Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Twenty Seven: Transisition to Adulthood

Cereal lover from age...4?
There comes a time in every? Woman’s life when she buys a leather belt and some blue jeans, and hitches them up a little higher than she’s always worn them, and decides she’s going to start acting like an adult. If not in every woman’s life, than it at least happened in mine. Today I turn twenty seven, and this is the year, I've decided (and realized), that I am an official adult.
Many of my friends and peers have passed this threshold well before me, leaping across with mortgages or babies as their vaulting pole. But I've been dragging my feet in a sort of young-adult-hood mentality for several years since graduating college, despite the fact that I thought that receiving that degree would automatically enter me into adulthood. I considered myself a real live adult for a few years….but it wasn't until a few months ago, when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and did a double-take, wondering who that woman was looking back at me, that I realized the true transition was about to take it's form. 
While others my age have been breeding babies, and taking regular 40-hour-week jobs, I knew I had a lot more self-discovery before I could settle down into something like that. I had places to visit, people to interact with, and adventures to embark upon. Not that going on such adventures prohibits adulthood, but doing so with an acceptance of the possibility of failure, a habit of making selfish decisions,  and the knowledge that you can always move back home doesn't necessarily build the pillars of independence. … (This link explains my hesitations)
The best Texas gittup I've ever owned. 

Maybe adulthood is about responsibilities, or about compromising the things you love with the people you love. I often think about the irony of my 12-year-old self looking forward to the ‘freedoms’ of adulthood, only to look back now at the relative freedoms of being driven places and have everything paid for and planned out by someone else. Still, being an adult isn't about having bills to pay…or not having fun. It’s about being the me I always wanted to grow up to be. And this is the year I'm starting to feel like a real 'Grown-up'.

For the past 5 years or so, I've spent my birthdays reflecting… I actually spend a lot of time reflecting. Reflecting on my current actions and habits, and what I hope to do differently in the future. I would binge on cake at a party and think, “I won’t do this next time/in the future”. Or I would  go to a party that I didn't really feel like going to, just because I felt like I should, and then wish I was at home reading. But this is the year I'm taking control. There is no next time. There is only right now. And I'm going to own that.

Egads! 10 years ago. 
Happy birfday to me. :)

Friday, February 20, 2015

Fight the Man! Or the label. or the advertisement. Or at least go down kicking and screaming.

Ever since I was young I rebelled.
 I don’t know if it was something genetic that made me want to cut my hair, wear big baggy shirts and avoid anything pink, or if it was the big poster I had on my wall that said “Dare to be different” and showed a rainbow spotted, boa-wearing Dalmatian among a bunch of boring (but still cute) black and white Dalmatians.
Regardless of where it came from, I have held onto this rebellion throughout my childhood, adolescence and teenage years and into my adulthood…and I think it’s done me some good. As I’ve started to sink into a more stable lifestyle, I’ve begun to take notice of things that advertisements and pop-culture seem to be force feeding us. But these are things that I’ve long avoided or not listened to, and as a result been more connected, inspired by and in touch with my environment. Here’s some examples of things I ignore:
-Expiration dates-
Ever since my first dumpster diving experience in college, I’ve been willing to dig into things that are well past their expiration date. I’ll admit, I was pretty hesitant that first night, looking at the pile of goodies we had just rescued from metal chambers of festering goo in big as they were laid out on my friend’s dorm room kitchen table. But then we cooked it into a great feast, and enjoyed not having to pay for any of it, and it was great! Since then I have eaten my fair share of long past expired stuff. Usually my rule is that as long as it looks like it should and tastes like it should, I’ll eat it. Now, I’ve admittedly eaten my fair share of things that didn’t taste like they should, but weren’t quite bad enough to get rid of…and you know what? I’m still here. I haven’t had food poisoning since two years before I first dumpster dived.
And my immune system has lived up to the many tests I put it through. Years ago, I left some takeout food on the counter all night only to find it in the morning. “Should we throw it away?” I asked my fiancĂ© hesitantly. I knew that sitting out at higher than room temperature in our Texas home would be the perfect place for bacteria to breed, but I didn't want to throw away at least another meal's worth of a delicious meal we didn’t have to cook ourselves. “Naw!” we decided. “We’ve eaten enough funky stuff. If that didn’t hurt us, this won’t.” We were right. I don’t know how much science there is behind the idea that the more funky things you eat, the better your immune system…but there certainly lies some truth.

I can’t tell you how many people question my protein consumption when I tell them that I’m vegetarian or vegan. I guess this gets a lot deeper into full on diets, than just one aspect of eating, but it usually stems from protein. I’m an active adult. I work out with weights or bodyweight exercises 5-6 times a week. But I don’t crave a juicy steak after a long stint at the gym (I don’t think I’ve ever had steak actually). I don’t need to add 4 spoonfuls of some processed powder to my smoothies to feel satiated in the morning, or to put on muscle. (Which I think is in part due to my genetics). Part of this is because, although getting tone and lookin' hot is in my daily workout goals- I'm not trying to become a tan, oiled body builder with muscles on my muscles. All these magazines touting protein are for people who wanna get huge, and therefore put scoops of "whey protein isolate" into any beverage they consume. I just want to be a healthy adult. Therefore, I don't believe it's necessary to eat one fraction of a food that might be good for me (protein isolate, ie. isolated protein, ie. protein without all of the other things that help it digest and process in your body). I get plenty of protein because I eat REAL good.  There’s protein in broccoli, and in rice, and in wheat, and in beans, and in nuts and in SO many of the things I eat, that no… I don’t need to supplement my diet…because I’m not one of those vegan that just eats potato chips and granola bars. And as Amil so beautifully explained- I don’t believe my body would benefit from eating a piece of flesh that has been decaying since it was slaughtered. Pass the broccoli.

Super simple homemade protein bars

I had a very awkward encounter with a curious young girl last summer where I work. We have open stall showers, as we have for decades, and we believe that it’s a great educational tool to get girls more comfortable with their bodies. However, I didn’t expect to be the educational tool one afternoon when a young girl stared at me while I showered, questioning certain, uh… choices I’ve made, and clearly appreciating having a real live example of what a woman looks like. Ever the educator, I answered her inquiries to the best of my ability, hoping she would at least look away as I dried off (She didn't. She still stared, unblinking. Awkward).
Her biggest curiosity was why I don’t shave my armpits, or my legs, to which I responded, “why would I?” I’m not a swimmer, so I don’t need to shave to go faster. I can’t even think of another reason why it would be logical to shave. Maybe really bad b/o? Or being really sensitive to hair? (But I would think shaving would be worse). Women simply think it’s necessary to shave their armpits and legs because in 1915 the first sleeveless dress became popular, and in the '20's razor companies startedadvertising for shaved arms and targeting razors for women.. Men and women bought into it and ta-da- more and more money went to the razor industry. I haven’t bought a razor in at least 5 years (even the straight razor I gave my fiancĂ© was a hand-me-down of sorts) and I certainly haven’t used one in as long. The idea of shaving is just as bizarre to me now as not shaving probably is to many of my readers. 

I always liked the idea behind not shaving, but wasn't motivated to actually stop until my college friend Harley started flaunting the cutest little arm pit fuzz.

What societal ideals do you ignore? Whether proudly or in shame... we all do things our own way, at least a little bit.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

You still have made a choice (TextNow Review)

About a month ago I posted a very gripping tale about cell phones and phone services and now I’m here to follow up! The program I ended up with is called TextNow which boasts some of the cheapest full service (1 G data, ample minutes and unlimited texting) I could find. They also enable you to get pretty nice phones for pretty cheap, and they don’t have contracts, so weird unstable people like me don’t have to make up their minds long term.
I’ve officially had TextNow for a month, and to be honest, I’m still figuring out a lot on the phone. I have however determined some clear pros and cons.
Got a great phone, with a case for $100. My one pre-req. was that the phone be refurbished, but it didn’t seem like a pre-owned phone. It came in a fancy box with charger and case, and some get started manuals. I like the Samsung style, and how customizable everything is(once I figured it all out).
Customer Service in English: They seem very committed to customer service. All of the people I’ve spoken with are native English-speakers, and when you e-mail them a question, they answer when they can (which may take a day or two) and then follow up to make sure your problem is solved. . Certain things can take a while, but that’s because their customer service hours are reasonable hours to ask a human to work in customer service, so if you ask a question on a weekend it could take a day to get back to you.
Cheap!: I’m currently on the $27/month plan, which is the cheapest plan I could find for what I wanted (1g of data, 1250 roll over minutes, unlimited texting). By the time of my bill I had only used 856 gigs and 160 minutes, so I’m thinking about downgrading, especially in my busy/remote months. It’s nice to have a phone service that makes it so easy to fluctuate between prices and services. The lower plan is only $18.00 a month…but it’s set up for people who have wifi in their homes and offices and don’t really use data much. Although I don’t have wifi in my home or office, I think I can get away with the cheaper service, especially when I’m out on the road so much.

Poor Service: I have been trying to argue this as a positive thing (I’ve already been able to use the excuse, “Sorry I didn’t take your call, boss, I have really poor service” but I’m worried that will wear out soon). Whether inside my concrete bunker of a house, or outside on the street, I rarely get more than 3 or 4 bars (I think it goes up to 6).  Part of the dysfunction could be that I’m still figuring out how to use a smart phone… but I definitely have a less reliable call experience, and searching the internet seems to be variable on how close to the window I’m standing or which direction I’m facing.
Text message fail: Unless I have a certain amount of service (2 or 3 bars maybe), text messages don’t send through the TextNow service, which is the only service that I have to send text messages. It bugs me that it doesn’t tell me when a message doesn’t send… It just casually pops up a little error message and then I notice an hour or a day later when I wonder why the person hasn’t responded, and the question or comment is irrelevant. I’m not sure how to remedy this, but I’ll keep playing with it, or get used to it, for as long as I have this service.
Missing Voicemails? As I was typing this I was informed that someone who showed a missed call on my phone, had actually left me a message, but no where does my phone say that. This is the second time that's happened, so I submitted some feedback to Textnow. Honestly, it might be a game changer. It's one thing to miss calls or drop calls, but completely miss information that people think they're leaving me...not okay for a phone service. 

Overall I’m happy with my purchase but that’s because I don’t mind having a sort of ghetto service. The phone itself seems smarter than me- and I’m okay taking my time to get to know it.
I think this would be a great plan for someone who pays for internet and doesn’t want to pay a ridiculous amount of money a month for cell service, and has plenty of sprint coverage in the places they spend the most time. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015


I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying.
                                                                                         -Michael Jordan
 You may remember that last November I wrote proudly of my efforts towards two creative contests. The first I wasn’t likely to get, especially when I kept putting off the work until 3 hours before the deadline. I hastily finished and was surprised with the product. You can see it on my E{art}h page.
The second contest I really got into. I started to really enjoy working as a writer and felt that what I was working on was pretty good. I even got a little smug about it, though not too outwardly, I hope.

However, I received an e-mail last month titled "Screenplay Finalists," congratulating the winners of the 2014 New Mexico Women in Film winners and I was not on the list. I read it three or four times just to be sure, but of the 32 applicants, mine didn't make the top 3 (for better or for worse I wasn't notified what place I made). I suppose I really had it coming, after telling Amil that his feedback was even better than winning, thus jinxing the Universe. I guess I needed this humbling experience, despite how badly I wanted to win. I wish they could provide some feedback. I’d love to hear “great content but the format was wrong" (which is clearly the only reason I didn't place). In any case…my loss is your gain, because you have the opportunity to read my unchosen play for free right below these words. Enjoy. 

Singing & Screaming

The outskirts of Scranton, Pennsylvania. Autumn 2010.


QUINN- 25, a youthful and idealistic music producer
JAKE- 31, Quinn’s partner, a student
JACIE- 28, Quinn’s best friend
DANIEL- 52, a professor of music theory in Berkeley
JEFFERY- 55, a bar-owner in Pittsburg

Quinn is sitting on the floor in sweaty work-out clothing, stretching while heavy metal music plays in the background. She gets a text and glances at the phone, ignoring it for a moment while she holds a stretch. She looks around the room, and coming back to the phone, does a stretchy-sort of dance. She reads and makes a face.
Oh boy.
(She texts as she speaks)
Yes I’m happy. How ‘bout you?
(She looks at the falling leaves outside)
New season, Sam, I guess it’s time for a check-up.
(She scoffs and goes back to her stretching, keeping the phone beside her. As she makes a new pose, it goes off again, prompting an immediate check. She reads, “not as happy as I would be with you, my angel.” She sighs a half smile)
Jake enters.                                                 
(he kisses her)
Damn, can you turn that down, I feel like my brain is going to explode.
Sorry, I didn't know you'd be home so soon.
(She stops the music as it builds up to a heavy part)

Class ended 2 hours ago.
Yeah, but then you go to the gym, and you always need “just one more set.”
(she mocks him)

Well I have to work a lot harder now that you’ve got me off steroids.
(He smiles, then looks to the stereo and frowns)
I don't know how you can listen to that.
You're so sweet and caring and it's so aggressive.
Why do they have to scream everything? Why can't they just sing, like--
Singing and screaming are the same thing. They're just different ways to express passion.
(a beat)
Do you still need help with your English paper?
Heh- that’s the only way it’s getting done.
Then we better get on it. I think it’s time you graduate from the title “oldest undergrad on campus.”  
Heh, thanks. I’m gonna shower and play a round of Halo, then I’ll be ready.  

Jake exits. Quinn's phone rings- an upbeat, sexy tone. She looks after Jake to make sure he's left then looks at the phone. She looks concerned, then answers.
Hey girl. What's new?
JACEY (voice)
He fucking cheated! I should have fucking known…

What?! Oh god. Where are you? I’m on my way.  

Okay, now I'm getting nervous.
 (he looks out the window for a several beats)
What do I even say to her? “Oh, Hi, remember me?”

How long has it been since you've seen her?
Gosh...8...9 years now?
And you think she'll remember you?
It's hard to say. I mean, we called each other soul mates. But it was only two short summers.  And she was just a teen then.
And you were an old perv.
Come on, Jeff. I did something no perv would ever do. I stepped back for years to let her grow on her own. I got ridiculed and lectured for emotions I couldn't control. I almost lost my job! I'm not going to sit here and listen to you spit this shit out, too. You and everyone else can just fuck off.
(After a long pause)
You think she's going to drop everything she has here and come back to Berkeley with you?
And if she doesn't? What then? You ‘gonna move in with me and stalk her ‘til she gives in?
(long pause)
No- I'll...move on...keep distracting myself with making music and meeting reckless women. If she's happy...
I'd be a dick to interfere.
But you are interfering. That's the whole point of you calling me up randomly "for a favor" and flying across the country so we could drive across the state to see her...isn't it?
Yes, but. Well fuck. I just couldn't stand it anymore. Wondering. Reliving the words we spoke, the plans we made and wondering...and wondering. And fucking wishing fate would have been kinder.
(after a long pause)
How did you find her?
(they both laugh)

Leaves are falling, Quinn is sitting on the grass with Jacey. Throughout the conversation she is building a stick fort.
But are you okay?
Fuck no. I mean, I’m fine. What’s a man but baggage anyway? But- what a way to end it. Just yesterday he was calling me his angel and saying he would do anything for me. What a load of shit! …anyway… how’s Jake? He would never cheat. He wouldn’t know what to do without you.

Ohhhh, Jakey. You know, he's so old and so young at the same time. He’s like a lost puppy finding his way through the world. I just want
a man who has found himself already.
And needs a wild young woman to get him lost again?
(Quinn snickers)


A few yards away, Daniel and Jeffry meander along the path under the leaves. As they talk we see Jacey hug Quinn and leave. Quinn remains, looking up to the sky.
Oh my god. I think that's her.
You're joking? Which one?
(Daniel nods toward Quinn)
Well, go ahead. Let’s get this over with.
No. I can't do it here. I've thought it over and over in my mind and it has to be at her house, so I can see where she lives, who she has become.
(He pauses, looking around)
 This is too open. Not intimate enough.
A park can be pretty intimate, trust me. Do you want me to go talk to her? Ask her name, and make sure that it's her?
Yes. Yes. Go chat with her about something… light. Tell me what she sounds like.
(Jeffry walks away before Daniel finishes)
Jeffry approaches Quinn slowly, and Quinn continues to look up at the sky through the leaves. As Jeffry looks around for something to say, she starts the conversation.
Isn't it gorgeous?
The color?
The sound. The sound the leaves make. It's hypnotizing.
(looking up to the leaves, then down at Quinn. their eyes meet)
 I, uh, I haven't been here before. It is ...stunning.
I come here as much as I can. People consider it more of a landfill than a park because of all the graffiti and broken benches...but something about it inspires me.
…I'm Jeffry. Jeff.
Quinn …I like Jeffry. It sounds wise.
hah, well that's me. Old and wise.
(Pause. They look at each other, then away. She grabs her scarf and bag and starts to exit)
Well I hope you enjoy the park as much as I do, Jeffry.
She scampers off, and he watches her go, a smile twitching on his lips. Daniel comes up to meet him.
That's her alright. Quinn. It sounds cuter when she says it.
(They both stare after her. Daniel makes short paces in front of Jeffry)
Oh, come on. It's a beautiful day.
(he smiles)
I've got to settle my nerves. I'm going for a coffee. You want to come?
(looking up at the leaves and around the park)
You know, I think I'll stay here and breathe in the fresh air.
With a nod, Daniel exits. Jeffry looks around the park, eying a bench but getting distracted by a woman walking her dog. Quinn comes up behind him, approaching hesitantly.
It’s hard to tear away, isn’t it?
(turning around)
Oh, Hi.
(he warms)
I thought you left. Indeed it is.
A beat. Quinn smiles, as if to say something, as Jeffry opens his mouth to speak. Before either can get a word out there's a loud squawk from a crow flying overhead.  They both look up. Then back down at each other. She lets out a breathy chuckle.
What? What's funny?
(lightly laughing)
It’s just…you remind me of someone.
Your father? Heh.
No… My first love.
(She looks him up and down)
Maybe it’s just your posture.
Want to see my favorite place in the park?
Yes, sure. Definitely.
Follow me.
(They walk into a thicket of trees, where she drops down to her knees to crawl under a row of rose bushes)
Watch the thorns on that one.
This is your favorite place?

Yeah, just wait and see.
(She sees his hesitation.)
Trust me.
(He slowly lowers to his knees, crawling stiffly behind her. He emerges from the tunnel to an enchanting enclosure of flowers and flora)
Oh wow.
In the afternoon the sun shines through that gap-
(she points upward)
-and it’s so cozy. It’s my way to get away from it all.  
(He looks at her and smiles. She shares the gaze, which they hold for a while)
What do you have to get away from?
Life. Hah. Well, I’m a music producer. Somehow living my dream. We just set up our studio, and we have all sorts of artists trickling in. It’s a slow start but I love it.

Is that what you want to do for the rest of your life?

Who wouldn’t? Music is such a release. And I love putting my moods to music.

What mood do you feel right now?

Hmm, something—
(Her phone rings a whimsical, energetic tune. She pulls it out, embarrassedly. She sighs) Sorry.
(Answering the phone)
Hey hun.

JAKE (voice)
Hey! I just got a call from the loan office that you paid my balance! You’re an angel.
(Quinn shudders slightly, smiling at Jeffry)
Can I repay you with some dinner? Then we can work on my paper?

(to Jake)
Sure! That sounds great. I’ll say ciao to Jacey and head home. You too. Bye.
(she hangs up and half-smiles at Jeffry)
Shit, I should let you go. I mean, I’ve got to go, too. I’m meeting someone.
(neither of them move. Then they both start out the tunnel at the same time. They laugh.)
You first.
No way- I’m not letting you watch me squeeze through there.
(Quinn laughs, and goes first through the tunnel. On the other side as he crawls through, she picks off some leaves, picking some off him as he stiffly stands up)

Maybe I’ll see you again, Jeffry? I come here every week.
I wish I could. I actually live a few hours away.
Oh. Well, have fun with your ‘friend’.

(extending his hand for a handshake)
It will pale in comparison to your company.

(She blushes, brushing past his hand and giving him a hug)
Quinn disappears through some trees. Jeffry walks out of the thicket and back to the trail, where Daniel is pacing.
(holding a disposable coffee cup)
 What the hell? I thought you ditched me.
(smiling and shaking his head)
Are you ready for this?

Well I didn’t fly all the way out here for a shitty cup of coffee.
(They exit)

Quinn sits on the sofa, a laptop in her lap. Jake lays hunched over a book at the table. There is a knock at the door. Quinn glances at Jake, unmoving, and picks herself off the sofa toward the door. She opens it, staring outside, her mouth drops open.


It's fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.
                                                                                                  -Bill Gates