This week I went down to Little Italy to revel in the joy and desserts of my ancestors, and to do some research for my next novel that will be set there in the early 1900s. The San Gennaro Festival runs through this weekend and it’s an absolute delight. If you’re in New York City, wonder down to Mulberry Street where you’re sure to find some characters and cannolis.
“One thorn of experience is worth a whole wilderness of warning.” ~James Russell Lowell
After reading Adam Savage’s book, Every Tool’s a Hammer: Life is What You Make It, and watching Werner Herzog’s Masterclass on filmmaking, I decided to buy a camera kit to start shooting and editing some short-form film. My topic for this project is joy (no surprise there if you know me AT ALL!) Essentially, what I want to do is film you showing me and talking to me about something, anything, that gives you a supreme amount of joy. In exchange, I’ll share the raw footage with you as well as the edit. And, with your permission, I’ll share the edit on Vimeo and YouTube with any kind of attribution you’d like. If you’d be willing to have me film you, let me know and I’ll share more about the project.
Got started today in film editing with Adobe Premiere Pro and I love it! As writers and storytellers, we often hear that writing is editing. It’s also true for filmmaking – editing is the key to removing the unnecessary so the necessary can literally speak.
“Don’t quit before the miracle.” ~Anne Lamott
Listen up, gorgeous human. You don’t have to settle for the scraps that fall from the table.
I just woke up from a dream that put everything in perspective for me and I wanted to share it with you. I was enrolled at a very sexist college as one of only a very small handful of women. Graduation was upon us, and our small group was talking about making our graduate school decisions. A very old and cranky professor whom I had in undergrad in real life (who was not supportive of me at all) sat down at our table to tell us that it really didn’t matter what we chose to do because none of us were going to amount to anything. And I just snapped.
I stood up, grabbed my bag, and told this professor that he knew nothing about what any of us are capable of. I told him I planned to move to New York, and soon he wouldn’t have to wonder what I amounted to because he’d be reading all about it. Everyone would. Then, in true Leslie Knope fashion, I wished him a good day and said I felt sorry for him that he was so unhappy with his own life that he felt compelled to be terrible to other people.
Everyone at the table, including that professor, was completely shocked. (FWIW, everyone was wearing the same drab grey clothes and I was wearing bright pink. I was only aware of this after I stood up from the table.)
Now, here’s the fascinating part: in my dream, my dream was to have the life I have in New York in real life. That realization was a lightning bolt. I sat straight up in bed, in real life in New York, with every opportunity just outside my door. This is what I’ve amounted to: I have my dream’s dream.
Brian often tells me that we get what we settle for. It’s a refrain that rings through my mind every day. I’ve only ever been willing to settle for my dream, and bit by bit I got that dream. It was hard work, with lost of disappointments and twists and turns. I never gave up, and I’m not done yet. There are still some pieces waiting to be found and set in place—the right romantic relationship, another book, a film, a home I own—and they’re all abundantly possible. I know that now. Let’s go get Monday, shall we?
You have to be your own best advocate. Know your worth and don’t settle for anything less. This International Women’s Day stand up, speak out, and shine. You were born for this.
Jeff Goldblum blew my mind with his spoken word on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert when he recited this passage by George Bernard Shaw as the way he keeps his hopes up during the Trump administration:
“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to the future generations.” ~George Bernard Shaw
I was lucky to see Jeff Goldblum live with his band a few years ago at Rockwell Table & Stage in LA. My friend, Trevor, pointed out to me that Jeff Goldblum was playing here with his band on a regular basis. A couple week later I wandered in with a date after dinner in Los Feliz and it was a magical experience. (The guy didn’t last mostly because he didn’t enjoy Jeff Goldblum as much as I did, but my love of Jeff and his music certainly did.) I’ve been listening to and loving his music ever since, all thanks to my friend, Trevor. Give his new album, The Capitol Studios Sessions, a listen. It’s wonderful.
Yesterday the world lost Mary Oliver, a person who taught me how to write and how to live. Rest In Poetry, Mary. We will certain rest in yours.
Don’t Hesitate by Mary Oliver
If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate.
Give in to it.
There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be.
We are not wise, and not very often kind.
And much can never be redeemed.
Still life has some possibility left.
Perhaps this is its way of fighting back, that sometimes something happened better than all the riches or power in the world.
It could be anything, but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the case.
Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty.
Joy is not made to be a crumb.
Remember that a fire can also be a kiln. Whether it consumes you or improves you is all about your perspective. I’ve had a very difficult 24 hours. This point-of-view and great friends got me through. If you’re going through a tough time, I hope this idea helps you, too. Sending you love.
“The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready; it goes on because it’s 11:30. You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute.” ~Tina Fey
Strongly feeling this sentiment from the great Tina Fey as I get ready to begin grad school in biomimicry on Monday. A HUGE THANK YOU to all of you who have been so dang supportive of this whole process. It’s really overwhelming and exciting and mind-boggling that I’m standing on this precipice and taking the leap. I’m scared and happy and nervous and thrilled and in awe that this all worked out as it did. All the feels.
I couldn’t have dreamed a better next step. I’m so grateful for this opportunity and I’m going to work my tookus off to do the very best I can. And to think this is all happening right now because Alie Ward interviewed a shark expert on the Ologies podcast about the healing properties of its mucus. Goodness, I will never forget that moment when I was on Broadway across the street from Lincoln Center walking to work, completely enthralled with the idea of finding a class or workshop in biomimicry. I never thought I’d find a whole damn Master of Science in this discipline and that I’d get in. Magic is everywhere; it’s all around us all the time.
If you’re starting something new in this new year, I hope this quote by Tina Fey helps you, too. Be scared and do it anyway, whatever it is. We’re all in this together. We’re all just walking each other home.
Did you know that Rockefeller Center now rises on a plot of land in the middle of Manhattan that once served as the site of the country’s first public botanical garden? I had no idea about this New York City secret until yesterday when I listened to an episode of the Science Friday podcast.
Author Victoria Johnson wrote about it in her gorgeous book, American Eden: David Hosack, Botany, and Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic. New York City will never stop amazing me because there will always be new stories to discover here, histories and achievements and inspirations literally buried underground, waiting to be unearthed by a curious soul. What a joy! What a gift!