Tag Archives: fear

Tic Toc the alligator chimes — And Bradley Manning’s on my mind.

3:17 am or so …

I’m blogging with one finger on my annoyingly tiny android keypad. The power in the house is out, which means no computers are available to fiddle with and distract me from the ocean breeze reverberating through my ear.  It sounds as if I’ve had a concha shell pressed against it for hours.

I have SO much to do. If only I could use my computer  RIGHT now, but alas I must wait till’ morning.  The email replies, personalized query letters with accompanying press release, and book packages for mailing to reviewers will just have to wait … until well, later today.

Tic Toc the alligator chimes in the ambience of night.  My To Do list can’t be ameliorated and Bradley Manning overpowers my anxiety.  He’s become louder than the simulated concha shell reverberations.

Bradley Manning has been on my mind for the last several weeks.  Since I first read his story.

Please read it Here 1 & Here 2.

I keep replaying his quote about simply wanting to have had a normal life, to have had a nice family, help others …

All the things most of us middle-class Americans were raised to want to do and be …

I keep thinking about how his wanting this too genuinely, too purely has cost him his freedom and safety, the rest of his life.

I keep thinking about his humanity — how his humanity got the better of him, made him  susceptible to self-sacrificing heroic acts, and vulnerable to getting caught and punished for them.

I keep thinking about how Obama, one of life’s sad disappointments, gets the Nobel Peace Prize based on no real showmanship, but on Hope that he’ll show half the self-sacrifice, half the compassion, half the conscience, half the heart of Bradley Manning. Beyonce sang before millions of viewers at Obama’s inauguration while he and his wife shared a proud and tender dance.  We all hopefully celebrated that dance as one of two well-intentioned people who wanted to promote fairness — peace, freedom, equality, honesty — in the world  through their leadership and guidance. We rolled out the red carpet and handed over our futures, and the social security funds of our grandparents, to this union hoping that they’d embody the integrity and bravery of Bradley Manning.

And what do we do with the real, as opposed to symbolic, Bradley Manning?

We allow him to be charged with espionage, to be locked in a cell where he’s stripped naked, humiliated, and tortured off and on for almost a year (and counting). We allow our military to seriously consider sentencing him to either the death penalty or life in prison. We allow our elected leader of hope, our nobel prize winning Commander-in-Chief, to punish — in this 23-year old man — all the courage and compassion we profess to unitedly stand for.

I won’t lie. I get nervous posting such political rants — voicing my disappointment in the president of the US and the way he’s run his presidency (not like a Nobel Peace Prize winner), voicing my support for an “enemy of the state” —  in such a heated political climate on such a public forum.  Probably because, as I write, I wonder whether political allegiance or opposition to any person and/or party is even worth the risk?

I come from a Cuban family who supported a revolution that became the dictatorship which stripped them of all their rights. What did all their self-sacrificing support get them?  Immediately following its success, their “for the people” political party (communist) and its leader (F. Castro) turned their beloved Cuba into Alcatraz.  When they grew tired of his tyranny, disagreed, and tried to leave, that political entity quickly deemed them “enemies of the state.”  My mom would get beat up by kids at school who called her “gusano” while the teachers cheered them on. Where did my family’s risky and self-sacrificing political involvement get them?  As soon as they exercised their basic human right to disagree with the politicians they helped bring to power … harassed, robbed, and exiled.

Was it worth it? Opposing Batista, supporting Castro, disagreeing with the Castro regime … getting political at all?

I guess I could ask the same about Bradley Manning.  He’s a brilliant, beautiful, blue-eyed All-American boy from a military family who worked in a cush well-paid military intelligence job, behind the front lines — far away from harm. He had no need or obligation to sacrifice his limitless potential for prosperity, but he did anyway.

Manning joined the military to help his country because, rarely enough, I think he actually respected and believed what it stood for.  Apparently he loved its values — life, liberty, and justice for all — too sincerely because he laid everything on the line to promote them.  Manning seemed motivated in his “treasonous” actions by a genuine disturbance with the inhumane murder of civilians and the military’s hypocritical cover ups.   Manning seems to be a person with heightened empathy and an evolved conscience who cared simultaneously for the welfare of our nation and that of the nation we invaded.  It’s understandable that someone with such a unique double-edged guilt would seek relief from it by confiding in another person. In the person who ratted him out — Adrian Lamo.

I’ve compiled a couple of quotes of from Manning’s IM correspondence with Lamo:

‎”Manning: ive been so isolated so long… i just wanted to be nice, and live a normal life… but events kept forcing me to figure out ways to survive… smart enough to know whats going on, but helpless to do anything…americans have so many more rights than non-americans, its awful… i guess i follow humanist values though, have custom dogtags that say “Humanist” … i want people to see the truth… regardless of who they are… because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public…i dont believe in good guys versus bad guys anymore…  only a plethora of states acting in self interest… with varying ethics and moral standards of course, but self-interest nonetheless”

Read most of their IM Discussion here.

Now he’s locked up, his rights trampled on, and his name dishonored in the name of our national security.

So yes, I’ve been thinking of Bradley Manning a lot lately.  About how we live and die politics, are benefitted or harmed by each other’s political actions,  whether we choose to “get all political” or not.

As an artist, I acknowledge that art usually affects its political landscape subversively.  This often gives an artist the luxury of either negating or accepting the truth that all art is innately political, and every artist responsible for the messages in their work.

As a literary artist, I’ll many times say literally exactly what I mean. Obviously, there’s nothing subversive about this blog post.  It’s political and apparently so am I. Ugh.  It runs in the blood.

Please read more about this American war hero & SIGN the petition to save his life!

Also, please “like” his facebook page to receive regular updates on his trial.

Thanks for reading!


My Baby Sister Grows Up.

So, my baby sister turned 18 years old yesterday and I’m a bit of a stressed out worried mess right now.

I’m mortified for her.  Why?  Because she’s officially in charge of her life.  Neither I or my mother can dictate to her now what time she’s to be home, what she can and can’t drink, that she can’t do drugs, that she can’t date x, y, and z, that she must go to school, that she must do anything good for herself.

This reality both deeply panics and relieves me.  As an older sister, 9 years her senior, I have not been the most perfect elder sibling (in my opinion), but I have tried my best.  Namely, I’ve always tried to protect her from harm and guide her towards safety, wholesomeness, and working for her dreams.  Quite honestly, I didn’t do this in the healthiest way possible.  While we were growing up, I didn’t really know any other ways so I scowled, screamed, guilted, grounded, and spanked.

Not all the time, of course, but when I felt “the fear” and therefore, that she “needed to be taught a lesson for her own good.”  I don’t regret my intention, which was to protect her from the perils of the world or to teach her how to stay out of harm’s way, but I do regret many of the methods I used in doing so.

Over the past 2 years, however, I’ve become really conscious of the dysfunctional 1950s Dad-style discipline I was inflicting on the person I loved the most and its ramifications on our relationship.  I sadly realized that a distance and distrust had developed on both our ends towards each other while I was “teaching her the right way and protecting her.”

She, like her older sister (me 😉 ), has turned out to be much of “A Wild Child.”  The only difference between the two of us is that she started at age 12 and I started at age 18, and I knew how to hide it well.  I was a straight-A student and career-driven workaholic. My motto was always, “Work Hard and Party Hard.”  Also, there’s a saying in Cuba that goes “Si nadas desnuda, guarda la ropa,” which translates to “If you swim naked, hide your clothes.”  I did just that.

My little sister, on the other hand, wears her “wild times” on her sleeve just like her big heart.  A sweeter, more loving and loyal sister, I could never have asked for.  She’s as endearingly transparent as a puppy who sees the front door wide-open.  Therefore, I ALWAYS know — whether she tells me or not — what mayhem she’s getting into or about to embark upon.

Yet, over these past 2 years, through my own personal healing and self-discovery, I’ve learned that all I can do as a loving and supportive older sister to HELP HER is: A) Let her make her own mistakes B) Love her through them, without guilt trips or harsh judgments and C) Show up for her whenever she needs me, but not at the cost of my sanity.

This is fucking hard … and also, spiritually liberating.

I have to accept more and more each day there’s a limited amount of things I can really do for my baby sis’, at this point and for the rest of our lives, because, as of yesterday, she’s a grown woman.  They go as follows:

1. Listen to her (without judgment)

2. Love her  (without expectation)

3. Give her advice (without forcing her to take my advice)

4. Show up for her when she needs me (without enabling her misbehavior or sacrificing my sanity in the process)

5. Let her make her own mistakes (without worry and fear for her safety … as much as possible)

6. Breathe in & Breathe Out (without thought)

7. Pray for her (with complete faith)

8. Trust she has her own God (in complete surrender)

9. Trust that she’s going to be more than “just fine,” but in fact “Great”

10. Blog about it

and

11. Eat some dynamite cake.

CONNECT 4 CHAMPIONS: TIED AGAIN


The Penguin, The Ego, & OMG Celebrity Yahoo News

I really have to go to the bathroom … but I’ll wait until I REALLY really REALLY have to go to the bathroom.  That’s just how I am.  For now.  I’m working on becoming a person who goes to the toilette when she gets the first initial desire.

“Why mention such a low-brow topic as this?,” you may be asking yourself.  Because going to the bathroom is one of a handful of basic needs every living creature must experience in order to survive on this planet.

And yet, I hold it off … until I can’t any longer.  Although the bathroom is only a couple of steps away.  Doesn’t this strike you as strange?

Yes, we human beings stave off doing various essential things for reasons like: I’d rather write my blog.

So what, in fact, keeps my body sitting cross-legged in bed with a laptop draped over it even though it physically desires — more than anything at this moment — to relieve itself of digested no-longer-necessary fluids?

The Ego.  It’s always The Ego.  Or as my Ego is called “The Penguin.”

This brings me to the first topic at hand — I’ve identified my ego as The Penguin.

Horrifying sight isn’t it?  I agree.  This is why I’m at present working to own it, embrace it, and with loving kindness — kill it.

In doing so, I hope to cultivate my five favorite feelings and characteristics: 1) Humility 2) Gratitude 3) Compassion 4) Fearlessness 5) Peace

I’ve embarked on this quest for no altruistic reason.  Purely selfish: I want to be fulfilled and whole, connected to a power greater than myself, surrendered to the perfection of what is exactly as it is, and learn from the present moment all the glorious lessons possible … before I kick da’ bucket!


What I yearn to be: Free in all sense of the word.  To embody the concept of Liberated.  Nothing to prove, nothing expected to be proved.  A Purist — a seeker, a learner, a heartfelt doer — with little to no Ego coloring or guiding her feelings, motivations, and actions.

Yes, I have failed my Ideal Self and therefore have nothing left to lose.  I aim at transparency, vulnerability, and thorough sincerity/honesty in all of my affairs.

I’ve taken to heart the advice of these passages:

“Once we have a complete willingness to take inventory, and exert ourselves to do the job thoroughly, a wonderful light falls upon this foggy scene … that his character defects, representing instincts gone astray, have been the primary cause of his failure at life; that unless he is now willing to work hard at the elimination of the worst of these defects, peace of mind will still elude him; that all the faulty foundation of his life will have to be torn out and built anew on bedrock.

Therefore, it seems plain that few of us can quickly or easily become ready to aim at spiritual and moral perfection; we want to settle for only as much perfection as will get us by in life, according, of course, to our various and sundry ideas of what will get us by.  So the difference between ‘the boys and the men’ is the difference between striving for a self-determined objective and for the perfect objective which is of God.”

God: The name I give the unifying Life Force we all form part of —  The sum of all our parts.  The vast infinity of endless possibility fully realized.  Ya know!  I see it like this: We’re blood swimming through the veins of a whole body.  Others may call this body: “Wholeness,” “Perfection,” “Allah,” “My Higher Self,” “The Universe,” “Universal Order,” “Baby Jesus in Da Manger,” and “Rodney Dangerfield.”

I actually tend to call It “Baby Jesus in Da Manger” and “Rodney Dangerfield” most of the time.

Honestly, I tend to feel trepidatious about discussing my spiritual exploration because Atheists are a indisputable pain the arse.  They’re more overbearing with their opinions of what’s right! than the Catholics.

In my personal experience, The Religious and Non-Religious tend to be bossier than necessary.  Spiritualists and Agnostics — I enjoy.

That being said, a part of my quest for personal betterment is to stop reading OMG Yahoo Celebrity News Updates JUST because I’m bombarded by their headlines every time I go to sign into my Yahoo Account.

I spent 40 minutes this morning reading about Jesse James’ engagement to Kat Von D Teese or whatever her name is, which linked me to Sandra Bullock’s hidden potential lovey dovey-ness with Ryan Reynolds (whoever that dewd is).

GAH!  I felt TERRIBLY physically, psychologically, and spiritually sick at the end of that whole waste-of-time debacle.

I mean, really, I DON’T CARE!  But my lower nature: my ego: my penguin had its way once AGAIN! And after 40 minutes of reading through Yahoo’s “news,” I all-of-a-sudden felt like a big fat failure — at my career, in romance … actually in my complete entire life … WHILE simultaneously  feeling repulsion for the human race.

And why?!  Because of Jesse Bullock, Sandra Dot Teese, Ryan Reynolds, and Kat that Tattoo chick?!  Celebrity Culture-Watch is banal and yet I-keep-going-back-for-more.  Oh well … It’s progress not perfection! ;p

Thus, in order to cultivate 1) Humility 2) Gratitude 3) Compassion 4) Fearlessness 5) Peace, I must A) Finish my Whole Life Resentment Inventory Breakdown this weekend to read to Group Therapy Mentor on Tuesday 2) Stop clicking on the OMG Yahoo Celebrity News! Updates NO MATTER WHAT and 3) Work for a week or two as one of those “Liberty Insurance” Sign Dancing people because I’d hate doing that more than any other job on earth.  And since I want to KILL my penguin inside, I must face my fear head on …  I’m mortified.

I believe that Humility at its core is just additional levity and Baby Jesus in Da Manger knows I’d enjoy some more light-hearted livinz!


At Mamushka’s — Contemplating Luck and Meryl Streep

I’m afraid.  Afraid that I don’t know how to “make it.”

Not that I’m not talented enough or intelligent enough or brazen enough or enough of a troubleshooter because, quite frankly, the passage of time has made me into these things … Humbled by life’s various expressions of the concept “No” — into these things. Rejection has broken me in half, dipped the sliced parts in acid, bulldozed the remains into slithers of thin rice paper, gathered the bits back together, and poured it all into a hot iron cast — where I slowly, but surely melded into one again.

I’ve been sculpted into a woman who works really really really hard for what she loves, trusting that serendipity will conspire at some point with that hard work to produce finished projects, which she is proud to call Her Art Work.

Poetry, Essays, Short Stories, Reviews, Books, Screenplays, Documentaries, Short Fiction Films …

and … quite possibly, one day soon, the reigning Goddess of them all:

— A Full Narrative Feature.

Even so, I am afraid — scared shitless really — that my talent, intelligence, skill, and tenacity aren’t enough to “make it.”

To make it — my feature film Dear Dios — in a manageable and enjoyable manner.

I’ve run the Guerilla-filmmaking track several times, and learned along the way that making a finished film is not the great hurdle — Distributing a finished film is.

One of the best films I’ve ever seen is The Last Summer of La Boyita. Have you ever heard of it?  Exactly.

Hollywood isn’t made famous so much for the quality/artistry of its films, but for the quality/artistry of its Distribution of films. Hollywood gets movies marketed and exhibited all over the world through numerous avenues — film festival circuits, theatrical runs, dvd rentals, pay per view, cable distribution, netflix instant streaming, etc.  Hollywood gives Movies — quality or not — a shot in the global psyche by seemlessly shoving them into the faces of countless millions.

It’s not the art of filmmaking that weighs down on my neck — that I fret about in the dark hours of sleepless weeks — but the art of distribution: 1) Marketing 2) Exhibition

I know a lot of filmmakers, specifically independent filmmakers, who get their films funded through grants and/or fiscal sponsorship of sorts.  Most of these films are documentaries or narratives about minority issues.

I also know a lot of independent filmmakers that get their films funded through corporate backing and advertising profits.

The creative quality of the projects vary from breathtakingly outstanding to abusively horrid.

The one commonality most of these films share, which staples them into my brain:  They can’t secure proper distribution.  This means the film doesn’t get what it really needs to be SEEN: 1) Killer Marketing 2) Audience Accessibility through numerous Exhibition channels.

I could go on and on about the many countless mainstream and guerilla ways a filmmaker employs to make/distribute their films. Additionally, I could go on and on about my first hand experience, the endless hours of the research I’ve conducted, the seminars I’ve attended, the books I’ve read, and the advice I’ve been given on those topics …

But I’m trying to get to the root of my anguish … What burdens me, fills my chest with tacks, and bludgeons my passionate fearlessness into a whimpering pup.

What I know to be “the horror stories of the moviemaking business” or “the slim chances of getting a feature film off the ground” or…blah blah blah — are not what scare me.  I’ve heard it all and seen a lot of it and I don’t care.

Dear Dios is getting made and shown …

I’m terrified by the fact that I just don’t know the best full-proof  way to go about it.

My main concerns being: 1) Maintaining creative control 2) Securing Proper Distribution, which includes hefty marketing and smart exhibition strategies/audience accessibility.

Like I said in the blog post before this one: Grants were Plan A.   The dream plan.   Academia’s stamp of support and approval.  I know many a blessed filmmaker who fund their projects and livelihoods this way.

3 years later — Plan A is Plan Over.  The 40-hour applications proved great writing practice: Sped up the quality and delivery of treatments, vision summaries, synopses, screenplay, and honed my essay writing skills like no formal writing course ever did.

Aside from that, however, nothing — only neon mailing confirmations and post office receipts scattered about my computer desk. Reminders that, not so long ago, I naively thought and hoped with every inch of me that “making a movie” could be a safe and predictable affair.

Years of Academia train you to believe in such false havens.  The Academic Way is characterized by a comforting lovely structure: When you do your best — you apply and get accepted, turn in test and get an A,  graduate from Grade X and move onto Grade Y.  It creates an unrealistic picture of Life — as being a controllable and comprehensible thing.

When in actuality, Life is Mother Nature — a transient and unpredictable force — The Wild West.

So yes, I’m scared.  Scared that I can’t, as I had once hoped when applying to grants, make my movie with a formulaic certainty.  Approach it — strategically and emotionally — the way I use to do school exams.   Scared of the open ended dance with Serendipity I now face …

Yes, I’m riddled with anxiety, fear, and worry.  Anxious that a small being must pull off such a grandiose task.  Afraid that neither timing or opportunity knows of  my existence.  Worried that preparation and hard work won’t make up for Serendipity’s unruly and inconsistent presence in my life.

Scared shitless that Luck picks favorites and is so taken with the charming Meryl Streep, it may have forgotten about me.


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