Tag Archives: babies

At Home — Contemplating My Grant Binges

So, I’m sick and exhausted and smelly and as happy as a puppy snuggled in a pile of dirty clothes.

Why?  Because I spent all of yesterday — Monday January 3rd —  into the night through this morning  applying to the Outfest Screenwriting Lab.  After some technical difficulties were worked out, I hit the “submit” button and it was DONE.

In that moment, I felt satiated.

As I walked into the post office shortly thereafter, the fresh wind blew a bothersome strand of greasy hair from eyesight onto temple, and I knew — I had earned it.

Exhilaration awakens each cell in my body whenever I finish a grant, residency, or contest application of some sort.  Especially one I’d really love to get.

Probably because there’s this greater sense of purpose that incessantly tortures me when I ignore it — like a hungry baby whaling from a crib for breast milk — and when I finish a grant application, it’s as if I stuck a bottle in the baby’s mouth.

The more difficult the application — the greater the satiation.

Oh, the endless rewards of winning a grant!  I imagine myself like an old man playing the Horses — Is it going to win?!  Is it going to win?!  If my horse WINS and I get this residency or that grant … the countless ways my life can change!

The infant — the force of life that cries for you to feed so that it can survive — is my art.  My Films and Writings.  Maybe that’s why I’ve never desired a flesh and blood baby — because it would compete for breast milk and God knows I only have two boobs!  One for my Movies and the other for my Books. ;p

Still, I can’t help but acknowledge that applying to grants, residencies, and contests is exactly like “Playing the Horses.”  A gamble. A gamble that I invest a lot of time, energy, and heart in.  Time, energy, and heart I could be investing into more practical possibilities for project support.

The first grant I ever applied to was the HSF/McNamara Family Creative Arts Project Grant, which I received.  It gave my senior thesis film A Two Woman One Act some considerably helpful production mula.  I was grateful for it and put it to good use, but the sheltered bubble of college life didn’t allow me to fully comprehend the magnitude of such a gift.

I’ve been out of college for 6 years now, and have worked and worked and worked countless jobs — from cinematographer to assistant editor to executive assistant to packing tape salesperson extraordinaire to receptionist and runner to you name it, I’ve done it.  I worked these gigs in order to pay my creative projects’ bills (press kits and festival applications and hard drives, etc), most times at the sacrifice of paying basic bills such as dentist, health insurance, food, etc.

Consequently, I now realize how much a stamp of monetary and critical approval could help ease the process of bringing a project to fruition.

Over the past 3 years, I’ve applied to countless grants and contests and I’ve received 2 or 3 — mostly living stipends for weekend seminars (which I’m truly grateful for), but that’s pretty much it …

Hours and Weeks and Months and Years spent applying for grant support that never came.

All the success I’ve received has come about through old fashioned brow sweat, and priceless help from fellow broke yet talented friends and artists.  The books and films I’ve finished, The book fairs and film festivals I’ve been a part of, The publications and reviews I’ve received — have all come about from walking out onto the fields, rolling up my sleeves, and picking grapes.

Also Known As chucking fear/anxiety out the window by emailing, calling, and shaking hands on the ground floor.

Also Known As H-U-S-T-L-I-N-G because the baby’s famished and she won’t stop crying!

My art projects are my Baby — the reason I continue working many a dreaded b-job…

I’ll tell you the truth — I don’t mind the hustle, the hard work, in fact I love it.  I love knowing how to write and edit and shoot and sound design an entire film because I had to figure it out on my own since I couldn’t afford to hire others to do it for me.

Still, my heart has been a little broken lately — and I think it’s because I spend more time applying to grants than working the floor, which has obviously proven to be a more fruitful avenue.  Why then?!  Why do I continue to do it?

I spend HOURS applying to grants and residencies and contests.  I keep “Playing the Horses.”  Because maybe — one day — I’ll get a grant and everything will get easier. I’ll finally be able to walk into MacMall and say, “Give me a Mac Book Air with a 3-year warranty.  I’m editing all over town today! Oh, and throw in some Mentos, please. The tropical kind.”

At this point, I feel like the old man who bets on a horse instead of going to work …

Grant applications, I must admit to myself, are the quick-fix pacifiers I use to quiet the starving baby.

There’s no breezy easy way to make a movie.  It’s all grape-picking, my friends.  I accept this fact and continue onward.

One of my New Year’s Resolutions being: More grape picking and ground floor handshaking!

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more!

Speaking of hunger, I have yet to eat anything aside from Entemann’s chocolate cake today … Chicken Soup, here comes La Banethita!


Not at “Ceviche Loco” — Contemplating Birthing & Raising Children

Well, I’ve decided to relax on the “Ceviche Loco” today because it requires driving in rain.  Whereas “Tacos Mexico” is conveniently right next door to my office.  I’m a native Los Angeleno without a proper car defroster and a broken air conditioner, and I hate driving in the rain.  It’s sticky and sweaty and blurry.  You may ask, “why does this chick need an air conditioner in the rain?”  I don’t.  I just wanted to let you know it was broken.

So, my aunt’s friend is visiting from Mexico with her 12-year old son and I gave them a ride to the local mall this morning.  They were going through the regular mother-child banter.  He’s got a cold, she wants him to put on the extra sweater.  He says he’s hot and doesn’t need the extra sweater because he’s “FINE.”

The back and forth of  “put on your sweater, I don’t want you to get sicker” and “I’m hot.  I don’t want to.  I’m FINE” continues for about 15 minutes.  Honestly, I wasn’t annoyed or irritated in the least.  I actually found it quite endearing … like when I watch mother lionesses on “Animal Planet” teaching their lion cubs how to survive in the wild.

I got to thinking again — as I have this year more than any year before — about “having children.”  I’m 27-years old and a growing number of my female friends are either getting pregnant, getting engaged and talking about pregnancy, or hurting over the fact that they aren’t pregnant because they want to be a mommy “sooooo bad.”

I really enjoy living in a neighborhood with lots of families.  It’s refreshing and invigorating to watch parents play with, teach, and love their little thems.  I like kids too.  They’re prime proof that Nature is ONE SMART MOTHER.  Kids are the cutest, most adorable, funny, inquisitive, endearing useless little pieces of life on earth.  They’re completely co-dependent on another for survival and do nothing but swallow the energy, knowledge, attention, and money of those they depend on.

Yet we’d die for them and sacrifice our last piece of bread if it came down to choosing between feeding our hungry mouths or theirs.

Many of these baby-wanting women in my life also yearn to carry a mooching, growing, draining tadpole-ish creature in their belly for 9 months.  A parasitic specimen, which will mercilessly feed off their body’s nutrients, throw their hormones out of wack, stretch their body to uncomfortable proportions, and finally, force them to endure the potentially fatal adventure of pushing a fully formed human being out of their vaginas in what has been described as pain SO bad it’s “worse than sitting on a hot iron cow-brander and spinning.”  Or something like that…

Lesbians, Straight & Bi-Sexual women, those with booming mula-making careers and taxing minimum-wage 9 to 5-ers, are similarly going through this HARDCORE “I want to have a baby soooo bad” phase.  I honestly don’t know much about men’s need to procreate since I don’t hang with that many and when I do we rarely talk about “babies” or “raising a child.”  We tend to banter more about art projects and the real hoebags/housewives of new jersey.  I mainly hang out with gay men — Bears, Cubs, and Otters to be exact. I’m not saying they don’t want babies and BAD, they just haven’t talked about it much with me.

So I’m sitting in the car with this woman and her child FEELING the unconditional love between them.  They bicker over his sweater.  Essentially over his health and care, and I wonder to myself…AGAIN…

Do I want to bring a baby into this world or raise a child (whether I give birth to it or not)?

Reactively, the base of my gut releases a claw that grabs onto blood cells and rushes throughout me in a thick dark red stream, speeding up my heart beat. It explodes at the tip of my spinal cord spreading, like electricity, through the metropolitan cities of my mind. Finally, it cools and solidifies into these three words: HELL-FUCKING-NO

HELL-FUCKING-NO I don’t want to give birth or raise children! … But why?  WHY? I like families.  I like kids.  I think mother-child relationships are beautiful and priceless.

Why then has my biological clock been dipped in acid?

What killed my need to mother? Maybe painful childhood trauma?  Maybe the fact that I grew up the elder sister/substitute father figure? … BUT I know plenty of people with much more putrid rancid childhoods than mine who were responsible for too many siblings and scatter-brain drug-addicted parents at too young an age who STILL really want to have kids.

The deep silent abyss of my belly thanks God every day that I am not “with child.”

People speak about “having kids” so lightly — like it’s a Wii game or a holiday movie with a definitive beginning, middle, and end.  In my experience, parenting children is anything but that.

You’re conditioning another human being with your every word and action.  You’re responsible for keeping this little person alive, healthy, and sane … so that maybe one day they won’t turn into yet another terrible whiplash upon the back of humanity.  You’re responsible for loving and helping your child unconditionally — even if they’re born with unmanageable frightening ailments like aspergers, paranoid schizophrenia, a passion for football, or conservative values.  To top it off, you never EVER stop raising your kids.  18 – Shmayteen!  Adults are more lost, require more wisdom and guidance, than children do!

It’s ultimately a toss of the dice how nature and nurture mix to create the human being you’re raising.  He could turn out to be Mussolini or Paul Newman?  She could turn out to be Octomom or Rosa Parks?

Seems like a lot of unnecessary pressure to me.  I think I’ll pass on giving birth to and/or raising a child in this life.

I’d enjoy playing “coooky aunt” to the kids a whole lot more: Cooookster gets to joke, laugh, and run around eating candy while wearing a crab hat.

Then when the kids start getting cranky because they’re tired, Aunty Vanessa gets to hug them goodbye, drive home wearing the crab hat because it’s mine, and pray that those cute little munchkins don’t grow up to be racist serial-killing prostitutes who steals senior citizens’ retirement funds — from the comfiness of my warm silent peaceful bed.

I must say: Props to all the moms out there!!!!  Being a mom is a harrowing selfless task.  Thanks for keeping the human species alive, ladies…

Because I REALLY don’t want to do it!

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