrong as lessons to learn from and avoid in future relationships, or is the failure just a sign that I'm perhaps not a good partner? In all likelihood the answer lies in the middle somewhere, but it's a question I've definitely been contemplating. It's funny then that this morning, I should receive an email telling me that an essay I'd written some time ago has been published on the website for: This I Believe . It's titled, "Relationships: Frieda-Style" and it's a review of my marriage as seen through my grandmother's fictional relationship self-help book. Maybe my personal contemplation can resonate for someone else who's struggled in their marriage?

Give it a read and let me know your thoughts: http://thisibelieve.org/essay/84161/

Friday, July 30, 2010

An Interview with the Record Pilot

Recently I had the honor of being interview by Elizabeth Lanza at the "Record Pilot". It was my first experience with having a feature story written about me or any of my projects and I have to admit, it was pretty thrilling! I also realized that I might say the word "fun" a bit too much...

Anyway, check it out at: Interview with Julie

If I Were a Boy

The other night I was out at a bar listening to a band, and, after a few drinks, I was relaying some of my dating debacles to one of my guy friends. We hadn't hung out in a bit so he needed to be caught up on quite a few of my latest dates. When I was done with my tales he looked at me and said, simply, "Wow." Then he made me a sincere and interesting offer - he said that he would look over potential dates to translate their profiles from guy-speak to Julie-speak.


It made me think... are some of my dates not working out simply because I'm unable to read boy code? Can he offer me the online dating equivalent to the secret decoder ring in the box of Cheerios? Are men and women really so different that even a general dating profile needs to be translated for the opposite sex?

One general difference I've noticed between the ex's is that, what would take me and a number of girlfriends 20 words to say, would take my male friends about 5 words. Neither is better per se, but when you're trying to decipher a dude's profile - where only words and maybe some pics are available to you - I figured it'd be helpful to get a guy's interpretation on a dude's potential for me.

I took my friend up on his offer and showed him three profiles of potential matches. In less than 24 hours, I got the following interpretation from him:

Guy 1:
He looks like Larry David. He’s the guy you meet in a bar who looks like Larry David. Never mention Larry David when you’re trying to meet a lady. Larry David.

Guy 2:
He wants to date Jennifer Garner. He thinks he’s Ben Affleck.

Guy 3:
He’s at the store every Weds when the new comic books come out. Really (I mean REALLY) out of shape and if you’re lucky, has good hygiene.

In guy-speak terms, I went from considering a funny guy, a nice guy and a slightly dorky guy to a Larry David look-a-like, a guy I'm sorely mismatched with since I look nothing like Jennifer Garner and an out-of-shape, stinky comic book addict.

Now I'm wondering - has adding the guy-speak translation helped or hurt my cause?

What do you think? Do I need a man to meet a man?

Monday, July 26, 2010

No Gasping Over Robert Pattinson

I have gratefully surrounded myself with good friends. They are loyal, funny, smart, fun and... honest. Many of you know my good friend, Alicia - who also happens to be my boss at On the Leesh Productions. Alicia and I have had a surprisingly easy time navigating the sometimes uncomfortable waters of a friend/boss relationship. We both have a work voice and a friend voice, and have keen ears to which is being used when. So it was to my surprise when, during a "friend conversation" Boss Alicia came out and commanded that I cease... gasping.

Yes, you've read that correctly. She commanded that I cease gasping. Now, I'm sure you're not surprised that I'm a gasper. Most who know me know that I have a flare for drama at times, and have had the occasion to react to something with a slight intake of breath... a gasp, if you will. Call it my dramatic outlet.

Back to the story at hand. One evening, Alicia and I were discussing I can't remember what, when she pointed to a long movie line that went around the corner. In reaction to said long line, I gasped.

After said gasp, Alicia promptly announced that she and I were in dire need of a gasp-appropriateness discussion. Apparently a long movie line is not gasp worthy and my throwing inhalations around like such cheap trash has brought on Alicia's ire.

About one week later, I received an email with the following subject line: THE GASP LIST. The body of the email contained two lists: Gasp Worthy and Not Gasp Worthy.

If you, like me, have a dramatic flare for things... I present you with Part 1 of your Gasp List Guide from my boss/friend combo, Alicia.

THE GASP LIST, Part 1 (written by Alicia, for Julie)

1. if i walk out of my office with stigmata

2. if you woke up pregnant tomorrow (i get to gasp)

3. if Russell Crowe comes out of the closet

4. if your dog, Dyna-Dog starts speaking Arabic

5. if your cat, Olivia runs up a $5,000 pay-per-porn charge on your cable box

6. if while sky diving with me, my shoot doesn't open

7. if Labron James announces that he moved to miami to join the ballet

8. setting eyebrows on fire

9. seeing Baryshnikov fall out of a pirouette

10. finding out Santa is not real

THE NOT GASP WORTHY LIST, Part 1 (by Alicia, written for Julie)

1. traffic

2. not getting the right salad dressing

3. out of toilet paper

4. hearing Bad Romance four times in one-hour on the radio

5. seeing R-Patz

( i will however allow a gasp if you see r-pats, coach mark wahlberg, george clooney, leo, riggins and paul newman (circa exodus) all playing basketball as skins against the harlem globetrotters (yes even the fictional characters and the dead guy must be present to warrant a full gasp)

6. burning toast

7. a run in your panty hose

8. learning that it's a small world is not running - it always gets backed up

( i will however allow a gasp if the only working ride were the wed way people mover)

9. if i pee my pants on Kingda Ka - have you seen that ride?

10. if you meet the real life Cullens (no one would believe you, so don't waste a gasp)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dating Advice

My friend Shannon, who might I mention, has her own blog HERE, recently strapped me down and made me listen to Miley Cyrus songs repeatedly until I told her my login and password for the online dating site that I'm on. And when I say she strapped me down and forced MC's music into my ears, I mean that she asked me for the information politely. Since entering the online dating world, Shannon has offered many an opinion about my choices in dudes. My dating life thus far has included being cursed out, being told a guy's sexual fantasy in sordid detail and being given poetry about a dead pet - and these all happened before I went on an actual date with any of them! I'd go to my married friend Shannon with wide-eyes and my mouth hanging open in curious wonder and she'd offer me a glass of wine and then kindly tell me that I didn't know how to pick the right guy(!). It was her wish that she perform a coup on the ruling party that was ME and become the leader of my online single existence. Perhaps she anticipated more resistance, but in all honesty, I was relieved! Fabulous, I thought! Take over! If I'm never cursed out again it won't be soon enough! And so it was that Shannon became Julie online.

The very next day I woke up to an email from her, announcing that she'd contacted the perfect man for me. She had found my destiny. She espoused how much we had in common, how cute he was and, though one cannot read tone in an email, I imagined she was typing whilst grinning and skipping. With the backing of my Ruler of Romance, I went ahead and contacted the guy that same day. I thought, you know, this might actually work. Shannon is one of my closest friends - my Clint Eastwood if you will - having been right by my side through the good, the bad, and some of the ugliest times I've ever had. She's offered advice and her opinion on all aspects of my life - why not go one step further and have her do a little matchmaking for me? I knew she was secretly writing a wedding toast for my upcoming nuptial with this perfect man. It might be safe to say that she was more excited than I was.

He never contacted me back.

After about a week, I told Shannon that I never heard from him. This time it was her coming to me, wide-eyed, with her mouth hanging open in curious wonder and me with a ready glass of wine. After all, friendship, like online dating, goes both ways.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I'm in Love

Recently I was interviewed about "Milestone". Most writers usually talk about how they, 'have to write' or how 'writing is like a calling for them' and that's all lovely and grand and to be respected. However, for me, I realized that I began writing as a way to get to something else.

The reporter asked why/how I began writing and that brought me to my one-woman show, "Belly" and the screenplay "Waltzing Emily". I wish I could say that both were written because I was moved to tell the characters' story but really, my main agenda was to try to write a compelling story that I could act in.

Then I was asked how I got involved with On the Leesh Productions and that brought me to "Table for Three" which I had written because I wanted to learn more about film and, after meeting Alicia (the head of On the Leesh), I decided that writing a short would be a great way to learn more. She agreed and promised that she'd read it. To my delight - not only did she end up reading it, but she also produced and directed it as well. That allowed us the chance to see if we could work well together and... cut to six years later and we're still working together.

All my ulterior-writing-motives made me wonder if I was using writing like some odd rebound relationship: well... since I'm not getting enough outside acting work - I'll write my own! or I'd like the experience of working on a feature film and so... I'll write a short to get a taste of it! I was a too-bit user I guess! Don't get me wrong, I was always totally in agreement with other writers when they talked (or wrote) about how much they loved telling stories and building plot lines and everything, but I also seemed to use it as my avenue for other things.

Until recently...

It has occurred to me that I have recently turned into a 'have to write-r'. Yep! That's me. I'll admit it. I'm Julie and I have to write. I'm no longer rebounding and have made writing my no-excuses-for-the-relationship partner. I have canceled plans to write. I have looked forward to sitting down to write. I have even texted writing notes to myself in case I didn't get to my computer fast enough (though I should say here that I have often forgotten said texts until months later when I was cleaning out my phone).

What in the world does this have to do with Best Laid Plans, you ask? Well.. I guess it goes along with the whole idea of not truly being able to plan out your life path. I don't think I ever would have imagined fantasizing about a house in some remote place where I could write full time, and yet, that fantasy has crossed my mind's eye often. Best Laid Plans began because of my heartbreak about the ending of a relationship and a life I was sure was laying out before me... and yet, I think it was as a result of this heartbreak that I discovered my love for this art form.

Go figure. I guess my dad is right - you never know what's around the corner. That's bad AND good.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Oprah, OWN and Me

For those of you that know me, you know I love many things:
bagels (yes, I DID put that first, but it may just mean I'm hungry)
my pets (a close second)
my family/friends (can we call it a three-way tie?)
and talking

I most definitely have got the gift of gab and so, when the people from Oprah's OWN Network announced a contest for a new talk show, I knew I had to enter! What better way to get a chance to meet people who have faced major hiccups in their life but then rebounded beautifully?

There's only one roadblock... I have to get a lot of votes! This is where you come in... please... if you have a moment, go to the link below and vote for my talk show, "Best Laid Plans." Everyone loves a comeback, and you don't have to be a celebrity to have one.

Won't you help me with mine?


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

You Can't Go Home Again...

But apparently - you can go back to college. This weekend, I found myself re-tracing steps I haven't taken for over a decade. There I was, back at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey to attend the New Jersey International Film Festival's screening of "Milestone". It's been MORE THAN A DECADE since I was last there... had I mentioned that? Longer than a two-term presidency. About the same length that CHEERS and BEVERLY HILLS 90210 were on the air. It took less years for WHAM! to create "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go" and then disband.

Ten Years.

As I think I mentioned in my previous entry, I'm not always the best at looking back, but surprisingly, visiting my old dorm (Go Demarest Hall!) and driving past my old off-campus house was awesome. Beyond some minor revisions, (why oh why do the grease trucks need to provide people with tables???), the campus looked pretty much the same. The weirdest thing about it all was that I felt as if I'd never left. Walking among the students around campus I felt like I was 21 again. Each block, each corner, brought back memories from school... 'this is where my friend drank too much for her 21st birthday'... 'this is where I made out with my date until someone interrupted us to ask for directions'... Whoosh... it all came flooding back.

I'll admit, I was prepared too feel affronted by the experience, but in actuality I relished it. Cooler than the places I visited was the people I got to hang with - one of whom I hadn't seen for many, many years. Swapping stories - who's pregnant, who's moving in with someone, who's getting a divorce (ahem...) was great. Like I had hoped, talking about my breakup, the changes in my life felt fine. It simply felt like my life.

Maybe I'm settling in after all...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Mini-Reunion at the New Jersey International Film Festival

I am not a lady who is big on reunions. My high school had a 10th year reunion and I was a no-show. My college, I'm sure, will have some kind of gathering of alumni of which I will likely not attend. It's not that I turn my nose up at those kinds of events, it's more that I simply find them overwhelming:

"Oh my god! Look at you!"
"No, look at you!"
"You haven't changed a bit!"
"I love your hair!"
"Look at your dress!"
"Holy cow, look at your ass!"

Now with the onset of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter it's like being at a reunion every single day of your life. It also hasn't helped that I've had friends who've had rather *interesting* experiences at their own reunions. One friend was so nervous that she got more drunk than she ever had before causing some embarrassing shenanigans to ensue, and another told me a story of their married friend being propositioned by an old and married boyfriend. So much drama! That's why I'm happy sticking to the odd (and sometimes weird) confessions of old classmates' status updates on Facebook.

However, when my short film, "Milestone" got into the New Jersey International Film Festival, I couldn't give up the opportunity for a mini reunion with some girlfriends from college - especially since the festival screens their films on the Rutgers campus! Did I mention that that's where I went to school? No? Whoops.

So this Saturday, I'm going to dinner and a movie with some old friends. Some of these ladies I've kept in touch with and others I haven't seen in a very long time. At first, I'll admit I was hesitant since I still have that lingering feeling of failure since the breakup of my marriage, but I've decided to push through it. My college experience was great - I had wonderful friends surrounding me for four years and that alone helped me get past my trepidation. I'm still figuring out how to integrate my personal setbacks into my life and I figure there's no better way to help me do that than by meeting up with some old friends... and having a couple glasses of wine.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Back from the BIFF!

Jess and I are back from the Berkshire International Film Festival and we had a fantastic time! Kelley Vickery, Lauren Ferin and Rachel Bronstein put on another amazing festival, packed with great films, awesome cocktail parties and an incredible welcoming community. Although we missed the Opening Night celebration, the second night we were able to attend the tribute to Patricia Clarkson, which was such a treat for me since she is one of my all-time favorite actresses (and “The Station Agent” is one of my all-time favorite movies). Her tribute included guests like Lauren Ambrose and Chris Noth as well as a packed house in the gorgeous Mahaiwe Theater. That will be a night I shall remember for a long time.

“Milestone” was screened in a block of great films. I felt very honored to be among such good movies (some included: “Wasting Daylight”, “Breaking Boundaries: The Art of Alex Masket,” and “The Jacket”).

Overall it was a blast celebrating a movie with a friend I’ve known since middle school at a festival that just gets better and better. Be sure to check it out next year!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Pathway to a Short Film Panel Discussion

PHOTO: First order of business as director: keep cast and crew hopped up on caffeine.

So... We’re coming up on the Berkshire International Film Festival and I have some fun news – they’ve asked me to participate in a panel discussion about making short films! I’m so honored and excited that I was asked (and that I was even considered knowledgeable enough to participate). Since beginning “Best Laid Plans” my life has grown so much both personally and professionally.

Production on BLP is going on about 2 1/2 years now and looking back from where I was then, to where I am now, is fascinating. I wonder if it’s the same feeling journal writers get when they look back on entries from years ago. When I began shooting BLP, “Milestone” wasn’t even in my purview, nor was having the opportunity to direct a film for that matter. From the first day of shooting on the documentary, I had very little knowledge about the camera, relying heavily on my Director of Photography at the time. Now I can shoot an interview on my own if need be. I’m tackling the editing of the movie as well – which is also something I knew very little about then. Don’t misunderstand, I have LOADS to learn about the art of filmmaking from all angles, but I’m not sure I ever imagined I’d know as much as I do now.

And personally, as a result of the ordeal of divorce, my circle of people has gotten smaller; that circle is much richer now. My friendships mean more to me than ever before. They are deeper and more soulful, if you will. More than ever for me, friends and family have become synonymous and I don’t think I would have said that three years ago.

To bring all of this back to the panel, I think that one of the things I would offer to budding short filmmakers is to learn about every facet of how to make your film. If you’re not already a one-man band, learn a little about it all so that the experience is richer and you’ll walk away with more than just your movie. Also, surround yourself with the best people for you. A smaller, tighter group of people who are out to create the best film possible. You might fare better than having a huge crew that is less community and more individual-minded.

Other than that, you’ll have to attend the panel!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Film Festivals and Mikhail Baryshnikov

In just a few days I will be heading to The Berkshire International Film Festival with one of my closest friends (and an incredible artist and designer), Jessica. She’s driving us up there on Friday so we can check out 3 screenings of Milestone! This will be my second time going to this festival and I’m really excited I get to attend again! It’s always such a great feeling when a community comes out to support upcoming filmmakers and watch independent films they may not otherwise have the opportunity to see.

I’ve been really lucky – Milestone has gotten into 11 film festivals so far! The only unfortunate thing is that I haven’t been able to attend all of them. However, the ones I did get to go to were all amazing experiences. Here’s a short rundown...

The Los Angeles Women's International Film Festival was awesome for many reasons. The first was that I got to go with my sister, Karen who I never get to spend much time with. The second was that I was surrounded by other women filmmakers. It was an incredibly supportive feeling being in a town like Los Angeles – where the industry is still primarily run by men - to be surrounded by such great female artists. That was pretty cool.

The Method Fest, which ran at the same time as The Los Angeles Women’s Int’l Film Festival was also pretty amazing! In particular, the shorts program director, Derek Horne was awesome to work with. He was such an advocate for all of the movies and his enthusiasm began from the moment the film was accepted into the festival.

Then there was the NYC Downtown Short Film Festival. So... Although there wasn’t much traveling involved for this fest, it was great to be able to sit with friends and watch the film on a big screen! I was amped for a night in the city but found myself unprepared for what I experienced. Ummmm... Mikhail Baryshnikov was in the audience!! In case you’ve been living under a pointe shoe, Mikhail Baryshnikov is beyond the beyond in terms of dance. I grew up dancing and so I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know his name. Some of you may also know him from “Sex and the City”. I now know him from (and by “know” I mean saw), the NYC Downtown Short Film Festival! Living in NYC, you get kind of used to seeing famous people and it’s not that I’m jaded or anything like that, but when a well known person crosses my path, I tend not to go bonkers and ask for my boob to be signed or something crazy such as that. However had my parents not been in attendance that evening, I think I would have made my way over to Mr. Baryshnikov with one hand gripping a pen and the other pulling my shirt way down. But alas, my skin has not been branded and I’ve been able to shower regularly. I did, however, get to introduce my movie and, though the theater was packed with people, I looked at none of them. I only had eyes for MB. I was elated... He though, may have been a bit perturbed.

Can’t wait who I’ll run into in the Berkshires!

Friday, May 28, 2010

That Couple Is Cheating On Me

I was part of a great foursome. And by that, I don’t mean some dirty foursome, as in swing-this-way-foursome. My ex and I had a couple that we got along with perfectly. There was no - ‘oh, the women are friends, so the husbands have to hang out’ or ‘he’s nice but man, she’s a nightmare.’ We all genuinely liked each other. Even our dogs got along. We’d go out to dinner, have game nights, movie nights, simple hang out nights and sometimes, we’d separate and do just the girls while the guys hung out.

Now our foursome is a threesome...again, not the dirty kind. The couple is like family to me and I still love hanging out with both of them and try to do it as often as possible. And while I think I’m pretty fun to hang out with, I can’t morph myself into two people (and I certainly can’t morph myself into being a dude). Naturally, my friends found another go-to couple for their game nights and such. Naturally. Yet, I find myself... jealous. Is that weird? My girlfriend and I have spoken about the breakup of my marriage often, but recently the discussion was less about my feelings regarding said breakup, or the transition to singlehood and more about what a bummer the breakup of the foursome has been. It’s really a big ol’ bummer. She concurred.

When I go on dates now, I find myself not only looking for someone that could possibly be a good fit for me, but I try to suss out whether they’d be a good fit for my friend’s husband. I want to ask... “so, um... Do you like strategy games? Are you up on technology? Could you say, have a well thought out conversation about a good graphic novel you’ve read recently? Do you even read graphic novels? And if no, would you be willing to have a go at reading one soon?”

And do I add these questions before or after the question about whether he’s okay with my dog sleeping in the bed (see previous entry if confused)?

Oy. I should just create a questionnaire. Or better yet, maybe I’ll just bring my friend’s husband and my dog on the date with me. Just get it all figured out right then and there.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie?

So... A little while back a very good friend of mine and I were talking about my dog (who, I should confess, runs my life). She commented that now that I’ve been thrust into singlehood, I might want to rethink where my dog gets her shut eye. Currently, her bedtime location is with me, on the bed. She’s a medium-sized mutt but once asleep, she morphs into a pile of lead bricks, making it near to impossible to move her. My friend’s thought was a logical one – now that I may have, you know, guests over (let’s just call them guests for now), I should be open to them not wanting the dog in the bed. It’s a fair assumption.

My dog came into my life as part of my old, coupled existence. My ex and I weren’t married yet, but we were on that road and so, the decision to have the dog in the bed with us, was mutual. It was a family decision. Once my ex left, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that it was nice not to have a completely empty bed. Having another body on the mattress with me made it seem, in the beginning, much less lonely. My dog and I adjusted to my ex’s absence together – an odd team of sorts.

However, now my friends advice rings in my ears as I make my way out there in the single world. As I do with most things that are on my mind, I raised the question with another good friend. Figuring she would confirm my other friend’s advice I was hoping to get some tips on how to train the dog to sleep on her own bed. To my surprise, she had a different reaction. Though she agreed that some guests might have an issue with the sleeping arrangements, she felt that anyone who would make their way to being a guest (don’t you love a euphemism), would have to be an animal lover. That I would never be with someone who wasn’t accepting of that sort of thing.

The debate was on.

Then I wondered, how will I know whether this is true early on? Is that the kind of thing you ask someone over drinks? You know like, “Hey Mr. dude, are you the sorta guy that is accepting of a situation in which you may only be provided less than 1/4 of the bed because my dog likes to sleep horizontally in the middle of that very same bed? Oh, and I would be on the opposite 1/4 of that bed. She’ll be between us... Wait, where are you going? Are you sticking me with the bill? It was nice meeting you....”

These are the sort of scenarios that make the idea of dating so foreign to me. Of course, yes, you want to date someone who is right for you but there seems to be a lot between that first drink and right for you. Are you with me? I think both of my friends are right – and there’s the rub. There’s no one dating/relationship answer to go by. I mean, of course there are some dating do’s and don’ts, but when it comes to the details of how a person lives their life – the do’s and don’t’s get kind of muddled, don’t they?

I don’t know... What do you think... Dog in the bed, or no dog in the bed?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Locked in the Bathroom

Since I’ve gotten my little sky diving confession out of the way, I guess the next thing to talk about is what I’ve been doing these past nine months. Although I’ve been absent here, I’ve thought a lot about the documentary and have done some more shooting. In thinking about it, I realized that while documenting how I’m handling life’s curveballs is interesting, finding out how other people handle them is even more fascinating to me. So... Keeping that in mind I’ve spent much of my BLP shooting time interviewing other people. I talked to my sister, my brother-in-law, some friends, my parents and even some of my parents’ friends.

One interview that really stuck with me was with my mom’s best friend, Barbara. Her first husband passed away from a brain tumor when I was around 13 years old. For me, his illness and subsequent death was significant not only because they are like a second family to me, but also because it was my first real experience of life not working itself out. I remember saying to my father offhandedly when they told me about John’s illness, “Okay, but he’s gonna get better, right?” I assumed my father was going to say something along the lines of, ‘of course’ or ‘it’s going to be difficult, but yes eventually...’. You can imagine then the punch in the gut it was to hear, ‘ we don’t know.’ The air of not knowing if something was going to work out entered my atmosphere and has remained to this day.

When I talked to Barbara about that same event, it was so interesting to get her perspective on the entire experience. She’s happily married to a great man now, but at the time, she was taking care of a dying spouse while raising three teenage girls. And even though I was there, and lived through it, the thought of what that must have been like for her is mind boggling. How did she get through it? How did she manage? How did she not lock herself in the bathroom and refuse to come out? And here’s what she said:

I had diarrhea every day for a year.

I should tell you here, that Barbara is a very honest and generous person, but mostly, she’s hilarious and a lot of fun to be around. She’s not very shy when it comes to her bodily functions and so, when she answered with what could have been considered a sarcastic or glib response, I knew she was being totally serious. Her emotionally gut-wrenching experience became a physically gut-wrenching experience.

For Barbara, best laid plans turned into mourning and diarrhea. It seems that even your intestines are not safe from your life going awry.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Jumping Into Thin Air

Holy shit!

Its been almost 9 months and NOTHING! I've completely been keyboard silent and have no excuses for it.

But here is my excuse...

I never actually went sky diving.

I know, I know! There I was making a huge big bold promise to throw myself out of an airplane but instead, the furthest I've jumped these last few months was when a mouse graced me with its presence in my friend's living room. In total honesty, I was embarrassed. Then, as you do with most embarrassing things in your life - I shut it out of my head completely.

Then something happened. I met a lovely woman. The stellar and prolific novelist/screenwriter/songwriter Gwen Davis, introduced me to Melissa Braverman. Melissa is the creator and writer for the blog (and adventure), singlegalnyc.com. If you haven't read it - I highly recommend you do so. Talking with her about the experiences she's had in speaking with other women across America about being single, was nothing short of inspiring. That's when I realized that it was time to come clean.

I never actually went sky diving.

There, I said it again.

You should know that I was fully intending on doing it. It wasn't for fear of jumping out of the airplane. In truth I don't know what it was. At the time, some personal issues and some financial issues collided into a perfect storm of stress and anxiety. I think I was constantly feeling as if I was already jumping out of a plane metaphorically, so I didn't feel the need to be doing it physically. Sadly, I have no better excuse than that.

Its made me wonder about the promises we make (and break) to ourselves. I was speaking with a friend of mine about the book Into Thin Air and how each of us would feel if our partners felt it was their lifelong dream to climb Everest. It's a hard one for me to imagine without being in the actual situation, but I wonder how I'd feel about someone not fulfilling their own self-promises. It's so easy to list the things that get in the way - and often the list includes perfectly sound and reasonable reasons. And often, the other side of the coin is a much shorter list - containing perhaps only one reason: because you promised yourself you would.

I hope one day that I will jump out of an airplane.