Tuesday, October 26, 2010

formal complaint

To: The inventors of American Sign Language

Re: Some of your signs

To Whom it May Concern,

Hi. My name is Tracy Clifton. I have been learning ASL for approximately 5 weeks now, in addition to the signs I've learned here and there over the years from some of my friends who know ASL. It's a wonderful language, it really is; highly expressive, deeply emotional and incredibly intuitive. Every week after class, when my brain is crammed with new signs to practice on my bewildered boyfriend and my friends that I'm taking class with, I'm so excited to be learning this language and be able to communicate with the Deaf community and those who know ASL.

I just have one complaint though. A tiny little complaint. More of an observation, really. Um, why is it that you felt it necessary to make some signs so very close to each other, and make some of those signs Very Bad Words? I don't mind, really, because most of ASL is also built around context, but did you have to make "bitch" and "mother" so incredibly similar? And how about "shy" and "whore"? Really guys? Really? You couldn't, like, use a whole different hand for all the bad words in ASL so that no one ever uses them mistakenly?

Because the thing is, Inventors of American Sign Language, I like ice cream. And I have no problem sharing this fact, because, quite honestly, who DOESN'T like ice cream? So when we were doing exercises in last week's ASL class of "I like________" and then we'd fill in the noun, I decided to tell the class that I like ice cream.

Only I didn't tell them I like ice cream, dear Inventors of American Sign Language. Oh no. That would have been too easy, in a class full of high school students and single mothers, to tell them that I liked ice cream.

Nope. I did the sign for "ice cream" just ever so slightly different than the way I learned it in class, because, hey, I'm a human, I can't always remember signs PERFECTLY, and people use their tongues to lick ice cream off their cones so it makes TOTAL sense, right??

Which is how I ended up telling my class in American Sign Language that I like blow-jobs.

Inventors of American Sign Language - you're officially fired.


PS: Speaking of nothing to do with that, The Kid in the Front Row interviewed me as an actress - head on over and check it out :)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

this wicked dance

Sometimes I blog about a specific idea or topic because I see it circulating around the blogosphere, and it's not like I'm the kid who sits outside an adult conversation and says "I wanna turn! I wanna turn!" (though I'm sure I did that as a child) but because I have a very not so minor obsession with Here's My Take On It.

Ego aside, I've noticed that lately, quite a few blogger buddies of mine are wrestling with the expectations put on them by their readers. (See here and here for two interesting examples.) And while this isn't earth-shattering, it's something we face everyday as bloggers.

What are our expectations for our own blog? What are the expectations that our readers have put upon us? Let me put it to you this way: How many of you, after being absent from blogging for a while, or maybe even just a few days, have apologized to your readership?

Why is that? (And I've done it too.) We don't owe our followers anything, we probably know less than half of them in real life, and let's face it, no one is the Most Awesome Blogger of Ever that if he or she were gone for two weeks, the world would explode. (Except maybe Alli. God I love her blog.)

But there's expectations, aren't there? There's an exchange of energy, information, trust... our followers start to expect a certain tone or format in our blog, or maybe they check in on a certain day because that's when a specifically themed post will go up. And when we become the followers to others' blogs, we do the same thing. We expect.


Who does our blog belong to? Our readership? Or us? Certainly there's a careful balance there. No one enjoys reading blogs that are so self-involved that it's hard to create dialogue with the blogger. But how much say do our followers have in what we put on our blogs, what we post on a day to day basis, simply because they feel they have a right to voice their opinion?

Notice I'm asking a lot of questions here, because I don't have the answers. But expectations, while intriguing, also kill. They kill energy, acceptance, growth, change, and most of all... creativity.

I'm starting to check in and ask myself what I expect from the blogs that I follow, what I expect from my readers, and how I want to dance this dance. Because I don't like letting people down, ever. But I'm also very protective of my own space and wouldn't really be willing to compromise on how I live my life just to fit other peoples' expectations. I did that once, and once is enough. It's stifling and cuts off breathing room.

I don't blog as much when things get active in my life, and I'm careful not to apologize for that, nor do I make excuses. (Okay, this post sort of had excuses.) I also try to avoid posting in any one mood for too long and and try not to do specific posts on specific days (not that there's anything wrong with that - I just don't do it for my own blog, please don't leave me sad comments) because I try to keep my readers on their toes. I want this blog to be as free as possible to change and grow and I want the space to have posts fall flat or succeed beyond my wildest bloggy dreams.

So how do we navigate this delicate relationship between being the readers and the writers? It's too complicated to just say "screw 'em", nor would I want to. But it's something to think on, because in the end, the expectations of others are just that - of others. I'm trying to be careful not to let others' expectations of me become my own; and I think most of us face that in some avenue of our lives, blog or otherwise.

In the end, we get to do what we want, and the haters will hate and the complainers will complain. If we could just surround ourselves with people and readers who allow us to always be us, and drop any expectations, and leave guilt behind... maybe we could allow the same thing for ourselves?

Monday, October 11, 2010

no but seriously.

Yay for blogging regularly again! I had a lovely week of catching up on all your blogs and playing tourist in my own city as Benni and I hosted his sister and brother in law,visiting from New Jersey. We all went to the Griffith Observatory, stuffed our faces with In N Out, went to Six Flags Magic Mountain on Friday and rode all the terrifying roller-coasters, and then Benni and I treated our guests to some yummy frozen yogurt awesomeness on their last evening here.

Also, for those who threatened/promised to stalk me in my last post, just consider yourself forewarned that stalking me involves witnessing lots of air guitar and consumption of Rocky Road ice cream, along with plenty of Buffy the Vampire Slayer re-runs when I can't sleep. Don't say I didn't warn you.

A few weeks back I was tagged by the lovely Purple Cow over at Australian in Athens to answer even MORE questions that she thinks I should answer, so here I am, doing my homework. I better get a cookie after this. And maybe some spiced apple cider. And some candy corn.

So here's the questions. Purple Cow came up with these, so I have to come up with some new ones to pass along to everyone else, which I'll do in another post later on down the line when I'm not still playing catch up from being gone from the blogosphere for three weeks.

1) Why do you blog? Have the reasons changed as you've been doing it?

I blog because I love telling stories. I also love connecting with other people and hearing their stories. And I think my voice comes out best when I write because sometimes my mind doesn't work when I speak, and a lot of times I talktoofast because my mind is going 3 million miles a second. I also blog because I love blogging and we should all be able to do the things that we love (it's a wonderful life philosophy). I don't think these reasons will ever change, but there's another reason I'm excited about blogging and it has to do with a Big Idea of my very own and I'll be letting you guys know very, very soon as soon as the details are worked out. (Add "cryptic blogging" to the list of reasons why I love blogging.)

2) Why do they ask "What animal are you most like?" at job interviews? And what could they possibly learn about the person being interviewed when they ask this question? (Also feel free to share any other stupid questions you've been asked at job interviews).

I've...never been asked that question before at a job interview. Purple Cow, are you sure that's not just a Greek thing? Unless I'm applying for a job at Sea World I do not expect anyone to ever ask me that question. Maybe I've just been blessed with mercifully boring job interviews... you get that when you work primarily at bookstores and accounting firms (as I have done.) I suppose I could tell you all the ridiculous things that have been asked of me at auditions, but they are too numerous to count.

3) If you were to arrange a rendezvous with your 18-year-old self what would you say to yourself? How much would you have in common? Would you accuse yourself of something?

I don't think I'd bother going back in time just to accuse myself of something...that seems like a waste of a time-travel trip. Why would I travel through space and time just to give myself grief? I can do that anytime I want...

I guess if I had the chance I'd sit down my little 18 year old twerpy self and say, "Hey kid. It's me, I'm you from the future, stop looking confused, your face will get stuck that way. Couple things you should know: number one, I know that you've been through a lot of bad stuff already and it's hurt you a lot. And you probably think that the world owes you something for all the pain it's dealt out to you at such a young age. But it doesn't. The world doesn't owe you anything, least of all your own happiness. You have to go out and fight for that everyday and you can't count on anyone else to hand it to you. Get over yourself.

Number two, you're probably fairly confident that things are going to stop hurting. They're not. Things are gonna hurt a lot more once you get to college and un-numb yourself. You'll start to let yourself feel, for the first time in years, anger, grief, betrayal, and confusion. But let me tell you something: you will get down on your knees and cry with gratitude that you can feel emotion again, because with the bad comes the good, and you were meant to be filled with rage and confusion and love and understanding and sadness and heartache and joy and enthusiasm. You don't get one without the other, kid. So take it all, let it all in, and become stronger for it.

Finally, number three: I know you find instructions and explanations boring, but they are going to come in handy. Particularly in this thing we call life. So please, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, start listening to your Chemistry teacher and stop blowing up thermometers in the back of the room. There's only so many times you can clean mercury off your hands and your lab partner backpack."

PS don't make out with Adam. He's a dickhead.

4) Imagine me? What do I look like? (Skip this one Robin as you've already seen me on FB)

That's easy. I picture you as a cow, that's purple, who speaks with an Australian accent while living in Greece. ;)

5) Have you ever surprised yourself with your own wickedness?

I stopped calling wickedness "wickedness" a long time ago and started calling it something closer to "missing the mark." That way I can remove my failures from my personality and it's a lot easier to correct behavior when it doesn't have Ego hitchhiking on its back. (Ego packs a lot of baggage.)

6) What makes you special and different from this blob called humanity?

Absolutely nothing. But I think I'm fine with that in part because I don't think of humanity as a blob but rather as little individual pockets of absolute untapped potential.

7) Do you ever wonder if you are wrong about everything you currently believe and hold to be true? And if it turns out that none of it is as it seems would you wish to be told the TRUTH a minute before you die or die not knowing at all?

There's this quote I love:

"Deeply held beliefs of any kind prevent you from being open to experience, which is why I find all firmly held ideological positions questionable. It makes me nervous when someone believes too deeply or too much." - Milton Glaser

And I used to think this way too, Milt. (Can I call you Milt?) But then I discovered that I truly, absolutely, with all of my heart believed in a God composed of absolute and unconditional love. And instead of that belief closing any doors on anyone else's beliefs, it opened a thousand doors of acceptance towards everyone and everything that is different from me. Suddenly the world was full of possibility because everything was loved into existence for a reason, and fear didn't even factor into the equation.

8) So how come it's 8 questions? Why not 5, 7 or 10? Why 8? Do you want more or do you wish you'd had less?

I find that 8 signifies completeness in most societies and cultures, although 7 works just fine too. In the end, this was the perfect amount of questions to answer on my lunch break.

Thanks for tagging me, Purple Cow!! You're the coolest :)

And finally, the news I'm excited to share: during my bloggy break, my girl Lira got engaged to her adorable boyfriend, Anthony...and while I was busy jumping up and down in my seat in excitement when they told me, they asked me if I would be the officiant for their wedding. To which my response, when I stopped doing the Muppet Dance of Joy, was:

ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?!! Of course I will!!!!

Now I have about 355 days to get over my fear of public speaking. HOOOORRAAAAYYY!!!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

it's been a month...

...for the books, people. I looked back through my posts and noticed I only posted ONCE the entire month of September. And I can't really sum up everything that's kept me away from the computer or you'd die crying of boredom, so instead I'll try to express it through pictures and numbers as best I can. Let's just say that September consisted of 5 separate trips to 2 different auto mechanics, (with 1 serious brake-pad scare that turned out fine, and a $300 repair on a smashed front headlight when I hit something on the freeway going 80mph); over 650 miles driven to Yosemite National Park and back; many miles hiked at Yosemite; many pictures taken while camping there with my family for four days; 1 agency meeting down and 3 million to go when I got back into LA; 3 classes a week as I continue learning knife fighting and add American Sign Language to my schedule; and over 1,000 headshots that I have to go through (and narrow it down to 5) after 2 different headshot sessions over the past couple weeks.

Damn, I'm already tired. Screw it, here's the pictures.

Bangs for the first time since I was thirteen.

Beautiful Yosemite Valley.

Benni and me* on our first hike of the trip.


Doe, a deer, a female deer...

I swear he posed for me.

Yosemite's Bridalveil Fall ...and a rainbow!

Hiking with the family. From left to right, my aunt Darlyne, me, my mom, and my brother Jeff. Yes, my mom and aunt are identical twins.

My faithful companions, my hiking boots.

In the Mariposa Grove of Yosemite, the fallen trunk of of a huge Sequoia tree.

Had enough nature? Now for some of my new headshots:


I could totally beat you up.

Mad for plaid.

I'm more emo than you are.

Okay! Bored looking at me yet? I totally am! I will be back and blogging regularly starting next week... and I've got a survey to fill out, another award to pass along, a Big Idea to share... and some really cool news. :)

Love and miss all of you!!

*yes, that's grammatically correct.
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