Thursday, May 23, 2013

NOLA and More

May 8, 2013

Life is often about clarity. About taking out the mental trash and tuning out the noise, so you can unearth the real stuff. I needed some clarity, and I did what any clarity seeker does: Fly to New Orleans, LA. I know what you may be thinking. French Quarter, crawfish and tourist traps. Yes, this is some of the scenery that is the NOLA experience but not necessarily mine.

Staying with an artist and owner of Wags By Mags (the one stop, rock your NOLA pets world place), I've afforded an opportunity to see the textured buildings, homeless shelters, local dinner dives and essentially escape the blackhole of the beaten path for a NOLA with texture ... of clarity.

I squeezed in filming and massive writing on my fourth novel (just know I'm insane enough to write three at once). As for decompression time, I'm on that too. Some highlights on the journey so far have been meeting other writers and craft artist. Such as Summer Wood and Kerry Fitts. Getting to savor the delicious, powered sugar soaked beignets, I've walked miles in the humid heat and devour gallons of water. I'm excited for the weekend and curious what we'll be up to in our psedo-grown up adventures. For now, I'm more than elated to be here. Just being.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Skin Writing, Curiousity & Ale81

Here's the skinny. I write all the time. On napkins, scraps of paper, newspaper ads, toilet paper and even my own skin. Yes, I was in a concert with my friend and author C.G. Watson and they wouldn't allow me to type in my phone for fear that I was video recording the concert. BTW, Brandi Carlile I would still see you again in concert but this was incredibly frustrating. So, I borrowed a pen and wrote parts of a novel on my arms, hands and maybe an ankle.

Given the girth of scribbles, I still find blogging a challenge. It isn't a lack of interest. As you see, I'm doing it right now. I think it is more time management and also wondering what the heck you would find worthy of the time you invest. Writing tips? Movie making advice? Why I think Colegate tastes better than Aqua Fresh or Crest? The latter clearly not riveting. At some point, I hope people chime in with comments about what they may like to see her. I do have a lot to say about everything and nothing.

Let's see. So ... hmm. Today.

Ale81. Have you ever had this? Do you know about it beyond the bridges that connect Southern Ohio to Kentucky? If not, consider this your introduction to the delicious and unusual drink known as Ale81.

For non-drinkers (which should be everyone under 21 in the U.S.), you get the feel of being ultra cool when you show up to a party with a six pack of these delightful green bottles. They are sort of the undercover drink. Everyone thinks you are throwing back a beer and the joke is on them. As a non-drinker, I still want to blend with the adults sometimes because being grown up doesn't mean you don't want to fit in. And Ale81 is my fitting in drink.

I just realized I was supposed to make a big announcement. I guess I'll do that tomorrow now that I've written what is the most unfocused blog out there. In the meantime, here's to a day of creative chaos!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Remember What Glows

Where did the month of April 2013 go? Between wicked larenygitis for two weeks, production on a television pilot and promoting FAT ANGIE, it's kind of a blur. A great blur nonetheless. While I'd like to fill this blog with fantastic reviews and details of the month, it's now May.

May 3rd.

It's been 10 years since an amazing light left this world too soon. Amanda J. Cunningham was that glow in an otherwise dim room. I was fortunate enough to have her as my best friend while earning my graduate degree at Ohio University.

The last time I saw her? May 1st, 2003. I had just returned from a seven month stint in New York at Killer Films to wrap up my thesis at O.U. And ... I had just got dumped by a less than stable person (devastation was at a high). The last thing I felt like doing was going to lunch, but I hadn't seen Amanda in a long time. So I dragged my heartbroken self out into the world. By the way Amanda and I, the whitest looking Mexicans in America, met up at a Mexican restaurant. We ordered nachos, required appetizer, and talked about my recent breakup and our futures. My foothold secured months earlier, I was ready to launch off to Los Angeles the day after graduation. As for Amanda, it was the first time I realized she didn't have a plan in place.

Amanda was a planner.

She wasn't sure of the what next. Weeks from graduation and no plan? The world was ours for the taking. Mine in film and hers, well, you name it. The plethora of opportunities for a gal who hung with the posh and the not so and came from a pretty ordinary existence were many. Amanda was the person who recreated the ordinary for everyone. She made certain everyone knew they mattered even when she had her own doubts and disappointments in her life.

She got people. She got motivation. She was kind of a leadership rockstar (if there could be one).

We chummed around. She reminded me, in that Amanda way, that this person (the dumpee) was not for me. We laughed, a lot. We chatted about an upcoming feature I was to produce (story on that some other time). We ate Mexican food.

The goodbye is something out of a film, so it will seem as though I've made it up.

Amanda and I were not affectionate. No hugging. No mushy words. So, when I pulled up to Court Street post Mexican food yum and dropped money in the meter, she caught me off guard. I had turned into a hug. I can't tell you how many times I've replayed that moment. Wishing I'd held on longer. Wishing I hadn't rattled off a semi-clever wise crack in the uncomfortable of that moment.

We made a pact. That we would share Cinco de Mayo (May 5th for the not-so Spanish speakers) together. Somehow in the years of knowing one another, we never had celebrated the event and this was the time to make it count.

We walked down opposite sides of the street. As I approached the crosswalk, she called out my name. I turned and the sound of traffic muffled what she was saying. I said we'd talk later.

We didn't.

It was at 6:42 am, May 4th. The room saturated in a morning blue light. I had only been in bed a few hours after late night editing on my thesis documentary. I got a call from a classmate that Amanda's car had been struck by a teen who failed to yield at a stop sign on May 3rd.

It was 6:42 am. The room was blue. The air stopped.

In that moment, a woman who inspired thousands in her hometown of Massillon, Ohio and Ohio University was gone. Her future of possibly working at NASA or coordinating academic leadership programs perished.

She was 23.

While the story of the fallout of losing Amanda is much longer, today I revisit this loss as I do every year on May 3rd. To honor her life. To honor the life and hope she inspired in me and countless others. She reminded me to slow down. To realize what was real and what was fake. She reminded me that I was not alone, and the work I would do would inspire and reach others.

When asked by a reporter about Amanda, I said, "Knowing Amanda was like getting to cradle the sun for a moment."

And it was ... that amazing.