23 5 / 2013
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10 5 / 2013
A commitment to creating (even if it’s crap)
I’ve been thinking lately about some of the pet projects I’ve hoped to start but never got off the ground. A novel. A short story. A personal portfolio site. A youtube channel. A video mini-series.
Anything like that, really. They seem so simple…and yet, not quite.
I realized that part of it is the fear that what I’m creating is absolute crap…and I’ll get called out for it. The other fear is that whatever I do, someone will inevitably point out that it has been done (and done better).
In the days of yore (aka dial-up and Geocities) when I was but a youth, I thought about starting a website or a blog. My plan was to proliferate it with cartoons and my musings. And BAM. I’d somehow find recognition and fame. And money. And then quit my day job and spend my time rolling in money or doing things normal people don’t do like go to a coffee shop at 2pm on a Tuesday. For no good reason at all.
That obviously hasn’t happened.
But what has happened is that since those early, clumsy, waddling days of the internet being born and taking its first steps, there are a lot of people that have done what I hoped of doing with stick figures, MS paint drawings. Even my most recent idea of doodling and writing on post-it notes has been done already. Oh, and business cards.
I don’t know if they are going to coffee shops on a random Tuesday afternoon, but I’m sure they could (and would) if they wanted to.
But I realized something - I’ve been going about it all wrong.
I’ve been fueled and motivated by the wrong things: recognition and fame. Yes, I’ve finally come to grips with the reality that there is a part of me that is a supreme attention whoring narcissist. I want to create and draw things and get that pat on the back. I want to make people laugh, or think, or go, “hm, interesting.”
Really, it’s just a desire to feel like I matter. What I do matters, and it’s lasting and has an impact on others…in a good way.
When I step back and think about it, the internet amazes me. It lets all sorts of people find their voice and share their stories. People can suddenly broadcast their passion for makeup. Their love of cats. Or their crazy anecdotes about their childhood that are uplifting and hilarious.
Simple, ordinary people are able to make an impact, even if it’s to 10 people or 10 million people.
More than anything, it’s their outlet.
Back in college, when I had the time and the energy, I used to write about random things all the time. Random musings. Random happenings. Things that didn’t really matter. Sure, going back on it now, it’s quite cringe-worthy, but I have faith that each of those blog posts and pointless articles has helped me:
1) Be somewhat disciplined when it comes to writing regularly
2) Identify what content resonates and what doesn’t (sometimes the most random posts would get two comments…which is like, 200% more engagement then my average posts!)
3) Connect with people. I remember quite a few times (okay, three times) where I was surprised to learn that someone had read my blog or enjoyed following it.
And that’s not too shabby.
So now, I will start sharing those random doodles and drawings. I don’t want to focus on the fame or recognition anymore. Instead, I’ll be happy that maybe somehow, some day, whether through this blog or ideally through a published work (or fifteen…or twenty) of mine I will have shared a story that really touches someone. That out there, I’m able to make people laugh, or feel good, or reflect.
And I hope that through this site, maybe I’ll be able to find others who have similar dreams and help give them the motivation to realize that they can do it as well.
I’m now back to working hard and dreaming lots.
At least I have this face next to me. He believes in me (for a few treats at least).
08 5 / 2013
Sending a Message in a Blog Post
Does anybody out there remember Xanga? Good ‘ol Xanga. I don’t know what possessed me to start one back when I first entered college as a wide-eyed freshman, but I’m glad I did. Recently, I had been perusing through some of my old entries just for fun. And yes, there were several angst-ridden entries rife with grammatical errors and rhetorical questions sent out to the empty void of the Internet. I guess not much has changed.
One pleasant surprise was stumbling across an entry that I wrote on March 25, 2008 (I kept the Xanga alive and kicking for a good solid five years). At the tender age of 24, I had just moved out to San Francisco. I was in a brand new city at a brand new job. My pre-frontal cortex was still going awry. And I had a small, quaint studio where I whittled away my time.
Even back then, I had high hopes that I would be a writer. Five years later, that still hasn’t happened yet. But hopefully the next five years (and the next beyond that) something will happen. In any case, I now have a little piece of the 24-year-old me that had such high hopes.
Here it goes:
I went to Anthropologie on Sunday to help a friend pick out a dress. As we perused the store, I found a book that was about women who wrote a letter to their younger selves. The women were all very notable women - actresses, CEOs, authors, Olympians - you name it. I picked it up and flipped through it, reading a letter from an actress to her former self and then from a writer to her former self.
It’s always interesting to me to read things from one mindset when you’re in another mindset. Journal entries seem like lost letters to an unforeseen future, and the letters in that book are like wistful thoughts to an earlier time when naivety reigned. One Calvin and Hobbes that made me really laugh was when he wrote a letter to future Calvin, and it basically said “you will have seen things that I never have” and he sniffled and said “poor guy.”
So, true to any sort of xanga entry that I have, I decided to write a letter to my future self and, of course, where else can I share it but in this small little sliver of the public domain?
You’re going to laugh at that opening line, mostly because you’ll remember how ridiculous it sounded in your head when you first typed it out. I don’t know where you are right now, or what you are up to - but I hope you can recall vividly how it felt to be in my shoes.
Sometimes you wake up in the morning and all you can feel is the warmth of your bed, and you squint your eyes at the alarm clock and bargain with yourself for three extra minutes of stillness under the covers. “It’s a gift to myself,” you would rationalize. Inevitably, when you would pull the comforter off your slothful self you would feel the chill of the morning air and wonder how many more begrudging mornings are in your future.
Do you remember those anxious nights where you paced around your studio on the phone with a friend, toiling about your future children’s book?
You would stare out into the vast nothingness, and let your heart pour out in the phone. You would share your dreams and aspirations, all the while fixated on the ever impending fear that you aren’t capable enough. You feel conflicted because you don’t know if you are following the right path for yourself, and quite frankly, you once again feel lost and completely flummoxed at the crossroads of life.
And you duly note that you haven’t truly hit your quarter life…just yet. But it certainly feels that way.
Your friend would offer comfort and give you three simple things to focus on -
1. Save your money, and prepare for the option of returning to school
2. Do your best at your job - learn, network, and most of all, make friends
3. Write. Write in your free time, take classes. Write.
I do hope that, you finally figured out that you are capable. I hope you take the initiative to do the things that your friend suggested. I hope that, more than anything, you don’t give up your writing. Even when you pace around the room glaring at the computer and the blinking cursor on the Word document, I hope you run to your sketchbook and scribble out the simple sentences in your head.
When those thoughts and dreams are scattered and you feel your fingertips reaching out and barely grasping them, I want you to still grasp at them. If you have tried over and over and failed, I need you to pick yourself up and fail again - more spectacularly than ever before!
I want you to finally breathe easy when you spend money (but not too much money, don’t go crazy here!) and I want you to continue to find things each day that drive you. I hope that, one day, you’ll think back on me. You’ll remember the little rug and burgundy pillow that accompanied you when you hammered out your thoughts and dreamed of hitting it big with your words.
No matter what, I hope that, success or not, you learn that you are capable - and you believe it.
By the way - if you haven’t already, take risks. Take an improv class, take an acting class. Go out and do something awkward like crashing a random social event. Dress up, take pictures. Scribble and post them on the web. Stop thinking, and start doing.
Seriously, if you haven’t done this already by the time you read this - when will you?
Ever so hopefully,
07 5 / 2013
A Verbal Tribute to Teachers
It’s Teacher appreciation day! Hooray! Thank you, Hallmark and all the other card conglomerates. Although I usually find faux holidays quite distasteful (Boss’s day, really? I mean, the only way I could understand why we would celebrate a day like that is if it comes with an automatic pay bump each year) I do think that teachers are often unappreciated and deserve a hug or some virtual props every so often. These are the men and women who have given up a good portion of their youth, their lives, and their precious time only to deal with helicopter parents and snotty kids with little pay in return.
So really, why not have a day where we all give a little thanks? Thanks to several wonderful teachers, I still utilize the mnemonic devices that they have instilled into the little brain of mine that guides my every day understanding of the world. I still excuse my dear Aunt Sally, and I also believe that King Henry did indeed die from drinking chocolate milk.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then I’m very sorry for the holes in your education.
In any case, one of my favorite teachers back in my elementary school days taught us about the wonderful world of Shakespeare. In addition to directing a classroom of bumbling, awkward sixth graders in a rendition of Romeo and Juliet, she also guided us through the painstaking and brain-melting task of composing sonnets.
To pay homage to her and many of the other awesome teachers that I’ve had in my life (and the friends who are teachers that fight the good fight each day) here is my poorly composed sonnet that I dedicate to you. No need to say thanks, because I know that you aren’t going to…because this sonnet is quite horrible. But much like the begrudging parents that put their kid’s finger painting creation on the fridge, I hope deep down you find it at least somewhat amusing.
Ode to O Teacher
First let us ponder about the school day
Long hours, bored students, and time flying
Counting down until the end of May
Working hard, tireless, and quite trying
Yet when there is a glimmer of promise
A diamond in the dark and hidden deep
Wise words, kind thoughts only guide the novice
Where there is the potential and talent to reap
But with time so short, passing by ever quick
As a pebble to the pond leaves a fleeting ring
The student body moves forward always cyclic
The young birds begin to take to their wing
As long as students grow and flourish,
The teacher’s hard work will never tarnish
25 4 / 2013