Tag Archives: perfectionism

Perfectionsm, Perfectionsim, Perfectionism

There are countless things that happen and I think to myself, “I’m going to blog about this.”

Like:

  • That one time I took my Granuelita to the oral surgeon’s office…  A young dentistry intern arrogantly, cruelly attempted to humiliate and degrade the kind older nurse that was attending us.  Blood boiling, I thought to myself, “I’m going to blog about this.”  Topics of discussion: Elitism, Inequality, Sadism, Classism, Social Darwinism.

Like:

  • That one time my aunt wanted me to invest extra time and energy at work that I did not have.  A request which I counteracted with a clear, strict and unbreakable boundary.  A flabby muscle I’m working to strengthen.  To which she reacted with a tearful, “You’re just so gringa, Vanessa.  So much more AMERICAN about giving than we are.” Topics of discussion: Guilt as a form of manipulation, unhealthy co-dependence, you owe me, I owe them, self love vs. unmediated self-sacrifice for another’s “love”, family values in Cuban Culture, family values in Gringa culture…

Like:

  • ETC.

I didn’t blog about either experience, however, because I just didn’t have all the time I needed to get a perfect grasp on them.  Or so I believed…

What within the amassing pile of daily complications and contemplations ultimately proves THE MOST helpful or inspiring to someone else?  Which private details of one’s dirty laundry should be shared or withheld?  Hell if I know.  The perfectionist inside rages on with such strangulating questions, urging me to excavate the truest (most perfect essence) of every wrinkle and gray hair, each quip and camera angle … until I’ve extracted its perfect version.  Only THEN should I put it on display.

“You are to Work HARDER. DO more x,y,z. On everything. Until you’ve reached its BEST: Your blog, Your art projects, Next Sunday’s Yard Sale … PERFECT is the only option.”

I can’t.  I say it here, now, in front of my 8 subscribers, one of which is me, I can’t do this whole Perfect-thing … perfectly.  I can’t choose the perfect topic of discussion and blog about it perfectly.  I can’t financially capitalize on all of my talents and capabilities perfectly.  I can’t take a picture or write a poem or organize my emails or say “no, I can’t” or say “yes, thank you” … perfectly.  I can’t do anything perfectly.

I must accept the indisputable truth that certain versions of imperfect are the most perfect anything is going to get.  I must accept imperfect manifestations of perfect concepts if I’m to continue creating and taking professional risks and making jokes and hugging people.

What I’m getting at is that I’ve decided to give up working toward the ideal manifestation of an ideal because it’s impossible and torturesome.  I’ll do my best, nothing more, nothing less, and then get some rest.  Just like kids.  They have it made.

What exactly am I talking about?  Hell if I know.  I accept that I only know the gist of what I’m getting at and it’s okay.

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photo by Greg Sand

My beloved Amor Eterno — grouchy black toy poodle with a head of grey — my family, my friend passed away a couple of days ago.  You were deeply loved & will be greatly missed.  See you in 30 yrs, mi negra linda… Rest in happiness and peace.

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“I Apologize” – Oscar Brown Jr.

I apologize for being black
All I am plus all I lack
Please sir, please m’am
Give me some slack
‘Cause I apologize

I apologize for being poor
For being sick and tired and sore
Since I ain’t slick
Don’t know the score
I do apologize

I apologize because I bear
Resemblance most black people share
Thick lips, flat nose, and nappy hair
Yes I apologize

I apologize for how I look
For all of the lows and blows I took
On those Lord knows I’d close the book
As I apologize

I apologize for all I gave
For letting you make me yo’ slave
And going to my early grave
Yes I apologize

I apologize for being caught
For being sold, for being bought
For being told I count for naught
Yeah I apologize

I apologize for all I’ve done
For all my toil out in the sun
Don’t want to spoil your righteous fun
So I apologize

I apologize and curse my kind
For being fooled, for being blind
For being ruled, and in your bind
Yes I apologize

I apologize and curse my feet
For being slow, for being late
Because I know it’s me you hate
Why not apologize

I apologize and tip my hat
‘Cause you so rich and free and fat
Son of a bitch, that’s where it’s at
And I apologize

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Compare & Despair no more, oh deary! Luckily, Queer Films are here to stay.

First Off, HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY!!! I love being a woman and I love loving women.  Yayeeeee!

Secondly, I’m trying to snap out of my sullen funk.  Sulking in the drab anguish of “I suck” feels nicht gut.

My Mission: To cease & desist Operation Compare & Despair.

Compare & Despair: To compare myself — as a whole or in separate parts — to another in order to pinpoint the specific ways they fit the mold of my version of “perfect” more completely than I do.  They are the perfect beauty, perfect filmmaker, perfect strategist, perfect body, perfect lover, perfect lesbian … and well I am … not.

Immediately following this brutal self-flogging, I sink into the tar pits of nihilistic hopelessness, and despair for numerous heart-wrenching hours.

Until I say, “Ya basta!”  Let’s breast stroke up through the thick gunk toward the surface again …

In my opinion, “Perfect” is an objective concept interpreted by a subjective human mind that can’t help but capture only a variation of it.  In other words, every individual’s idea of perfect proves innately biased and therefore imperfect. Consequently and contrary to popular belief, perfection isn’t limited to one version of itself, but branches out into countless versions.

What I’m trying to say is that I know feeling simultaneously “not good enough” and “too much” is a futile masochistic act with no basis in reality that hurts, like a brick slammed against my forehead, and makes me want to sleep all day.

So, let us refocus!

I’m striving to expand this experience:


I
is the total black, being spoken
from the earth’s inside.

– A. Lorde

Into this one:

I
is the total black, being spoken
from the earth’s inside.
There are many kinds of open
how a diamond comes into a knot of flame
how sound comes into a words, coloured
by who pays what for speaking.

Some words are open like a diamond
on glass windows
singing out within the crash of sun
Then there are words like stapled wagers
in a perforated book – buy and sign and tear apart –
and come whatever will all chances
the stub remains
an ill-pulled tooth with a ragged edge.
Some words live in my throat
breeding like adders. Other know sun
seeking like gypsies over my tongue
to explode through my lips
like young sparrows bursting from shell.
Some words
bedevil me

Love is word, another kind of open.
As the diamond comes into a knot of flame
I am Black because I come from the earth’s inside
Now take my word for jewel in the open light.

– A. Lorde

— I believe this the best opportunity to discuss the fabulous films I saw at Fusion: The LGBT People of Color Film Festival this past weekend.

On Saturday, I picked up my little sister and we drove over to the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood to catch Pariah: The Making Of Q & A, which proved informative and inspirational. Director Dee Reese and producer Nekisa Cooper gave a priceless discussion on making their first feature film Pariah — based on my favorite short film EVER by the same name.

Afterwards, we saw the Fusion Short Films Program, which ROCKED-my-socks-off-onto-everyone’s FACES because it twas’ sooooo good.

I’ll recount my favorite shorts in the order they screened:

STOP IT – ALMA


Dir: Mike Rose
A spoof on intervention reality shows that features a woman, who compulsively cooks to the dismay of her family who just wants her to Stop It!

— All around HEELAREEOUS.  What a blast!

REVOLUTION


Dir: Abdi Nazemian
A coming-of-age story about Jack, a 16-year old Iranian boy growing up in 1989 Los Angeles.

Fascinating and educational.  I didn’t know much about the Iranian queer experience before this film, which has piqued my interest in it.  Additionally, I enjoy films that explore the interpersonal dynamics of families exiled from their homelands after a revolution.

Ah yes, and the Iranian mom was super hawt!  Gorgeous woman.

REMEMBER ME IN RED


Dir: Hector Ceballos
Fidelia must find a way to honor what would have been her friend’s wishes before it is too late.

— Amazing.  Almodovar-esque.  When a transgender woman dies her birth family, a traditional Mexican family, attempts to have her buried in men’s clothing.  All the while her adopted queer family of trans women — namely her best friend Fidelia — struggle with how to honor who she really was i.e. appropriate their impulse to bury her in her beloved diamond-encrusted pageant outfit.

Favorite quote in the movie: At the funeral, a trans friend looks into the casket and sees the deceased dressed in a man’s grey suit .  She rushes over to Fidelia and whispers in her ear something along the lines of, “They dressed her like a lesbian! She’d be pissed.”

LOL! Amazedawg.

THE QUEEN


Dir: Christina Choe
Bobby, a Korean-American teenage outcast, is working at his parents’ dry cleaners on prom weekend. When the prom queen and her boyfriend, stop by with their dress and tuxedo, Bobby has his own prom to remember.

Memorable, Endearing, & Comedically Sharp.  The overall execution was Grade A tight: concept, script, directing, lighting, cinematography, acting, etc.  You’ll LOL out loud throughout it.  Would be a great short flick to show high schoolers to help promote GLBTQ awareness and acceptance in the classroom. 

CHANGE


Dir: Melissa Osborne & Jeff McCutcheon
A gay African-American teenager grapples with his young identity on the night Obama was elected president and Proposition 8 passed.

LOVED. loved. LOVED.  Wow.  Emotional & Monumental.  From beginning credits to end credits, mind salivated while heart palpitated.  A moving reflection on the profoundly complex dynamics of African-American identity — on both individual and group levels — and the poignant role that played in the black community’s 2008 votes.

On Sunday, I went with Baby Dewds to see The Legacy Project restoration of three Queer Cinema antiques. The Legacy Project is my favorite Outfest arm because it focuses on restoring, preserving, and showcasing rare GLBTQ films of the past. In my opinion, the films are usually masterpieces due to their brilliant insight, artistry, and/or exposition of the ancestral GBLTQ community.  Most times all of the above.

My faves were:

QUEENS AT HEART


Dir. Unknown, 1967, USA, 22 min.
An extraordinary bit of ephemera, this proto-scientific documentary, verging on exploitation, presents four male-to-female transsexuals in candid discussions about their private lives and identities. The four subjects gamely respond to probing questions providing an intriguing portrait of Americans on the fringes of gender identity just before the Stonewall Rebellion two years later.

Fascinating and heartbreaking.  Borderline funny at times due to the campy style of the documentation.

CHOOSING CHILDREN


Dir. Debra Chasnoff and Kim Klausner, 1984, USA, 45 min.
Debra Chasnoff and Kim Klausner’s groundbreaking documentary presents with grace and towering authority, portraits of several lesbian mothers who were among the first to make the historic choice to become parents. Free from didacticism, the film exerts a powerful emotional undertow as it frames the lives of these families as arenas of love, commitment and work.

Well-executed:  Intelligent investigation of lesbian families, which still prove pertinent today.  Great film to show people who voted “Yes” on Prop 8.  Humanizing. Straight baby-making masses can relate to our trials and tribulations.  GLBTQ families also deserve the legitimacy, protection, and rights that marriage contracts afford!


Making A Movie Day 2 — Knowledge is Power, but Experience…

Alright, after hours of research, I found various potentially magnificent/helpful indie filmmaking books, but since I’m a filmmaker on a budget — I weeded through them — to the most presently pertinent and bought the on amazon.com (shipping within 5 – 8 business days) for $46.70.  Bargain hunted and got 1 used and 3 new — which turned out cheaper than “used” because of amazon’s super-savings shipping deal.

Throughout these years of research, I’ve come across countless helpful websites — an OVERWHELMING amount — but during this specific search I delved into the advice of these two:

1) List of Indie Filmmaking Book Recommendations

2) List of Indie Filmmaking Websites

What they said, coupled with a bunch of other stuff I read, brought me to buy these 4 books:

OF MOTIVATIONAL/INSPIRATIONAL/ETHICAL/CREATIVE VALUE

1) My First Movie: Twenty Celebrated Directors Talk about Their First Film

2) Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player

OF PRACTICAL/TECHNICAL VALUE

3)From Reel to Deal: Everything You Need to Create a Successful Independent Film

4) The Insider’s Guide to Independent Film Distribution

The biggest stress for me proves to be NOT reading EVERY book and article I come across, which could potentially assist me in KNOWING how to more perfectly execute this process.  I think at times — if I know more, school myself more, prepare myself more — I’ll pull off the film more perfectly.  Sort of like a toddler obsessed with walking — she can study other kids’ walks, ask them how they do it, ask her mother (the doctor) how physiologically legs are able to move in such a balanced effortless way, ask her father how he gets them to run so quickly because she’d love to run that fast too …

Yes, all of this information will help ease her into walking and later on running, but only attempting it will actually get her DOING it.  Practice — only in experience — makes progress …

Therefore, I have to let my little perfectionist toddler school herself in theory, but only while she takes action in reality.

Experience is where feeling makes sense to body and consequently, movement acquires meaning.  It’s a fine balance — preparing oneself to take action and taking it.

A balance that seems entirely personal and subjective … Balance, I believe, is gauged by individual intuition.

Intuition: Listening to the wisdom between my ears where thoughts and words go quiet.  Where knowledge rests, effortlessly understood, and instincts bow, awe-struck, to Nature’s orders …

Making a movie is, in fact, exactly like walking.  First you observe/absorb the act in order to prepare for it and then you do it when intuition says so — applying to the best of your ability what you learned — in order to grasp, better, and master it. Intrinsic to this process, of course, is a lot of risk and stumbling.

What I spewed was just a lot of babble blah blah for what I really meant to say:

I’m excited to learn from books and real-life experience how to make mah’ beloved moooobie! But I have to stay aware of my tricky perfectionism or I’ll waste away in the safety of study and always theoretically “know how to make a feature” … but not in actuality :/  STAY ALERT to your sly self-sabotaging ways, Banethita!

The icing on mah’ cake is that tonight after work, my friend Dustin was kind enough to offer me his free extra ticket to as he calls it, “A Tricked Out Technicolor lecture on historical & philosophical influence of color vocabulary” a.k.a. WHAT IF ESQUIMAUX HAD NO WORDS FOR BLUE? The History & Philosophical Significance of 19th Century Color Vocabulary Studies – An Illustrated Lecture by – PROFESSOR ZED ADAMS.  Yes!

Strategy for Tomorrow:

1) Spiritual Maintenance: Finish breaking down my whole life inventory (80 pgs 9 point font) to read to my mentor on Monday/let go.

2) Watch a film that I’d like Dear Dios to take visual inspiration from on Fandor: A curated service for independent and international films on demand. The Fandor team scours the globe for award-winning narrative features, docs and shorts screened at film festivals around the world … Aims to be a destination for film-lovers and filmmakers who look past the multiplex to a world of inspired, beautiful and surprising film.

Thanks for the link, Arianne Sved!


Making A Movie Day 1 — Perfectionism

I’ve been inspired by the NC-17 horror film Julie & Julia to blog for 365 days about the making of my first feature film Dear Dios.

It’ll be like watching Atreyu’s quest to save The Land of Fantasia in The Neverending Story.  Lock yourself in a middle-school attic, throw moth-eaten blankets over your head, and start swiggin’ some popcorn …

For The Journey Begins

Today is Day 1.


I want “making a movie” to be perfect — all of it.  I want this blog post to be perfect, to outline perfectly exactly the plan that is to take place.  To specify — like I would in a grant application — each detailed step of the process.

I’ve come to accept, however, what I refused to admit to myself even 2 weeks ago:

Yes, I’m experienced in making short fiction films and documentaries on shoe string budgets, but I don’t know how BEST to go about pulling off a narrative feature film since I’ve never made one before.

Ego-smashing and 100% true.  So let’s see what the next 364 days teaches me about such an operation.

I am open …

“May we be fearless…from known and unknown…May all the directions be our allies.” – Atharva Veda

I wrote the Dear Dios (originally titled Deity) screenplay in 2007 and have been revising it/polishing it/refining it ever since.  I believe it’s one draft away from Dynamite a.k.a A Shootable Script.

As I explained in previous blogs, I’ve applied to grants and other forms of “Academia”-style support and validation for 3 years to no avail.  No Sundance Fellowship, No Slamdance Screenplay Competition Award, No Gotham Awards, No American Screenwriting Competition Award, No Nicholls Fellowship, Etc. My gut knows I gave those applications all I had so now the time has come to change direction.  Grants, Mentorships, Residencies, Contests — Competitions — have proven a barren fruit tree for Dear Dios, therefore I am done putting energy into them.

I embrace that the machinations of Making A Movie won’t bend to my perfectionistic (controlling fear-based) designs.  Rather, I have to learn to dance with the rhythms of its organic yet unpredictable nature.

1st New Year’s Resolution: Vanessa, don’t apply to grants or residencies or fellowships or contests NO matter HOW badly you want to.  You’re just investing a lot of hard work into excuses.

“Perfectionism leads to Procrastination leads to Paralysis.”

A New Year calls for New Strategies.

Today’s Strategies:

1) Accept that I need to try new avenues, and remain completely open to their lessons — whatever they turn out to be.

2) Research Inspirational and Practically Applicable Books by independent filmmakers whose creative work and professional careers I admire. How did Pedro Almodovar, John Waters, Werner Herzog, David Lynch, Guillermo Del Torro, Christine Vachon, etc. make their movies early in their careers?

3) Order 2 of those books.  One inspirational.  One practically applicable.

“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen … Stay the course.  When thwarted try again; harder; smarter.  Persevere relentlessly.”  – Coach John Wooden