Friday, December 21, 2012

Be the Change

I'm going to open up this post the way a lot of bloggers have : I didn't know if I wanted to write about the tragedy that took place in Connecticut, just one week ago today. But I felt compelled to, because it's important to confront the things that we are running from most.

The truth is-I didn't want to think about this tragedy. I DON'T want to think about this tragedy. I DON'T want to envision the faces of those children as the unthinkable happened. In fact, for the first day, I avoided Twitter and even Facebook. Most of the news was wrong in the early hours that it didn't seem to matter: However, the worst part of it had still happened and was very real and it wasn't something I was ready to face...It's something I still have trouble facing each and every day as the AM Magazine gets shoved in my face with photos of funerals for 6 year olds. I can't even read the word Sandy Hook without shivers going down my spine. I remember being bombarded with news about Columbine as a child--and then again Virginia Tech as a college student, but the in-your faceness of all of this seems much more unavoidable.

I'm normally all about the news--in fact, when Hurricane Sandy rolled through, my reaction to the in your face blasts was quite the opposite--it all felt necessary--I wanted to break information to people as often and as consistently as I could. At friends homes, we sat around predicting how bad it would be--what to do if there was a power loss--and how long the trains would be out of service for. The difference is that Sandy was predicted. We were all awaiting it--so when it hit--we were ready. We couldn't prepare for what happened last Friday. Unlike Hurricane Sandy, my friends and I haven't made mention in conversation about the tragedy--and one time when i tried to bring it up, we all changed the subject right away.

I desperately wish I could turn back the clocks and sweep up all those children in my own arms and fly them to safety. I desperately wish the front page of the news this past week was fiscal cliff related, and not human tragedy related. I desperately wish this had never happened.

But there is harm in looking in the past, and wishing things had played out differently--in longing. It's time to heal and to protect ourselves from other situations that might rise similar to this.

As someone disconnected from the Sandy Hook community- the questions , as for most, are how can I help NOW and for the future . There are several answers: I can get educated about gun laws and reform in this country--and then I can educate others. I can also get educated about mental health and  how people can get help for it--and again, educate others. And then I can do the same thing every single one of us can do : I can look inside myself, and ask myself to be a good person, to keep my values and my morals, and to continue treating people with kindness and love--a message that takes only smiles and hugs to send.

 To see change, we need to be the change. We can't change what happened last Friday, but we do have the ability to change what could happen in the future.  So let's start.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Resilient Ones

Darkness has flooded my room. I nervously try to avoid pressing power buttons on any of the number of electronics that surround me. Has the power gone out? Did we buy enough if it did? When will it come back on? I go to plug in my computer and to my dismay, the charge light comes on. Hurricane Sandy has completely spared my apartment building—and for the most part my neighborhood: Bushwick Brooklyn.

And I feel nothing but gratefulness for that—but sadness for all that I am seeing across the East River.

My friends on the Island are without power. Those in the lower east side, and most below 34th street- my fellow New Yorkers are too. The subways have flooded, the tunnels are closed, and homes have been destroyed. Cars are floating down the streets—the Brooklyn Bridge Park Carousel is now a submarin-o-sel, and a hospital was evacuated late in the night.

I am in Bushwick Brooklyn, but from the lack of devastation outside, I could be anywhere—watching the news and following the Twitter updates just the way everyone else is. Though the island is just 5 miles from me, I feel a world apart—even if my heart feels closer than ever.

Last night, I updated my Twitter feed, obsessively. And each time I read the word “Safety,” I felt chills run through every part of me. Around 8pm, as the storm surge peaked, and pictures followed.  Tears flooded my face.  “Manhattan is in trouble,” I whispered. “What will happen?” “How will we recover?” “What can I do to help—while I’ve still got electricity?” 

The answer at that moment was nothing. 

And as I learned this morning, it could be days til people have power again—til the subways run, til people are back in their homes. But I realize, now, that even though I physically can’t help—the same attitude that continuously helps me push forward through the crowded streets of ambitious actors, actresses, lawyers, engineers, business people, accountants, stage hands, producers, directors, law enforcers, health and medical officials, and more—that NEW YORK ATTITUDE—the NEW YORK LOVE—can be helpful..

The truth is New Yorkers are resilient. They’ve seen the lights go out on Broadway. They’ve experienced bombs rumble under ground. They’ve watched their iconic buildings collapsed. And each time they’ve risen to the occasion to come back—to reassemble—to regain their composure—to help a neighbor—or a friend—or the elderly—or a child. New York is filled with people who fight battles every day to survive metaphorical storms.  And today, with this very real aftermath of a devastating storm—New York is still filled with those people—those same resilient people. And I know we’ll all get through this, together. New York City is our home--and it's not going anywhere--and neither are we. 

Warm Wishes to my fellow New Yorkers—and those who felt Sandy’s wrath all up the east coast.

Libs on the Reel

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

We are all Remembering

Written on 9/11/2012: Posted on 9/12/2012

I live in a city that has been built off of decadent dreams and determination; a city that has seen dim days and darkness; and a city that has dug deeply. I live in the greatest city in the world. I wasn’t here when the lights went down on Broadway, or when a bomb rustled underground—or when the towers fell—But I am here now—and I can tell you—There’s NO place quite like New York City.
It’s a quiet morning in the Big Apple—a somber one. I walk out of the subway station at Union Square. I walk south. En route to an early morning coffee date, I spot the Freedom Tower proudly standing over downtown New York. I close my eyes. I smile. I inhale. I hold my breath. I exhale. I open my eyes. It’s still there. And so is New York City’s heartbeat.

Eleven years ago, today, the heart of this city went into arrest—and the big apple—the state—and the country mourned the loss of thousands of people as two of the tallest buildings in the United States came crumbling to the ground after two planes crashed directly into them during morning rush hour.

I look to my left, and I see three young girls, books in tow, heading to class. These young girls, who can be no older than sophomores in college, were in elementary school when the 9/11 attacks took place. They could have had parents in the buildings—they could have lived across the country—they could have been banned from watching the tele in school (I was). But they are here now.

I look at my phone. 7:50am. I was heading into school. I was getting ready for a Code of Conduct Meeting. I’d been to New York City less than a handful of times. But I am here now.

I check my Facebook—friends who lost friends—friends who lost family members post. A former co-worker reposts his video of the tragedy—and people across the world are Instagramming memorial photos. Followers and those I follow are Tweeting their tributes. I note emails from friends who have moved away from this city—friends that spent many years here before moving away. Friends that experienced the terror of the time—that watched the buildings come down. Their souls are all here even if they are physically far away.

I watch as people walk their dogs past me. They are older. I see a man in his fifties—a woman in her forties—another man—and a woman staring at 1 World Trade from her seat outside a coffee shop. These people could have been here – these people could have worked in one of the buildings– they could have seen the completion in the 1970’s—they could have bragged about living in the city with the tallest towers in the world. These people are breathing. They are living. They are remembering. We are all remembering.

It’s now night and I watch as two children dance under the Washington Square Park arch. They weren’t alive when the towers came down, when the future idea of war for our soldiers suddenly became the present; when people cried and mourned. These children may not have been thoughts, even,  but they are here now—in a community that strives to live on despite the past.

No matter where we were—what age we were---or are now—what connection we had—being here—in this city today—connects us all. This beautiful, brilliant city that 8 million call home…this beautiful, brilliant city that breathes despite the dust—

This city that’s heart beats despite that dreary morning.

To those who lost their families—their friends—their colleagues—their loved ones—in any of the 9/11 attacks or post 9/11 attacks--my heart is with you. Forever and Always. We Remember.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Stay awhile--watch the sun go down...

Copyright: Libby Segal All Rights Reserved 2012

The sky reflects pink and the city's stunning skyline echos brightly below.

The wooden planks rattle as bikes roll across. The wind blows my hair into my face. 

I look up at the arches of the bridge and imagine that if there is a heaven, these must be what the gates look like. 

Copyright: Libby Segal All Rights Reserved 2012

As the sunset on summer approaches, I take a breath and begin to reminisce on the times that have resonated these last few months. What a beautiful--delightful summer it has been. 

Copyright: Libby Segal All Rights Reserved 2012

I've had a lot of favorite moments this summer--from stunt jumping, to taking on a new job, to my acting classes, to buying my new bicycle--but none stands out more than one particular night that reminded me to stop rushing--actually--one particular night that reminded me to just stop at all. 
On July 5th, even time began to stand still. Walking through Brooklyn Bridge Park, I felt at home. I always feel at home in New York City--but this time felt different. Much of this had to do with the epic view of the most beautiful bridge in the city, but a lot of it also had to do with the company I was in--someone who knows a lot about enjoying and living in the present moment.

As we continued along our walk, we stumbled upon a free screening of E.T. We stood wondering if we should stay--or we should go. Many times--in this world--people to leave, to say "I'll do that one day--but not today." However, on this night we opted to stop--we opted to stay.

That night, following the film, my friend sent me a note about the "stopping" experience--the lesson learned:

"Because we know that we have grown accustomed to moving too fast--when we want to leave something because we think we don't have time--just wait a little longer...Even if you need to lay down and take a couple deep breaths." - Rachael C. Smith

The rattle of wooden planks brings me back to the current moment--here, and now, where I am sitting on a steel beam that separates the pedestrian area from the traffic below.

I watch the clouds turn back to white from their pink, and the sky glows a mix of purple and blue.

Copyright: Libby Segal All Rights Reserved 2012
Stay awhile-watch the sun go down-even a big city has the warmth of your favorite small town. 

I opt to stay and take a few deep breaths. I am present. I am home. 

Copyright: Libby Segal All Rights Reserved 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012

In Transit

The wheels churn. I feel my body begin to vibrate. I hear a cry for money from the same unshaven man--who tries to sell newspapers, each night to support his family.

I hum along and nod my head to someone's iPod that is on just a little bit too loud. One of my favorites is playing. I smile.

I smell a mix of cologne, perfumes, and morning cups of Joe.

I lick my lips and pop a piece of gum in my mouth.

And I watch.

I watch the women with strollers. I watch the hipsters who swear they aren’t hipsters. I watch as people laugh. I watch as people read. I watch as people watch—people.

My favorite place in New York City, I imagine, differs from many other people’s favorite places. I love the New York City subway: the energy of the subway stations on a day where the train schedules run just right (which as rare as it is—is always a treat); the upbeat drummer on the L train platform at 14th and 6th Avenue; the break-dancers on the upper platform of the Union Square Station; the guitarists trying to make it; the smiling mariachi band; and of course the ride—one that’s always unique and it’s own.

I love the people—the performers—the beggars—the readers—the conductors—the families—the diversity.

I love the way the wheels rattle and seem to synchronize with the beat of my heart—and that bassy hum that accompanies.

I love the opportunities for shared moments—glances—eye contact—giggles—the chances for true, pure human interaction with complete strangers.

I love watching people—and writing stories—creating alternate worlds where I know the families and lives of each of these straphangers.

And I love the alone time.

I love sitting with myself; I love disappearing into my music or a book or my writing; I love the morning meditation—the evening energy escaping my limbs as I lean my head back; I love feeling so private yet in such a public space. I love this shot at being a fly on the wall—at taking it all in—at observing—at breathing.

I often miss my stops. It’s okay, I am the earliest person you will ever meet, on most occasions—and I know the subway like a doctor knows the veins that run through a body. This is part of my home.

The doors open—the doors shut. I don’t actually notice. I am enthralled in my thoughts—my ideas—the people that I am seeing. I feel myself breathe. I love this. I am in transit.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I believe in you. I believe in I. I believe in us.

"I got off the train and the only person I wanted to see was you."

I thought about sending this to a good friend one day, but somehow I am sure that person already knew. Because it's that one person that we all have but may not have found just yet.

A soulmate.

I believe in love. I believe in you. I believe in I. I believe in you and I. I believe in soul mates.

I believe that a soulmate comes in all shapes, in all sizes, in all genders, in all ages--that a soulmate is not necessarily the person you feel so deeply connected in and routed to in a sexual way--though it could be--but most definitely in a way in which you feel a deeper connection spiritually. A connection that helps one to see the true size--the true spirit that resides within.

I believe that TV and magazines sell us false images of a soulmate as the person we marry--or fall deeply in love with. And while it may be true--I'll never be convinced it is, because often this attraction we have--becomes a de-attraction after days, weeks, months, years of dating--or even marriage--and then we are off soul searching again.

I know. I am 24--what the F do I know about soul searching and soul mates and life. I'd like to say a lot. I am living this life, so I hope I know something.

I believe that we all have magic powers--a sixth sense--that is ignited when that one person--that soulmate--finds their way to us--or we find our way to them.

I believe that what we can tap into with human interaction--at all--soulmate or not--is of such magnitude that we have yet to see the results--and that if every person found their true living soulmate--that the power of this world and of our existence would only intensify at speeds greater than we could even imagine.

I owe Marina Abramovic a lot for my deeper thinking here--I guess. While not my soulmate, she has captured a bit of my soul. She's an extraordinary woman and artist--who created an exhibit that called for interaction at the deepest level possible. (The Artist is Present)

No--not sex.
No--not speaking
Yes--sitting idle, face to face--eye to eye without words. 

It is in the moments of silence--the moments of looking into a person's eyes--the moments of taking all attention off yourself and putting it on another person--that I believe we can truly find that soulmate--that one person that just by existing--no matter the the proximity or distance--makes us a better person.

And above all, I believe the force between these two souls that have somehow managed to find one another in this beautiful chaos comprised of billions of people--can forever change the world.

I believe in you. I believe in I. I believe in us.

And that's a lot to believe in.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Who knows where life will take you, the road is long, and in the end... the journey is the destination.” – One Tree Hill

My sunglasses are down, the roof of the car is open and all there is ahead of me are two lanes divided by a double yellow line. This is a sort of freedom that I've come to know really well this year...

I look to my left- I look to my right. I check my mirrors and I smile. An Usher song is blasting but because of the wind, I can barely hear more than a bassy beat echoing through the car. I love it: the disorientation, my hair blowing from side to side. I feel my hamstrings begin to sweat from the humidity that is inescapable. I check myself out again (hehe), and I think about how I got here-to Houston- in August- in this mustang convertible.

This is pretty amazing.

I decide that I got here by focusing on what I call “yearSelf”-- yes “yearSelf”. Many people have often said to, "focus on yourself more Libs" so I made "yourself" into a yearlong quest. A yearlong open road with, a yearlong road trip—where I am always in the driver’s seat, only envisioning one lane—the one that goes forward, rather than back.

A lot’s happened this year—but to look back on it—to be nostalgic about it—would be a bit hypocritical of that last line. But sometimes, in writing, it’s okay to be a bit hypocritical—and why? Because in writing, we can make our own rules (and why? Because I said so). So here goes:

I started taking acting classes in January and made an incredible group of friends that I now consider family.

I took up a yearlong challenge to try one new thing a week—starting in February, that I pre-conceived in January.

I’ve dated—and had a break up.

I’ve called home more.

I've worn bright colors (and yes this makes a huge difference in life)

I’ve ran my second half-marathon—this time with a good friend.

I’ve meditated.

I’ve written more.

I’ve taken time for me.

I’ve had dizzying discoveries, and beaming break-throughs.

I quit my job in July.

I took a freelance job in August.

And it’s ONLY August.

That’s how I got here. To this moment. In this white mustang convertible, that we’ve rented for work. That’s how I got here—to this open road ahead, both literally and metaphorically. And I’m not so worried about any forks, because I’ve made some tough decisions this year too. Ones that I have yet to regret—and don’t for-see regretting anytime soon or ever--cause *Life is too short to have regrets.*

But the only decision that’s mattered—truly mattered, is the one where I decided to take the year—to focus on myself. To make 2012, my open road—my metaphorical road trip—my journey--my “yearSelf.”

I challenge you to take one of these yourself—without any destination in mind—because really—the only destination—is the journey.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Cloudy with a 100% Chance of Smiles

It feels great to be up in the air again, to watch the clouds, for a short period of time from above--rather than below; to see the world--the most beautiful canvas that there is just full of opportunity for growth and life.

A lot of people don't like to fly in planes. I love it. It's the one time I can disappear and enjoy a brand new outlook--a new view--a new perspective. It's one of the few times I can disconnect from all outside wires of communication--and access only myself.

Solsbury Hill comes on my iPod, and I smile. I love this--this freedom--this beautiful-eye-opening freedom.

I close my eyes, "my heart going boom, boom, boom." I've been to this place before, THIS place, way up high. Not just when I am literally in a plane, but every-time I close my eyes and get lost in my favorite place.

I've always had an obsession with the sky. When I was young, the trim to my room was the blue sky and clouds. I didn't want it any other way. I was stubborn. In 7th grade sewing class, when we were asked to buy patterns for the pillows we'd later be making, I chose the fabric at the store that had a sky print. When people ask me if I could have any power in the world--that's easy--flying.

I close my eyes, and I am on a cloud. It's simple and soft. I use it like Aladdin's magic carpet, until I want a new view--Then I just pop on over to another cloud. I float over New York City, and then somehow teleport myself to my hometown--and time travel to when I was in high school. I watch my mother out in the yard-and see my friends and me playing sports at the high school.

I breathe it in. I breathe it all in.

I feel myself smile, and then I let out a little laugh. I feel my eyes twitch. I am present, but yet so far gone. This is what it means to go to my favorite place in the entire world--to feel present--and know that this place, this amazing ride through the sky is simply one ME moment away-that I can take off any time I want.

I come back to myself and where I am. This time I am lucky enough that when I open my eyes--I am still up in the sky--still up above the clouds--still smiling.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Going Home

Thank God for the county lines that welcome you back in
When you were dying to get out...

And when you’re lost out in this crazy world
You got somewhere to go and get found
Thank God for hometowns

-Carrie Underwood

-July 2009

Disregard our TEXT typos here: "we're" and "too" (Darn iPhones :) )

I'm a New Yorker. Both my parents were born and raised in New York. Both my brother and my sister attended colleges in New York State. And now here I am living and working in New York City. It was clearly meant to be my home--one day. But for so many years leading up to now, home was somewhere else--it was a little town in Pennsylvania called Bethlehem--It was where I played baseball on the little league field, struck out boys from the pitcher's mound, and scored runs by sliding into home plate.

It where I bought and ate penny candy with my best friend on the pavement playground--which I later scraped my knees on (why are there pavement playgrounds by the way?). It was where I wore my heart on my sleeve for nearly hundreds to thousands of sporting events over 10 years. 

It was where I learned to swim.

It was where I had my first sleepover.

It was where I experienced my first bully--and overcame that bully.

It was where I got my first detention (Hehe).

It was where I went trick-or-treating.

It was where I experienced the loss of a loved one for the first time.

It was where I learned to ride my bike and to drive a car.

It was where I ate apple turnovers with my mom and drank giant glasses of milk over quiet conversation. It was where I tubed down the creek and laughed all day long.

It was where I went on my first date, snuck out past a curfew, and shared my first kiss. 

It was where I played man hunt, capture the flag, and hide-and-go-seek. 

It was where I learned to ice skate and rollerblade--where I learned to fall down--and get back up.

 It was where I met my four best friends who taught me about life and love and happiness. It was where I grew up--even if I grew out. It was where I learned to liveIt was--and forever will be my hometown.

Often, with the hustle and bustle of NYC, it's easy to lose touch with "home" to forget to call a grandparent--to forget to text your best friend back, to mindlessly lose sense of time in all possible ways. New York City is, of course, the city that never sleeps--so each day begins to blend into the next, AND before you know it, it's been two months--three months--six months--a year since you've reached out--even to one of your best friends in the entire world.

This past weekend, I was reminded why my friends are so amazing--why my HOMETOWN is so amazing. Without fail, I can return to to Bethlehem, PA and be welcomed back in as if I never left. Without fail, my best friends and I can pick up where we left off--and never look back. Without fail, I can sit poolside with a best friend who I haven't seen in nearly six months, or who had a real conversation with in a year or two--and cry and laugh and smile and feel more connected than ever. 

Without fail--my hometown can always serve as home. Even if I've made a home somewhere else.

"I always find another piece of me
Walking down these old familiar streets /

Thank God for hometowns
And all the love that makes them go round
Thank God for the county lines that welcome you back in
When you were dying to get out
Thank God for Church pews
And all the faces that won’t forget you
And when you’re lost out in this crazy world
You got somewhere to go and get found
Thank God for hometowns
Thank God for hometowns"
-Carrie Underwood

Sunday, July 8, 2012

On Loving Yourself

"Find your capacity to love yourself and then one another" - David Tierney Lerner

I met my good friend David on the side of the road last year while I was walking around Manhattan. We struck up a 45 minute conversation and parted ways. Now, over a year later, he and I spend a significant amount of time with one another--laughing, talking, smiling, living and loving life. The quote featured above was taken directly from the end of one of his brilliant Facebook status updates this past week. And I couldn't thank him any more for it. 

While David was responding to Anderson Cooper's coming out statement, in a beautiful way, in regards to himself--I believe that "finding the capacity to love yourself--and then one another" is such a good lesson that we could all try and participate in learning--no matter what that means for each person and their own insecurities. I know it's a lesson I've been working on for a long time:

My morning is pretty standard.

Wake up. Stretch. Move. Get up. Walk to the bathroom. Look in the mirror.

Look in the mirror.

Look in the mirror.

Look in the mirror.

(Had to make sure that all reflected the way I wanted it to).

If you live alone--or are single--this is likely the first person you see each day.

You are likely the first person you see each day.

Why start off the day looking at someone you don't like?--Someone you don't love?

Too often, we stare in the mirror and pick out all of our "problems." I went through a period of my life where I refused to look in any mirrors-afraid of all the flaws I might find. It wasn't just mirrors though--it was store front windows (because who wants to look into their large reflection with a slim mannequin standing by and critiquing in that mannequin silence). It was car fenders. Heck--it was even shadows. Anything that offered me a return vision of my self was off limits. I went a year, essentially, without seeing ME.

I knew myself too well to know that looking in the mirror would have yielded a self-conscious sadness and eventual self-destruction. I didn't love myself. I didn't love who I was or who I felt people were seeing. It wasn't just my hair--my body--and my face that I didn't love. Somehow the mirrors seemed to reflect a lot of internal conflict that I wasn't ready to understand-- a lot of internal feelings and self-discoveries that I am only NOW starting to explore, discover, and love.

We are only offered a short period of time on this earth and if we spend a lot of that time disliking ourselves, it will be very difficult to find someone who can learn to love us. 

And sometimes we'll find--as my acting teachers would say--that what we really think isn't working about ourselves--is the number one thing that is.


Go look in the mirror.

Look in the mirror.

Look in the mirror.

Look in the mirror.

Love the person you see.

Love you.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Here's a toast to all those who hear me all too well--"Your art Matters--It's what got me here": Part 2

***Disclaimer: The title is a mash-up of the Eve 6 Song and a quote from One Tree Hill***

It's been nearly two years since I wrote an open thank you note to all the people that have inspired me. Two years. I should be saying thank you every day. 

Because truly, "Your art matters"--yes you--"It's what got me here." (One Tree Hill)

I am a go getter--a strong-brave--courageous-lively individual. But I am also grateful. I didn't get here on my own. I got here through all of you--through all of you in my past--through all of you who are in my present--through all of you that I've only met for moments--seconds in my life. I got here through my past--I got here through looking towards the future--and I got here through your constant pushes, your endless support, your brilliant love and passion for life and whatever it may bring. I got here through you. Yes--you.

I didn't always wear my heart on my sleeve when it came to what I truly wanted. The truth is--I've always wanted to be a performer--an artist--a creative soul giving her most intimate thoughts and gifts through words and writing on the side of the street. I always wanted to be in the school plays, take voice lessons so I could be on Broadway, and make art. Growing up, the only reality TV show I wanted to be on was Say What Karaoke. But up until my senior year of college, I never acted on it.  I am not sure if I was scared of what people would think of me--or if I just didn't have the confidence in myself. Whatever wall was stopping me seemed unbreakable. But I don't regret waiting so long to find my inner arteest (hehe)--because along the way, I formed friendships and long-lasting relationships with people who taught me to love myself and push myself in ways that have propelled me to become the artist --and person that I am.

I was an athlete. In everyone's minds that's where my life was going--athletics. When I was in eighth grade, I engraved it in my head that I needed to be good enough to get a scholarship for college--at softball. In sophomore year, I sat down with a recruiter and discussed how to reach college coaches. And by junior year, I was no longer focused on softball--but rather field hockey--another sport. I hadn't given myself a chance to TRY anything else. Being an athlete was all I knew. My life revolved around the emotion of the final game of a season--statistics--and morning runs. I knew nothing else--and my heart yearned for me to be trying EVERYTHING. I got a glimpse of what my heart was truly yearning for when I auditioned for class speaker, and won a vote to speak at my high school graduation. I compared high school to coffee--my inner art was screaming to get out, but again the wall built itself up. But my heart was yearning to be on a stage--somewhere--talking to people--laughing with people--performing. My head won this game. But I don't regret it.

What better way to get comfortable speaking and performing in front of people than playing sports--where you are put on display for people during every practice and during every game--choreographing just like a dancer how you'll dodge, move, and drive toward the goal. What better way to learn about performing in front of people than when you don't have time to worry about what people on the outside are thinking of you. It's just you and your teammates. It's because of those teammates--those coaches--those support systems--that I can perform. Here's to you.

Additionally I was always one to quote underdog movies: and prove that I should be on that field through my drive and my passion for wanting to be there for my teammates--for wanting to be a pillar to the foundation of a group of girls who meant the world to me. Through my teammates--through my coaches--through those support systems--through wanting to be there for people--who were always there for me--I found passion. Here's to you. My team.

When I moved to New York City, life changed. I met hundreds of people who were all part of team-dream (haha). I met hundreds of people who were following their passions. I met hundreds of people who made me realize that I could do the same. I met people who invited me to their shows--who asked me to watch them do their art--who showed me WHO THEY WERE. I met comics--and actors--and singers--and aspiring novelists. I met my acting class--I met my new mentors. I met people who were okay with being THEM--I met people who showed me that it's okay to be ME. These people are part of my team--these people are part of me. Here's to you--my team.

That's what life is about to me--the passion to perform--and the inherit pleasure in being part of a team--an endless team of people that are constantly making moves that in turn allow me to make my own. A team that often is off on their own, performing on stage, singing, dancing, playing and dreaming--a team that is inspiring me. I consider the world my team: My friends--my old teammates--my family--my new acquaintances--the faces of people who don't look back--the faces of people who worry, but push through--the faces of friends who pursue their dreams. You are all my team---Whoever you are--wherever you are--whether I met you in passing--or I spend time with you on a consistent basis--whether I read your blog--or followed your Twitter--I admire you--and I am inspired by you. I am me because of my team--This team. I am me because of  you.
                                                           "Your art truly matters. It's what got me here."

Sunday, April 22, 2012

How I Geeked Out with James Franco

Disclaimer: I started this blog over a year ago with an intention of following the "reel" in New York City. My blog often features posts about real-life struggles, inspiring moments, and comical outbursts. This post is a return to the root of the blog, as I returned to the "reel" world tonight with a visit to the Tribeca Film Festival.

                                 I am a filmmaker. (and by filmmaker--I mean media maker)

For a while, I've been going back and forth on what a filmmaker is.  In my opinion, a filmmaker is someone who challenges the norms. It is someone develops an idea or message they'd like to clearly and concisely get across, and then relays that message through a medium--in any which way they can. A filmmaker is someone who doesn't rely on mimicking the past, but rather taking bits and pieces from past filmmakers to produce their own picture. A filmmaker is someone who embraces new technology trends and throws people for a loop with them. A filmmaker is an artist. I am a filmmaker.

And James Franco is a filmmaker. Tonight, I had the wonderful pleasure of attending the North American premiere of Franco and Ian Olds new movie: Francophrenia. Following the film, I had the opportunity to sit through a q and a with both directors, and like a ten year old waiting in line for an ice cream cone, I jumped at the opportunity to ask a question:

"First I want to say that I absolutely loved this film; I think it's brilliant; and the long takes and close-ups were just fantastic. My question is: How did the vision of your film change from the beginning of the process to the end product?" Franco took the mic and explained how the process changed quite a bit. He admitted to first planning on editing it himself--and then feeling better about it if he let someone else manipulate the footage. 

What does he mean by this? Well let's look at the film: Francophrenia is truly an experimental documentary that combines a fictional story--about General Hospital--with an ongoing commentary that we have on celebrities--in this case James Franco himself. Throughout the film, we are treated to long takes of Franco on and off set; close-ups on Franco's face like those we'd have in soap operas; dark endearing music to captivate Franco as a crazy man; voice over whispers of the thoughts going through Franco's head during these fictional takes; shots of fans obsessed with Franco as a celebrity; and of course the fictional General Hospital story. Because Franco had become the center of this film, as he said, he unselfishly gave himself up to director Olds. And in that, the film changed completely from his hands to someone else's. For Franco, this meant removing his ego from the manipulation of the footage. Bonus points.

The Q & A finished immediately after my question and en route out, I took a risk and approached Franco. 

"Excuse me, James...I just wanted to say that the film is brilliant." Slowly I reached out my hand hoping he'd take it. He did.

"Thanks, really thank you," Franco graciously said. 

And then the word vomit began. Star struck, I told him how I believed I was an experimental filmmaker. And as I stumbled through all my words to make clear to him how much experimental film and filmmaking meant to me, he sat there and listened to me intently, and he conversed back, despite a line of people behind me awaiting their few seconds with him. His willingness and his excitement over our conversation about film made clear just how passionate this artist is about his craft. We often put celebrities on this pedestal--Francophrenia displays that pedestal brilliantly-and we forget that they too are just working on their art--their messages. They too are just doing what they love to do. And for a moment it didn't matter that my words were coming out backwards, we were just two industry people having an industry conversation...and it felt quite lovely:

 I mentioned that I lectured at URI and it reminded me of him because he's a teacher, and I asked him if he's still New York teaching. he responded kindly and said "Do you teach, you said you lectured at your university?" This led to the last bit of our conversation in which we discussed iPhone apps, what my favorites are for filmmaking, how he'll check it out, and how he goes to school at RISD now. I then made a quick joke with him about his film, and he laughed (yay). 

After telling him once more how much I enjoyed the film and how it was very nice to meet him, I left the theatre thinking about how much I love this art, how much I love the ability to express myself through my medium of choice, how much I love being able to geek out with filmmakers over latest gadgets, and how much I LOVE this REEL world. And how I am not planning to leave it anytime soon.

I am a filmmaker--or in 2012 terms: a media maker.

Friday, February 24, 2012

"Do you ever wonder if we make the moments in our lives or if the moments in our lives make us?"

Moments are fleeting. They are memorable. They are relentlessly persistent on our minds. They are easy to forget. They are saddening. They are disheartening. They are enlightening. They are brilliant. They are wonderful. They are calm. They are chaotic. They are everywhere and nowhere at once. They are an illusion. They are there.
They are in the past. They are in the future.
They are in the present

Moments are undeniably truthful, vulnerable, and life-changing.

"How many moments in life can you point to and say, ‘That's when it all changed'?" - One Tree Hill

I can name two.

1. The URI field hockey team getting eliminated in April of 2008.
2. The moment I made the decision to move to New York City-and DID.

It's easy for a lot of people to look back and say everything happens for a reason. But I think these "everything happens for a reason" moments are a load of bull shit to be blunt. Moments happen---and these moments force us to make choices--choices for ourselves. The honest truth is that nothing has to to come from a bad moment--or a good moment. Our lives can be completely and devastatingly stale afterwards--or we can get up and fight like hell to create our own present from our own past, so that our own future is worth while.
WE make that choice to make something happen.

We make the choice to have
brilliant-wonderful-vulnerable-life-changing moments.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Be the Green Thumb To Your Own Success & Watch It Grow

Sometimes I wish I could stand in a garden of four leaf clovers, but that would take a genie and a lot of fortune, and no one should be THAT lucky.

Cause life shouldn't be built on false hopes and deception.

Dreams shouldn't be engineered to run without a little blood--a little sweat.

Life shouldn't be mechanical and predictable.


You are the green thumb of that garden--the green thumb of making that patch of weeds into a garden of daisies. Life works off of transformation--not luck--not genies--not 4 leaf clovers.

Life and success works off you.