My first Comic Festival!

Mon, May 07 2012 | 2:02pm

Last weekend I went to my first comic convention. Let me clarify, for of course I have been to comic conventions before, but this was the first time I had my own booth. Let me clarify, again, for even though I had a booth that showcased my comic and the adorable JLLT underwear we had made, it was not, in fact, “my own” booth because I shared it with five other comic creators. This is what you do when booths cost hundreds of dollars and you've already spent hundreds of dollars creating your comics and fancy underwear and you're not even sure you will sell one copy let alone the 60 copies you would need to sell to make it worth it.
And so my manager flew out from California (yes, I have a manager, and yes, she is my sister) to help me and my illustrator man our booth for two days at the indie comic fest known as MOCCA Fest 2012. I had absolutely no idea what to expect, for I am new to the this whole game, but the experience as a whole was invaluable and invigorating.
Here are a few highlights/details/things that have stuck:
I am old. I know I don't look it, but I was surrounded by youth starting out and when I did encounter a creator in my age bracket, they had inevitably been in the business for many years already.
My “cool” factor increased exponentially since I was an older, somewhat cute girl with pretty, styled hair, surrounded by young, unkempt comic boys with dirty hair.
I went to a panel of successful memoir comic creators and was more inspired than I could have predicted. This is why it is important to go to these things.
While we only sold a little over a dozen comics, this is more than most people and it felt darn good.
We were the only booth with underwear for sale, making us notorious which basically equals popular.
I wish we had brought a rainbow flag to really represent!

Visiting the insurance doctor and treated like a lesser human being

Mon, May 07 2012 | 2:02pm

A couple of weeks ago I went in for an IME. For those of you that don't know (which is probably most of you, considering you would never have heard of such a thing unless you have been involved in an accident or a no fault insurance claim) IME stands for Independent Medical Examination. I was involved in a bicycle meets van door meets Lacy on the ground with a jacked up neck and knee in December, and have been receiving both chiropractic care and acupuncture ever since. The man who unwittingly opened his massive construction van door directly into my path is insured with State Farm, and we filed a no fault insurance claim with them right after the accident. They approved my care for a few months, then insisted I receive an IME by one of their approved doctors. This is non-negotiable, as stated in BOLD in the certified letter they mailed me that told me my appointment was at 2:15, please show up 15 minutes early, and absolutely do not forget or I could have everything revoked.
Luckily I didn't have work that day (and what if I did? They were adamant that I could proffer no excuse to miss it) so I showed up at 1:45 with my license and my Kindle, prepared to wait a little bit if necessary.
Well. To start, the office looked like a movie facade in that it was very non-descript, and had no name tags on the door or glass windows, and the chairs and jenky counters looked like they were constructed by a bootleg company that throws together Ikea furniture for cheap. The elongated reception desk was behind glass windows and had four empty chairs scattered behind it. There was one woman wandering behind the window, exasperated and pacing with a folder in her hand, making every effort not to make eye contact with me upon entry.
The waiting room, abounding in neutral colors and cracked chairs, had about eight people milling about. Each person had a letter in hand that looked exactly like mine, and the ages skipped all over the line. I was the youngest person present, though there was an attractively coiffed gay boy that made my acquaintance soon after arrival who appeared to be in my age group. I approached the window, only to have the distressed woman cut me off with a, “Your girl isn't here. Have a seat.”
I found this odd that she would even know “who my girl was” considering the only reason I even guessed I was in the right place was the white letters I spotted in the room. “Excuse me, I was just wondering if I'm in the right place. Dr. Warren's office?”
She didn't even look up. “She'll be here soon, I'm not with the doctor. Sit down.”
So I did. And I read my book while the gay boy talked on his cell phone while the older woman complained to her partner that her back hurt while the tall Dominican man argued with the short Jewish man about who arrived first. And I hoped I was in the right place.
Then, a woman in scrubs came rushing in, all in a flurry of stress and paperwork. She sidled behind the glass window and was immediately accosted by all the characters in the waiting room. It was 2:20 when she arrived, which I found strange since my appointment time was for 2:15. It turns out I wasn't the only one with a 2:15 appointment, which I also found strange. The boy asked the woman where the doctor was, and pointed out his letter with the 2:15 stamped on it. I said aloud, “That's interesting, since my appointment is at that time, too. How is that possible?”
Then the newly arrived receptionist replied, “I don't know why the insurance company does that, since it is a first come, first served basis.”
I snorted in snark and derision, loudly replying, “But you have absolutely no idea as to who arrived first, so how in the world does that system work? Surely it would behoove your office to at least have a pen and paper so people can sign up accordingly upon arrival? I mean, doesn't that make a little more sense?” (Please understand I was miffed. And tired. Blah blah blah.) I had been there for over a half hour!
Well, the woman got settled into her rolling chair then said to the room, “Ok, then. Come on forward. Step up!” You can imagine the show that occurred, but I can't call it a stampede for there were only eight of us, ten tops, so it wasn't quite that scary. And we filled out her forms and she denied fault, saying, “It wasn't my fault! It was the trains! And the doctor ain't here yet, anyway.” (And I thought, yes I rode my bike but surely others took the train and they managed it in a timely fashion and just own up that you were late instead of passing blame like a child. Also, “ain't” is not a word)
The truth is I was rude, not terribly rude like the boy behind me who shouted he was going to call his lawyer after calling the woman names, but I did give her a piece of my mind about the faulty system and the false appointment times and the all around lack of professional behavior. Lo and behold, my chiding actually paid off and I was first to be seen.
The doctor was older, like white haired and nearing retirement, telling me about his plans to go to Arizona the following weekend, and it quickly became clear that the jenky office is merely a landing pad to set up shop for three hours while patients are rotated in and out like an assembly line. He lifted my neck, measure my knees, asked me four questions, signed a form, then said “goodbye”. I was in his office for less than five minutes, and all for him to tell the insurance company whether or not I deserved to be covered for further treatment.
And that is an IME. A man whose mind is on an upcoming trip, deciding my fate in less than five minutes, paid by the insurance company to basically tell them to discontinue my treatment. I felt very disappointed in the American system as I walked out the door, but I guess I am not that surprised.

Random thoughts before it turns midnight

Tue, Apr 03 2012 | 7:07pm

So today I was supposed to write. Like maybe a new HuffPo piece. Or a new comic. I even considered writing a few letters, responding to the letters I have received in the past few months. And then I remembered I still have not read two of the letters sent to me. They sit in my bag, ignored but not forgotten. Sometimes I do this. Harbor letters, words, connections. I don't really know why I do this, but at this point, habitual rules. My computer did not cooperate earlier today, at Atlas Cafe. And I was grumpy. And my mind was with my family, my friends, the ones together in southern California. And I am not there. I am here, in a strange city in a strange apartment with a strange flatmate and strange surrounds me. And on my walk I spotted massive graffiti on a tall brick building, “What's the point?” it asked. And I listened to my friend but all I was thinking was take a photo, take a photo and tweet it to YerGoing2Die, but I didn't have my camera. This was doubly annoying since I need to take more photos of my facial scar, compliments of December's bike accident. No, I am not getting plastic surgery, despite my family members' insistent please. My response is always, “Vanity is overrated” but I just say that 'cuz it sounds cool, I've never really sat down to ponder if I believe it to be absolutely true. And I've never been egotistical about my looks but don't get my ego started on the brains churning behind my rainbow eyes. It's shameful, but I hope that the humility present balances it out. And the person that climbed that dilapidated building to spray paint that poignant question, “What's the Point?”, is that person asking a rhetorical question? Or should I climb up there myself with my own cans (I really do have two, you know) and scrawl an answer?

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One Year in Manhattan

Tue, Apr 03 2012 | 6:06pm

One year in Manhattan. New friends aplenty; I am still surprised with the amount of friends I have managed to finagle. Old friends who are like new again. Two weddings attended, two more celebrated. Two bike accidents, one visit to the ER. Countless novels read, dozens of comics written. One short film, three scripts tossed aside. A trip to New Hampshire. Montauk. Long Beach. Rhode Island. Catskill. Hiking in Jersey. Hiking in apple country. Hiking with four crazy dogs. One day of leaf peeping. Picnics in parks and beaches and on the Westside Highway. Too many dates to recount (but boys, thank you for the fodder and the blog material). One amazing book club with seven amazing women (and an array of possible book club names but no final decision made). Another book club that serves delicious food, but I just can't commit. An epic bike ride to the Cloisters. Snowstorm on Halloween weekend. And only one other snowfall worth mentioning. One failed kiss attempt. At least six visits to the vet. Concerts galore, but Bon Iver under the stars and fireflies remains in my heart, right up there with the incomparable weekend surrounding LCD Soundsystem. Anniversaries. Epic Birthday weekend with my California loves. My nephew's first visit to NYC. Three lighthouses. Five Broadway shows. Seven different churches attended, one that grabbed me. Two panic attacks (maybe more, but let's get serious, no need to delve). An insane number of out of town visitors, including baby Shay. Two visits by Mom, one by Dad, not enough by Vanessa. One heart stolen, scary at first but then awesome. One Easter brunch hosted that turned into game night. One Thanksgiving dinner that turned into crazy drunken game night. Movie Club. Dinner Club. Movie Club that is really just sit and around and talk and play with each other's hair club. Not enough rooftop parties, but lovely nonetheless. Two salons, countless jobs searched. One new alter ego created for real. One new writing gig on the Huffington Post. Multiple writing dates with beautiful friends. One trip to the enchanting island off Belize. One Manta Ray spotted, and at least a few sharks. Thousands of miles flown. Three bridges crossed by bike, one on my own two feet. So many letters written and received. And memories, so many memories, created.

Heart and brain at 4 a.m.

Fri, Feb 17 2012 | 2:02am

It was time to go to sleep, way past that time, actually, but she was awake.
So, with a sigh and a hoisting of imaginary pants, Heart went hiking north and tapped on Brain's door.
“Brain? Don't you ever get tired? It's time for bed! Don't you ever get tired of not sleeping?”
It was Brain's turn to sigh, and she did, but her sighs always sounded like muffled sneezes which never failed to make Heart chuckle. Of course, she always felt bad for chuckling at Brain's unfortunate sounding noises, but it was hard for her to control.
“I know, I know. Of course I get tired. You always ask me but you know the answer. It's not that I don't want to nap! I do! I see the stars and the moon out my window and they wave a friendly goodbye, but that's not enough. The clock ticks a sweet melody, but it's never the tune for me. And then when I start to calculate the number of hours until morning, the number of hours slumbered the night before, the week before, it starts me worrying. And you know what happens when I worry, Heart.” She sighed again, a loud deflating, sneezing whoopie cushion of a sigh.
“Oh, Brain. Don't be so hard on yourself. You've had a long day and you have a big day ahead of you. Plus, when was the last time you had a day off?” Brain snorted at this, for days off were as elusive as a full night's rest. “Exactly. Now, listen. You'll feel better in the morning, lighter, invigorated, new again.”
“You're right, Heart. I'll try harder and start winding it down. Sleep does sound inviting, doesn't it? See you in the morning, fresh and bright and ready for the new day.”
Sleep. And then morning. But not morning like the sunrise like the alarm clock like stretch the arms above the head and crack out a dramatic yawn. Dark morning, hours before all of that, almost nighttime still. Brain was mad at herself for not making it all the way to light morning, but then realized she was not to blame.
Knock knock knock. “Heart? You in there?” She didn't wait for an answer and instead barged in, which was her way. She was saddened and yet not surprised to find Heart hanging in the corner. “Oh, man, Heart. What is it? What are you doing up so early, anyway?”
It was obvious Heart was holding in tears, which always amused Brain because if the object of holding in tears was to hide them, keep the emotion from pouring out, it was a moot point when the struggle became so visibly broadcast on the pinched face barricade.
“I'm sorry, Brain. I just . . . I just started worrying, I guess.”
“Heart! That's my job! Are you telling me that not only do I have to reel you in when it comes to your hippie-dippie “I love everyone” parades, but now I have to monitor your worrying, too?” This made Heart smile a little, for she knew Brain often rolled her eyes at the amount of times Heart said “I love . . .” throughout the day. But then she went back to quiet tears. Brain paced, trying to figure out how to handle the situation and trying not to be selfishly mad about missing out on the ending to the epic dream she'd been having.
“The thing is, I was doing fine and reveling in sweet sleep when all of a sudden I felt this pain in my shoulder. It woke me up. And now it won't go away and I feel bad because I know how much we need sleep, but I guess what I'm trying to say is I hurt a little bit, Brain. I just hurt.” Oh man, this is not what Brain wanted to hear. She was never as good in these situations as Heart was, and she hated it when Heart hurt and who knew what set her off this time for it could be any number of things, really.
“It's ok, Heart. I'm going to tell you a trick I learned from the wisest girl I know. She told me that anytime I am shaking or feeling overwhelmed, I just have to let it all out. And you know what? It always works. So, let it out, Heart, and just cry already!”
Heart smiled a little, “The “wisest” girl you know? I'm flattered.”
“Ok, ok, you're right, that may not be the most accurate label. In fact, I can think of a multitude of instances when 'wise' would be the last word I would use to describe you. How about wise words from the sweetest girl I know?” With this, Brain embraced Heart, effectively squeezing the tears out and releasing the knot in her shoulder. “Can we go to sleep again, Heart?”
“Yeah. Thanks, Brain. I love you.”
Brain hemmed and hawed, “Heart, you love everybody,” but she smiled, just the same.

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Today's Mantra

Tue, Feb 14 2012 | 6:06am

I can do this.
I'm a writer.
I'm a writer; I can do this.
Doubts are not welcome, but ever present, but not invited, but still there.
And I know I can do this.
I want to do this, I am this; this is me.
And you. But me. And if I'm going to do this, really do this, I need to accept,
no embrace, that I am capable, more than capable,
I am alive and full and ready.
I can do this.

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I am so New York, sometimes

Fri, Jan 13 2012 | 7:07pm

Last Wednesday I went to my first audition. You heard me . . . AUDITION. Am I an aspiring actress? Nope. Have I ever done this before? Not really, unless you want to count the church auditorium before my freshman year when I auditioned with my then boyfriend. (We nailed it, by the way, and went on to wow multiple church audiences all around Orange County.) Am I currently funemployed with occasional open afternoons on my hands? You got it!
So, I saw an ad on Craigslist and I figured, “Why not?” For all of you amateurs out there who have never been to an audition before (I am no longer part of your community having graduated into the “step above you” leagues) it went down exactly like it does in the movies. Seriously. I kept looking around at the stark and depressing room filled with strangers of all shapes, colors, and ages, completely amused with how cliché the whole thing seemed. There was the couple that argued on the way in, he accusing her of making them both late while shaking his head at every excuse she proffered in return. She scolded him, reminding him that anger shows through and it won't help him get the part. There was the girl sitting next to me, rocking back and forth as she muttered the lines from the wrinkled slip we were each given with the short monologue typed out. I briefly considered memorizing my lines, but I also experienced butterflies every time I repeated it silently in my chair that I decided to just read it when the time came. I became one of the many nonchalantly reading their books or checking their twitter feed or playing games on their iPhone. Cool cats, if you will, not caring about something like rehearsal when it was just an extra gig for goodness' sakes.
Did I mention the sexy boys scattered about the room? Now you know, ladies and gay boy friends, where to go to find the cute men lingering about in their unlaced boots and their striped beanies and stubble laced angular faces. There were a lot less females in the room (sweet! Increase my own chances) and for some reason the women that were there had consistently bad hair. Seriously bad hair. I avoided conversation, mostly because I enjoyed observing in silence but also because I could feel how desperately the two guys behind me in line wanted to engage. If they had just played it a little more cool, maybe I would have jumped into the banter zone, but I just did not want to get sucked in when there was literally nowhere to turn. Oh, yes, after about 30 or so minutes in the dingy room, I eventually got called out to stand in a line against a barren wall that moved surprisingly fast. And the blowhard that had zero volume control yelling into his cell phone with his Long Island accent? The one that announced to his buddy on the other line that he did not get Macbeth but was hopeful about this HBO gig approximately eight times? That guy, with his tufts of gray hair tickling strangers as he paced around the tight room, was either the most annoying man in the room, or the most deviant. He was quickly moved to the front of the line in an effort to save everyone (including the casting girl doing all of the organizing) from his raucous rants. I mean, is it possible it was all a ploy to avoid the wait? Was there anyone else on the other line? Such gall, either way.
Finally, I was called in (before Treasure and after Sunrise—two other people I met in the audition room. Legit names, by the way.) The beautiful, older brunette woman sat at a plain white table at one end of the otherwise empty studio. “Name?” she asked. I dropped all of my bundles down, including my bike helmet that bounced a little and answered her with a grin on my face. The thing is, the woman probably thought I was on something because I could not stop smiling. I mean, here I am, a recent New York transplant who writes, and creates comics, and does hair . . .I am not an actress! So she says, with a hint of disenchantment, “Please read the script like you are being interrogated by the police.” My lines were short, but I think I delivered them well. Maybe. Maybe I did, but maybe she could tell I was amused beyond belief and didn't really want the part like a kid from Fame would want the part. And then, as if I hadn't already made a fool enough of myself just by being so gosh darn cheerful, I took it a step further.
At the end of my monologue, I raised my arms in the air like I was a champ at the end of a match, and I practically shouted, “That was my first New York audition!!” Again, a massive grin was plastered on my flushed face, so I am sure she probably found it difficult to stymy a laugh or at least a chuckle. I scooped up my things and practically skipped out of the studio, barely hearing her tell me I will receive a call this weekend if they need me.
I am so gosh darn New York sometimes!

Adios, Belize!

Fri, Jan 06 2012 | 12:12pm

Adios, Belize. Or should I say, Hasta Luego. You were even lovelier than I had envisioned. And the people. The beautiful natives with their laidback, happy attitude. Genuine happiness. The children chasing each other into the water. The dogs roaming the beaches. The food (oh, Belize, you sure do know the way to this gluttonous girl's heart). The drinks that smelled like the world's most perfect tanning salon-those drinks sure made my friends' days seem even brighter. And sure, there was the Rasta man with dreads down to his butt and a handful of aliases who knew nothing of personal space boundaries and who found my sobriety amusing. And yeah, there was the irie man who asked to touch my legs, proclaiming he was a “freak about skin”. (Oh yeah, buddy??? Well, I'm a freak about karate kicking creeps in the nuts.) And, this is hard for me to admit because I truly was enamored with our little isla bonita, there was homophobia flitting about, which just made us all so sad. But. But, Belize, you have water like no other and the time I spent diving into the turquoise, amongst the most colorful of God's creatures, was transcendental. The massive manta ray that glided above our heads made me forget to breathe. The sharks, in all of their awesome and formidable wonder, were truly spellbinding. And the God-loving people that keep the island running are showing the peace and light within. I will be back, Belize.

A reminder

Fri, Jan 06 2012 | 12:12pm

This is a reminder to you, but mostly to me, but also to you, that God answers prayers. I mean, not every single one of my prayers in life has been answered (and yes, I'm still stunned that my one painful and critical request two years ago was not fulfilled) but some of them have. Specifically, in the last two months alone, I can think of 8 prayers that were acknowledged and handled. This is a miracle when I truly sit and ponder it, and I wish that appreciation and thankfulness would stick with me 100% of the time, instead of wavering in and out while I focus on unanswered prayers. It's important to have faith. And even if you don't believe in the God that I believe in, you can still throw your prayers out there, and you can still have a little faith.

Dating in 2011: Let me Translate

Sat, Dec 03 2011 | 6:06pm

I just want to make sure we're on the same page.
Or: It's becoming obvious we're not on the same page. Would you mind flipping to mine?
Or: I want this to appear like a mutual decision, and I hope you fall for it.
Or: I thought we'd discussed this already, but it appears you need to be schooled again.
Or: So, listen, open up and expose what you are feeling (I will take it in), then sit back and accept how I want things to be.
Or: Do you like me? Then nod and agree, “Totally, we're totally on the same page”.
Or: I've thought about your side, and I still like my side better.
Or: This is my bandwagon. You should jump on it.
Or: I'm trying to sound sincere, because I am sincere, and now I am sincerely telling you to accept my terms.
Or: Hopefully we won't have to have this talk again, but if we do, you better believe I'm going to bring up this conversation to point out that I assessed that “we are on the same page”.
Or: I'm not going to change. Cool? Cool.

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