Monday, March 17, 2014

The true sadness

L'Wren Scott died today, an apparently suicide. Her name was synonymous with fashionistas on red carpets (see Christina Hendricks at right) and now, the light of her life has been snuffed out.

I saw many in Hollywood tweet their condolences and express their grief over the loss of her talent, but I didn't read many about the loss of her spirit.

It's fair to say her spirit needed finding much more than her little black dress, but when an artist dies by their own hand, the go-to sentiment of our culture is to lament the loss of the art and the hands that enabled that art to exist. We tend to skip over the fact that this person was so unhappy and felt so hopeless that they chose to end their existence rather than fight to find their happy.

I've been listening to Pharrell's new album, Girl, on repeat for the past few days. His performance of "Happy" at the Oscars was not only a great performance, but it may have been the best performance at an awards show in years. More than the catchy beat of the song, (and it's a terrific song) the performance was about exactly what the song was about: happiness.

Happiness is under-rated in our society. We value achievement and exploits over personal happiness and fulfillment of spirit. When you're an artist, so many people experience that happiness when they are creating. But no amount of artistry can fill the hole that happiness of spirit fills. Whatever happened in Ms. Scott's life, there was a hole there.

That's what we should be grieving.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Maybe I'm just not that into you either

I'm re-watching "He's Just Not That Into You" tonight. I know, what a raucous New York Friday night I'm having. It's alright that you're jealous. But if you can marshal the strength to overcome your jealousy for long enough, I'm in a moment.
Having just recently started dipping my toes into the dating pool again, I'm finding this film to be accurate on a semi-frightening level. While I don't aspire to be Ginnifer Goodwin in any sort of setting, I'm finding some of her obnoxious behavior familiar (but on a much tamer scale...clearly). The constant checking the cell phone, the over-thinking, the seemingly misplaced optimism - it's all part and partial to those first few dips in the pool.
But let's face it. I'm 30. I've done this before. Many times actually. And now that those first few dips are over, the novelty has worn off. The staring at the phone? Nope. Wondering what's happening? Uh uh. If I don't hear anything, then I'm moving on. Call it grown up self-preservation. That, and once you reach a certain age, you're too busy for the back-and-forth. I just don't have the time to invest in someone who isn't that into me.
Some of the most wise words ever uttered came from a fish. As Dory in "Finding Nemo" said, "Just keep swimming." I'm fairly certain I'm swimming against the current when it comes to what my culture says I should be doing, which is going to make it all the more difficult to hook a killer catch, but perhaps that's exactly what a picky OCD person like me wants. I don't want to be a stereotype. I don't want to go home with anyone who's slightly interested. I want substance and that's hard to find, no matter where you are.
You know, the videos of the bears standing upstream from the jumping fish always show the bear catching the fish, and we think that's amazing. They make for a really terrific Oprah-narrated, flute underscored, slow motion moment. However, they don't show the amount of times that giant bear was too much of a lug to catch the ones that hit them in the face. And as foolish as Smokey may feel for getting slapped in the face with a fish, does that detour him from his hunt? No.
So I'm just gonna stand where I am, be who I am, and stay who I am. And sure I'm gonna reach for those potential catches, and eventually, one will be the right one. Until then, those who are just not that into me will have to move along because they won't be getting anymore of my attention.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Finding God in the 'Cosmos'

"How can we humans, who rarely live more than a century, hope to grasp the vast expanse of time that is the history of the cosmos?"
That was the question proposed tonight on Fox's "Cosmos" and tonight, like so many Americans, I watched with amazement as the visuals took us from the Earth and outward beyond the galaxies and universes. It played out like the most expensive PBS special ever made. Even the animation throughout the historical narrative reminded me of the animation in the last Harry Potter films, which was stylistically incredible. I was hooked.
Then it happened.

The Big Bang.
As soon as those words were spoken, I knew an entire segment of the audience changed the channel. The big bang theory is like a poison dart, meant to be avoided where I come from in the Bible Belt.

"That's not how it happened. It happened in exactly seven calendar days and everything appeared out of thin air. Nothing about evolution could remotely be true. The Bible would have outlined it that way if that had been the case."

There will be sermons that denounce this special as a cog in the vast liberal agenda to tear down the Christian heritage. But in actuality, if you read along with the Bible as this special went played, you'd see it all lined up. Beyond just knowing it does, I double-checked. It does. The argument about creation isn't really about the order in which is happened. It's about the timeline in which it took place. Was it 7 days or was it billions of years? I hate to be the one to say this, but I really don't think it matters.

Even in the special, the narrator spoke of the "extreme contingency" that led to humans being on the Earth. Well I believe that extreme contingency of events were not happenstance. It's sad to me that so many Christians turned off their sets instead of turning on a discussion about how the Bible and science exist hand-in-hand. Blind faith may be the hope in which we believe, but God gave us brains for a reason. He gave us the ability to reason, for a reason.
I saw it play out on Twitter. One man said he was ashamed Fox would air a special about evolution. Another said this was a sign of the end of the times. I'm sorry they feel that way. This incredible special put everything we know about the universe we live in and laid it all out there. And it does suck that Christians during the renaissance and the times that followed were so stringent that they punished people for logic and reason. Much like the Pharisees written about in the Bible, many Christians refuse to look outside what's written in the book and fill in the blanks with the evidence that's buried beneath us or in the stars above.

I personally don't care if I evolved from a monkey. They're cute and I like them. What I do care about is that I'm here right now, meant to be here right now, and try to live each day knowing there's a purpose behind my place in the cosmos. 
And in that, knowing that I'm playing a teeny tiny part in this millisecond in the span of time and space, is pretty cool. As the Animaniacs said, "We're all just tiny little specs about the size of mickey-rooney."



"You, me, everyone. We are made of star stuff." I loved that line in the show. I believe that. Both literally and figuratively.
I hope people will continue to watch this show. It's important to be informed about our past. Maybe that's how the moon was formed. Maybe that's how generations from the past treated people who thought to challenge convention and fuse logic and faith together. Either way, Cosmos is an important show and I'm thankful it's educating and creating a dialogue between millions of people during prime time.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

10 Things...

It's a fascinating concept: come up with ten things you like about yourself. On the outside, it appears as an exercise in arrogance, a platform to gloat about your finer qualities, or even a brazen attempt to self-congratulate ourselves on our own Oprah-induced self awareness.
But on a deeper level, it's an exercise in calling forth the thing in our lives that warrant reminding. It's a chance to marshal ten of the traits that fortify and hold us together when we're falling apart. 
So I'm diving in and thinking deeply about myself, hopefully doing so with as little arrogance and self-back-patting as possible. 

I like that I was born and raised in Texas. While I live in New York now and it's my favorite place in the entire world, I have a Texas flag hanging in my apartment as a reminder that everything that led me to my dream was cultivated in the Lone Star State.

I like that I don't look like everyone else. I'm not perfect, I need to clock more hours on the elliptical at Planet Fitness, but I'm glad I'm not a cookie cutter person, with the same features as everyone else. Being unique is fun.

I like my calves. It's not as morbidly self-indulgent a statement as it may seem. It's just a genetic thing. My father has great calves and so do I. 

I like how much I love television and how much it makes me feel. I like how much life it brings me when Ross yells "PIVOT!", when Liz Lemon high-fives a million angels or when Michael Scott hits Meredith with his car. On the surface, it's entertainment, but within me, it challenges my thinking, enhances the cadence of my language and makes me smile deeply. I like that.

I like my friends. What an amazing group of people insulate me from the banal stupidity in this world. Some are fit, some aren't. Some are gay, some aren't. Some are married. Some are oh so single. Boys, girls, young, old...how lucky am I to have such a human safety net just a subway ride, phone call, or text message away.

I like that I believe in people. Some call it naive and others might call it silly, but I am glad that my default is to believe in people and the dreams they have dared to dream for themselves. If that's silly, then I am a fan of the silliness.

Speaking of my default, I like that my default mood is a good one. My obnoxiously glass-half-full outlook on life may see my feelings get hurt once or twice, but I'd rather choose to believe in the happy as opposed to the alternative.

I like that I know my limits. Whether it's food, booze, a personality, or a topic of conversation, I like that I know when I need to stop and I have the willpower to make it happen. I also like that I have such strong will. Eating right, getting to the gym, staying in from the party to work on what I moved to the city to do...I have a freakishly strong will. That's two likes in one (and I like how that combination worked out too).
Lastly, I like that I was able to finish this list and not feel awesome about myself. Rather, I see the areas I need to work on to hopefully extend this list in the future. I'm an unfinished product, full of flaws, and I'm determined to work on me every day. I like that I've learned to accept that.

I encourage you to also put together a list of the ways you like yourself. It's fulfilling, it's challenging and it's inspiring for your tomorrow. 

Thank you to Christy from www.avoidingatrophy.com for extending this challenge to make this list. You inspire me.