[Poem about tonight]

1 Aug

It’s warm and humid, on a night stroll, when the often cloudless sky is filled with clouds that look powerful, that show pockets of possible storms against the aging sun, when, you think, it’s a beautiful night, and you wish these nights happen more often, when, you hear the squeal of the tires, and turn to watch two cars hit with a powerful force echoing, those moments that wake everyone from their usual living slumbers, alive, we are, while the clouds above watch forcefully, for once, and the street light turns from green to red to back again. It was a beautiful night.

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A speech to the country* (or, myself)

9 Nov
There are so many reasons to feel mad, sad, hopeless, frustrated, scared – and I feel all of those too. But we must look at the positives of what feels like an never-ending nightmare. Let us not forget that there will be an election in 2 years in which we can wrest away Republican control of power from the Senate and House, which will put a better system of checks and balances on Trump. So those in battleground or red states, begin looking for strong Democratic candidates to run. I refuse to believe our country is as red as it shows on the election map.
 
In the city of LA, we approved an amazing mass-transit plan (OMG YES!) and the homeless initiative, to build housing. The state of CA banned single-use plastic bags, making our environment a little more green, among many other great progressive policy issues.
 
Finally, for most of my friends, who share similar ideals and values (which were tragically missing from one of the candidates of last night’s presidential election), remember this: we still have Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Both will be fighting their asses off in the Senate, and we must help them fight against whatever threatens progressive issues. Or against scientific fact. We must be the crowd that stands up peacefully to demand that our great way of life not be threatened for one minute. And we can do that. No matter who is President, we still live in a Democracy. And if anything, last night showed us that ANYONE can be President (even if that’s the worst of us). But this is a government for the people, by the people and the people voted.
 
So if anything, we must all reach out and find out why the anger, why the hatred, and how we can work together for the betterment of everyone. How we can bridge some of the gaps – because I know that we aren’t as racist or sexist as the media or some of us believe. I know there were other reasons for voting Trump – one simply being for NOT Clinton.
 
Further, this election might help us all stand back and reflect. Reflect on the work that has happened over 8 years under Obama. Reflect on the greatness of this great country. But to also look at the problems in the system. Democrats, we need to level the playing field. To those running the DNC: You cannot work from the top-down and expect a bottom-up result. To me, that sums up the Democrat vs. Republican “strategies.” The Democrats curated a candidate from the top. The Republicans were shocked and taken unaware by a candidate from the bottom. One rose. The other fell. If the Democrats can no longer be the voice of the working-class and stand up to big moneyed interests, then we must start a new party and now is the time. Seriously. Now is the time. Right after a devastating election. Now is the time to begin rebuilding, when things aren’t that great. When there’s a feeling of more work to be done.
 
Finally, if I could say one thing to all of America, it would be this: please read books. Turn off the screen and pick up a book now and then.
 
Let’s work our asses off. And I’ll see you at the midterms in 2018.

Another year: 2015

31 Dec

 

This year was full of adventures. I taught high school full-time, directed two plays, wrote a YA novel, started a screenplay, moved to Los Angeles, started graduate school at UCLA, completed the first quarter of grad school, dealt with continued stomach problems and depression, developed multiple new TV and film projects as a producer, spent quality time with my family, shared my life with Tevin, traveled to Yellowstone, Glacier, Palm Springs, kept in touch with friends near and far, made new friends, watched new movies and old (particularly the ‘good ones’), kept up with the TV world, adopted a kitten, dealt with lack of productivity at home due to said kitten, laughed, cried, and, finally, read.

I read 21 books from start to finish this past year. My goal was 25 books, but when I think of some of the things I’ve done over this year (see above), I think 21 was a decent job. This does not include books I’ve started but haven’t finished. Also, this does not include the various plays and numerous screenplays I’ve read. (Some coming to a theatre near you! Sadly.) Next year, my reading goal will be 20 books, as I think that will allow me to actually surpass 20 books more easily – which I’ve been getting stuck around that mark the past few years. The picture below shows 14 of the 21 books I’ve read (or re-read, in the case of J.H. Trumble’s great novel).

Note: If you want to see all the books I’ve read, click here.

IMG_1293

Happy New Year! Here’s to an even better 2016!

Summer Living List

13 Jun

This summer I want to…

Run. Eat. Drink. Eat more. Lift weights. Write. Write more. Talk with friends. Ride my bike. Ride the subway. Talk to strangers. Read. Read maps. Read plays. Make art. Publish my writing. Celebrate. Have a party. Write a thank-you note to someone. Spend time with my family. Run down a street. Run down a street in the rain. See a movie. Go on a picnic. Drink coffee in tiny cafes. Go swimming. Tell people my story. Listen to other people’s stories. Volunteer. Help people. Travel. Travel with T. Eat thai in a foreign city. Submit kick-ass short film to film festivals. Walk through an airport in the morning. Walk through an airport in the evening. Love. Dance. Sing. Smile. Laugh. Hold. Hug. Jog. Watch a TV series. Camp. Stare at the stars. Watch a sunrise. Watch a river flow by.

Come up with more verbs. Enjoy them.

Live. Life for real.

Live life.

 

*Adapted from It’s Kind of  A Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

A story worth saving.

6 Apr

A Jewish woman was running from the Nazi’s during the war. She was starving, eating anything and everything that provided some – any – nourishment. She ate out of garbage cans. She didn’t stop moving because as she said, “You stopped, you died.” The woman was not only skin and bones, but had sores all over her body. Those made it difficult for her to move. 

As the war was drawing to an end, times grew worse. People – a lot of people – died at the end. This woman, this runner, this eater out of garbage cans, wasn’t sure she could make it another day herself.

But one day, a Russian man saw her, and her condition, and went into his home and came out with a piece of meat.

Her grandson, whom she was telling this story to, said, “He saved your life.”

“I didn’t eat it.”

“You didn’t eat it?”

“It was pork. I wouldn’t eat pork.”

“Why?”

“What do you mean why?”

“What, because it wasn’t kosher?”

“Of course.”

“But not even to save your life?”

“If nothing matters, there’s nothing to save.”

 

Find something that matters. Something worth saving. Something worth dying for. 

 

Story from Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals. 

What I Know *A Limited History*

28 Mar

This is what I know: I am sitting in yet another cafe, on yet another day, grading yet another essay. I do not like grading essays. I find my perfectionism gets in the way of the students’ general sloppiness and lack of care in their essays. Thus, I have to use mental energy to resist fixing EVERY problem in every essay. I do no like grading essays. I find they cause too much mental anguish on my part. Is this one an A? Why did this one get a B- and this one is a A? Do my comments make sense? What will they try to attack me on – errors, no matter how minor, when dictating grades, are found. I do not like grading essays.

A couple of guys are having lunch near me. They have house drawings and blueprints. I do not know what they are doing, but my mind is going to building some kind of apartment complex or condo building. This pleases me. I would like to get into real estate in some capacity. I wish I was talking about building something or flipping something instead of procrastinating on grading essays.

This is what I know: I went to Missoula yesterday to meet with the 25-year-old owner of a restaurant concept that I know will become greatly successful. I am good at knowing these things. I can spot trends. This restaurant will become a national franchise at some point in the next 20 years, mark my words. I want to get in on the ground floor, so to speak. I would like to franchise some of these restaurants. He claims to work about an hour a day at the one in Missoula. I would like to work one hour a day. I could use the rest of the day to write, and do film work, and build things. I would not grade essays.

I know Hollywood is volatile, and that a project’s status changes as quickly as the wind. I have projects, they are doing fine, none are dead. But they do change quickly. I spent yesterday trying to secure interest in the rights to another novel. After months of negotiations, I optioned a new TV spec script last week. I am working with screenwriters on notes to a script. I am trying to edit clips for a sizzle reel. I keep others abreast on a project with high profile people. I wish I could tell you more, but I can’t. This I know.

Summer is fast approaching, and I am ready for it. I am tired of planning, and grading. And grading essays (separate category because a different level of intense). Planning is like nit-picking every detail in an otherwise fabulous overall picture. I dislike details. Thus, I dislike grading essays. Details drown me in essays, and I refuse to fix them all. But summer is about freedom, and that is what I truly like. I know that I like freedom, because I like summer. I’ve always liked summer. But it helps the weather is warm. I could live somewhere with warmer weather year round. This would agree with me greatly. Actually, not even warmer weather, just a less cold winter weather. Does that still equal warmer weather? I fear it does.

I could be a literary agent, who writes, works in Hollywood, owns franchises to a restauratn, and owns a few buildings.

Or, I could teach in Helena, MT.

Or I could write.

Anywhere.

But I won’t grade an essay.

 

“I’m in America, baby!”

22 Feb

I have a Ukrainian exchange student.

I asked her recently as she came up to me, “Are you following the fighting in the Ukraine? It’s all over the news.”

She nodded. “Yes.”

“What do you think of it?”

Her face grew serious. “I feel bad because I don’t care as much as I should about it.” I was about to say something else when she shouted, “I’m in America, baby!” She thrust her arms into the air as if in triumph. Her arms quickly came down and her tone changed. “Mr. Olson? Can I go to the bathroom?”