It delights me to no end when a consulting client receives my draft deliverable of a business plan for their new program and their response is “this is amazing!” In this case the client is Carnegie Hall, and I’m working on helping them build an online community filled with content and resources that helps musicians become citizen-artists. Talk about a dream mashup of everything I love: art, activism, business, technology, and making the world a better place through building community. Updates coming soon with ways for you to get involved and access the resources yourself!
I’m navigating my way through a tricky ethical dilemma, one of the toughest I’ve ever had to wrestle. And I’m realizing that getting through it is a bit like managing through the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Because when you’re disappointed, when something and someone turns out to be different than you imagined them to be, you do experience a kind of death, a death of your own point-of-view. To get to a healthy mind shift, you grieve. I’m sharing where I am with my dilemma after some good conversations yesterday with people I trust, and whom I’m lucky and grateful to have in my life because I hope sharing my story will help you, too.
Honestly, when I was first faced with this situation, I was flat-out confused. I couldn’t figure out for the life of me what the hell was going on. It all seemed so mind-boggling that I was sure I was misunderstanding something. What I was seeing, hearing, and experiencing couldn’t possibly be happening. Surely, perceptive, planning expert me would have seen this coming. (Turns out, no I didn’t see it coming AT ALL.)
This is a tough one for me because I can be very quick to anger (I’m Sicilian so the boiling of blood comes rather easily to me), and I also have a very difficult time expressing anger because I feel a tremendous amount of guilt when I do. Meg Ryan’s character in You’ve Got Mail makes me feel seen! But once I realized that I couldn’t deny the situation I’m in, ooof, the anger came pouring out of my mind (though thankfully not out of my mouth!) And of course anger is always laced with fear, disappointment, and embarrassment. How could I have gotten myself into this situation AGAIN? I have read this book before, and I know how it ends, and I vowed the last time I read this book that I wouldn’t get myself in a situation like this again. I would do everything I could to avoid it. I would ask the right questions. Do my research. Listen to my gut. And despite all my best efforts, here I am, again, with my grief, and really pissed about it.
This is where I am right now at this moment. What can I live with? It’s not really as bad as I thought it was, right? I can do this and still sleep with a clear conscience at night while maintaining my integrity and authenticity. Shoot, maybe not. Hmmm. How can I forgive myself and others? Oh god, you know what? I’m the problem! And on and on it goes… These are my scrambled thoughts right now, morning, noon, and night.
Here’s all I really know—the depression stage is on the way. I don’t know when it will arrive, but I can see it there, off in the distance, fuzzy now, and becoming clearer every minute. I can also feel it slowing advancing, kind of like you feel a headache coming on but it’s not quite in full effect yet. Oddly, depression is an old friend I know well. Luckily, I have other great friends whose very presence in my life pulls me out of my funk, and my writing always helps. Always. Once I can write something down, I know how to manage it. I literally exercise it out of me through my words on screen / paper.
And here’s something else I know—as a writer, this is all material. I talk about the hero’s journey a lot with my friends, teachers, and mentors, John Bucher, Brian McCormack, and Ed Freeman. There is no such thing as an easy road for the person who always wants to be their best self and live a well-examined life. Transformation is difficult and painful. And if we keep at it, bit by bit, we do get better. We get stronger. We grow more compassion and hope. We become kinder, more curious, and ultimately, lighter. And that helps us to fly high above the obstacles and on to the next adventure. I know this to be true because I’ve been here before. That is the great promise of the hero’s journeys—they lead us to higher ground, to our truest selves.
Thanks for listening.
Sharing a big accomplishment. This semester in my biomimicry grad program, I’m just beginning to learn scientific writing. The past few weeks of assignments have been tough for me because I’m so used to writing for the public with a lot of focus on the poetry of storytelling.
But for scientific writing, you have to really dive right into the science and then find some small ways to weave storytelling into it. It’s been a bit of a painful mind shift for me. In fact, I was *just* speaking about this with my friend and mentor Ken Lacovara today. (To be honest, I was whining about it, and Ken graciously listened.)
Well I just got back my grades this week after turning in writing assignments about hagfish slime and tree communication. (Huge hat tip to Alie Ward, Ed Yong, and Smithsonian Magazine whose work I used as reference sources!) Perfect marks. I. AM. GETTING. IT!!
If you’re interested, here are the intro paragraphs of these 2 pieces of work:
Hagfish are eel-shaped marine animals. When threatened, they produce gallons of slime in seconds that is a modular and nested mass of protein threads that are ~1 to ~3 microns in size. For comparison sake, a human hair is ~50 microns and the human eye can only see an object that is over ~40 microns. Because these threads are so fine, the hagfish slime is able to get into all of the crevices of its attacker’s mouth and gills, rendering them unable to function while the hagfish makes its escape. If we were able to harvest the hagfish slime, or perhaps replicate its structure and composition in some way, it would produce incredibly soft fabric that would be softer than anything on the market today because of its incredibly fine modular protein threads, nested side by side, making it 100,000 times softer than Jell-O.
Trees are able to self-organize and communicate with one another via chemical processes. They use these processes to warn each other about dangers nearby. They share resources. They nurture their young and their injured neighbors. These tree processes are nearly invisible to the human eye and human experience. To see them and understand them, we need to dig deeper into the root systems and the biochemical process that plants use to communicate and help one another. In short, their process of photosynthesis gathers and uses light energy to convert carbon dioxide and water into sugar. These sugars can then be stored, transported throughout the tree, or converted into energy that the tree can then use to nurture all the processes of its own cells, communicate with other trees, or nurture other trees. This chemical call and response between trees communicates needs and those needs are then in turn met by neighbors. As it turns out, a lone tree would have a hard time being successful on its own. So while it’s doing everything it can to help itself, it’s also organizing with its neighboring trees to help them all survive and thrive as a whole. Like us, they’re stronger together.
I’ve got a lot of photos and video to sort through from my trip to the Middle East. These videos are among my favorites that I took.The sand is so fine in the Empty Quarter of the UEA that it traps a lot of air. When you go off-roading on the sand, the air gets released by the pressure of the tires and makes a sound similar to whale songs (or Jurassic Park!).
The sand literally looks like oil paint as it glides down the dunes. The winds were wicked and give the sands a misty quality, as if the stories and souls of the sands are being released.
Naveen Narayanan from Weekends with Albert is driving as we track extreme desert explorer, Max Calderan, through the desert. These videos are completely unedited – just raw footage.
Good morning from the Red Sea in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Arrived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia tonight with this horoscope: “New paths can open for a destination you have been longing to discover. Dive into a juicy investigation. Explore an exciting thread for amazing revelations.” Here are my first few glimpses of the Kingdom from the plane. By the time we landed it was dark so daytime exploration starts tomorrow. Thank you to Royal Jordanian for a perfect flight!
This week I’m going to the Middle East for the first time. To have this opportunity to be immersed into a completely different culture is something I never thought I’d have. I’m grateful for this opportunity to share stories from this part of the world. I’m excited, a little nervous, and above all, hopeful that there will be so much for me to learn on this journey.
Yesterday I clicked submit on my TV pilot script for my novel, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters. Thanks to the encouragement of my friend and mentor, John Bucher, I sent it off to see if Emerson might have a TV life. I loved the structure and editing process of writing for TV, and am excited about all the possibilities for stories told in this medium, especially for streamers like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. Here’s to dreams, written and made.
Next week I’ll be on the most unique trip I’ve ever taken—to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. I’ll be there for work on a film, and will be visiting Jeddah (on the coast of the Red Sea) via Amman in Jordan, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and the Empty Quarter, the world’s largest continuous sand desert. I’m excited to show you these countries through my lens and stories, and can’t wait to share what I find. Follow along here, and on Instagram (christarosenyc) and Twitter (@christanyc).
Inspired by the masterful adaptation of Good Omens on Amazon Prime (have your watched yet?!), the Masterclass with Shonda Rhimes, and encouraging tweets from my friend and mentor, John Bucher, I’m adapting my Emerson Page novel into a TV script. Given its visual nature and dialogue, I’m already halfway there! Thanks to so many of you who have loved Emerson’s story and supported my writing. It means a lot to me and this adaptation is for you! I’m about 30 pages into the 50 page pilot. I’ll finish all the editing this week and then submit it to a the screenwriting competition in L.A. that John Bucher told me about. SMH that this ideas was here all along. I never thought about it for TV until seeing Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens work. He made me realize books for TV can work!