Wednesday, November 30, 2011

because

Because... the first time I met Benni (on set), he didn't talk to me for the first four hours (he told me later he was intimidated),

Because... we were both with other people romantically when we met so we struck up a very natural friendship while our relationships ran their course,

Because... after we got out of those relationships we waited a while so that we didn't make each other the rebounds,


Because... he makes me laugh harder and smile more than any man I've ever been with,

Because... I am a better person because of being with him,

Because... he kicks my ass at Scrabble and chess but he lets me kick his ass when it comes to grammar and vocabulary and Shakespeare quotes,


Because... his eyes are the brightest blue I have possibly ever seen,

Because... he's a better cook than I am, so he cooks four out of five meals (hey, I do the dishes!),

Because... he has faced unspeakable tragedy in his life, losing two family members before he reached the age of 25, and he still has the most open, non-cynical heart I know,


Because... he is the sweetest, kindest, most thoughtful guy I know, but doesn't take crap from a lot of people,

Because... he is patient and understanding with me, but doesn't hesitate to kick my butt if I need a verbal butt-kicking,

Because... he loves long walks in the evenings as much as I do, loves hiking as much as I do, loves hot chocolate as much as I do, and loves small, furry animals as much as I do,


Because... he looks at me like I'm the most beautiful girl on earth (this is even at 8 am when I'm in PJ's three sizes too big and my hair looks like it came from a Lady Gaga video)

Because... he forces me to put my b.s. aside, shoot my ego and ask questions later, and be an adult and have adult conversations,

Because... he wears his heart on his sleeve (literally, he has a freckle that's the shape of a heart on his arm),


Because of all these things, and a few thousand more...



When Benni got down on one knee and asked me to marry him on Thanksgiving, in front of my family, I said yes.



yes yes yes yes yes.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Feast on your life.

Love after Love

by Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.


Here I sit, at the end of November, and feast on my life. I just spent two days on set after booking a national commercial at the beginning of last week, and being on set is always something to be grateful for, more so when my co-stars are adorable 8 month old twins that I get to hold and play with between takes.

But it is not just having work that makes me grateful. It is having purpose, and having purpose gathers and gains its own momentum until it's a wave that you swore was behind you and now you realize you're just along for the ride.

I am getting sharper, clearer, stronger, about the ways I fit into this world, the ways I fit into the lives of others, the way I fit in with myself. My bristled edges are getting smoother, my heart is becoming more graceful and grateful, and I am able to sit just a little bit longer with myself, following my breath with its rise and fall in my chest. My intuition is stronger, I am less reactive and more responsive, my fists are a little less clenched and my heart is a little more open (but as an adult's, not like a child's.)

Give back your heart to itself. I am giving myself more credit, I am giving others more credit, I am becoming aware of how often people do kind things for me that before I just took for granted, and I am here, now, saying thank you. thank you. thank you. thank you.

I am drowning in a sea of gratitude and I am feasting upon my own life, which, incidentally enough, is interwoven with yours, and is plentiful because of yours, and is rich because of you. All of you.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Let the beauty we love be what we do

November is finally here, and with it comes autumn, Daylight Savings Time (FINALLY), buckets of nostalgia with a side of wistfulness, and for me, a chance to rest in the work I have already done while gearing up for more of it. If October is about grieving, November is about taking stock of what's been accomplished, of what there is to be grateful for, and resting while still in motion.

Don't ask me what December is yet. One thing at a time here, people.

The super top secret horror film that I've been working my ass off for months on has finally come into the public, and I'm so proud of it. You'll follow a group of college students through a psychology program that asks them to cut off all contact from social media for a week, and then asks them to cut themselves off from the rest of the world for a week with ONLY social media connecting them to others.

And then, of course, as it happens with horror... things go terribly, terribly wrong.

The website has several aspects to it - one is the webisodes, presented through YouTube, and one is a live streaming video of the "Kill Room" - where one unlucky participant in the program will find him or herself trapped at the start of each week. So tune in if you're a horror fan, because you'll get to see characters "killed" live - and you never know when my turn is coming. :)

(FYI - this site is Not Safe For Work, has strong language, is meant to be offensive, bloody, frightening, disturbing, blah blah blah words.) Enjoy!

The other thing I'm excited to talk about is that I got to cross a major item off my Bucket List when I was contacted by Comics on Comics to be ON a panel of geekery at the Long Beach Comic Con last week. I think I threw up out of excitement when they asked me, I'm not even kidding. (And apparently they think I'm funny?! Hey, I'll take it!) We discussed the new season of The Walking Dead, DC's new comic book reboot The New 52, Frank Miller's Islamophobic new comic book Holy Terror, and loads of other geeky subjects. This was the first time that anyone had ever said to me, Hey, you seem like a geek, and that's what we WANT. Talk about mind-blowing. And the panel was a blast to be on. I am so grateful.

I'll have more Hell Froze Over Season 2 updates closer to the end of the year - we are shooting in January and February of next year and there is some incredible actors already involved that I'm dying to work with. :)

In the meantime, I've got pictures! of other things I've been up to (because who doesn't love pictures!, right?)

On the set for the film. Yes, I permanently make that face.


I ended up going apple picking twice last month - once with my friends in early October, and another trip up on Halloween weekend to celebrate my mom and aunt's birthdays (they are twins.)


picking raspberries


One of the apple farms.


Pumpkin patch!


One of the apple mills.


Apple cider donuts. Yessssssssss.


I also ate WAY too much candy corn in October. Yummm....



Benni and I also celebrated our own Tim Burton Day, by seeing his exhibit at the LACMA with friends (pictures were not allowed to be taken of his creations, so there's only one picture that's his and the rest is of other exhibits at LACMA) and then we capped off the night by seeing "Nightmare Before Christmas" at the historic El Capitan Theater in Hollywood. It was an excellent day.


"Urban Lights," or, as I call it, the Lamp Forest at LACMA


Benni looks overwhelmed by the size of those dishes.


At the very end of the Tim Burton exhibit.


Various animal heads greeted us outside the Tim Burton exhibit.


And finally: we made it to the movie :)


I hope you had a lovely October, and that your November is just as nice. I will catch you next week!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Shake It Out

I've never done this before, so bear with me. I'm trying to post a video onto my page and until I hit "publish post" I'm not even sure it's gonna show up. So... here's to taking risks! (If it doesn't embed, you can find the music video here.)

I first heard "Shake it Out," the single off Florence + the Machine's second album (which will be released on November 1st, Dios de los Muertos, fittingly enough) a few weeks ago and I sat back and thought, this is going to be my theme song for October.

And it still is.





"Regrets collect like old friends
Here to relive your darkest moments
I can see no way, I can see no way
And all of the ghouls come out to play."

It's true that I regret very little in my life, the choices I make and have made. Part of what is wonderful about being a "present-focused" person is that I live in the immediate here and now. Of course, this does provide an astonishing lack of perspective occasionally, but most of the time, I am happy because I am not wishing for the future or longing for the past. Things settle on my skin and the tip of my tongue and I stay with them, allowing sensations and memories to melt and breathing it all in. But October is always a month to look back, to dig up the dead, even for me. I find myself looking at the past, not with regret, but certainly not without sadness. October, of all the months, is the month in which we grieve, and stand in front of death and birth, and feel the changes that are happening in our lives the most.

I've spent the last month and a half surrounded by tasks, tasks that required me to be fully present and 100% on my game, even as there were things swirling around me at all times. The last forty days required absolute focus and left me with very little room for error. As soon as I got back from Yosemite, I spent 11 days on set, from 6 pm to 6 am, and since this project was strictly a labor of love, I would then drive to my job at 6 am and work an 6 hour shift before returning to set.

In the middle of the shoot, I planned a lecture for my church that required me to organize reaching out to the community, advertise to other churches in the area, plan to feed everyone who attended, pick up the speaker at the airport, and do generally everything else that goes along with planning a huge speaking event. And it went fabulously, without a hitch.

Towards the end of the shoot, I was also blessed to officiate Lira's wedding. You can check out pictures here (I'm in a couple) and I have to say: the wedding was beautiful. Even running off the tiny amount of sleep I was going off of, I was able to officiate quite well, marry Lira and her boy Anthony correctly, and then designate myself Wedding Coordinator for the rest of the day, making sure Lira and Anthony actually got to eat, sit down, and enjoy their own wedding.

As soon as I was done with the still-under-wraps mysterious horror project that I will plug as soon as I can, I went straight into pre-production for season two of Hell Froze Over, the web-series I was in in 2009, and started shooting ANOTHER web-series, Living with Frankenstein, a supernatural British comedy where I play Mary Shelley, who, along with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley (and Frankenstein's monster) is living in modern day Los Angeles. :)

"And every demon wants his pound of flesh
But I like to keep some things to myself
I like to keep my issues strong
It's always darkest before the dawn."

And it's true that I like to keep some things private. It's always tough with a blog to balance what belongs in the public and what belongs in the privacy of our own hearts. When I am having a tough time, my friends and family are not always the first to know. But I am learning to put into words the feelings I feel when I'm not quite sure how to react or deal with the things that upset me. And I honestly think I'm getting better.

"And I've been a fool and I've been blind
I can never leave the past behind
I can see no way, I can see no way
I'm always dragging that horse around."

What October teaches me, more than anything, is that it is not letting go of the past that is the most important. It is coming to peace with the fact that the past will never be let go of. I grieve but I also sit in the grief, carry it like a blanket, and it keeps me company and the less I try to shoo it off my porch and the more I just let it keep me company... the quieter the past becomes in my head.

"And our love is pastured such a mournful sound
Tonight I'm gonna bury that horse in the ground
So I like to keep my issues strong
But it's always darkest before the dawn.

"Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh
Shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, shake it out, ooh"

So I shake it out. I shake the grief, the tension, the sleeplessness, the stress, the frenetic frenzied energy, I shake all of it out my body and I keep on doing what I've always done. Which is put one foot in front of the other.

"And it's hard to dance with a devil on your back
So shake him off, oh woah

I am done with my graceless heart
So tonight I'm gonna cut it out and then restart
Cause I like to keep my issues strong
It's always darkest before the dawn."

I am done picking fights (did you SEE my last post?), done with my own graceless heart that cuts impatiently across conversations and memories and full-bloodied emotions, done being tired and less than understanding towards what others are going through, done being less than sympathetic and done being a full-blown workaholic who puts her best friend's wedding on her to-do list instead of her to-celebrate list.

Because it's hard to dance with a devil on your back, and October has more devils than most months. But man, you gotta just shake that crap out and restart. Because October has a lot of endings, for sure. But it also has beginnings, too.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Rape is not a metaphor.

I did NOT want to write this post.

I tried my damndest not to. But it kept boiling inside me, all the things I needed to say, and if that's not what a blog is for, then I don't know what is.

I would love to be filling you guys in on the new web-series I've been working on, or how the horror movie I've been shooting was 11 days of fun and blood and screaming and sleep deprivation, or how Lira's wedding (which I officiated) went.

But first, I have to get this off my chest.

A blogger that I absolutely adore and respect to the highest degree (whom I STILL adore and respect to the highest degree, but I absolutely disagree with on this point) blogged about the Johnny Depp Incident. Basically, Johnny Depp, in an interview with this month's Vanity Fair, compared the act of sitting through a photo shoot to being raped. His words were: "Well, you just feel like you’re being raped somehow. Raped.... It feels like a kind of weird –- just weird."

And this blogger said there was no need to apologize (which the lovely Johnny Depp did, after being called out about it by RAINN) and that we had become too hypersensitive in this day and age about the meaning of words. Commenters agreed with her, saying that many, many things can be raped, including Mother Earth, celebrities by the media, etc.

So this is what I wrote:

"I'm going to have to disagree and say that I'm pleased that he apologized. Part of what is now Rape Culture is using the word "raped" to mean things that do NOT mean raped. When Johnny (whom I adore to the highest degree) said that he felt raped by a photo shoot, he did not ACTUALLY mean that he physically had someone shove a body part into an orifice of his while he repeatedly said NO and that he will have to deal with the guilt and shame regarding what he was wearing and how he was acting for the rest of his life. He will not have to deal with society judging him, labeling him a slut, telling him he "asked for it" and to just move on. He will not have to take a pregnancy test and wonder if he might be carrying the baby of the person who violated him, he will not have flashbacks of being raped while he's trying to be intimate with his wife, he will not find himself afraid of the dark or back alleys or wonder "What if" for the rest of his life. He will not spend a large amount of time (perhaps the rest of his life) being ashamed and afraid of his own sexuality.

He will not do any of this because he was not raped, yet he used the word raped. I don't think it's Political Correctness, and I don't think sexual abuse survivors have "hijacked a word." I think they know all too well that rape is serious and horrific and loaded and comes with a slew of baggage put upon it by society, and it is Rape Culture that says that is acceptable to use that word casually and throw it around and take the seriousness away from it. Rape Culture is making it casual and funny and when people STOP wincing at that word, then fuck it, we have a much bigger problem on our hands.

Thanks for listening."

And I thought that was that, and I moved on with my day. Except for the fact that I didn't move on. I couldn't. I got more and more frustrated the more I thought about it. Because I don't think the word "raped" should be used as a metaphor, much like I don't think the word "retarded" or "gay" should either. The definition of rape is not "whenever I feel particularly violated." It is an act of sexual assault, and if you take the sex out of rape then you are watering it down to a PC Diet Coke version of something very real, very tangible, and very traumatizing that happens to a lot of people. The very definition of rape includes sex; the word "violate" does not.

A few years back my car was broken into. Did I feel violated? Sure. Did I go around telling people I was raped? No, I did not. Violated is not the same as raped.

But people are now raped all the time. They are raped by Netflix raising its prices, raped at gas stations due to raising prices, raped at copy centers due to raising prices.. come to think of it, I don't hear people use the word "rape" as a metaphor NOT related to money very often. How do you think that makes actual rape victims feel? Do you think if someone came to you and tearfully told you that they were raped, that you'd nod and say, I was raped last week too when I was asked to pay more than I thought I should for a goods or service! We have so much to talk about now!

No. You wouldn't do that.

Celebrities are also raped, sometimes for hours on end... on red carpets, at photo shoots. In interviews. So let's imagine that scenario, shall we? Imagine a loved one calls you up. You ask how they are. Not so good, they say. I was just raped. Oh my God, you exclaim, what happened? Your loved one goes on to explain that he or she willingly showed up to a job, where he or she proceeded to work at this job for several hours, didn't express any feelings of uncomfortableness or reservations about this job while the work was being done, was paid for this job, and afterward felt taken advantage of in some way. Now, I'm not undermining this experience. To feel taken advantage of, even when you are getting paid, and you showed up willingly, and you expressed your feelings to no one (because if you had, people would have rushed to rectify this) is not a fun one. But it is not the same thing as being raped.

You cannot have rape without sex, my friends. You CAN.NOT. If you have rape without sex then you are taking the very loaded, complicated, horrific aspect of this crime and putting glitter on it. The Mother Earth can be violated, trashed, taken advantage of, used, spat upon, and neglected. But until someone finds a way to sexually assault an entire planet, no, it was not raped.

There are millions upon millions of people out there who have suffered sexual violence. Some are women who have been forced to marry their rapists to protect their honor, and so they continue to be raped. Some women were raped on dates, some men and women are raped by their partners, some men and women who are raped while passed out at parties. Rape is humiliating, and shaming, and is rarely punishable or provable in court (leading to the statistic that only 1 in 20 rapists will ever see a day behind bars, and that a rapist, assuming correctly that he will not be prosecuted, rapes an average of 6 times in his life time. Yes, even date rapists.)

Rape is a struggle for one person to exert power over another. Rape is something that happens to everyone, of all races, incomes, religions, and cultures. Rape seeks to silence people by creating a bubble of shame around it. Society encourages this by saying "she's asking for it" and putting the sexual history of rape victims on trial when the very rare incident of a rape going to court actually DOES happen.

Rape is many, many things. But rape is not a metaphor. And it should not be used as one.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What I did this summer: a visual book report

Oh, I'm fully aware that my posts this summer, have, oh I don't know, sucked righteously? (As Bath pointed out: only I can get away with posting about how I'm going to post something. But I only get away with it because you guys LET ME, you enablers you.) But I guess that's what happens when you step away from the computer and put yourself into perpetual motion for three months straight, and I guess I'd say that even though I've missed you all terribly, and missed blogging regularly, I wouldn't have had it any other way :) I sort of had to take a step back from blogging about how ungrateful I was and instead get off my chair and go live myself back INTO gratitude. If that makes any sense, or maybe it just sounds like it belongs on the side of a Starbucks cup. But either way, it worked.

So behold: What I Did This Summer, by Tracy Clifton.

Both my brother Jeff's and Benni's birthday is Independence Day, so we caught an Anaheim Angels game and then watched the fireworks at the stadium. (cough:: go Red Sox ::cough) And if you were at all a little doubtful that after eating a huge hot dog and an ENTIRE bag of Cracker Jack by yourself at a baseball game you would still be able to devour ice cream birthday cake, people, consider me your Myth-buster.


I have no idea what I was wearing to make it look like I have
awesome cleavage in this shot, but hey, I'll take it.



baby, you're a firrrrrrework


Next up was San Diego's Comic Con, where all things nerdy and geeky unite. I went dressed as Neil Gaiman's Death (it was a Halloween costume a few years ago) and Benni went as the Eleventh Doctor from the Doctor Who British television series. Fun fact: dressing up as The Doctor gets you more squealing fan-girls than I would have thought. Benni was a lucky man at Comic Con this year. :)

Benni posing in front of his blue phone booth, complete
with the Doctor's sonic screwdriver.



Me posing with Wendy Pini, creator of Elfquest
(my first comic-book!) and all-around feminist bad-ass.



Darth is the MAN.


I met another Death! She was more old-school but super-sweet.


Benni and I battle it out in front of the Emperor's Throne from Star Wars.
C'mon, people, if you put a sonic screwdriver up against a light-saber,
who do YOU think would win?!


Yes. Yes, that is Mark Hamill, Luke Skywalker from Star Wars.
I about died. I was going to tell him that when I was little,
I wanted to be Luke Skywalker when I grew up, although
that's obviously a lie. Everyone knows I wanted to be Boba Fett.



Benni and I in full costume.


When Benni and I got back from Comic-Con, we got to go to the new Dino Hall Exhibit at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum (I'm a museum geek) and it was awesome! If you're in LA I highly suggest going.

grrrrr argh


A few weeks after that, Benni and I were invited to go The Magic Castle in Hollywood, one of the top places to go and watch magic. We got to see a lot of sleight of hand tricks in the close-up gallery (I was sitting two feet from the magician and I STILL couldn't see how he did his tricks) and a lot of illusions in the big theater room. It was fantastic. The Magic Castle has a dress code, too, so women have to wear dresses and men are required to wear coats and ties, so you feel super fancy when you go. :)


super fancy clothes require that you kick one foot into the air behind you. FACT.


And then two weeks ago I started shooting on my top-secret horror film (so no pictures allowed, sadly) and then I went to Yosemite National Park last weekend with Benni, my mom and aunt, my brother Jeff, my cousin Tom and his girlfriend Val. We road-tripped up with Tom and Val in his SUV and opened the sun roof and just soaked up the fresh air and sunshine.



View from the back of the car.


bliss.

When we got to the campsite, we set up camp and had dinner, then got some rest. The next day we all hiked to Yosemite Falls and then my mom and aunt took a break while Benni, Jeff, Tom, Val and I rock-hopped over to the base of the falls. Here's Yosemite Falls:




We then took a drive up to Glacier Point, where you can see almost an entire 360 degree view of Yosemite Valley, and I took a picture of Half Dome in the valley:



and got a picture of (from l. to r.) Benni, Val, Tom, and Jeff standing on the wall that looks out over the valley. Gorgeous, no?


I also tried to be artsy and take a picture from inside a rock shelter of the valley outside, complete with Half Dome in the forefront. If you notice the bunny ears on the right hand side, that's my mom(!!) photo-bombing my picture. As you can tell, my mom has as much emotional maturity as a I do. Which is to say, zilch.




The following day was our big hike day. My mom and aunt decided to accompany the rest of the gang to Vernal Fall, which is a 2.5 mile hike round trip, and then the youngsters would continue up to Nevada Fall, which is an 8 mile hike round trip. Here we are at the top of Nevada Fall, just before a huge thunderstorm rolled in:


(l. to r.: Tom, Val, Jeff, Benni, me)


Here's an unobstructed view of Nevada Fall:




And here' s Benni and me at the top of the fall:


Right after that picture a huge clap of thunder sounded, we put on our ponchos, and hustled our butts 4 miles back down the trail so as to not get fried by lightening. Good times!

The next day we relaxed and drove all around the park. Here's a deer tail for you! She was just sort of cruising a parking lot, looking for fallen apples off the apples trees they have, and wasn't really intimidated by people at all until they got a little too close for her liking.



The final day we drove to the national Sequoia park that Yosemite has on the outskirts of its own park, and saw The Grizzly Giant, which is roughly 18 stories tall and guesstimated to be approximately 2000 years old. I left the people there at the very bottom in the picture so you can see the scale of this thing. Absolutely amazing - if you put a full-sized jet alongside it and propped it up on its end, the tree would still be taller.




Overall, I had a wonderful experience camping and hiking, but I'm glad to be back where there are warm showers, soft beds.... and cell phone reception. Check out what this guy had to do just to have a conversation :)



And that's my summer in a nutshell. I've still another week of shooting The Sunshine Project, and I've got a road-trip up to Santa Barbara for a friend's wedding this weekend, and I'm officiating this pretty girl's wedding at the beginning of October. So I'm still staying busy but I'll always remember to post pictures! Even if they're three months late! YAY!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

September

(photo credit: I got it from here)

“Here is the truth about September: it sneaks up on you and all of a sudden it’s autumn, and you don’t know what to do with your recently orphaned August daydreams so you tuck them between the pages of brand new notebooks and leave them in the corners of your sweatshirt pockets to gather lint and you set them on fire until all the trees are smoldering red and orange and yellow.” - unknown (meaning: I don't know who said it. If you do, please let me know in your comment?)

I am busier than I have been in a very, very long time... but tomorrow I leave for Yosemite National Park and I plan on not turning on my phone once, not answering a single email, just spending time with my family and boyfriend and taking photographs and hiking until my heart quickens and my breath deepens and I am grateful for every last ounce of my life.

I will be back next week with a GPOY post (Gratuitous Pictures of Yourself) that will cover everything from the Fourth of July to my new headshots to a few pictures on set of the horror film I'm still shooting to Yosemite, and everything in between.

Have a beautiful week, everyone. I'm so grateful to be a part of this blogging community.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

mid-air suspension

Do you ever feel two things at once - 1) like you are moving way too fast, and there's way too much happening, for you to be able to really take a step back and assess, and 2) that you're a trapeze artist, swinging from one pole to the other, suspended in mid-air, waiting, waiting for that moment when everything comes into reach...

That's me these days. Things are moving fast, very fast - there's a lot of change, a lot of things happening that I will catch you up on - but other times I am suspended, weightless, in mid-air, waiting, waiting, waiting.

The movement in my life includes the fact that I SUCKED IT UP and bought a beautiful, brand new car (seriously, not a used new car, which are the only kinds of cars I've had all my life, but a NEW new car), and I participated in the LA 48 Hour Film Festival, where each group gets assigned a genre, a prop, a line of dialogue, and a character that must be used, and each team has 48 hours to write it, shoot it, edit it, and deliver it back to the post-production house. We screen tomorrow, and ours is a dark little comedy that I had a leading role in, and I'm very, very happy with my work and how it turned out in general.

I am also planning an event for my church, which I'm really excited about; I increased my work hours at my job, which will mean a slight increase in my income, which is why I sucked it up and bought the car; and I booked the lead in a gritty, low-budget horror movie that's set to shoot in a few weeks, and then literally the moment I wrap the film I'm going up to Yosemite with my family and spending five fantastic days getting zero cell phone service, taking a lot of deep breaths, walking a lot, taking four thousand pictures, and eating my weight in marshmallows.

Movement, indeed. There's a lot going on, a lot of balls up in the air that I'm using every ounce of my not-so-existent coordination to catch, and there's a lot of responsibility on my shoulders to get everything done, and organized, and taken care of.

Frankly, I'm a little burned out.

And then there's the other side of it, where I'm still waiting for movement, inertia, ANYTHING, to move ahead with me getting a theatrical agent in this town, and wanting to go on more auditions, and create more opportunities for acting for myself. And it just feels like it's crawling at a snail's pace. How can one area of my life move so fast and another move so slow? I feel like I'm permanently getting whiplash. Or at least carsick.

But that's me, I'm here, I am getting back into the swing of things and I'm working out more, which means less anxiety, and I finally bought that damn tree-hugging hippy New Age meditation CD which will probably work wonders as soon as I get over myself and open the damn thing. (Remember, I'm from New Hampshire. Robert Frost musing about giving into frostbite is about as sentimental as we get.)

To quote another poet: We're clear, we're ourselves, we're sailing.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I'm not dead/ just floating

The problem with using your blog as a diary and simultaneous motivator is obvious, when you look at it: it's the very simple fact that when things are hard in your life, you don't want to make a record of it to go back to; but then you can't really blog so you end up feeling alone. And as someone who considers myself a fighter, with that very New England spirit of hating whiners, even more so when it's myself doing the whining, I basically boxed myself in, and left myself with no one to talk to. And I shut you all out. And for that, I'm sorry.

I think blogs are supposed to represent us at our most honest: the good days and the bad. And when I'm doing badly, well, I tend to push people away and not want to talk about it, because I'm pretty sure you don't want to hear it. And I hate talking about it, I really do. And I sometimes think this blog is supposed to be the place where I put my best face forward (except for the occasional hilarious story about me knocking myself unconscious on a tree) and I think I need to just knock that the hell off.

So many of you left beautiful, wonderful, amazingly supportive comments that I just never even responded to - which is crappy of me - and I want to say belatedly that every single one of them made me light up inside and grin and tear up and feel like you guys really do understand me. And a very special shout-out goes to Bathwater, who not only left me incredibly supportive comments but also tirelessly emailed me to check in on me. Bath, you are an amazing man. I can't thank you enough for being such a good friend.

Things are moving ahead slowly and steadily. To be absolutely and brutally honest, which I'm trying to be a bit more, I have stopped being able to make it to my martial arts classes and without those natural mood-lifting endorphins I get when I exercise, I relapsed into my depression. I don't talk a lot about my depression, mostly because when I work out three days a week I'm usually beating it, but sometimes it gets the better of me, and I hate feeling like I'm admitting defeat when I post about it. But there it is. It is a constant weight on my shoulders, and I am always aware of it, looking for signs of it, looking for when I open my mouth and instead of it being ME who speaks, it is the depression - and it knows all of my back doors and cracks and buttons, this demon, and it's really damn good at making me want to give up.

So I have that to wrestle with, and I'm going to try meditation (if you just rolled your eyes, believe me, I did too, but I'm out of drug-less options at this point) so that I can actually sleep at night and concentrate and not tear up when things aren't 100 percent perfect. I'm also going to be buying a new car in September that I can't really afford, but the constant repairs that I ALSO can't afford will cease and I will be driving a car that I actually like for my two hour daily commute, and that will make things better. I am also auditioning more, moving forward with a second season of my web-series, and I'm going to go restore my soul by camping at Yosemite in early September.

So good things are happening and are on the horizon. I'm horribly behind on reading and commenting on everyone's blogs - again, my apologies. I took a giant step back from this blog, but honestly, now that I think about it, I moved in the wrong direction. I see now that with blogger friends like you guys, I didn't need to step back. I needed to step forward and really listen to how amazingly supportive you guys were, and I'm gonna try to work at doing that from now on.

Much love and light,
Tracy

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Gamblers All (by Charles Bukowski)

sometimes you climb out of bed in the morning and you think,
i’m not going to make it, but you laugh inside
remembering all the times you’ve felt that way, and
you walk to the bathroom, do your toilet, see that face
in the mirror, oh my oh my oh my, but you comb your hair anyway,
get into your street clothes, feed the cats, fetch the
newspaper of horror, place it on the coffee table, kiss your
wife goodbye, and then you are backing the car out into life itself,
like millions of others you enter the arena once more.

you are on the freeway threading through traffic now,
moving both towards something and towards nothing at all as you punch
the radio on and get mozart, which is something, and you will somehow
get through the slow days and the busy days and the dull
days and the hateful days and the rare days, all both so delightful
and so disappointing because
we are all so alike and so different.

you find the turn-off, drive through the most dangerous
part of town, feel momentarily wonderful as mozart works
his way into your brain and slides down along your bones and
out through your shoes.

it’s been a tough fight worth fighting
as we all drive along
betting on another day.

**************************************************

I've been reading this poem a lot lately. Not much new to report, still suffering minor setbacks and minor triumphs. But as Bukowski also once said, "It's been a beautiful fight. Still is."

I'm making my way back.


(I WISH the fort I've been hiding in looked like this. I got it from here.)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I quit

I called it quits last week. From life, from TRYING so hard to do everything - and I must say, it's been rather nice.

Two weeks ago, my car broke down - yet again - and cost me another $50o I did not have. I can't afford car payments on a new car, and I can't afford to keep spending $500 fixing the car I do have, and both of my jobs are two hour daily commutes, with no bus routes to either one. I went round and round in my head, trying to think of solutions, resources, things I could do differently...

Nope. Nothing.

I got my car back the next day (it spent the night in the shop) and spent the day driving around Hollywood, trying to drop off headshot submissions to theatrical agents. I had six to drop off... traffic was so bad I was only able to drop off two. I spent five hours in traffic, getting sun-burnt, no air conditioning, just to drop off two envelopes. And when I got home I realized that I had forgotten to attach resumes to the headshots of those submissions. I guess it's lucky I was only able to drop off two of them, eh?

I finished up my submissions and haven't heard a peep. Not a single word. And last week, I spent most of Monday night/early Tuesday morning vomiting violently, to what I can only guess was food poisoning, because I have not felt that ill in a very, very long time. Benni got it a little bit too (for all those smart-asses about to suggest maybe I was pregnant) but he didn't have to throw up, thank God.

And I had friends and family members on both ends telling me to work harder. Work even harder to submit to agents, work even harder to figure out what to do with the car, work even harder and longer hours doing this, or that, or organizing this, or planning that...

No.

I quit.

This week, anyway.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

flood stories

This past weekend, my friends and I visited the Skirball Cultural Center, a museum in LA that tells history from a Jewish perspective, for their new exhibit on Harry Houdini, arguably the most amazing magician and escape artist the world has ever seen. The exhibit is incredible, and I highly recommend going to see it, but while you're at the Skirball I also highly recommend the permanent Noah's Ark exhibit they have, primarily for kids (or, in our case, for adults that act like kids).

The Noah's Ark exhibit is built like a huge ark that you walk through, with stuffed animals and cubby holes and other larger animals made out of all re-used, found objects like spatulas and rubber tires, and it has roped passages running along the top for kids to crawl through. My friends and I had a blast playing like little kids around this ark.

But something stuck with me besides just the playfulness. When you first enter into the exhibit, you sit down with your group around a pretend campfire and listen to a storyteller who tells you what you are about to experience. Our storyteller noted that across land and time, different cultures and religions from vastly different regions all had mythical stories about A Great Flood. The storyteller went on to explain that each culture's story of a Great Flood was very similar - it starts with rain. The winds pick up, the thunder booms and the lightening crashes, people gather their loved ones together into a boat or a house and they ride out the storm together, less afraid and strengthening the bonds of love with each other.

Our storyteller asked us - a few adults and mostly small children- what every flood story had in common after it started raining. The adults wavered. They got in a boat? "No, before that," our storyteller said. "What did the people do after it started raining but before it started flooding?"

A little boy raised his hand and said, "They told someone."

The storyteller pounced. "They told someone!" In every flood story, the main idea is not that it was pouring rain, or that there was a boat, but that the people told others and asked the ones they loved the most to get in the boat with them.

Ever feel like when it rains, it pours? That your own life is flooding? This past week has been like that, and even with its highs (successfully raising enough funds for a second season of my web-series; my kickass Boston Bruins winning the Stanley Cup for the first time in over thirty years), I also hit some serious lows, most involving my car being in the shop for two days and me spending, once again, the equivalent of several months of car payments to get it fixed. Again. I've also been overwhelmed career-wise, and let's face it, I've just been feeling... well, like I was drowning.

But I'm ridiculously bad at telling someone. RIDICULOUSLY. Maybe it's the Robert Frost-Stiff Upper Lip-New Englander background, or the fact that I'm stubborn, or the fact that I like to focus on the positive and not talk about the negative. But whatever it is, when my life is flooding, I don't tell anyone. I just sort of sit there and watch as the water inches up past my chest and seethe. (I'm sure none of you know what I'm talking about here.)

But as I listened to this storyteller talk to the kids, I started to realize that maybe she was on to something here. After all, why do we tell stories in the first place? Why do we blog, why do we post Facebook statuses, when things aren't exactly going well in our life? I think we do them to gather up our friends and family, into one safe, small place, and feel comforted, and loved. And it doesn't start until you tell someone.

Lately I've been leaning a lot on Lira, my "sister", who has literally dropped what she's been doing and driven over to my place numerous times just to sit down and talk me through my discouragement, and I lean on Alyssa, my best bestie, who always knows exactly what to say and when to try to help me fix it and when to just listen, and of course, Benni, always Benni, being there, being consistently wonderful, picking my sad butt off the ground again and again and giving the best hugs in the world. But lately, I've brushed this amazing trio off with mutterings of "I don't want to talk about it," because I'm sick and tired of feeling like a burden, like my life is ALWAYS flooding in one capacity or another, and that I should just suck it up and fix my own damn problems without a word to anyone about needing help.

That hasn't really worked out so well, so glad you asked. So Plan B, which is supposed to be Plan A but it's funny how we reverse those sometimes, is going back to basics:

Pick myself off the ground. Put one foot in front of the other. And start telling someone.
Link

Monday, June 6, 2011

House-keeping

Balance is a funny thing.

And by funny I mean that it's hard, like in the way I say that playing darts is funny (well, it is when I do it.) I mean, let's face it, I suck at balance. A lot. And I'm not even talking about physical balance here, either. I'm talking about the balance that all of us carefully navigate each day of physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental balance. I spend a lot of time in the zone when I'm really trying to accomplish something in my life, which is great, because then I become uber-focused... but then I look up from what I've been doing, and oh look, the dishes are piling up the sink, the cat has died of hunger*, and I haven't blogged in three weeks.

Whoops.

So hello, blog world! How have you been? And where have I been, you ask?

I've been working my butt off, actually. Doing that other thing that I love so much besides writing - acting.

In 2009 I was the lead in a little award-winning web-series called Hell Froze Over (I'm not using "little" ironically, sadly, but the part about it winning an award is true). Hell Froze Over is a quirky, hilarious, occasionally raunchy and sometimes blood-splattered show that I just fell in love with and had a blast working on. (You can check out all ten of the episodes here and a pretty fair review of the series here.) And since it debuted two years ago everyone who worked on it has spent a lot of time and energy trying to make a Season 2 happen.

So we decided to use Kickstarter, a fundraising website that asks the creators of a project to set a financial goal and a deadline, and then the creators in turn ask friends, family, frenemies, and total strangers to "pledge" a donation to get the project funded. If we hit our goal by the deadline, we get to keep the money - if we don't hit our goal, we don't get to keep ANY of the money. So it's an all or nothing thing here, folks.

I have spent the last few weeks beating the pavement, asking people to donate money over Facebook, in real life, and on YouTube... while not wearing a shirt. (Yeah, you read that right. Um, this video of me is not quite safe for work, as I would rate it PG-13.) But in the end- WE HIT OUR GOAL!!!!!!!!!! And we still have 8 days left for people to contribute (people have been going here to donate) and are still getting more and more contributions a day. You guys, I am so excited, and so completely and utterly grateful for how generous people really are. We start shooting in a few weeks and I'm just about hyperventilating in anticipation of all the fun things I get to do this season. YAAY!!!!

The other news is that I got cast in a low-budget feature horror film which will be shooting over the summer, and I've never acted in a horror film before so I'm excited to scream my little blonde head off and possibly be soaked in blood while running away from a psychopath. All at the same time.

And I also got new headshots taken for my commercial agent, I've been doing the rounds to get a new theatrical agent, I started a new acting class that is kicking my ass, and oh yeah... it was my birthday on Saturday so I've been feeling spoiled rotten by my friends and family (and I think I'm still on a sugar high).

So I know I've been gone, but I'm gonna be better about keeping everyone updated on what I'm doing and trying to stay up to date with everyone else's lives. In the meantime, I'm off to go visit some of your blogs and looking forward to reconnecting with everyone.

Have a wonderful week, guys!



* the cat didn't really die of hunger, but acts like she is going to Every.Single.Morning.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

but fear itself

I would like to take this moment to give everyone else the credit for this post. I had something very specific in mind that I was gonna post about, mainly apologizing for being behind on posting and commenting, followed by a little bit of the blame game on Blogger for throwing up on the only two days last week that I actually had time to post, and then following it up by giving you guys some spiffy updates on what I've been up to.

But then I read my dear friend Robin's letters to her father who has probably less than two weeks to live. And I read my best friend Alyssa's post about how her sixth graders fear that this Saturday will be the end of the world and how frustrated that makes her feel. So this is what I came up with instead, because instead of telling you what I wanted to say, I listened to what some of you might like to hear.

Despite what the news these days might try to convince you of, fear is not a new thing. Oh, no. Fear has been around for hundreds of thousands of years. Millions, if you think back to probably how terrified the little itty bitty dinosaurs were of the really really big dinosaurs. Fear is what kept us in our caves during lightening storms thousands of years ago, fear is what kept us from eating that bright red plant that turned out to be poisonous hundreds of years ago, fear is what keeps us from running naked in traffic (fear on more than one level on that last one, if we're gonna be honest. I am not brave enough to jog naked.) Fear keeps us alive, keeps us alert, keeps us safe.

But fear has a season. It has an expiration date, it has a time and place where it is no longer needed and no longer useful and IT EXPIRED YESTERDAY. We have lived with fear for so long that these days we breathe it and think it's air. And then we wonder why we're choking. We find it normal to be afraid, possibly even wise, and we exist in such a constant state of fear that it controls the way we think and move and breathe. And all the ways that we DON'T think, or move, or breathe. All the ways that we just stare, like a deer caught in the headlights, and read the doom and gloom of a society and a world that would keep us afraid for the sheer fact that we PAY THEM to keep us afraid. You and I subscribe every day, line up for it, give us this day our daily fear, and when we run out of things to be afraid of we create more things to be afraid of. Give me the number of terrorists you think we should kill before you start to feel safe again and I will show you what fear really is. Tell me the number of people in your neighborhood whom you wish worshiped and looked the same as you and I will show you what fear really is.

Because fear is a bottomless well that you are dumping your food into and then waiting beside it, starving, for the bones to be spat back up. And when nothing happens, when you still do not feel safe or full, you start pouring yourself into that well, until there is nothing left of you but emptiness.

It's tempting to think that the world is chaotic, dark, troubling and, yes, perhaps ending. That things are getting worse, that the greedy are getting greedier and the poor are getting poorer. But being afraid or angry doesn't make these things go away. Fear doesn't offer solutions, and it doesn't bring us closer together. You think the nut who came up with the idea that the Rapture is on May 21st did it so that we could all come together as one, so we can all learn how to love each other and accept each universally, regardless of nationality, sexual orientation, religious creed, race, or sex? Do you think this guy wants peace on earth?

No. He doesn't. He's not interested in the least. Because last of all, but never to be forgotten, is that fear has an agenda. It will fight to keep you looking only at the surface of things so that you forget to live your life, so that you stop seeing, really SEEING, people. It will fight to keep you locked indoors all day and suspicious of others. It will fight to keep you fighting with so many others, others that you could just as easily love.

Love is the most amazing gift we are given, and the choices we make are what define us. Love in the face of fear is what sends us across borders and across cultural lines, it's what lets us treat homeless people like humans and lets us write beautiful, incredibly strong letters to our parents in their last days. It lets us carry our strength inside us, our faith, and keeps us connecting with each other when it feels like all hope is gone.

Love is what not only lets us live in the face of fear, but also helps us overcome it.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

5...4...3...2...1

5 events I am totally looking forward to in the next few weeks:

5. Houdini exhibit at the Skirball

4. Tim Burton exhibit at LACMA

3. Mother's Day picnic on Sunday with the family

2. Going to Magic Mountain

1. My friend Anthony's comic book signing next Wednesday

(yes, I'm aware most of those events were definitely nerdy in nature)


4 things I recently bought and I could not BE happier:

4. I'm not a purse person, having bought exactly two in my life, but here's the purse I just bought and I am in LOVE. I never thought I'd like an inanimate object so much in my life.

3. These four Beatles prints. They are gorgeous, and I find it hilarious how clearly they show just how useless Ringo Starr really was to the Beatles. Benni and I found album frames at a craft store and hung them up in our dining room, over our record player (Vinyl FTW!)

2. Tank tops from Target. They are $8 and they go with everything. I don't think I need to explain this one much more...

1. $1.29 daffodils from Trader Joe's. How many times can you say that something you spent a $1.29 on made you blissfully happy for an entire week? But flowers just do that.


3
of the best things I have read lately:

3. The Happiness Hypothesis - amazing, incredible, very non-new Agey, very practical and scientific exploration of happiness. Best book I've read in a very long time.

2. A Short History of Nearly Everything - hysterical, makes science absolutely fascinating, and makes you giddy just to be alive.

1. This commencement speech by David Foster Wallace, which is heartrendingly beautiful and inspiring and I try to read at least once a week. (It's floating around the internet under the title This is Water)




1 funny story about LA:

I'm sitting in my car in downtown Hollywood, waiting for the light to turn green, when a homeless man carrying a sign that says "Love One Another" ambles over to my open window. I'm not going to be rude, and I have a strict policy of treating homeless people like humans, so I smile as he comes up to my car.
"Excuse me, ma'am, do you have a hundred dollars you could spare?" he asks, eyes kind and smiling. I burst out laughing. Surely he knows how ridiculous this is, right?
"No," I said. "I'm sorry. I have no hundred dollar bills to give you today."
"That's okay," he says, still grinning. "I'll take a fifty if you have one."
Again, I crack up. "Nope, no fifty's either."
He shuffles from foot to foot and pretends to look confused. "How about a gift card to Best Buy?" he asks. By this time we're both laughing.
I look him straight in the eye and tell him, "Man, if I had a Best Buy gift card to give you, I honestly would."
"Next time," he says, and we fist bump, and all the other people in all the other cars can see me laughing and are rolling down their windows to give him money and the sun is shining and life, life my friends, is very, very good.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Poetry Fridays- poetry potpourri

For my very last Poetry Friday, I thought I'd shake things up a bit. Yes, I will still post poetry. But like I did last year, I will make my last Poetry Friday of 2011 a little different. This year I will include (gasp) two poems of my very own (Eric, quit asking me to do stuff, you know I'm bad at saying no to you), something I've never done before on this blog, mostly because you guys really don't need to read my tragically emo poetry that I wrote way back when I was a super depressed, hyper-aware 20 year old; and I'm also giving a nod to Bath and posting the lyrics to one of my favorite songs of all time (and my personal anthem), "Take to the Sky", by Tori Amos. Bath frequently writes posts that start off with song lyrics to tie into what he's going to talk about, and honestly, it's so genius, I don't know why I haven't stolen the idea yet.

So enjoy poetry of all different types today, and again - happy National Poetry Month to all of you. I hope you enjoyed the posts and I will be resuming more personal posts next week.

Kindness

by Naomi Shihab Nye


before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
what you held in your hand,
what you counted & carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
how you ride & ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize & chicken
will stare out the window forever.

before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
you must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
& the simple breath that kept him alive.

before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
you must wake up with sorrow.
you must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
& you see the size of the cloth.

then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
& sends you out into the day to mail letters & purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is i you have been looking for,
& then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.
------------------------------------------------------------------

Jan. 14th


by Tracy Clifton

What’s the point of being

A poet

If no one believes me anymore?

I have earned the lack of trust

That follows me around these days,

Clinging to my jacket like smoke,

Entering a room

Long before I do.

My consistencies are outweighed

By my insecurities,

Jumping like a dog

To please only those that kick me.

Who do I need to apologize to?

Look in the mirror, love.

------------------------------------------------------

I Wish in the City of Your Heart

by Robley Wilson


i wish in the city of your heart
you would let me be the street
where you walk when you are most
yourself. i imagine the houses:
it has been raining, but the rain
is done & the children kept home
have begun opening their doors.

--------------------------------------------------------------

Nov. 6th

by Tracy Clifton


Something is without

You here

Writing myself into a wall

We try to capture

The flag right back

But it’s changed loyalties

Don’t you know

I have paper cuts

On my lips

From kissing words too much,

And your silence is

A blindfold.

Let’s call a truce,

Just you and I,

With the way the world

Just doesn’t work out

I got ten dollars

That says

You can’t find another universe

Before I do.

------------------------------------------------

In Blackwater Woods

by Mary Oliver


to live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
&, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
--------------------------------------------------------------

So Much Happiness

by Naomi Shihab Nye


it is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
with sadness there is something to rub against,
a wound to tend with lotion & cloth.
when the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up,
something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs or change.

but happiness floats.
it doesn’t need you to hold it down.
it doesn’t need anything.
happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
& disappears when it wants to.
you are happy either way.
even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house
& now live over a quarry of noise & dust
cannot make you unhappy.
everything has a life of its own,
it too could wake up filled with possibilities
of coffee cake & ripe peaches,
& love even the floor which needs to be swept,
the soiled linens & scratched records.

since there is no place large enough
to contain so much happiness,
you shrug, you raise your hands, & it flows out of you
into everything you touch. you are not responsible.
you take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
for the moon, but continues to hold it, & share it,
& in that way, be known.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Take to the Sky

by Tori Amos

(You can listen to what the song sounds like here)

This house is like Russia
With eyes cold and gray
You got me moving in a circle
I dyed my hair red today

I just want a little passion
To hold me in the dark
I know I got some magic
Buried, buried deep in my heart, yeah

But my priest says,
You ain't saving no souls
My father says,
You ain't makin' any money
My doctor says,
You just took it to the limit

And here I stand with this sword in my hand.

You can say it one more time
What you don't like
Let me hear it one more time then
Have a seat while I take to the sky

My heart is like the ocean
It gets in the way
So close to touching freedom
Then I hear the guards call my name

And my priest says,
You ain't saving no souls
My father says,
You ain't makin' any money
My doctor says,
You just took it to the limit

And here I stand with this sword in my hand.

You can say it one more time
What you don't like
Let me hear it one more time then
Have a seat while I take to the sky

If you don't like me just a little, well
Why do you hang around
If you don't like me just a little, well
Why do you hang around
If you don't like me just a little, well
Why do you take it take it take it

(this house... like Russia)

You can say it one more time
You can say it one more time
You can say it one more time
What you don't like
Let me hear it one more time then
Have a seat while I take to the sky
Take to the sky
Take to the sky
Take to the sky


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