REEL Short Festival

•October 19, 2018 • Leave a Comment

It’s official! My short film “War on Christmas” will be screening on Saturday, November 10th at 2:00pm as part of the Chicago REEL Shorts Film Festival.

It’s a heartwarming little Christmas story about a young girl named Annie who just wants one thing for Christmas: Dad to come home from being deployed overseas. Mom says it’s impossible, but Santa can do anything, right? Right?

It was the final film that I shot while at USC for my advanced directing class, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the way it turned out: a hopeful message about learning how to accept change with grace.


Sick Day

•October 18, 2018 • Leave a Comment

The cold came on like an eclipse- slowly, but inevitably, and with lots of people watching it from a careful distance.

It began as a tickle in my throat that would come on during the night, occasionally waking me out of a deep sleep with fits of useless coughing.

Next it became a runny nose- just enough for me to decide to grab a packet of tissues before leaving the house.

Then a runnier nose.

Then congestion.

Then a headache.

By the time I left work yesterday, the cold had ARRIVED.

I got up this morning and performed the usual routine of lunch making and coffee brewing and breakfast eating. All in all I didn’t feel too bad but the Curmudgeonly Lion had given me a Benadryl during the night and I was pretty sure that it just hadn’t worn off yet. I weighed my options: if I went into work but decided to leave early I’d have to drag myself home on the slow bus. If I called in sick I’d have to burn one of my sick days, but if it helped me to throw the cold then I wouldn’t get anybody else sick, so there was that.

I finally decided to just call in. I saw the Curmudgeonly Lion out the door and then retreated back to bed, figuring that I’d get up in an hour or two when the sun came up.

Five hours later… I launched out of bed at the sound of the cat puking to follow her blearily around the house wiping up her foamy leavings. I’d sleptso hard that I had an imprint on the side of my face as if my skin were preparing to grow scales and the sound of a sick cat had been the only thing that had prevented me from transforming into The Lizard Queen.

So I guess starting home was the right choice. I pretty much just slept all day while my immune system did it’s thing. I do feel better now, although again: I’m still taking cold medicine. With luck, though, I will have nipped this in the bud.

Fingers crossed.


•October 17, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Monday was a day full of good news: so much so that it feels like a curse has been lifted. For many weeks I struggled with the feeling that my life had become suffocatingly small and mired in its own inertia, and now suddenly many things have come together quickly. I’m torn between not wanting to count my chickens before they are hatched and wanting to express my gratitude early and often at the sudden good fortune.

I’m erring on the side of gratitude.

In the morning I read through a collaboration agreement for a new screenplay project that I’ve been selected to write. I’m very excited about the project: a steampunk dystopia adventure that is going to be a riot to write and I can’t wait to get started. It’s a script for a USC thesis producing package (in which the student producer develops a feature script with a budget and schedule and marketing plan which could be used to pitch the film to production companies), which was the same kind thesis that I did to graduate, so it feels like a fitting way to pay it back to another grad student. And it’s even lightly paid- it’s for a student producer, after all, so we’re not exactly talking WGA rates, but it does mean that this will be my first professional project.

So holy cow is this gal going to get more than her money’s worth.

Anyway, I made my way in to work expecting a busy day, but got called into the bosses office just before lunch.

“It will be quick.” They promised. “And painless.”

It was. It was a raise. A good raise- a few months ago they’d mentioned that they’d talk to me about raising my compensation but I didn’t have hopes for much besides maybe a bump for cost of living. Well, it was enough of a raise to shift my paradigm from: “Oh my god I’m suffocating in a job that’s bleeding off the golden hours of my youth” to “My day job makes my dreams possible” which is a huge relief. It’s not the company or the work that I was struggling with, but the feeling like my work was unrecognized and not building towards anything.

So all in all life is on an upswing.

Factory Food

•October 12, 2018 • 2 Comments

Do you need another minute with the menu?”

The answer was yes, but I didn’t want to admit it. The Curmudgeonly Lion and I had gone out to dinner at The Cheesecake Factory to celebrate our anniversary, and the menu was a mighty tome of small print and laminated pages. Not only was I going to need another minute, I was probably going to need Cliff’s Notes as a weekly study group before I’d be able to make an informed judgement call about an appetizer, much less an entree.

We’d selected the Cheesecake Factory for our dining pleasure based on the fact that we had a gift card. We’d gotten it at Christmas and had brb saving it for a special enough occasion to use it. An anniversary seemed like as good a reason as any.

If I’m being perfectly honest, I’d never been to a Cheesecake Factory before. Neither cheesecake nor factory sounded appealing to me although I was perfectly aware that this was an upscale chain of large portions and decadent, overseasoned meals. I’d once read that nearly everything on the menu at a Cheesecake Factory had been loaded with sugar to heighten the flavors to a maximum ‘bliss point’. This seemed to bear out: the drinks were sweet. The bread was sweet. The stuffed mushrooms were so sweet I had to add salt just to cut the flavor.

I was not surprised that there were menu items weighing in at 1400 calories.

As if we wanted to know. I mean, one does not go to the Cheesecake Factory for the purpose of eating light and our healthily- I would have been happy to remain ignorant of calorie counts for one evening thankyouverymuch. The cocktail menu took this one step further and included calorie counts instead of prices probably because they were fourteen dollars per drink. Yikes.

Drinks, bread, appetizer, entree: we never did make it to the cheesecake, which was fine. We both took a meal’s worth of food home with us as leftovers as it was. The bill came, and our total came in absolutely perfectly ten cents under the gift card balance, so all we had to pay was the tip. Not bad.

So I’d have to say that my first Cheesecake Factory experience was a good one, although I’m not in a hurry to go back.

Dye Job

•October 10, 2018 • Leave a Comment

I decided I was going to dye my hair. I’d never dyed my hair before, not counting my undergrad phase of using lemon juice in the summer to try to give myself some highlights. Being a redhead, I’ve always had the advantage of having distinctive hair color. Aside from a very Anne-of-Green-Gables desire to have black hair instead of red, I never much felt the need to contradict nature on the subject of hair color.

But it’s October, which means Halloween. And frankly, thanks to the present political climate, I wasn’t much feeling predisposed towards maintaining the status quo. I decided that, yes, I was going to dye my hair, and not only that, I was going to dye it pink. Or magenta. Or maybe red. But fire engine red. Whatever I did, it was going to be the brightest and boldest color that I could achieve with temporary dye.

On Sunday we went to a Sally Beauty Supply. I stood awkwardly, surveying the boggling array of brands and shades looking for one that wouldn’t require me to bleach my hair first. I wasn’t sure I was ready for that step yet. A sales rep guided me to the Ion brand dyes because my hair “didn’t look very porous”. I perused the color options and decided this was something I could work with.

For several minutes I dithered between red, which seemed safer, and magenta, which is what I actually wanted. Since the sale was buy two get one free, I got both.

Having never dyed my hair before, I took out the instructions to read them. They recommended doing a ‘patch test’ on the skin of my elbow file 48 hours to make sure I didn’t have an allergic reaction, so I gave myself a day and a half to make absolutely sure that I was prepared to do this. After thirty six hours I was still committed and I hadn’t broken out in hives so the moment had come: it was time.

With a fair amount of sentiment and trepidation, I took a photo of myself so that I would have a reference for ‘before’. Then I downed some liquid courage and headed into the bathroom armed with tag towels and rubber gloves and began The Process.

I have to imagine that most people are not trying to dye three feet of hair at a time. By the time the first tube of dye (red) was empty I still hadn’t covered my head so I decided to break out the magenta as well- maybe a little two color action going on. I had a vision for how good it was going to look. The dye was going on strong- it was a more bold color than I’d ever considered before, but I was committed now. I prepared to rinse.

The bathtub looked like it had been used for ritual sacrifice by the time I was done and the water ran clear. Looking at the wet strands of my hair, I couldn’t see much of a difference between the new, dyed version, and the way that it normally looked when wet.

Maybe it has to dry before it shows up.

I thought to myself. I patted it dry with a rag towel and prepared to let it air dry. There was a hint of color near the front, that seemed promising, but it wasn’t very bright. I decided I wasn’t going to worry about it until the morning.

Morning came. The colors had not brightened. I knew that applying color over my natural hair color was likely to dampen some of the saturation of hue, but I wasn’t setting much hue at all. There was no sign of the bold, magnificent red is spent an hour combing into my hair, and the magenta was limited to a few patchy streaks near the bangs and down at the trailing ends. My visions of fire-engine-circus-performer was looking more like nineties-teen-fell-asleep-face-down-in burgundy-wine.

I was sorely disappointed.

“Maybe you just didn’t use enough?” The Curmudgeonly Lion tried to comfort me. “We can get some more dye and try again tonight.”

After work he stopped to pick up more.

“You want red or magenta?”
“How many?”

I was prepared to use all three of necessary- and I was going to leave it on longer- an extra forty minutes if necessary.

That night we tried again- together this time to be sure to work the dye into the roots in the back and down the sides and down to the scalp. We used another tube and a half of color, coating every strand, and I set a timer to let it sit.

The I rinsed it out.
The bathtub looked like it had been used in ritual sacrifice again- this time of a unicorn.

My hair did not look markedly different from before, but the patchiness was slightly less pronounced, which was an improvement, but I still had not achieved the kind of bold color I was hoping for.

Here are the things I managed to dye pink:

-My scalp.
-My nails.
-My neck.
-The bathroom sink.
-The bathtub.
-Two rag towels.
-My favorite rag t-shirt.

But my hair? Hahaha. NOPE.

I can only assume this is because my hair has super powers, and should be handled by trained professionals.

So the grand experiment was a bust. I now have faintly pinkish hair. In some places. I don’t hate it, and I can console myself with the fact that it won’t last long, but I’m not happy with it either, and I’m frustrated that I finally got up the courage to do something bold and had my efforts fall so extraordinarily flat.
Le sigh.


•October 9, 2018 • Leave a Comment

“Congratulations!” Said the email. “Here are your festival laurels to include on your press materials for your film.”

I had questions. What film? Which festival? I had completed a short film back in February and submitted it to a festival in order to legitimize the IMDb listing, but after not hearing anything for seven months I figured it had been a pass and I hadn’t gone looking for confirmation of the rejection.

So imagine my surprise at being ambushed by acceptance: it’s a nice change of pace from the usual narrative of frustration and struggle that is the life of a filmmaker.

I also found a dollar on the ground. Twas my lucky day.

So my little film “War on Christmas” is going to be playing at the Chicago REEL Short Film Festival on the second weekend of November. It’s unlikely that I’ll be able to attend (one dollar does not buy a plane ticket) but I’m pleased that it will at least get to screen on a big screen in front of a live audience. It’s a sweet little short film about a girl who is trying to keep the Christmas spirit alive after learning the truth about Santa. I’m pleased with it and I think it will be well timed to screen in November.

I still need to arrange to get the projection copy to the festival, but it’s work made easy by high spirits.


•October 6, 2018 • Leave a Comment

To all the women out there currently looking for new ways to practice constructive self-care, may I recommend the Korean Spa experience? I just went to one for the first time ever today and I am SOLD. I’d heard about Korean spas, but was always intimidated by the notion of going into a place that involved nudity (yes, it involves nudity in the non-coed areas) but my friend Power Move mentioned that she was going and invited me to go along, so I seized the opportunity to become initiated into this strange new world with an experienced guide to show me the way.

Unlike my traditional idea of the spa experience: one that involves a lot of fluffy bathrobes and cucumber slices over ones eyes, the Korean spa experience is centered around hot tubs and saunas. The hot tubs are in the areas divided along gender lines (I don’t know the policy for trans individuals) and these areas are nude. So talk about taking the plunge. There were three tubs- one hot, one medium, and one cold (for plunging after being in the hot areas- not the most fun thing to do, but SO worth it.) There was a steam room that smelled of tea and a sauna that smelled of nothing in particular, and all around the room were showers for rinsing or washing- either standing up or sitting down, out in the open.

For the coed areas, the spa provided a set of clothes- a tshirt and a pair of shorts that looked like a high school gym uniform. These areas were mainly made up of saunas of various sorts. We went into a circular room made of pink salt for a leisurely doze, followed by a cooling off in the ice room (which was much less intense than the cold plunging pool) followed by time laying in a room filled with clay beads and several other saunas of various temperatures. I sweated prodigiously and became supremely relaxed.

We celebrated afterwards with ice cream.

So life is sometimes frustrating and hard, but sometimes too, it can be full of lovely days of soaking in a tub and lying in a warm room full of salt and soft light. And I think it’s ok to enjoy these creature comforts as a way of occasionally being present in one’s own body. So I highly recommend it.

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