Friday, July 29, 2016

A collection of random thoughts

I don't really watch The Mindy Show, but there was a quote from episode 1 along these lines:

Guy: So, your date...Sure he had the job and the degree, but was he a real man?
Girl: What do you mean?
Guy: I mean was he a MAN? If you guys are in bed, and you hear someone breaking into your apartment at 2AM will he jump up and grab a baseball bat, or would he lie under the covers with you?
Girl: I don't know, that's a good question...
Guy: Is he the type of guy that will hold your hand when you're having a baby and you have a lot of gross stuff coming out of you, while he wipes your forehead and tells you that you're beautiful? Or is he the type of guy that will sit in the lobby because he can't handle it?
Girl: This is all important, but I can't know all of that from a first date.

For some reason, that hit me really hard, and I think it's very true. It's difficult to know when a guy is a real "man" until you're both forced into a difficult situation that you need to face together. Love is wonderful when things are all cheerful and great, but the terrible moments are when you see someone's true nature. That's honestly the scariest part of being vulnerable. It can happen in friendships, too. It's not an easy thing...Having someone I know I can rely on it probably one of the most important qualities that I'm going to look for.

Also- I can't believe I did a whole vegan post without mentioning how I randomly found this short film originally from 2006 Brooklyn Film Festival via someone's troll comment on a vegetarian forum. (This is odd and creepy but also kind of amazing. If you like Twin Peaks, you'll like this.)

A couple authors reached out to me to review their books this week, and one of them is a language professor. She's inspiring me to pick up French again. Since it's the language I have studied the most, it's the one I have the most hope of ever actually being good at. I guess I need to put in a couple hundred additional hours. *sobs* JK it's OK because it probably means I'll watch a lot of French films, and I love that anyway.

This post was totally random and pointless. It's OK, though. Not like I'm trying to gain a following, over here.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

26

Age 26 was a pretty good year.
I got over a lot of stuff from my past, and I moved on from things that I never thought was possible.
I was given a job that felt very important, only to realize that I do not want that.
I followed the dream....the very literal dream I fell asleep and had a couple years ago. It was about my future self, and the woman I want to be some day. I know that in order to be happy, I need to become that version of Me.

For the first time in years, I feel OK about getting older, because I think, right now, age really is just a number.
Now that I am eating plant-based foods most of the time (I was NOT vegan today on my birthday, but thankfully I think I can jump back into it tomorrow.) I am literally beginning to look younger. I realize that people can be my age, or even older than me, and be totally immature and oblivious to reality or lack in maturity. I meet people who are younger that may be more innocent and idealistic, but overall are more mature. I just...yeah. I think that age matters at a certain point, but once you are in your 20's, it is all relative. And if  I can look younger and feel young in a sense that I am open to new technology and ideas, I can feel in-touch with current events and the younger generation, I feel younger. So age is just a number, in that way. I don't feel so "old" anymore.

Despite feeling sort of "young", I also feel more prepared for Real Life. I feel confident that I can do basically everything without my parents, but the only thing getting in the way right now is money. However, I am finally on the path of making all of that OK.

When it comes to love?.....
.....I just have bad luck, dude. Or maybe I am not trying hard enough. Or maybe I just need to find the right person at the right time. But it's OK. I needed all of this time alone to be the truest "me", so I can only hope to find a significant other some day. It doesn't need to be at age 27. I don't want to rush it, because I want it all to be worth it in the end.

I had a good day. Happy Birthday to Me.


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Road to Healthy

No matter what camp you fall into, I think all of us can agree on at least two things:
1. Fruits and vegetables are very good for us, and they help to make our bodies healthy. We all know that they are part of a balanced diet, and yet not enough people seem to eat them.
2. Too much sugar is bad for us, and yet we eat it all the time.

So, no matter what doctors you listen to, and no matter which books you are reading or what you believe in terms of what kind of diet we need to eat, I think we can all agree on those two things. Those two factors are at the core of the obesity epidemic in the United States.

I was essentially raised on McDonalds, frozen chicken nuggets, and mashed potatoes with meat loaf. So obviously, I was a fat kid. When I was 11, I went to the doctor, and they noticed darkness on the back of my neck that would not go away no matter how much I washed it. They let me know that it was a sign that I am prone to getting Type 2 Diabetes if I did not get my weight under control immediately. So, as an 11-12 year old, I lost 50 pounds on Weight Watchers. The doctor told me that I was a "poster child" of success, and gradually over the years, I was growing, and at my skinniest weight, I was still a size 8 in High School and my first two years of college. So, I have never really been "skinny".

Flash forward through college, heartbreaks, family drama, stressful jobs, and everything that causes just about everyone to gain weight as an adult. Let's just say I am not a size 8 anymore, and I clearly need to lose weight. I always reach a certain point where I look in the mirror and think, "No more. This has to stop," which is usually around size 12/14.

I recently listened to an episode of This American Life, and one woman who weighed over 300 pounds said that she wished she was "Lane Bryant Fat", because she cannot even shop for clothes anywhere. A few of the women argued for loving your body even when you are fat, but the message I personally took away from it was; I am not happy with my current body.

That's great if there are women out there who can accept their bodies at any size, but I personally know that if I begin to accept being fat,  I will get diabetes. There is no "maybe". It is a cold hard fact for me. Not only that, but cancer runs in my family as well, and so does heart disease. If I don't get things under control now, I am simply accepting that I will become sick.

After giving up sugar, before trying the vegan diet.
A couple months ago, I decided to try to eat under 26 grams of sugar every day. Once I basically got over my sugar addiction, it was obvious how horrible it was for my body. I lost some water weight, and I felt like a healthier person. Now, when I drink soda or eat candy, I recoil at the sweetness, and I can feel it affecting my insulin levels immediately. It was a step in the right direction to preventing diabetes, and I started to look better, too.

I wanted to take it to the next level, so I decided to try what a lot of people seem to call a "vegan experiment". Over the past few years, I have seen almost every Vegan documentary out there. I also tried a few juice fasts after seeing Fat Sick and Nearly Dead. The most recent documentary to cement this into reality for me was Forks Over Knives, which focused purely on health. In Cowspiracy, you learn about the affects of the environment, and in most other documentaries, you see the horrors of factory farms.

I am a cynical person. While I agree that factory farms are horrible, and a lot of environmental issues in our world would be fixed if we all went vegan, I do not believe that my choice to go vegan would make a difference. It is one small drop of water in an ocean of the human population. My choice to do this is purely selfish, I guess. I just do not want to get sick. I want to be skinny. I want to be healthy. Honestly, I think if more people realized this, they would make the same choice. They may not care about the lives of animals, but most people care about their own health.

I showed my dad Forks Over Knives. The scientific evidence that eating meat leads to heart disease and cancer was so compelling that even he decided to dramatically reduce the amount of meat he is eating, since he has high blood pressure. We also drink matcha green tea, wheatgrass, and a bunch of other natural remedies.

Vegan burritos are amazing.
My last meal with meat was chicken nuggets on June 29th. After that, I eased myself into being vegetarian for a few days, and then went on to be full vegan for a week.

While I was vegan, I felt amazing. I did not even crave meat at all. I spent a lot of time having fun researching recipes, shopping, and cooking. I was making so many delicious new meals that I did not miss my old food at all. I have tried going vegan in the past, but my mistake was not having a plan on what I was actually going to eat. Now that I know what vegan food I like, it's incredibly easy.

I feel full, satisfied, and happy. The weight is already coming off. My metabolism is noticeably faster. I mentally felt better too. I have way less anxiety. I can eat at much as I want, and not hate myself afterwards. I was happy, because I felt like if I just keep going, I will lose weight and become the body that feels like "Real Me".

On July 12th, it was Free Chic Fil A Day. Since I was getting a free chicken sandwich, I decided it would be my "cheat day", and part of my experiment to see what would happen when I ate meat again.

Right away, I started to get a headache. My stomach started to make strange gurgling noises, and I had to run to the bathroom. I could also feel some anxiety creeping back. I had a "blanket moment", which is what I refer to as a flood of memories of every single stupid thing I have ever said or done in my life. The hormones in meat affect me really badly. Without getting into details, doctors already let me know that I have signs of possibly getting ovarian cancer in the future too...which, I learned from Forks Over Knives, is directly linked to the hormones put in meat and dairy.

Something about the Chic Fil A made me want to binge on vegan junk food the rest of the day. I ate Oreos, which spiked my sugar levels, and it was crazy how uncontrollable my hunger suddenly became. It's like the flood gates opened to becoming unhealthy again. That was all explained in a lecture I watched recently by Dr. Doug Lisle on how your stomach basically has these receptors letting you know if you're full, if you have consumed enough nutrients, etc. etc. For the first time in my life, I could clearly see how it was true.

The next day, I went back to full vegan. I drank green juice and tried to clean out the chicken from my system, but the urge to binge is still lingering, and it will probably take a few days to get over this, because it sort of brought me back to square one. I feel horrible for ever stopping at all. A chicken sandwich is not worth feeling this way.

I am very much an all-or-nothing kind of person. I know now that if I make up an excuse and give myself cheat days once a week or something like that, I am just going to slip back into bad habits, and I will not lose weight. I will continue on this up-and-down fluctuation, and some day, I will end up getting sick.

Am I going to become one of those vegans who nit-picks and asks for ingredient lists at restaurants?
No.
If I am out with a friend, or if someone cooks a beautiful meal and doesn't realize I don't eat meat, am I going to refuse to eat it? No. I do not want to be rude or disrespectful towards anyone, and I do not want to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but as long as I have the control over what I am eating, I will choose vegan every time.

So, if I am acknowledging that I will probably eat cheese or meat again every once in a while, am I really vegan? Probably not. No. But I will try to be at least 95% vegan, to the best of my ability. I will continue to eat foods that are low in sugar, and I will continue to walk and jog a few days a week (with Pokemon Go!)

I don't care if other people eat meat. I'm not going to try to guilt trip people into becoming vegan. Maybe there are people out there who can eat meat and their bodies are not going to get sick...but I'm not one of them. I know that now. My body was not made for those foods, and if I have the power to help my body feel as healthy as is possibly can, I will try my best to make get on the right track.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

How Tarot Cards Made Me Kinder to Myself

A couple weeks ago, my friend gave me a Tarot Card reading. For years, the idea of getting a Tarot Card reading always had me really curious, but I was never willing to pay actual money to buy cards or get a reading from a self-proclaimed Psychic. Tarot is sort of terrifying. It has cards about death, curses, impending injuries and tragedies, etc. If a card told me that something bad was going to happen, I would be looking over my shoulder no matter how logical I actually am.

Thankfully, my reading was really positive.  At first, we were not really sure what the cards were trying to say. I took photos on my phone, and went home to do some research. The result of the deeper meaning in each of the cards ended up being really spot-on, and believe it or not, it has actually helped me a LOT.

It told me that the biggest issue in my life right now is that I feel romantically blocked, and the thing that is blocking me from getting into a relationship is my hunger for money...but this struggle is all necessary, because my ultimate goal is to be financially independent but still get to nurture and take care of my loved ones. (All true.) Two of the last cards also told me that some day in the "distant future", I will be with a guy who is confident in himself and yet compassionate to others, and we will have a really strong relationship with that is built on mutual desire and respect for one another. So basically...best reading ever.

The general message of all of the other cards in-between was; "You are doing everything you need to do in order to achieve your goals. It may take a while, but eventually, it will all work out. You're on the path, so keep doing what you're doing."

Whether these cards are magic or total bullshit, they have had a positive effect on my attitude. Lately, I have been telling myself on almost a daily basis, "It's OK, you'll get there," as if the cards were telling me the truth. It dawned on me that it is extra encouragement that I normally do not give myself. Before, it was more along the lines of "You BETTER get there, or ELSE,"  like a looming threat hanging above me at all times.

I feel as if "knowing" the future is going to work out the way I want it to has made me feel more confident in myself, and as a result, I am becoming happier and more productive. I am also allowing myself to have more fun instead of constantly stressing out.

I guess my whole point in writing this entry is that you should not wait for Tarot Cards to tell you to be OK with wherever you are in your life right now. People always say to be kind to yourself, but until this point, I never really knew how to do that. Even if magic is not real...Even if it's a lie, just saying, "It's going to be OK, I will succeed with my goals," has helped me tremendously.

Disclaimer; I do not recommend that you actually do Tarot Cards....only because I don't want you to blame me for a scary reading.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New v. Old School. Is Indie Film Dead?

On February 8th, 2011, during the Film Forum at Montclair State University, cinematographer Ken Kelsch and director Abel Ferrara repeatedly compared today's media to the way film making used to be twenty years ago, and the fact that they felt that digitalization has ruined the industry for new up-and-coming film makers.They expressed that studying film in college was a waste of time, and that there is no money in the industry any longer. Making a film for art's sake, in their opinion, is a fantasy in the minds of the young. "You can be an artist when you're young, but eventually you have to grow up," Ken stated.

But even before the creation of the Internet, HD, and online pirating, Abel's first feature-length film in 1979, Driller Killer, was admittedly created with the intention to make a profit rather than spread a message or create for art's sake. Abel spoke of their inspiration to create a horror film came from the success of Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 1974. This low-budget film became a cult classic practically over night, and Mr. Ferrara seemed to want to jump on the band wagon on genres that seemed to have a real niche with American audiences. He repeated this by making the cop-gone-wrong-in-New-York story of Bad Lieutenant in 1992.

These guests left the student audience with a pessimistic message of, "Independent film is dead", by Ken Kelsch. They both also expressed that they felt today's film makers were lazy, and that New York lacked the type of dynamic community of artistic creativity that it once had. While their words of experience may have left a sour taste in the mouths of the Montclair students, a much more optimistic panel spoke on March 1st, 2011. Aaron Sonnenberg, the Content Operations Manager for blip.tv, Steven Beckman of Cinetic FilmBuff, and Ingrid Kopp of Shooting People all spoke about the process of digital distribution.

Each of these guests gave their own insight into making what Ken Kelsch and Abel Ferrara saw as disadvantages actually become huge advantages in getting independent film out to the masses. With the Internet, it's possible to use social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook to spread the word on a film that has been recently finished, or even ask for help in raising funds through KickStarter. YouTube celebrities have even been known to make 6-figure salaries.

Aaron Sonnenberg gave examples of people who have started web series and actual careers from advertisement revenue on Blip.TV. For students interested in creating their own shows, he suggested filming several episodes in advance, including 'behind the scenes' footage, so that content can be uploaded on a regular basis. Instead of creating a series or movie that would be attractive to the masses, it's possible for film makers to make content that is attractive only to specific sub-cultures. Communities both in person and on the Internet have come together to discuss and create films dedicated to topics that they are personally passionate about; not just in New York, but all over the world.

One of the major complaints about today's digital media made by Abel Ferrara is that with the existence of movie torrents on web sites like Pirate's Bay, film makers lose revenue that would normally be made from rentals or DVD sales. A suggestion to counter the problem was made during this Digital Distribution panel. Aaron Sonnenberg said that it's often a good idea to offer a 15-minute sneak preview of a movie on web sites like Hulu or YouTube, free steaming video sites, and offer viewers to buy the remaining rental on websites like Netflix, Itunes, or On Demand. That way, a film that would previously be overlooked is now available to massive audiences all around the country. One would argue that independent film is not dead. It's still alive and kicking, just with a new face.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Matthew O'Neill, Documentary Film Maker

On February 22nd, my Film Forum class was surprised with a visit by producer/director Matthew O'Neill, who was stepping in for casting director Ilene Starger. I don't think anyone knew what to expect at first since many of us didn't have the time to research our new guest ahead of time, but I'm sure I can speak for everyone when I say that we were blown away by his talent for documentary film making, and by the fact that despite his success, he has stayed incredibly down to earth.

Matthew started off as a theater major at Yale University with dreams of acting in or directing a Broadway show. But when the opportunity to work for public access television presented itself, he jumped at the chance. After gaining experience in broadcasting, he met documentary film maker Jon Alpert, and stumbled upon a tragedy that changed not only his career, but our nation.
Matthew and Jon were in New York City on September 11, 2001, only a few blocks away when terrorists crashed planes into the Twin Towers. While the rest of the nation held its breath in complete shock, Matthew and Jon filmed. Being some of the very few people to have professional camera equipment ready at a moment's notice, they immediately got to work on capturing the reactions of the people during the tragedy. The footage ended up being used in a documentary. It began his life of traveling the world, filming documentaries for PBS, Discovery, and HBO. He has been to Iraq, Venezuela, China, Egypt, and so many other countries, putting his own life in danger in order to capture history in the making.

The documentary we were lucky enough to see during our class was China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province, which was nominated for an Academy award in 2010. I had to hold back my tears as we watched the raw emotion of parents who had lost their children in an earthquake because the school buildings collapsed due to construction that clearly wasn't regulated or inspected properly. This documentary brought a voice to the oppressed people living in the Totalitarian society where even after attempting a protest, never had justice served to the people responsible for the negligence that killed their children.

Matthew gave all of us advice that transcended not only film making, but for life in general. He urged us to always network and get to know people in our industry, and walk through any open doors we may see, even if they don't seem like they are exactly what we planned for ourselves, because we never know where it may lead. Through his stories of crazy antics in different countries, he urged all of us to always have a back-up plan just in case something goes wrong. If we plan on creating a documentary, try to make it as personal, with as few people on the crew as we possibly can.

And in stark contrast to one of our earlier guests, Ken Kelsh, who can be quoted saying that it's impossible to say anything in film making nowadays, that artistic aspirations are something of youth, and that "independent film is dead", Matthew seemed incredibly optimistic. Even with capturing unscripted reality, it's clear that he is able to put his own touch on the message he wanted to put across to the viewer. He explained his detachment and thought process that goes into filming a disaster, and the editing process afterward. There is a difference between standing in the middle of chaos and turning on a camera and seeking out the story and human emotion. I saw that as an art within itself. Matthew O'Neill a truly inspirational guest.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My interview with Jamie Lynn Lano



I've wanted to write a new entry for a while, but I'm just going to be lazy and link to my interview with Jamie Lynn Lano for Geek Girl On The Street.

Thanks to her for agreeing to answer my questions, she's really sweet.