Monday, June 30, 2008

Not because I'm worried about helmet hair

I am... stuck. I think it's because I'm so used to living my life months, even a year in advance, and I suddenly can't see past 2008. For the first time in a long time, I am truly scared. I like this current stage of life, with no major commitments and few responsibilities. Graduating in December is exciting, but there's this growing sense of helplessness that has planted itself in my brain.

Maybe I should be stoked instead. Anxious may be the best word. Obviously I trust myself. It just feels like the first time I rode my bicycle without Dad's help. I wasn't wearing a helmet (he would have made me), and crashed into the Phillips Avenue and 30th Street sign. I still have the scar on my forehead, but also remember the dozens of people who stopped their cars to help a kid in need.
I don't plan on wearing a helmet this time, either. Please, life, spare me your damn scars.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Fireworks need not wait until July 4

I contemplated a lot today. Lately that's my favorite thing to do. Be alone, play good music, and think. I climbed to the roof of the building and sat for an hour or so, dangling my feet over the edge, overlooking the bay and miles of the beautiful town... clearing my head, sorting things out, just defragging my life.
When I climbed down, the wind had blown the window shut, and I couldn't get back in. My family is out of town this weekend, so I was stranded on the ledge of the window. Luckily, the neighbor below had her window open, so I shimmied down the balcony to her deck, and yelled in her apartment so as not to seem like a burglar. Nobody responded back, so I was faced with my only option. Run through her apartment, quickly and efficiently (while the dog barked at me), and find myself at the front door of my family's apartment. Whew! Made it clean.
And tonight I sat in the windowsill, feet dangling below, listening to a mix of Patty Griffin, Coldplay, Duffy, Amos Lee, anybody accommodating to my mindset. That's what this summer is about. Not meeting hundreds of people, building a network here, or rooting myself whatsoever. It's about clarity. I always need a balance in my life, and this summer balances the 3 months I spent with no obligations in Europe. Even though I'm living a dream of a life in SF, I'm not into the nightlife or youth culture this summer. I'm into laying low, finding equilibrium, saving my energy for a final hurrah in Lawrence.
Well, I'm starting page 1 of my new screenplay, tentatively titled Gateway (formerly "Nontraditional"). It's a big deal to be writing the actual script, as it has been months of mental planning and notes, followed by the outlining and hundreds of note cards.
Appropriately, someone just illegally shot off about 30 fireworks a few blocks away. The explosive, dazzling kind that you see on July 4th... how convenient; they're celebrating my new screenplay as well!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A sporadic update (reader be warned)

It's been some time since I've checked in. Here's a bulleted list of the past 10 days. It was a monumental 10 days, to some degree.

  • Got the worst sunburn of my life. My back has been peeling for a week. I feel like I have molted entirely.
  • Both internships are going well. It takes a few weeks to slide comfortably into a place, I feel. Now that I know the personalities and the routine of both, I can act like myself and am entirely comfortable at each. My week is a perfect balance of film and creativity.
  • Brother Sam got in a bike accident on the trails. Jaw broken in 3 places, stitches across the chin, looks like he got dragged through the forest. Staying optimistic, despite missing many teeth. I love you, kiddo. Hang in there.
  • LA... ok this deserves its own category. I finally made it to Los Angeles. I stayed with my friend Zach, who goes to USC. We did some cliche things, like Hollywood or Santa Monica, and I saw a handful of celebrities, all accidentally, but LA just felt right. My trip was a bit customized to the college student and won't be a perfect depiction of life there, but I'm about 90% positive I'll be headed there in January. There is so much to do there, and being with Zach and his film buddies was H-e-a-v-e-n. They talk about film, about making films, seeing films, and they talk about sports, and girls, and drinking, and having fun. I want all that! 
  • My Aunt set us up with this filmmaker who had a lot of good, bad, and altogether honest things to say about the industry and the town. He was very encouraging, though, and jolted me with confidence and inspiration. He graduated in 2000 with a physics degree, then just moved to LA to pursue his dream. He's 31 now, graduated from SC's producer program (which I'm likely applying for, as my thoughts on my career have altered slightly in the past month; really I just want more control of my career and am considering producing on top of writing), and now he's directing commercials, making a good living and still living his passion. Sigh of relief. It's a dog-eat-dog town, but people are living there, and they're happy and lack major regrets. My melodramatic mindset can rest for a while.
  • Since returning to SF, I have outlined my entire screenplay, which is 50 pages. Not full pages. If condensed, it's probably 20 pages or so, but they're broken into scenes. I'll probably be writing the first draft as of this weekend. That's the happiest news of all. And I'm way more confident in this script than the first one. I'm learning as I continue to write. What a novel concept.
OK, enough. To be honest, reader (yes, that was singular), I'm getting tired of this blog. I anticipate making it private at summer's end, once school is on the horizon. It has lost its original identity, I have lost my craving to update little details, and I am realizing how easily traceable each post can be to the subjects. I'd hate to be incriminated for anything I ever bitched about. 

OK, enough from me. Gotta hit the pillows.

JPG Blog 16 & 17 & 18 & 19 & 20

16: Giving Props Where Props are Due

17: Photo Challenge: Spiral

18: We haven't forgotten you... (holler at Jenny C!)

19: Photo Challenge Selections: Close Call

20: Photo Challenge: Writing on the Wall

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Unusual Truth About Sydney and Steve

When twin 9-year olds are involved in any situation, things are immediately made more interesting. Especially when one likes telling stories and giving human names to everyday objects.
This is the true story of Sydney and Steve, two snails retrieved from the dirt in our backyard one sunny Sunday afternoon.
---
Snail 1 and Snail 2 were discovered separately among the dirt and shrubs.

Snail 1 and Snail 2 were named Sydney and Steve, respectively.

Sydney and Steve were brought onto the brick patio and made to race. Sydney was the favored racer.

Instead, Steve mounted Sydney and they began fornicating.

Upon human interference into their cornucopia of love, the race continued. Sydney, as predicted, was the victor.

A curious bird, Elaine, mounted the fence over the gardens, peering down at the scene.

Elaine was hungry. She swooped in and snatched Steve, rolling him around, then clinching him in her beak before disappearing for her snack.

Sydney could only wait for a similar, depressing fate. No human interference would help her.

Five minutes passed, and sure enough, Elaine returned.

Sydney got the soccer ball treatment while hiding in her shell.

Elaine persisted. Sydney got swallowed.

It's the circle of life. Pregnant, victorious, and dead, all in 30 minutes.

Pixar Perfect

As it should have, the Pixar screening went well. Their studio is huge and amazing and wow. Very humbling to be there, seeing the first "civilian" screening of the film. It's a great show, by the way. I recommend it on the idea of two robots in love, both with a five or six word vocabulary. But the entire story is in typical Pixar fashion; maybe "cute" is the right word? They do a neat job of pulling a story almost solely on characterization and sound effects. Speaking of sound, we got a demonstration from their foley artist (aka sound effects guy, he's done most of Lucas' works of late) and he imitated a lot of the robot noises, background sounds, laser effects (it's so inventive, almost too obvious sometimes).
I didn't pull any Spielberg tricks and break the law for the sake of a budding career, but I got the vibe that this is the best place to work, for any person. OK, no surprise.
Maybe I'm a little bitter now that I'm not interning there. Bitter is the wrong word. I'm thrilled with what I'm doing. But I'm justified in being wholly jealous.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Helped by a swift kick

Today I really upset myself. There was an excellent opportunity in front of me and I passed it up.
Luckily, I had some smart people around me to knock some sense into my head.

There's an advanced screening of "WALL-E" at Pixar Studios this Saturday. Tickets are exclusive and cost upwards of $100. It includes a Pixar tour and a Q&A with the filmmakers. Of course, I did apply for an internship there and had no luck (certainly no bitterness; they probably had 100s of applicants), but this is a pretty sweet gig going on, and the Film Society got a few tickets for staff and interns. My boss offered me one, but I didn't think getting to Emeryville seemed feasible (it's a suburb of San Fran where Pixar is located). I declined the invite, citing that I would see the film eventually and it wouldn't be worth the hassle to get out there.

After a swift kick in the pants, my boss told me how opportune this was, and how I'd be stupid to pass it up (she phrased it nicely). Truthfully, what in the hell was I thinking? I should do whatever it takes to get out there, because A) I need to experience more of these things and capitalize on my ever-so-small film network, B) I'd love to work in an environment like Pixar and seeing the studio can only validate that and C) don't I need to be more ambitious and gutsy in this arena? Shouldn't I be seizing every opportunity for backstage access? People aren't going to hold my hand forever.

So I'm going. This Saturday. I got a ride--I guess I didn't think I knew anyone in the office well enough to ask for a ride. But I'm so stoked, so unbelievably excited for it. This is why I came out here this summer, isn't it? For these opportunities?
(yes)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Ugly Naked Guy

How am I like any of the characters from "Friends"? Well, sure I have 5 great "roommates" just upstairs, and yeah I live in an apartment that I totally can't afford with my work, but the real answer is that we have our very own "Ugly Naked Guy". Yep. Just look out the window of the kitchen to the next unit, and this dude always sits buck nekkid (shirtless at the very least) on his computer, oblivious to his presence in our life.

It's gross.

Watch this video from "Friends".

Better than Amy Winehouse?

I open myself up to debate. I can't take my ears off Duffy's album, Rockferry. You may know her from her first American single "Mercy", but you have to get the whole disc.

Here's my favorite song (or favourite as the Brit crooner might say). It's tough to pick a favorite track, they're so spellbinding. Viva la bop.

I present to you "Warwick Avenue", by Duffy. Great video. Great, great, great.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Yeah, that's what I thought.

Summer school starts today. Whoop whoop! Time to try this whole distance learning, Internet course thing. It didn't get off to a good start.
Any Office 2007 users out there? Not many, I presume. The upgrade from 2003 wasn't entirely necessary, so nobody really had to change. Well, my professor uses 2007, and he posted all our assignments online for us to download, fill out, and later upload.
See, the difference between Office 2007 and 2003 is that the files have separate extensions—they're different files altogether. 2007 files have a .docx extension, and 2003 has .doc. You follow? His files were all .docx, but 90% of the world has a computer that will only open .doc. If you open the file in 2003, it looks like a bunch of pish-poshed symbols.
I emailed him about the matter, and pinpointed exactly what had happened. Office 2007 fortunately allows its users to save a file with the .doc extension as well, which would be on his end of the bargain. I couldn't find any active links online that did the conversion for free for Macs, only one from Microsoft for Windows. Here was his response to my email:

I would have to go in and save every file in double format and I think you need find a way to accommodate the system and not the other way around. I am not going to change the formatting.

Ohh, really? So my paying $600 for this class, and your being salaried means it is my responsibility to be able to open the documents you post? And you think I'm the only one who will have this problem? Chyeah. Just wait, teach.
Because I'm taking extra care to watch my tongue and think things out lately (humility is important, I'm learning), I left his ridiculous email unanswered. I was, however, very very frustrated.
My beloved sister volunteered to convert the files for me, to which I thanked her graciously, but alas, she would not have to. Soon, the professor sent the entire class an email which read as follows:
You may notice that several of the assignments have two links and others only one link. The reason is that some of the links were in docx Word 2007 format and some students were unable to open such files so I added a doc Word 97-2003 link. You only need to open one link per assignment.

Oh, curious, Professor. You don't say.
And I got one address solely to me:
I may have reacted too quickly. I have added a doc file to those assignments that had docx.

Yeah, that's what I thought.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Validation Weekend

So Kevin came this weekend, and everything went swimmingly. In between adventures including Alcatraz, the Giants game, and much delicious food, I really felt grownup these few days. Similar to how I felt in Austin in April.
See, a friend from work invited us out this weekend. She started a few days after me and we hit it off on that basis. I invited her to lunch with me and the other intern, and she in turn invited Kevin and me out last night with her, her boyfriend (side note: he's a Brit with the most dank accent, ever... where can I find me one of those accents!?), and her other friends. And here's what felt good about it: they're all older, like in the range of 5-15 years older, and nobody cared that we were still in college. I felt validation for why I want out of school so badly. See, I want to enjoy my youth, but not the way college requires. I want an urban job, I want city friends, fast life, 6-packs on the patio. I want income, not debt, and an optimistic job outlook. All of these people have that. Some were married, most had significant others, all have security in their futures, whether they were still in grad school, trying new careers, or settled into a long-term field. It felt right, I felt happy, and the night felt monumental in some odd way.
I got another glimpse into how I want my life to narrow itself, and why graduating as soon as possible is important. Kansas is not where my head is at, nor will it ever be there.
Tonight it was in Telluride, as I scanned through old photos of my week spent watching films in the mountains. That trip was the single most monumental experience of my years, because I built a dozen lifetime friendships on the basis of passion for film. To quote what I wrote in the description of a photo album, it was "the week I learned that everything is going to be alright, no matter what happens."
I feed off these validations, like seeing how successful my aunt is out here after coming from her humble North Dakota roots. You need camaraderie like I had yesterday and in Telluride, you need the passion, the drive, the desire, the way my aunt started with nothing but a degree, but also her family's support, and now has so much in her life. The support got her by, she had it from her parents and siblings, and now has it from her husband and children. And she gives as much support in return, so selflessly.
And I think you need a pinch of neglect. To say that maybe today isn't where you want to be, but enjoy where you are until tomorrow, and then you can right the wrong.
I'm so nervous about this fall. It's going to be four months of tomorrows. After all that, I'd like many years of yesterdays.