Wednesday, October 31, 2007

the countdown begins...

i didn’t know what my “new and fulfilling experience” would be for november (not eat myself into a stupor at thanksgiving, for a change?) and i’m still not 100% committed to any one thing but something sparked me today and if i’m still thinking about it tonight at midnight when november 1st offically begins, i may register and go for it.

it’s called national novel writing month ( every year in the month of november, they crank into this “contest”: thirty days to write a 50,000 word novel. that’s something like 1,660 words a day, more or less. i figure, why not? it doesn’t have to be any good. no one is judging it. they just want you to finish it.

what do you get besides bragging rights? your name in their winners circle and a certificate that’s probably suitable for framing. but i don’t care about any of that. the thing is, i’ve always wanted to write a book. maybe this is my chance to get my idea out of my head and onto some paper, in some form of yes-i-finished-it completeness…

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

All Hallows Eve in the Big City

when i moved to new york city, i was as green as spring corn.

to protect me, my brothers would arbitrarily spew weird bits of flotsam about how to conduct myself in the city, for safety's sake. i distinctly recall promising them a thousand times over that i would never leave our harlem apartment on three particular nights -- new year's eve, the fourth of july, and halloween. and although i said it so they'd stop hassling me about it, in time i realized that staying home on those nights was a very smart thing to do. oh, sure -- there were moments when some friend would invite me downtown to some party or something. i almost always regretted it, though. i'd rather be at home watching a marathon of movies or tv shows or documentaries about ghosts or whatever.

when halloween falls on a weekend, it's especially hellish. this year, i got a reprieve. sort of.

on my end of the ghetto, children dress up and stay in the buildings that they live in and roam the hallways, knocking on doors and screaming. they are adorable. one year, i forgot that it was halloween and when i heard a knock, i threw the door open and all these little munchkins were all dressed up and staring at me. hard. i had to tell them that i had a gig and i forgot it was halloween. in spanish. (they probably thought i was a witch. or an idiot. or both.)

and then of course, there was the year that everyone got a kinderegg (my favorite!) because my german friend joe sent a box of them from berlin. i went a little overboard with that one, but after that no candy debacle, i had to redeem myself somehow.

(actually, my favorite chocolates are richart. but i digress.)

this year, my friend and i are going to get all american candy that he likes so he can enjoy munching on whatever we don't give away. fun.

halloween falls on a wednesday this year, so there was a lot of costumed revelry to wade through last weekend. all of it was tacky, racist and stupid. remarkably, i didn't see any children parading around. evidently, the stats say that this has definitely turned into an adult party event all the way across the board, with an anticipated $5 billion in revenue this year ($2.2 billion of that is candy, folks) and right behind the superbowl and new year's eve in popularity. why?

i always thought that the costume was a reflection of the inner self. after this weekend, i think everybody ran through the back end of ricky's when they realized they couldn't get into the party they were invited to without a costume and grabbed whatever wasn't too picked over.
white girls in their street clothes wearing afro wigs with fake gold teeth and talkin' "jive" -- that's like having a sign on your back that says please bitchslap me. and that goes double for the mexican costume that has you on a donkey, like juan valdez. seriously.

this is called "funny mexican costume". too bad they didn't have any drunken white girl/boy outfits. what do you think those look like? then again, my friend says that one year when he was bartending at the slipper room, he dressed up as a preppy drunken frat boy with a bullet hole in the middle of his forehead, so i guess you can always d.i.y.

if anyone asks me where my costume is, i'm going to point at my clothes and say, this is it. and i'm going to mean it. (you should dress up like a kitty, my friend says. maybe i'll get some ears and surprise him.)

can you imagine running around looking like a "funny mexican" in spanish harlem? they're not that stupid. they save it for the neighborhoods they feel safe in. like chelsea. and times square. and the upper west side. and to be totally honest with you, this reminds me of when i was an undergrad at UT (Austin) and i lived in west campus. i was literally surrounded by greek houses and jillions of well-manicured and priveleged frat boys and sorority girls. it seemed like every weekend, they were having keggers and getting dressed up for some racist theme party or another. many is the day when i would wake up on a saturday and walk through the neighborhood to see frat boys curled up on somebody's lawns, wearing a sombrero or an afro or God knows what all, with those freaking crappy docksiders on, and covered in a moist blanket of their own vomit.

Lord. would someone please tell me what's so great about those stupid boating shoes?

don't get me wrong. i like halloween (when i can remember it). i just don't like being surrounded by white people who dress up and behave like racial stereotypes because they think it's a fun thing to do.

it's so much easier to stay home.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

if this doesn't sum it up, i don't know what does

this is a spoof of's "when i grow up, i want to be a..." campaign that was used at the ADDYs last year/some time ago/i don't know when. since then, no one wants anyone to see it, because it's funny and cynical and blisteringly true -- so of course that means it's gone viral and everyone is seeing it online.

i work at an ad agency and it's a little wierd how dead on this stuff is.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


i’ve always been able to write. i get an idea and words spill out of me like running water. i wonder what it would be like to have writer’s block?

once upon a time, i used that skill to create one person shows for myself as a solo performer. writing screenplays seemed possible but farfetched, somehow. my friend carrie used to encourage me an awful lot. i’d write things and we’d bat them back and forth and dissect them. but all of it ended up percolating in the back of my mind after she passed away, and time marched on like it always does.

while cleaning out my apartment, i found a script that i wrote for a screenwriting class i took at the new school in the early 90s, to finish my BA degree. it was a treatment and less than 10 pages of dialogue—but the teacher wrote encouraging words all over it, and i remember my initial intent and what i wanted to say and why, and i got excited all over again.

what’s the worst that would happen if i got that extra special fancy screenwriting software and simply finished it?

that’s what my friend carrie would ask me if she were here, by the way. she would say, why don’t you finish it for fun? and my answer would have to be why not? i really don’t have a reason not to – she and i both know that. it’s all about time and effort and that doesn’t cost money.

what a cool way to encourage someone – especially me, the world’s biggest procrastinator.

God, i miss her.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A story about "Elizabeth: The Golden Age"

joined the director’s guild this year. figured i’m in s.a.g. i’m a blackgrrl on a budget. i may as well get as much bang for my buck as i possibly can. i’m doing the math, so i figure with the price of a ticket hovering somewhere around $11.50 or so in the city these days, i’ve got to see every movie they’re showing this year with my friend to make it worth my while. i couldn’t sit through 2 1/2 hours of “into the wild”—i’m sure it’s glorious—but i did see the latest richard gere flick, whose name escapes me.

my friend knows the drill. we show up, we stand in line, we get in, we grab good seats, if we can. no smoking, no food, no drink. seriously, not even water or gum. it’s worth it, to see first run movies before anyone else does.

enter “elizabeth: the golden age” with surprise! everybody’s favorite british manly man clive owen as sir walter raleigh. i got so lost in how lush this movie is, how it told the story visually, how the costumes were so overwhelmingly beautiful at times, how the lighting set the mood at every turn. every frame, so sumptuous and bursting with the feel of it all. just beautiful.

that being said—elizabeth herself is flawed and human and alive, so full of fear and intelligence and beauty that it took my breath away. the first “elizabeth” made blanchett a star. this one will probably get her an Oscar. she gave a great performance and totally commanded the screen in all the right ways.

i can’t say wonderful things for the storyline, which wasn’t meaty enough for me but it told the story that it wanted to tell, so i went with it. it didn’t get into the specifics, just the historical highlights as we glimpsed some personal moments. it was worth it, to see blanchett’s performance, to see those costumes, the whole set up. hey—this is what i do. this is the business i’m in. i have to see these movies.

lovely, lovely turn for samantha morton as the queen of scots. her tenderness in the end at her beheading was sweetness and light.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

i did it!

as i was leaving my building with my 21 speed mountain bike this morning, i stopped to say hello to the lady in the window, this older dominican woman that i’m friendly with. she's there all the time, cooking or chatting on the phone or babysitting or something. i was wearing this bike helmet that makes me look like a ritalin kid and i thought she was going to say something about it but instead, after exchanging social pleasantries, she looked me up and down and, with her hand propping her head up as though she were weary, she smiled a little and said, “you fat.” she said it in a real laconic matter of fact way, in this low dull voice, with this heavy accent and this wierd inflection that happens so often with people who don’t speak english as a first language. they stress all the wrong things, thus illuminating whatever they’re saying in this whole other way.

she sounded like she was telling me that i was made of blubber.

i know that black girls and dominican girls are bigger. i know she’s used to a bigger girl. but she’s known me for years. she knows what i’m supposed to look like. i know i don’t look that bad, i’m not that far off. but if the weight gain is noticeable enough to warrant a statement of the obvious from her, then i definitely need to do whatever i have to do to lose it.

talk about motivation.

we rode from my place on 137th and riverside into the park and headed to the little red lighthouse and then we found our way across the george washington bridge. the view was nothing short of spectacular. once we reached the jersey side, we veered onto river road which was harrowing and dangerous and a total freak-out roller coaster ride straight down, at first. somewhere in there i almost got hit by a bus and my friend flat out pulled us over and suggested that we go back. remembering the downhil ride and thinking of the uphill return, i adamantly refused. we forged ahead to the ferry, which let us out at 39th street on the west side for $7 (plus one buck for the bike). “what a rip-off,” my friend said, half-laughing. he was right. we should have gone down to hoboken and taken the path for $2. but in the midst of the heat and all that traffic, the bottom of the island was a million miles away.

the next thing i knew, we were on our way up the west side highway to the cafe at the 77th St. pier, where we shared a cheeseburger and fries and took in our little trip. we made it home from there in less than a half hour. and just like that, it was over. the lady in the window was right where i left her. was i still fat? well, sure. but at least i did something about it.

by my guesstimations, we only did about 15 miles. it felt like 30! if i rode my bike to work, i'd do 12 miles round-trip everyday. wow. that would be 60 miles a week. now that would burn some calories!

okay, maybe this challenge was a little too easy. sure was fun, though. how about i go for that pesky learner’s permit? it’s high time i learned how to drive.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

and so it begins

this isn't the part where i whine about how hard it is to get my body together. i'm tired of whining. this is the part where i tell you that i got so sick of myself, i'm actually doing something about it. the pressure's on: pilot season is coming on strong, i need new headshots and postcards, and the season is changing so there's a whole other set of clothes that i can't fit in. and i'm too cheap to buy larger things. i'd rather lose weight and get right back into what i've got.

oh, sure. i was doing something about it before every so often. now i'm doing something about it every day. i've chucked my gym membership with the place in the nearby park and joined NYSC, which has locations everywhere (even 24 hour gyms), so its way too convenient.

i went out the other night and had a boxing lesson after a fairly severe upper body workout. it had me limping for days. on my way home that night, i felt my body buzzing. i remembered when i lived in that SRO on the upper west side and how once upon a time, my body felt that buzzy way on a regular basis. i was at my physical best when i was a member of that gym. i ate right and i pushed my body a little more everyday and in return, it never betrayed me with illness or major surgery or minor breakdowns, or any of the other things that seemed to plague everyone else. in my time in the city, i've had that buzz for the most part. but now i've lost it for all the usual reasons and i want it back badly enough to work out every morning to get it.

nothing comes without sacrifice and discipline.

the hard part isn't getting there. the hard part is maintaining it. the boxing is hard on me but it's fun, i have to admit. evidently, i'm a pugilist at heart. after the first lesson, i went home and soaked in the tub for as long as i could. the all over ache was relentless. too bad my friend can't come with me. on saturdays, we ride our bikes for 10 or 15 miles or more. tomorrow, we're going to ride across the george washington bridge and explore new jersey.

to tell you the truth, i go through this "get in shape" thing every other season. and so it begins -- deja vu all over again. if i were rich and famous, this wouldn't be any easier. i'd still have to put one foot in front of the other and do the work. it gives me some small comfort to know that gwen stefani struggles with her weight, and every day is a fight to keep it off.

fat: the great equalizer.