Monday, December 31, 2012

Another new year

2013 is coming and unlike my usual New Years Eve, I'm lying in bed, doing nothing. That's because I've got a severe case of mono that's effectively shut my world down, prevented me from flying home and will keep me in Texas for another week...in bed. 
No New York City night for me tonight. Just chillin, wishing I could swallow without being in extreme pain. 
Such a lovely thing to read I'm sure. 
But there's a silver lining to this story. Yes, there is. In the past week, I have lost 13 pounds. It's laughable really, the concept that I actually did that. But that's what the scale says. So there's one New Years resolution that's already in effect and the clock isn't even close to midnight yet. 
Silver linings are important and I think, for me, that's what I'm going to focus on in 2013. Yes, I have quite the list of goals for 2013 and I look forward to knocking every single thing off that list. But really, when things don't go as planned or surprises arise that make life less than simple...I'll just remember to look for the silver linings. If silly Rihanna can find love in a hopeless place, then surely, I can find something redeemable about a seemingly less-than-ideal situation or two. 
And really, all I have to remember is that in 2013, I've got it pretty great: I'm not Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's baby. That's hope enough for me. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Especially Aguilera

Why do folks try so hard? I've never really understood that and while I'm sure I've been guilty of the same thing in the past, I no longer understand it. Why try so hard to portray yourself as someone you're not? Why not just be you?
I think this comes across easily among friends, but it certainly comes across in the public eye. Both Christina Aguilera and Rihanna have new albums they are promoting and both are choosing the most desperate ways of doing so. Rather than creating a great album with music people want to listen to over and over again, they are creating forgettable and mediocre (at best) songs and stripping down to nothing on magazine and album covers. Why though?
They'd argue that it's female empowerment and because they are choosing to expose their body, they are in control. But the real issue here is the fact that they are relentlessly grasping for any sort of press they can get. The days of shocking magazine covers have come and gone and it would behoove them both to take that into account. Especially Aguilera. She was a part of that first wave of shock-journalism and she should have grown out of it by now.
Did Adele have to get naked on the cover of a magazine to have big first-week album sales? No. She stood there, fully clothed, and sang good songs that everyone could relate to. Remember Shania Twain's album "Come On Over?" It's the best-selling female album of all time and it's an album of love songs everyone can relate to. The success of Taylor Swift? Songs everyone can relate to. Elvis, Celine, old-school Mariah...the same. But Christina continues to sing about how she's under siege and how everyone needs to back off.
When it comes to real people though, I don't understand why being ourselves isn't good enough. It's not that we don't all have work to do to become the best possible version of ourselves. We all do. But no one was ever truly fulfilled while being busy playing catch-up with others.
Be you. Don't try so hard to be someone you're not. We might not all sell 21 million albums, but we will sell ourselves short by not being true to ourselves.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Connection

My entire life is about making connections. Why I just landed on that, I'm not really sure.
Actually. Lies. I do know. I blame Instagram.
At first it was just a fun way to share photos. I was already sharing them anyway, might as well share them with fun filters on them. But then my follower count started to include people I didn't know, which is really fun. So I started following them and the spider-web kept extending.
It's amazing that we live in a time when I can follow someone that lives in Paris or London or Belfast. I get to have this glimpse into their lives and their daily activity, both the mundane and the exciting. We're able to do that with Twitter too, but this is a purely visual representation and I think that's more compelling.
I have a Masters degree in Communication for the love of God, I spend my time doing interviews and putting together a magazine - my entire life is communicating, therefore connecting. How thrilling and inspiring.
When the internet exploded and was available for everyone, we were suddenly sent into an age of information. But now, with the power of apps like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, I feel like we are in an age of Connection.
As we elect the person that will preside over our country for the next four years, has it ever been more evident that we are sharing and connecting more than ever? I think that's a great thing. It's expanding our worldviews, it's showing us different ways of thinking about our neighbors and it's making it easier than ever to stay in contact with people that matter (and some that don't).
I like to be connected. When I feel disconnected, I feel disoriented, discombobulated and just flat out dissed. (I had a shtick going there)
 So let's connect. I guess it's true, once a student, always a student because I don't ever want to stop learning about people.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The perks

Rarely does a film affect me in the way that "The Perks of Being A Wallflower" affected me. Actually, I can remember the last time a film affected me in this way and that was in 2001. That film was "Life As A House."
I tend to gravitate toward films that successfully tell a part of my story, which makes sense. Filmmakers are trying to tell stories that we can relate to. But every now and then, a film tells a part of our story so completely and so thoroughly, we'd be foolish to take pause. Wallflower was that for me.
I've always said that the silly Melissa Joan Hart movie "Drive Me Crazy" was the story of my high school and while I still believe that through-and-through, I think Wallflower more accurately depicts an aspect of my high school experience. Not so much just in the main character, but in pieces of the other characters as well. The funny thing about it is that I didn't know that going into the movie. I haven't read the book so I didn't know. I just knew the trailer was perfect and I want to support Hermoine...er...Emma Watson in her post-Potter roles. Cut to me, a crumpled heap in the movie theater seat, sobbing through the credits.
I love when art makes us feel. Tabloid culture has us in this desensitized state where we are perpetually escaping reality. True art makes us feel something and art that permeates our shell is something to take pause in, like I did during the credits of this film. We should allow ourselves to be moved in that way by films. I'm trying to make more time for that in my life. It's something I neglected for far too long. 
And just so we're clear. "Drive Me Crazy" is awesome. There isn't a discussion about that.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The playground

Living in New York is a lot like attending a large liberal arts college. There are always new experiences, opportunities and expressions of life around you that are completely backward from how you grew up. Everywhere you turn, political protests, group meetings ripe for the attending, concerts at places that were before unheard of and the local bar hosting karaoke on Thursdays with half-price booze all clamor for our attention. Sometimes, I feel like a perpetual freshman, trying to navigate my way through a city that has a seemingly never-ending bulletin board of things to do.
In the same breath, being a perpetual freshman in New York also presents the hope of things yet unseen and experiences yet unhad. Walking down the street isn't just walking down the street here, it's an allowance for adventure. The 'unknown' caramelizes into anticipation for something we don't even know exists yet, which makes our days sweeter.
That hopeful anticipation is something we should never leave behind, because when we do, this will just be a big city rather than what it actually is: a playground for freshmen.

The point is the rebound

Have you ever wondered why sportscasters place so much value in the number of rebounds a basketball players has? It's because the rebound is necessary for the next big play to happen. The rebound is, perhaps, the most important part of the game because without it, you continue to get scored on. In order to win, you've got to rebound well.
I wish people would consider the basketball game when they are going through a rough patch. We all fall into slumps and we find ourselves feeling less-than, but there's value in the rebound. Not in an RRR (relationship-related-rebound...duh), but in a real life way. The strength and force of our rebound is what is going to propel us into position to make that next big play. It also sets us up for what's coming next.
So rebound well and win this. I know you can.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I was still speaking

I had dinner with an interrupter.
What started as a pleasant conversation became a fight to get your words heard and I'm sorry to report that I did not win this battle. Actually, I forfeited the battle because I couldn't get past the fact that this person wouldn't stop interrupting everyone. And not just interrupting, but talking over the top of us as well.
At first, I was irritated but thought she was just trying to finish her thought. Then she did it to me. Game on.
I kept talking. Louder. And so did she. Fine, we'll call it a tie until I have something else I'd like to over to the "conversation."
That time came and this time, not only did I speak loudly, but I used emphatic arm movements to convey that it was I that was speaking and that people should pay attention to what I was saying. What did she do? She just started singing.
Are you kidding me with this? Am I not in on the joke? Is this normal behavior?
That's when I gave up. Once you've had a Celine-Dion-arms moment and nothing's come of it, it's hard to come back from that.
So I had dinner with an interrupter, and I didn't enjoy it.While the food may have been delicious, the company left a bad taste in my mouth. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

I will sell this house today

What do you do when you feel less-than?
It's not really a rhetorical question. I'm actually asking. What do you do when you feel less-than?
As much as I'm just a big ball of insecurities, I rarely feel less-than. I've got a pretty good grasp on who I am, what I like, who I want to surround myself with and where I'm headed. But it only takes that one moment of unexpected anxiety to knock the wind of our my sails completely and I end up a heap somewhere, trying to regain my composure and convince myself that I actually will 'sell this house today.'
You may not know that reference. It's from American Beauty. Annette Bening is a realtor and she's mind-over-mattering her bleak situation by telling herself she will sell this house.She doesn't.
I didn't either this week. Sadly, it's ended up like it ends in the film, slapping the hell out of my face, angry that I couldn't sell my metaphorical house. I know I'm not alone in this. We all have times when we give it all we've got and it doesn't seem to measure up. We even all have moments of surreal discouragement that take us by surprise, mostly because we think we're immune to that sort of thing. Like I said, I've got a pretty good grasp and I don't tend to let the little things screw with me. But this time, for some reason...
So I regroup. Take a minute. Stop moving forward for long enough to put what's around me currently in focus. Then we will see. I'm not less-than, no matter who or what may try to convince me otherwise. But while my mind may know that, matter hasn't caught up yet. But it will. Because unlike Carolyn, I will actually sell this house.

Friday, August 24, 2012

8:57

This morning, at 8:57, I walked into the McDonalds across from the Empire State Building to get the 2-for-$4 deal. See, it's a McMuffin and since I'm not eating carby things, I just throw the bread away and eat the egg and sausage. I did this yesterday too. It's about a block from my office, it's on the route I walk every morning from the 1 train to the office.
This morning, at 9:02, I know that because I actually did look at my watch this morning to see if I was on time, (clearly I wasn't), I walked out of McDonalds and down the block to my office to start my day.
This morning, at 9:07, someone started shooting people in front of the Empire State Building, where I was not five minutes before.

Yesterday, I posted on Facebook about how I was thankful for the people in my life. I meant it then. I mean it now as well. There are all those sayings about how we should 'live for today' and 'life's too short' and we 'never know when it could be over' and all that. Do we need anymore proof of that? People are shooting people around the country like we are all part of some sadistic game of Duck Hunt, all the while, politicians are arguing that civilians having guns is some sort of human right. Meanwhile, while you all argue about this, people continue to die needlessly.

What's most upsetting to me is that none of this makes any sense. It doesn't make sense for people to get shot outside a building on their way to work. It doesn't make sense why this nation hasn't woken up, looked at the stats from other countries that don't allow guns, and followed suit. It doesn't make sense.
Today is a weird day. Everyone in our office has commented on it. It was weird before people were shot and it's weirder after. I'm just going to continue to trust. And believe. And know that I don't have the answers but I have faith in who does.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Keep walking...

Last year, it was right around this time, when I knew something was going to change in my life. I felt the stirring in my soul, in the innermost parts of my being, that something was going to change. So I started walking.
That's actually what I started doing.
I started walking.
After work, I would just start walking through the city, listening to whatever music felt right at that moment and at whatever point in my walk that I felt the inner release, that's when I would get on the train. Sometimes that was 10 blocks and sometimes that was 40 blocks.
I've felt a change coming and so tonight, I walked. I walked 50 blocks actually.
It's amazing the amount of clarity that brings me. Not only is it great to wander through this city at night, but it's freeing to walk without aim or destination, listening to music you love.
So something's coming. I don't know what it is. But until I find out, I'm just going to continue walking.

As silly as this might be to some people, I found myself thinking about this video. I wish I could say I was thinking about this story in general, but alas, no. I was thinking about singing peas. See, they sing about how the little vegetables should keep walking around the wall of Jericho, taunting them and telling them they won't be able to knock it down. But what the peas didn't understand was that it wasn't about the vegetables to knock the wall down.
So while that's only tangentially related, I feel like the change that is coming is representative of that wall falling down. So I'll keep walking, no matter what anyone might say, and allow myself to be open and receptive to whatever that change is. After all, the version of me that sits here this year and the version that sat here a year ago are completely different..and I love that.
(Fast forward to minute 21 on the video to see the song I'm talking about.)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

2nd anniversary

This blog was going to be much different than it has become. I was going to muse about how today is my second anniversary living in New York City and I was going to make a list of all the things that have changed for me and what I've learned. It was going to be both witty and heartfelt and was going to mention Friends, Sex and the City and 30 Rock at least twice each.
But what I really want to do today is just say how thankful I am to be here. I work a "regular" 9-5 job that's really anything but regular and I'm chipping away at my life goals list by BLEEPing on a monthly basis. Being entrusted by our readers each month to create something that matters is something that both humbles me and drives me to push harder and go further, not just in the work of the magazine, but in all avenues of my life.
The version of me that lived here a year ago is a very different version of me than what's here today. Over the past year, I've taken more risks, I've tried more new things and I've seen more growth than the previous year. I've allowed myself to let go of the self-made barricades and step into my own skin in a way I never have before. I've seen my circle of friends expand and contract in the best ways I never imagined and I've seen just how strong the strands of my long-distance friendships are.
Ultimately, I'm just thankful. I get to live in the place I've dreamed of living. I didn't compromise that dream either. I have a job that pays my bills and another job that pays me in completely different and equally important emotional and personal ways. I'm thankful I've internalized the fact that I'm a work-in-progress and allowed that to be alright. It's alright to be me, no matter what.
I'm 29 years old and I still have no clue what life will look like in 6 months, in a year or in five years. That's fine. I'm just thankful I'm here. There are so many people who are too scared to uproot their lives and chase their dream and while I was nervous about moving thousands of miles away from my friends and family, I knew it was what I was meant to do. That I have the support I have and am being given the opportunities I usually feel are, undeservedly, handed to me is unreal.
I was called an hero at work today. It was a very public and very unexpected compliment made in front of people who I have the utmost respect for. I'd be lying if I said it didn't overwhelm me a little. In that moment, on this day, a day where I'm already so thankful to be here, it served as a public validation of what I've known inside. I'm right where I'm supposed to be. It's hard not getting to do the pledge with my ridiculous and amazing family on the 4th of July. It's hard not getting to support my college gang in person when they are doing amazing things and accomplishing their dreams. It's hard not being able to afford to fly to my friends' weddings. It's hard not having real Tex-Mex whenever I want it...
But the trade off is exhilarating.
This past week, I've felt the winds of change. Something's about to change in my life and while I don't know what it is right now, I can't wait to find out. Here's to another year of living and discovering the city and myself. Stick around. It's sure to be a fun ride.

Monday, August 13, 2012

I don't have the Hunger

I finally saw The Hunger Games this weekend after many months of pushing against the current of the pop culture river that's been flooding the landscape of our consciousness. You'd think that a pop culture lover like myself would have been there on opening weekend to see something with such a following, but I wasn't interested. And now I wish I hadn't seen it at all.
I was never on board with this film or the books the films are derivative of. I know the premise, I know it's not necessarily anything new. It's basically The Most Dangerous Game but with children killing each other. And it's that last part where I have issues.
I don't have any interest in participating in a story about children killing children. I don't care that it's making a profound statement about both the society of violence we live in and the filth that so many people engage in watching on television. (Which I do believe it does and does so incredibly well) I certainly don't think weaving a love triangle into the story of needless death makes it more enjoyable or even more meaningful. If anything, it's white-washing the world's most horrible act in order to make it a sanitized story "appropriate" for the masses.
No, I haven't read the books and I won't be either. I know millions of people really enjoy the books and are drawn to how well written they are and how engaging they are. To each their own. But as for me, I can't bring myself to put my psyche through the thought that an 18-year-old is snapping the neck of a 12-year-old because it's okay to do so, which in the confines of this story, it's perfectly accepted and expected to do so.
So, I'm sorry Hunger Games. I won't be participating in watching any future films or reading any books. It grieves me too deeply to do so. In a world where we have real teenagers killing each other and themselves on a daily basis, I can't entertain even a fictional version of the same injustices.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Doing the wrath

Wrath of the Titans was not completely terrible. I mean, it was no where near great, and a lot of the special effects looked as if they were created for the first Harry Potter movie, but I do feel like there was one very redeeming moment.
Perhaps it's because I'm in the Olympic spirit, so anything about people having the ability to rise up above insurmountable odds makes me feel all warm and enables me to self-Oprah-fy my life.
I was watching this movie to enjoy a calm day doing nothing. It's hot outside and I don't really want to be wandering around in it. Sometimes, we don't want anything deep, we just want something fun that will entertain us for a short amount of time. Then, as the heroes of the story were pleading with one of the god-like characters in the movie, the token blonde warrior princess says, "I'm sorry you think that being human is not enough. But we humans have the power to hope when there's no hope, and we believe when to believe is idiotic. And sometimes, in spite of everything, we prevail."
Cut to Ryan having a moment.
Here's what's so funny to me about it. This is just the kind of line that Aaron Sorkin shoves down our throats each week in The Newsroom, making us feel like he's brilliant and that it's the best show on TV (it's not). But when this gal said it, I thought, that pretty much sums up everything the Olympics have been showing us over the past week.
So in that respect, I enjoyed Wrath of the Titans. It didn't change me like, say, The Lorax did (judge all you want, it's lovely and made me happy in a way few films have), but it was enjoyable for an afternoon and aptly coupled with the Olympics I'm watching in the background, I walked away inspired. Even if it's in a pseudo-Sorkin way.

Truly inspired

The Olympics provide the entire world with the thrill of sporting to a degree that no Superbowl could ever measure up to. The feats of the most talented and driven athletes in the entire world take us all by storm and for me, it's hard to focus on much else. It's all Olympics all the time for me.
Today though, I was struck by Oscar Pistorius from South Africa. You've probably seen him in ads for different things. He's the runner that had both legs amputated. After almost four years of lobbying and fighting, he was finally allowed to qualify for the Olympic games, having to prove that his blades he runs on don't give him any advantage and won't present any danger to his competitors. If you ask me, I'm fairly certain anyone that has two legs amputated doesn't have any advantages but whatever IOC.
What I thought was so amazing today was the fact that the commentators were saying that he was just lucky to be invited to the game. He then went on to finish second and qualify for the semi-finals. Is he going to make it past that point? I don't know. But it doesn't really matter. He's already shown that no matter what your apparent disability might be, you can accomplish anything.
There's an unbelievable amount of heart and drive inside this man and I must say, out of all the Olympians that are inspiring people all over the world, this man just might be the most inspirational of them all. If he can race in the Olympics with all he's overcome, what's our excuse for not being able to do anything?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

...and the City

The other night, at dinner, my friends and I were having a conversation that I realized could have been a plot point in Sex and the City.
"How long do you wait until you text them after the first date?"
"I haven't heard from them in a day. Does that mean all interest was lost?"
"I'm over it."
As much as I'm a fan of television manifesting in real life, this actually bothered me a bit because I just thought we were a bit too old to be having this conversation. I understand that twenty and thirty-somethings have long had these conversations, but at some point, don't we have to mature out of the immaturity of the sexed up culture we live in? Personally, I'm not interested in jumping into bed and a relationship simultaneously after a first date. But that seems to be the trend. Actually, the trend is to just leave the relationship part out of the equation. That is, until you are sitting at brunch with your friends and complaining about how you can't find anyone to be in a relationship with.
It's a self-perpetuating cycle our culture has a hard time stopping. Like a special needs hamster named Bucky, stuck on the wheel, unaware he can get off and breathe if he wanted to. But the cycle continues and all the while, we wonder why we can't find that real relationship.
There are plenty of Sex and the City moments that I find profound and meaningful in my New York experience, moments when I think, 'Yeah. That's exactly how it happens here,' or 'Wait. That same thing happened to me the other day.' But this conversation is something I have no interest in reliving in the syndication of my life.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The 4th reason

Tonight is why I moved to New York.
Of course I love the theatre. Of course I love the pace. Of course I love this big ol' city. But tonight is why I actually moved to New York.
It's the 4th of July and for me, that's always been a big family holiday for me and I can guarantee that no one celebrates the 4th like the Brinsons do. But since I'm not flush with cash to fly home in the middle of the work week to eat queso and burgers, I have to start creating my own 4th memories.
When I moved to New York, I had this idea of what it might be. It was an idea born from TV shows and movie scripts but tonight, I lived all of those fictional things.
What began as a small group of my friends getting together ended up being the perfect night. An apartment that opened up to the rooftop, people from all over the country, grilling food and a flawless sunset in the city I love the most. So while that may have seemed like the opening of Cloverfield, it was real.
Then, something happened. As we sat on roof, watching the fireworks explode over the Hudson, new friends and old from all walks of life, we began to reflect on the country we live in. We talked about how blessed we are to live in a nation, and specifically in a city, where we have freedom. We don't live in a perfect country. We don't even really live in a unified country. But we do live in a free country. Free to live where we want to. Free to do what we want to do for a living. Free to love who we want to. A free country.
I've long known that the small things in life are the most meaningful and tonight, that again proved true. An evening with new friends, overlooking the city, engaged in conversation that matters and having a truly wonderful time. That's why I moved to New York.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Epicenter

Last night, one of my oldest friends and I hashed through a specific set of memories that neither of us had really revisited in a very long time. I don't usually condone drudging up the past, but for us, it became a cathartic moment of profound self rediscovery. The type of thing that can happen after years of growing up.
I suppose the reason it was all so profound was my realization that the memory cluster we were un-knotting happened to fall exactly 11 years from the moment we were talking last night.  What is it about putting a time stamp on something that widens our eyes and our narrows our perspective?
The specific memory we were allowing to resurface isn't really important to define here, but it had to do with the implosion of a friendship. What's important is the reminder that in this life, we have these moments where we behave less-than-admirably and our actions aren't exactly noble. We have moments where the support system we've built for ourselves collapses and we are forced to confront the reality of the naivety of youth. We have these moments where our lives feel like they're in shambles, when in reality, it's just that the space in the metaphorical room was not big enough to accommodate the growth that life naturally brings to us. 
What I learned last night as I was literally searching for words was something about the resilience of people and the breakable quality of relationships. We bounce back. After time, we are even able to Oprah our experience into a neat little package of personal growth, tied up with a little bow of profound self-discovery. 
I turned 29 last week and that doesn't scare me in the slightest. I don't fear the number that comes after that either. Though, like I do during every birthday, New Years and Christmas, I reflect on the years that have passed and what I've learned. Last night was a poignant reminder of how relationships can deepen over time and become even more meaningful than when they were "your everything" in high school. And no matter the state of what transpired in that ever-so-strange memory cluster I've been sifting through, I know there's value in the epicenter. There's value in the singular moment that changes every moment that follows. Did you ever see/read The Butter Battle Book? Its this Dr. Suess book that's not as famous as cat's hats or elephants with hearing issues, but it's more profound than most of his other books. At the end, each side of this warring area are holding a tiny spec of what is not-so-cleverly disguised as an atomic bomb reference. Its a tiny spec but when it goes off, it will change everything. There's value in that.
What I've seen this week is a reassessment of the epicenter. I've been thinking about it over the past week and it's made me think deeper about the events in my life that might be the epicenter of something great.



Friday, June 22, 2012

Pounce

The bullying thing hit a new low this week as an elderly woman was harassed to the point of tears on a bus in upstate New York. I'm sure you've seen the video. It's horrible. The worst form of young humanity represented for all the world to see.
People have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars so this woman can take a much needed vacation and the school has said that the boys will be punished, but ultimately, what has really just blown my mind in this whole thing is this woman herself. Karen Klein deserves some sort of a medal. I couldn't even make it through the first three minutes of this video of her being harassed. She put up with it every day? How?
And maybe this is where I leave my Christianity at the door, but those boys deserved to have their faces kicked in. I would not have put up with that. Not even once. It would have been a Mean Girls moment - I would have turned into a human-panther, pounced and not stopped beating their faces in until they were unable to speak for themselves.
I feel the need to say here - violence is never the answer...unless you're writing a screenplay.

Then, of course, there are the residual idiots from this story. Rather than being horrified by the fact that they are raising hyenas for sons, the father of one of the boys, who is 13-years-old and fully aware of the decisions he is making to call this nice woman these profane things says, "My family’s received death threats. He’s a 13-year-old kid. It was a stupid mistake and he’s paying for it but I just think it’s a little out of control."
Is it? IS IT?

Moral of this story: Don't have children. Violence is never the answer. I will pounce on you.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

To Remembering

It's no secret that I love finales of television shows. I love the episodes when you've invested years of your life into a show and you're allowed to see that investment come to a close. Tonight, as I watched the Desperate Housewives finale, I was able to pinpoint one of the reasons why. Bookends.
There's something about seeing characters you saw in episode one pop back up again in the final episode. Not every show is able to do that but some are, Housewives being one of them. It allows you to revisit the very first time you met these characters you've stood by for so long.
I had a similar experience with my group of friends from college. On our last night that we'd all be together, we watched a DVD slideshow of pictures that spanned the length of our friendship to that point. We were able to bookend our friendship.
Obviously, that's infinitely more important and meaningful than seeing a minor character from a show. But there is value in the bookends. There's a value in remembering. It's easy to look back over a period of time and see how things have changed, but what's really valuable is seeing what's remained the same. What were the constants in a world full of variables? What was there when you began and stuck around?
So as the finale credits roll, as I have wiped away tears that seeped out over the course of the two hours, I'm reminded of the journey. I'm reminded of the moments that have affected me. I'm reminded of the ways that a scripted television show has somehow inspired me and given me moments that require tissues. I am also reminded of the people in that bookended video, the ways they have affected me, somehow inspired me and given me moments that require tissues. Bookends are more than a great gift.
"To remembering."

Monday, May 7, 2012

In Like

A friend of mine is in love. Though, all he'll say is that he's "in like." But that's just an over-cautious way of saying he fell fast, fell hard and is in that inescapable muddy trench we call love. It's amazing to me how the one thing we all aspire to have in our lives, love, is sometimes the hardest to admit we've stumbled into.
I love love. I love seeing people in love. I love watching it blossom and become something tangible. It's infectious isn't it? You see people in love, you see it working, and you can't help yourself but to want to have that as well. Even the most solitary and independent people aren't immune. It's amazing.
With all the hatred in the world, seeing someone in love can silently but almost tangibly change our perception on our state of affairs. And this isn't in some sort of strange, voyeuristic way. It's honestly makes me happy to see people happy and in love. And though love is of course total agony as Love Actually so adequately points out, it's also the most wonderful thing in the world.
I feel like love and possibility go hand in hand and right now, I feel full of possibility. I'm not in love. I'm not even in like. But I am full of possibility which I think means something.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Ebbing

What do you do when you feel in-between?
I'm honestly asking because I don't really know.
I don't know what to do when I'm in-between. I imagine it would help to know what in-between means though and even that's difficult to explain.
Creative people go through these ebbs and flows of inspiration. We always have the ability to execute, but without inspiration, the execution of whatever we're doing will be flawed and in some cases, tragic. A songwriter that writes an uninspired song probably won't change anyone's life. An artist that isn't inspired to paint anything can still paint that tree, but the tree won't matter much. I'm stuck in the middle, in-between, two of those flows. I guess I would have said, "What do you do when you're in the ebb" but that wouldn't have made too much sense. Though it does sound more Oprah-appropriate.
It's strange. I've seen so many really interesting and creative shows recently and usually, that's all it takes for me to break through a creative entrenchment, much like the dragon that breaks through Gringotts in Harry Potter. But for some reason, that hasn't been the way this has played out. I feel like I've had momentary glimpses of daylight but there is this heavy cloud resting over me, Eeyore style.
It never ceases to amaze me how disoriented I feel in these moments and I always question why it happens. But as I've already said, I'm in the ebb. I have the wisdom to know that the flow will come. 
I think that's the calm in the Eeyore-sized storm. The calm that comes with knowing it's just a season and it will eventually end. That is where I think wisdom is the most important. It's in the knowledge that you've been there before and you'll be there again eventually. Just like waves in the ocean, ebb and flow, ebb and flow, ebb and flow.
So I'm in the ebb. This too shall pass. But in the meantime, I don't really know what to do in the in-between. I suppose, just sit, wait and watch Mad Men.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Crushed

I have some bad news. News that has dampened my day and inserted a Charlie-Brown-style rain cloud above my head.
My Twitter crush is off the market.
I'm not really sure what to do in this situation. What does one do when your Twitter crush, the person you have day-dreamed about, the person you've drawn stick-figures holding hands in non-proportional hearts on notebook paper about, the person you've seen randomly on the street and wondered if they were aware of your all-consuming (albeit fictitious) digital crush on them. How does one rebound from that?
As I'm clearly still working through the stages of grief in this situation, I have some comforting words. Take it from me friends, one that has made it through the fire and can see the parting sea in front of me. There's hope.
First, you must remind yourself that you don't actually know this person. You've created this in your mind and there's not actually a break-up taking place. This is the hardest step to get through because it requires you to fully commit to the fact that you are, in fact, a dummy.
The second step...actually...there's not a second step. Just the one. Again...dummy.


Monday, April 2, 2012

It's hard y'all

You know that feeling when you've bit off more than you can chew? I don't mean figuratively either. I mean it in the most literal sense. When you take a bite of something and it won't tear apart, so you just start reeling it into your gullet until your mouth is so full you can't even chew, much less breathe?
Right.
That's where I'm at right now. (Figuratively this time, not literally)
The funny thing about biting off more than you can chew is that it still tastes good (back to the literal). It still tastes the way it's supposed to taste, but you feel you should have shared your portion a bit.
The thing about the figurative version of this story...and the literal version too...is that you just have to keep chewing until you can make it. (I'm not much of a food-spitter-outer)
So I'm just gonna keep chewing. If Disney taught us nothing by way of Finding Nemo - it's that we need to 'just keep swimming, just keep swimming.' Just keep chewing, just keep chewing.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Kissing you

I very rarely talk romance on here, mostly because I don't know that it's any of your business. However, I have a thought today. A romantic thought.
I like kissing. I'd use the word love here but I feel that's a strange choice of word in a moderately-romantic-themed blog so I'll stick with the word like. But I do. I like it. It's fun. Connecting with someone in that way and having that moment.
We put such an emphasis on our 'first kiss' in our culture. It's a big deal. My first kiss was when I was five and the girl is now a lesbian, so I really started that off on the right foot. I guess my first "real" kiss was when I was in eighth grade, though if you ask me, I'll tell you my first kiss was with a five-year-old lesbian.
Now that I'm an adult, a single adult at that, when I go out on the weekends, I see people making out all over the place. My favorite is when they've just met and they are making out like one of them is about to be shipped off to war. To them, kissing isn't really that big of a deal I suppose and I guess that's alright, but I don't think I'm that person. Actually, I know I'm not that person.
Kissing is still a thing to me. I still think it's special, sexy and important. It's not something I do with just anyone. I feel it's important to take inventory of the pieces of ourselves we give to others, mostly because we can never get those pieces back. So I don't apologize for being that guy at the bar that's not making out with the first person I meet because to me, I'm giving that person part of me.
Perhaps this was a bit of a rant and perhaps you think I'm silly or old-fashioned for feeling this way, but I'm completely alright with being that old-fashioned person.
You know, one of my favorite magazine covers I've ever seen was this issue of New York Magazine from a few years ago. Each year, they have an issue that's "Reasons to Love New York Right Now" themed and on this particular issue, it was covered with people kissing. There's something inherently romantic about this city anyway and I just thought the cover was poignant and stunning. (Magazine geek here so I make no apologies) But I think what makes it poignant to me is that I believe those people that were kissing meant it. Maybe they're like me and think it's special too.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy peppy people

If you've read anything on here, you're aware that I consider my work on the magazine to be my passion project and my occupation. But I do have a "real job" that pays the bills, I just don't write about it very often because I try to keep work and personal life separate.
Having said that, a recent development at work has given me cause to bridge the gap.
My co-workers have begun to poke fun at me because "you're the happiest person we've ever met" and "you're so happy all the time." This isn't the first time someone has told me that either.
At first I didn't really think a whole lot about it. Yes, I'm a happy peppy person. I'm basically a walking advertisement for Vitameatavegamin. That's true. But now that it's being broadcast how happy I am, it's made me think about it and I realized, they're so right. I'm so upbeat most of the time. Is there a Boy Scout badge for that because I think I deserve a retro-active badge. Does that make me an Eagle Scout now?
Can we talk for a second about Eagle Scouts? I get it. They did a great many things, learned a lot and did some sort of project to help humanity. But are they really a cut above the rest of us? I think they're portrayed that way and it kinda bothers me.  
Beginning of rant:
When I was in Boy Scouts all those years ago, there was this high school guy that was a leader in our troop and on his way to his Eagle. But he was a complete ass. A narcissistic, self-serving, compassionless ass. Yet when he got that award, people lauded him with praise, talked about how he was such a leader and was going to change the world. But what does that matter if you're a miserable human being?
Rant complete.
So apart from the random ranting about the bad seeds of the Boy Scouting program or a Kardashian, I'm such a happy person. And the fact that other people notice it, to the point of making mention of it to me, is thrilling. That's how I want to be perceived. I don't want to be known as someone that's mean and surly. I want to be known as someone that brightens people's days.
Hearing that doesn't give me a big head either. It's like a quiet reminder that I'm doing something right in the world. When so many things can fall apart in life, if you're brightening someone's day, you're doing something right. Right?

A Transportation Story

There's no way around it: Transportation in New York City is the ultimate eggshell, it can crack with the slightest bump. Anyone that has lived in New York longer than a week has had to experience the wonder that is the transportation situation here, whether that's by cab, by bus or by train, and it's fair to say that anyone that's lived here longer than a week has had their fair share of issues with said cabs, buses and trains.
I'm usually pretty easy-going when it comes to the transportation issue here. Ultimately, what can I do about it? You might as well roll with the punches, become accustomed to leaving early so you can allow for it and just make sure you have a great song to listen to when you're stuck and waiting for what seems like an eternally long time.
This morning, I went to my regular train station near my apartment, hoping to get on the train that arrives every morning between 8:25 and 8:35. You see, that train makes its first stop at my station, meaning it's empty and we all get seats. Perhaps you with cars don't understand this concept because you always have a seat in your car, but on a crowded Manhattan train, seats are novelties one shouldn't take lightly.
I arrive, ready to sit, when the lovely woman at the ticket counter delicately shouts that the trains are running at this station. No alternative route offered, no apologies for the inconvenience of myself and all the other rush-hour commuters, just the knowledge that I'd been shouted at before 9:00 a.m.
That meant either walking to the next station, getting on the bus or taking a cab. Of course, there were no cabs anywhere this morning. Why would there be? That would be too simple of a story. And of course, the trains weren't running at the next station either. That meant I had a date with the M4. What a lovely bus it was.
Actually, that's where the story kinda picks up. I got a seat on the bus which was perhaps entirely too thrilling, and I was able to see the northern end of Central Park and all of 5th Avenue in my ever-so-late commute to work. Things were really looking up for ol Ryan.
That's when a line of about six police cars congested all traffic because they were going the wrong way down a one-way 5th Avenue during rush-hour. Now I'd like to believe they were in the middle of an amazing chase or helping the Muppets solve a jewel heist or or blocking traffic so that Ethan Hunt could chase down Jon Voigt. But more likely than not, none of those things were actually happening.
I did finally arrive to work this morning, an hour and a half after I first tried to board that empty subway car and though I saw the Guggenheim and had a Carrie Bradshaw moment (not actually feeling like her but feeling like I'd laugh at her if I saw her there in the rain shrieking as she did) and though I ended up stalled in front of St. Patrick's cathedral (while I was listening to Sister Act - coincidence? I think not) - it was quite the interesting experience. But mornings sometimes are. I'm much more awake now than I would have been if I'd made it onto that train and I've had long text conversations with people I think are fascinating. So as irritating as it initially was, I feel like I had a morning adventure. And, on top of it, I had a morning adventure with a terrific haircut. That honestly makes all things better doesn't it? Don't lie. It does.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Silly Symphonies

I love classical music and I enjoy going to the symphony. For some, it's just an expensive nap but I really like the feeling of relaxing and listening to some of the finest music ever written played by a full orchestra and not a synthesized version of an orchestra. Having said that, I have a list of ways I feel the symphonic experience could be tweaked.
They are three fold:

One - All symphonies should be approximately 25% shorter than they are. This is accomplished in one very specific way - editing. Yes, it deserved Best Picture, but does every symphony need to end in a Lord of the Rings: Return of the King style fashion?  You know what I'm talking about. Just when you think it's over, it's not really. And then you think it's over again, but again it's not really. Then when you're certain it's over, you're not really all that surprised when it's not. It'd be much more of an effective statement to end with a bang - one bang. Singular.

Two - I feel that all symphonies should have a large screen over the orchestra playing Fantasia. Especially when the piece is an hour long, how much more enjoyable would it be to follow along with the a colorful blob or a dancing hippo? I feel this was something that Walt was aware of and more folks should take note. Who really wants to stare at a wall for an hour anyway? We're visual people. Disney made us that way. Crafty, that Walt.

Three - This is the big one. I understand the conductor is the one that wrangles this whole thing together and I understand they are great and all, but do they really have the leave the stage and re-enter three or four times after the symphony is over so we can applaud them repeatedly? I feel like they're taking advantage of encore-privileges just because they think they can get away with it. I don't appreciate it. When I do something great, I don't get to exit and then re-enter again and again to get the same praise continuously (though what a better world this would be if we could all have that). I don't think they should be able to do that either.

Again - love the symphony. Love it. But I do feel that even the classics could use some updating.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Grown Ups

I was talking to a friend about being "grown up" yesterday and I haven't really been able to stop thinking about it. There's that point in your life when you have to start answering questions about what's expected of you and what it means to be an adult. Welcome to that place.

I'm "grown up" enough to know I'm at a place in my life where I have a pretty solid concept of who I am as a person, what I have to offer, an appreciation of where I've been and enough foresight to know where I'd like to go next. I don't know how I'm going to get there, but I can see, based off of what I've accomplished in the past, that I can and will arrive at either my dream or an adjacent dream not yet realized.
I'm "grown up" enough to know that having a baby or doing what is "expected of me" within a certain society does not, in fact, lead to some sort of required and age-appropriate level of happiness or maturity. I'm also "grown up" enough to know that not having those things does not make me less of an adult, less of an important participant in society or make me less-than those that do have/want those things right now.
I'm "grown up" enough to know people make a mistake in misinterpreting "having a good time" with "being adolescent in your maturity." Those are two different things. I still love to laugh until I choke, to drive around and sing, to run around the city like a banshee and to listen to dance music. However, I also have a job that supports me, the discipline to chase after what I want in life and the understanding that while there's nothing wrong with being almost 30 and liking Britney, I do not have to talk about her all the time, wear her shirts to bed or have a poster of her on my wall.
I think we have to look out for ourselves in this world and we have to guard our dreams and while that can be misinterpreted as selfishness, there's a difference between being singularly-minded on your goal and only thinking about yourself. The world doesn't look like it did 20 years ago. Our generation doesn't have to have kids in our twenties to be fulfilled. If anything, that's what our thirties are for. Even our forties. And so what if we don't have kids? We'll raise the best, appropriately-named, dogs anyone has ever known.
The other side of that coin is that I'm "grown up" enough to know that life is nothing but the people who are in it, and above all other things, that's what matters. I believe with all my heart that it's only when that concept and your dream align that you can truly be fulfilled.

In my opinion, the key to being "grown up" is the inner knowledge that what you are doing is exactly what you need to be doing in that moment to get to where you want to go next. That involves a generous amount of wisdom to understand and a generous amount of courage to follow through. To me, that's being a "grown up."

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Kinda

I love when a show can surprise you still.
Tonight, I ended up at Fuerza Bruta, a show that's been around for quite some time actually but I'm just now getting around to experiencing it.
More than the stunts, the acrobatics and the effects, it was just cool to experience something different. With so many things competing for our attention, it's fun to experience something that's more than just sitting in a seat. It's sensory overload. Sometimes we need that just to clear out our minds and feel something.

 Kinda best buds.
 Kinda poetic.
 Kinda amazing.
 Kinda beautiful.
Kinda inspiring.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Teamwork

When I was a kid, we would go to the video store almost every week and rent movies to watch. Long before the days of iTunes, Hulu, Kazaa or Red Box, we had to actually haul ourselves up to a store and go through walls of VHS tapes to find something to watch. 
I have always remembered this very specific special that I watched over and over and for a long time, I couldn't really place what it was. So often, we forget the context of things as we get older and remember only the shell of a memory. But as I've learned how to properly waste time on the internet, I stumbled on this special again and it brought me back to when I was seven years old.
All I remembered was that all my favorite cartoon characters were in the same movie. What I didn't understand was that this was an anti-drug campaign that aired simultaneously on all the major networks, thus the inclusion of so many competing company's animated stars.
This got me thinking about teamwork and the lack thereof today. The only time when we see teamwork on television is after some sort of terrible disaster and it's only then that the networks work together and the celebrities join forces. But what about other issues facing society? Do we only need teamwork when there's a natural disaster or terrorist attack? Why not work together at other times too?
The thing that I loved about this video was that all my favorites were there and I knew that was not normal. Perhaps that why I love a good film montage now or a group cover of a magazine. There's something awesome about seeing so many separate and seemingly competing entities together.
I like teamwork and in a time when our country is so utterly divided, it's a good reminder that working together is the only real way to make things happen. It's become so taxing watching the politics of our nation during the past few years. The polarized viewpoints of right and left, red and blue, this and that, don't seem to waver or budge at all. Even when they can't defend why they vote or believe the way they do, no one is budging. People have forgotten that working together is the only way anything will ever happen.
So perhaps we should learn more from Winnie the Pooh, Bugs Bunny and Alvin and the Chipmunks when it comes to working together. Rather, we should learn from the network executives (real people) that chose to work together to bring about change in young people. They are who have inspired me today.

Monday, February 20, 2012

A week's worth of LIVING

 Valentine's Day treats. Yes. We ate that.

 Later that same day...

 Then of course, the leftover Valentine candy.

 At Sister Act.

 Best brunch in Manhattan.

 Street fairs and flea markets on the Upper West Side.

 Because all puppies need ostrich bones.
 Jurassic Park.

 Did you know that emu eggs are green? They are.

 "We'll be starting with apples..."

I'm fancy.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The junior high dance

No one wants to go back to middle school. Not a single person on the Earth, with the possible exception of Billy Gilman, no one wants to revisit that period of our lives. Nothing went right, nothing seemed fair, we hated everything about ourselves and consider those the "lost years" of our lives.
Tonight was like being in middle school again.
If I could use junior high terms to describe tonight: It was like going to the dance with your friends, they show up late, the prom king and queen break up right before their first dance, then the dance itself manages to be moderately fun until you realize you've been ditched by all your friends and you're standing alone wondering whether or not you should even go to the after-party. That was my night tonight. And it sucked.
I hate when you have such high hopes for something and it just collapses in front of you like a skyscraper in a Michael Bay movie. The building and all the people in it don't stand a chance.
So, just like in junior high, I went home and watched television. Luckily, much like in junior high, SNL was there to bail me out of my night.
I hated junior high and tonight, I hated it all over again.
Here's to graduating to tomorrow.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The vortex

Life and death. How often do we really think about the two together? I often find myself thinking about life, thinking about living to the fullest, thinking about the joys and occasional heartbreaks involved with life. But I can honestly say that I don't think about death on a daily basis. We don't like to think about death because it signifies an ending and it's rare that we like to think about endings. Sure, we see a bad play, we can't wait for it to be over or when we are in a season of our life that doesn't make sense or is incredibly difficult, we can't wait for that season to be over. But on the whole, we aren't a fan of endings.
But last night, a coworker in my office passed away and there's nothing like the death of someone you know to snap things into perspective. And it's a strange perspective I think.
I'll admit that I haven't had to deal with great deal of death in my lifetime thus far. I know that changes as we get older, but my reaction always feels the same. It's like I'm instantly sucked into this vortex of numbness. My mind doesn't really process it at that moment because in that vortex, there's nothing to process. There's nothing. 
I always thought that was rather strange, the absence of feeling. Why don't I burst into tears like some people? Why don't I have a vocal reaction like others? Rather, I fall incredibly silent and float around in the vortex for a bit. The only thing I can process in that moment is the music I choose to pipe into the vortex. Today, as I was piping my rather steady diet of gospel music in, one song seemed to echo louder than the rest. And what's funny about that is, it's a song that I find kinda silly. But the part that echoed loudest was:

We gotta do better than this 
'cause we only got One chance to make a difference  
We gotta do better than this
'cause we only got One life that we've been given
A little love, a little kindness  

A little light in this time of darkness 
It'll be what makes us different  
It'll be what makes us human

So while we all have to funnel out of the vortex at some point, it's okay to float for a bit. One of the greatest things about life is our ability to gauge feelings, whether that's the feeling of love, of comfort, of disappointment, of anger or of the lack-thereof. Without death, we'd have no perspective on life and for me, it's the time spent in the vortex that allows my focus and my perspective to gather together. We've only got one life and we have to make it count since we never know when it will be over.

Monday, February 6, 2012

First you take the mallow...

 
Roasting marshmallows is one of my favorite things on Earth and I don't really know why. I love it so much actually that a few years ago, we did that instead of a cake for my birthday. There is just something fun about setting sugar on fire and eating it.

 The fact that we can do that at a restaurant in Manhattan is just the icing on the cake. Granted, we pay handsomely to do something so simple - but in the heat of the moment, it's very fun. We didn't do the smores thing this time, but we did dip the mallow into the chocolate.

I do love good random friends. My bud Dom was here auditioning so we ran around the city and ate far too much.

 One of the reasons that New York is the best city in the world is the availability of anything. How about a night of your favorite Broadway performer singing music from Hair, Ben Folds and some acappella gospel? What about a medley of Beyonce songs complete with a rap cameo from Lin-Manuel Miranda from In The Heights? What if all that happened while looking out over the New York City skyline and Central Park? Flawless. This is why I moved to New York and why I don't plan on leaving.

Brunch on Sunday. There was something beautiful to me about this hotel set up. Retro enough to feel that way but modern enough to not feel dated. You may or may not be seeing this hotel show up in the magazine soon. Just saying.

I live in the greatest city on the planet, something I'm reminded of on a daily basis. It's humbling and exciting and scary and wonderful. But more than anything, it's a constant adventure, and that's the best part.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Doubt

Doubt.
I wrote a Masters paper on the differences/similarities/intersections between the film and the play. I actually passed John Patrick Shanley (the writer of both) on the street one day and I still wish I'd had the chance to tell him that I studied his work and wrote about it. So now is a regret about 'doubt.'
I think doubts are the thing I fear most in the world (besides giant squids and being buried alive). I feel like I'm a rather confident person. I'm a go-getter for sure. When I was in college, people would tell me that I always "walked with purpose." I kinda loved that. But every now and then, just like with everyone, doubts creep in.
Can I actually do this?
What if they retract away from me?
Am I too confident?
Am I not grateful enough?
What if I'm wrong?


I'll admit that so many of my doubts come with my goals for the magazine. I learned early on that if you don't aim high, you will never reach the goals you've set out for yourself and this year, I'm aiming higher than I've ever aimed before.
I'll share some insight with you: There's always one cover I'm looking forward to more than the others. It's not that I don't love the other concepts of fully-believe in the art that these other artists are creating, but there's always one that I find myself thinking about more than the others. Of course that's the one where I decide to aim higher than ever before on. So, what if things don't pan out? What if the artists are too occupied for my little magazine? What if they don't believe in my like I believe in them? It's a mess of doubts that I have to tackle in my mind.
But that's what we have to do right? We have to tackle the things that scare us.Except for giant squids. That's a no-go no matter what.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Return of: The Weekend that was

 This weekend wasn't meant to be as busy as it was, but I'm so glad it was actually. There's nothing like a weekend of spontaneity.

 You know, some street art at my subway stop.

 At the Met, this conjures up quite a few things. First, I started singing "Zero To Hero" in the middle of the museum. Second, every time I saw another one, I said, out loud, "One...Grecian urn...Two...Grecian urn..." What can I say? I'm all Hercules and The Music Man at the Met.

The view from a hotel room in Times Square. Kinda amazing. 

 Rebecca and my friendship is based on Starbucks. Luckily for us, going to the Starbucks flagship in Times Square is an interactive adventure.

 Travis joined in on the digital pictures. Gotta love interactive screens and the biggest Starbucks I've ever seen.

Good friends for over a decade and literally from coast to coast.