I HAVE TO WRITE THIS IN ALL CAPS BECAUSE I STILL CAN’T BELIEVE BOTH OF THESE WRITING ASSIGNMENTS HAPPENED LAST YEAR AND I’VE NEVER BEEN ONE OF THOSE COOL GIRLS WHO ACTS LIKE IT’S NBD WHEN STUFF LIKE THIS HAPPENS ESPECIALLY BECAUSE WRITING WINS ARE FEW AND FAR BETWEEN SO OKAY HERE ARE LINKS TO TWO INCREDIBLE ADVENTURES I WENT ON AND WROTE ABOUT THAT GOT PUBLISHED!!!!
My dear blog, how I’ve missed you. A few things took over my life, including my first feature film, and Coldplay. More on that soon.
This blog has always been the place for me to pour my mind onto the (digital) page, and for those of you who’ve been reading and following since the beginning – I sincerely thank you. I’m sorry I’ve been so quiet. I’m not trying to break up, I swear.
If you’re new, check out my interview with myself. I still get a kick out of this one. Har. Har.
Here’s something I wrote last autumn I think bears repeating. What do you think about death? Is it something you fear, or embrace?
WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH DEATH?
Machete and I had the extraordinary honor last week to present at the Reimagine End of Life festival on behalf of our film Moon Manor – A Comedy About Death (Based On A True-ish Story). Our presentation was called Death Scenes: How Movies Reflect Our Final Act.
For many of us, our first experience of death is by way of film. We’ll have seen all kinds of death before seeing it in real life (if we ever do). How does this shape our expectations when the real thing happens, sans dramatic lighting, orchestral music and actors speaking lines?
We’ve felt the weight of this responsibility as we’ve shaped Moon Manor, as we’ve told the story of a life by telling the story of a death. To share space with the organizers and attendees of Reimagine was … I don’t even know the word … affirming? humbling? To be a grief walker is to shine a light into the well of our deepest fear. This current Halloween time of year is funny. The thing we least want to face is the very thing we shove into view. Skeletons and coffins decorate the grocery store, the dentist, the elementary school. Birth and death unite every human being, yet we spend our lives celebrating one end of the spectrum and mourning the other.
Not saying death doesn’t suck, I’ve witnessed it snatch away those I love so quickly I was left with nothing but whiplash and tears. But I do know the more I try to meditate on it, the more I memento mori, the more I accept my death, the more I appreciate my life.
Last week my dad and I celebrated his birthday by sitting on his couch and shouting at his Alexa. I’ve never played with an Alexa, I found it (her?) to be unnerving, and cool.
I wanted my dad to hear my new music obsession Tyler Childers. He thought he was okay, but nothing compared to what he’s been listening to – this album where Santana covers basically every epic rock song ever. My dad and I have always bonded over music. It’s like a language of subtext for all the things we can’t say.
I teased him that at least he’s out of his Pitbull phase, which is all he wanted to listen to after getting home from the hospital from his liver transplant. I’d wondered if the human the liver inhabited before my dad had been a Pitbull fanatic, like the man I met in Denver on a cannabis dispensary tour bus a few years before who was following Pitbull around the country with his wife. It had surprised me to learn there are Pitbull super fans, but not as much as I was surprised to have my rock-n-rolling, blues guitar playing father come back from the edge of liver failure death insisting that “Fireball” is one of the best songs ever made.
Dad, on the couch: “Are you kidding? Alexa, play Pitbull!” Within seconds, the rap / sing / shout of the little bald man with the fiery hips reverberates throughout the apartment. “I love Pitbull! I’ve got all his records! He’s Mr. Worldwide!” I groan and tell Alexa to play Santana again. But the truth is I don’t mind Pitbull. I just wanted to shout at the slave inside the tiny boom box with the sorta sexy name of Alexa. On comes Santana, shredding his guitar as Rob Thomas sings.
I remind my dad of the time he took me and Machete (when we were 15 and it was the night before our PSATs) to see Matchbox 20 in Reno, and he made us leave before their big hit (the one that goes “I want to push you around / well I will / well I will”).
“I made us leave?!” He asks, aghast. “Yeah, to beat traffic.” And to be honest we’re kinda stoned because it’s his birthday and his doctors have cleared him to do things like smoke a little weed and he’s no longer sick and we’re together and so we laugh and laugh and laugh, and Alexa doesn’t say a word.
Notes From Nevada
SUNDAY // The first death
I was listening to bluegrass when the first death happened. I was at Sorensen’s, the inn owned by the family of my best friend Machete near our hometown of Lake Tahoe, and we had crossed the river to the inn’s cafe for lunch. We’d been staying there for a week, and today the café was hosting a bluegrass and BBQ fundraiser for a local nature conservancy.
String instruments. Coleslaw. The thin, fresh air of the High Sierras. I was biting into baby back ribs when a waitress stopped by the table and asked if anyone had medical experience, because a man was having a heart attack in the parking lot.
The man and his wife were actually early investors in Sorensen’s. Machete had met them briefly over the years, and this thread of connection led to us staying with the wife throughout the process of her husband saying goodbye to life. On the asphalt. In front of their rental car. Hundreds of miles from anyone she knew.
We talked to her for a long time as the medics did CPR and then the AED machine on her husband there in the parking lot, as the bluegrass band kept playing and the songs synced eerily to the circumstance, like when they played “Soul Meets Body” by Death Cab for Cutie. She said more than once that she felt bad for ruining everyone’s lunch.
When blood started pouring from her husband’s mouth from the vigorous CPR, we distracted her by asking about their kids. Their daughter lived in Africa, running a hot air balloon company with her boyfriend. I think their son was a college professor, but I don’t remember. Machete drove her car when they took him down the mountain to the nearest hospital. I followed in my car.
He was pronounced dead on arrival, and we sat with his wife as she made the necessary calls to her kids. It was hard to watch. There was an infomercial playing loudly in the ER waiting room. I found the remote and put it on mute. She told us how relieved she was they’d recently finalized their affairs. He’d had a lot of medical problems so they were prepared for the worst.
It made me think about how important is to organize what you want to happen after you die while you’re still living, how much easier it is on your loved ones to not have to figure it all out for you while they’re in the midst of grieving. This is responsible dying. This is letting your death inspire your life, rather than living in denial that we all meet the same fate.
That night we made sure she had dinner, hugged her, and left her to rest in her cabin at Sorensen’s. She departed the next day, leaving us a nice note at the front desk. The whole scenario felt very similar to how my grandfather passed away when I was 21, from a heart attack in a parking lot when we were at the automobile museum in Reno. I was holding him in my arms on the ground as it happened, which was both traumatic and an honor. I’ve never stopped missing him.
But I did try to forget about him, because thinking about him meant thinking about his death, how his body shuddered, the neon lights of the casino next door blinking in his glasses, his eyes staring at nothing, unlike the medics’ eyes – that certain look when they know it’s too late but they try anyway, so later the doctor can begin The Speech with “We did everything we could…” All I could think was not again, please not again, because just a year before my mom had died and I’d only recently been able to get through the day without crying. No, I definitely didn’t want to think about death.
But some people want to think about death. They think about it all the time, on purpose. Memento mori is the ancient practice of reflecting on mortality, of considering the vanity of earthly life and the transient nature of all earthly goods. It translates to “Remember you must die.” In early Buddhist texts, a prominent term is maraṇasati, which translates to “Remember death.” Some Sufis have been called the “people of the graves,” because of their practice of frequenting graveyards to ponder on death and one’s mortality. A lot of press came out recently about a memento mori app that sends you five daily reminders that someday you will die. A friend of mine has this app. He says it helps him stay present.
I know about this app because Machete and I are in the process of making our first feature film, called Moon Manor, and it’s a comedy about death. Our lead character has decided to die like he has lived – with intention, humor and zest – and the film follows his last day alive as he throws a fabulous FUNeral before taking his own life. Think “Harold and Maude” for a new generation. This is a quote we use from The Psychedelic Guide to The Tibetan Book of the Dead to explain why we wanted to make this movie: “What if the art of living is actually the art of dying?”
Because of Moon Manor, I’ve spent the last few years getting to know the #deathpositive movement, and I can tell you – death is trending. “Ask a Mortician” is a popular YouTube show, and Death Cafes are popping up all over, a place where you can discuss your mortal fate over tea and cookies. I follow several death doulas on Instagram, and there are more alternatives than ever to the traditional coffin. There’s the mushroom death suit, the biodegradable seagrass coffin, The Living Urn that turns your ashes into a young tree.
In a 2018 New York Times article titled “The Positive Death Movement Comes to Life,” the connection is drawn between the women’s movement and the death positive movement, in a quote from Ellen Goodman, who started the Conversation Project, a guide to discussing end of life that’s been downloaded over a million times. “It wasn’t doctors who changed the way we give birth in America. It was women who said that giving birth was a human event. I think we’re trying to do that now. Dying is a human experience. We’re trying to put the person back into the center of the experience.”
MONDAY // The second death
We wake to the news that our childhood friend Stella has passed away in the night. We’d been planning to go see her in the hospital that day. She was only 35. Breast cancer. The same way my mom died. My mom was first diagnosed when she was 37. Before I came on this trip home, I’d taken the test to find out if I carry the breast cancer gene, something I’d procrastinated doing for 15 years.
A few weeks earlier, Machete had gone to visit Stella and they’d given me a call. I’m so sorry I never called when your mom passed, was the first thing Stella said to me. She was on a lot medication, loopy, but cognizant. I wanted to be there for you but I didn’t know how. Now I know what you were going through. She sobbed as she said this, not holding back, not “holding it together.”
I’d imagined the call would be me offering her platitudes, that we’d avoid the inevitable reason for the call — essentially, to say goodbye. Her complete vulnerability broke me. When someone is dying we commend them for things like “bravery” and “fortitude.” What we’re really saying is make this easier on me, because I don’t know how to deal with that fact that you’re dying.
We spent an hour on the phone, the three of us reminiscing about being in high school theater together, about how Stella was a legendary Marilyn Monroe impersonator around town, a woman when the rest of us were just girls. We told her she’d always been ahead of her time, and her being the first to transcend was just another example.
I have to get off the phone because I’m catching a late flight to Hawaii. I never made it to Hawaii, always wanted to go, she says. I feel like a colossal jerk, even though I’m going for work — to write a story about the Honolulu Biennial — and even though it’s taken me a long time to get to the point in my career I get to travel to write, I feel bad for feeling bad, because it’s another level of making it about me. Throughout the trip I think of Stella constantly. Try to somehow pass her the special quality of the air in Hawaii, the plumeria flowers, to transmute moments of impatience or anxiety (i.e. being a human), into gratitude and appreciation for my life, my breath. Memento mori.
And now it’s a Monday in this cabin and the only think I can think after this second death is that I need to be in Nature. I go to one of my favorite spots, Hope Valley. Good memories. Good name. I used to come here with my grandfather. I drive up to two old guys in front of their RVs and say hello and ask if there are any new trails. Just walk into the meadow and you’ll see, one of them tells me. He has a beard like Santa Claus. The other wears red suspenders.
The valley. Bees and crickets and the sun like melted butter. I listen to music, dance and skip around. Even though my heart is heavy with thoughts of Stella, I also feel grateful to be alive. Memento mori. A river cuts through the valley and there’s a little beach, so even though the water is absolutely freezing I strip naked and swim. Memento mori. I smoke a joint, dance some more. I put my clothes back on and do a workout, then bask on some river rocks to write. Then I hear a voice, a voice filled with authority.
Excuse me, m’am. The gentleman in the parking lot made a report that you’re acting erratically. Are you on some kind of drug?
It’s the sheriff. He’s been called all the way out to remote Hope Valley because I’m acting like a pagan witch weirdo (at least on the spectrum of “normal” the old timers in the parking lot are used to). He approaches me cautiously, like I could be dangerous. I’m just enjoying a quiet moment in Nature. I’m trying not to laugh.
He says he has to ask me some questions, starting with what’s today’s date. The 10th? June 10th? He looks at me hard. That’s incorrect, m’am. I explain I’ve been staying in a cabin without WiFi, purposefully trying to lose track of time, could he ask me an easier question? This is not going well. He asks me what year it is, my name, who the president is (ugh), my address. I answer as soberly as I can and he starts to ease up. He speaks into the radio strapped at his shoulder.
Suspect is just enjoying the river, not dangerous, not armed. Repeat, suspect is just enjoying the river.
To change the subject, I ask if he heard about the heart attack at Sorensen’s the other day. He answers that he was the first responder. I tell him I was there too, that’s where I’m staying, my best friend’s family owns the place and we were the ones who took his wife to the ER. I thought you looked familiar, he says. Something flashes in his eyes, a look like sadness. I ask him what it’s like for him, as a sheriff, to deal so closely with death as part of his daily work. The way he looks at me indicates no one had asked him that in a long time, maybe ever.
What proceeded was twenty minutes straight of the sheriff talking about what it’s like to be law enforcement in a rural area. How a lot of the deaths he sees are suicide, people who come to a beautiful place to end it all. He said he didn’t blame me for wanting some alone time by the river, he wished he got more time alone to reflect. He talked and I listened as the sun moved behind the clouds and the temperature dropped and the frogs started warming up their sunset chorus.
When finally I spoke, it was to ask if he wanted to stay at the river and take a moment, and I’d walk back? He kinda pulled himself together and said no, he needed to go tell the old guys in the parking lot I was okay. They were just making sure you weren’t hurt, they weren’t spying on you, just so you know. I nodded, knowing full well they’d have to be watching me with binoculars to have seen me from so far away.
The sheriff looks around, at the mountains with snow still on the peaks, at the river forever flowing through the valley called Hope. He starts walking away, my solo healing now his, my processing of the heart attack I witnessed and the stoic grace of the wife, the loss of my grandfather, of dear Stella, of my mom, always of my mom, now transmuted into the healing the sheriff needed, for all the death he’s absorbed over the years. He paused and looked back at me. I smiled, said nothing. I took a photo of the river rocks I’d been laying on, packed up my things and left.
When we get back to Los Angeles, Machete and I start working on our application for Reimagine End of Life, an annual weeklong celebration of death in San Francisco. Reimagine is also in NYC, and they’re expanding to more cities. We’ll show the trailer to Moon Manor, meet more of the community. Last year, events included Oscar winner Frances McDormand performing Sophocles and a conversation with the director of Pixar’s Coco. Death is trending, and Hollywood is on board.
A few weeks later, I get the results back from the genetic test. I don’t have the breast cancer gene. Incidentally, the same day Machete gives me a joking-but-serious gift: a workbook called I’m Dead. Now What?, in which you fill out all your pertinent information (insurance policies, passwords, burial wishes) so your loved ones are prepared to handle your affairs upon your death. If we’re going to make a movie about responsible dying, we need to walk the talk, she says to me.
The book is still sitting on my desk, unopened.
New story out for FLAUNT Magazine, in print and online. Like, actually on newsstands HOW COOL IS THAT?! Glad to make lemonade out of a fat lemon time of my life with this story. Topics discussed: when your boyfriend’s in a wheelchair, Cuba’s social revolution, rum like honey, Diplo, a cool old Buick, sorta buying a hotel, how to decipher a scam from an opportunity. Read it here in print, or here on the Interweb.
My official Moon Manor writer/director portrait taken on set December 2018 by @thisheartofstone. Looks like a back-to-school picture, and that’s how it felt too. Excitement, exhaustion, glee. We’re deep in post production. Magick is brewing. http://www.moonmanormovie.com
New PRINT story!! There’s nothing quite like holding your words in physical form, especially when that form is pretty as @flauntmagazine. Other than #rossbutler being such a nice dude, the highlight here was getting a teensy bit of redemption for the car accident I got into driving to the interview. Full story on newsstands and online: http://www.flaunt.com/content/ross-butler.
Gig of a lifetime!!!! Thrilled and honored and stoked to say I’ll be joining the @sol.selectas journey to Morocco as the caravan storyteller!!! All those years writing about my travels on this blog are paying off, no one was reading it (except my sister, love you sister) but I was finding my voice and now that translates to work and pinch me how is this real life?!! There are a few tickets left if you want to comeeeeeee. 🐫 http://www.solsahara.com
We start working before dawn. First ones to set are 1st AD, 2nd AD, UPM, catering. Followed shortly by our make-up artist and camera crew. The actors drift in. We’re on our third, fourth cups of coffee by 10am. Collectively, we look out for Jimmy, our 80 year-old star, make sure he’s drinking enough water, not losing his cane or his dentures, keep his sides printed at the largest font possible so he can always be working on his lines. His memory plays hard to get, which is what this movie is all about. We flashback to moments in his life as a child, a teen, a young man. We throw his FUNeral. We film his death. We all break down in tears. We laugh when he nonsensically replaces lines like “Remember what happened on Fourth of July?” with “Remember what happened in San Diego?” Jimmy laughs hardest of all. He waits for a quiet moment in the chaos to loudly ask one of his co-stars “Have you ever worked on a farm? Cause you sure know how to milk it.” We all applaud his wit, his stamina, his courage. Our camera department heroically sets up lights in the rain. Day players cycle through, a breath of fresh air when we’re exhausted. We have three on set creatures for emotional support: a cat, a bird, and a chameleon. We’ve got one week to go telling this story of a life, by telling the story of a death. Harold and Maude, we hope we’re making you proud. We’ll let you know when we find out what happened in San Diego.
Is there a better feeling than being completely immersed in a creative project?
Giving every shred of yourself to the execution of an idea. Breathing life into a story, into a dream. I love how the day-to-day self doubt, over analysis, existential dread falls way. You simply don’t have time to indulge in it.
Currently completely married to the creation of my first feature film, Moon Manor, co-created with my best friend of forever Machete Bang Bang. We co-wrote, and are co-directing and co-producing. It’s a coming-of-death story. It’s about a FUN-eral and the moon. And one very special human named Jimmy.
And two years ago at the same exact same time of year I was leading a 23 person crew onto a friend’s secret mountain ganja farm to direct my first significant work of length, Forever Flowers. Watching the teaser now I can still smell the autumn chill, still feel the exhilaration of waking up at dawn to call the shots, to crystallize a story that had been calling to me for years.
What will the next two years bring?
Excited and humbled to be considered someone with something to say about creative time management and unlocking your creative genius. Lots of my little tricks I’ve learned over the years to do dumb things like write a novel or a screenplay or make a film. So fun recording this, check out the whole episode at:
TLC was hugely important to my young self. The album CrazySexyCool was the crossroads of my childhood to adolescence. I had a bootleg cassette a friend recorded on her boombox because I wasn’t allowed to have it (they used swear words! they sang about sex!). I remember the main albums in my life at that time were Garth Brooks Greatest Hits and the Lion King soundtrack. I remember burying the Lion King behind my books and thinking “I’m too old for this, now I listen to TLC.”
With my tiny allowance I bought posters of T-Boz, Left Eye and Chilli, but my mom made me take them down so I just moved them into my closet behind my clothes so I could go in there, listen to my bootleg cassette on my Walkman and peek at my heroes. A few weekends ago watching them perform at Kaaboo Del Mar (#RIPLeftEye) was a life dream, and I realized what I’d been connecting to so intensely as a kid. I was too young to know it, but subconsciously I was absorbing their messages of female empowerment. “Unpretty” “No Scrubs” “Waterfalls” … peer behind the catchy hooks and what they’re saying is “respect yourself, you’re more than your looks, be your own hero.” Their performance yesterday didn’t miss a beat, and they were so gracious to their fans. Thanks for everything, TLC. Love forever, Erin Granat, Your Fan.
Beyond grateful to have a job that entails me musing about concerts. Check out my Kaaboo IG Highlight over at @uproxxtravel, article coming soon.
Went to San Francisco last week to read a new story for @backpocketpresents “Five Senses.” There were five storytellers, each reading about one of the senses. Mine was “Touch.” Somehow, being on stage speaking is when I feel the least self-conscious (I’m available for weddings and bar mitzvahs!). I fucking love storytelling shows and this was a gooood one. Told a story about what I call my “Telemundo Time” … when my life was so dramatic it rivaled any telenovela on the air. I might try to publish the story somewhere, but I probably won’t. Too many secrets revealed. Which is the beauty of storytelling shows, it exists once verbally and it’s gone forever. More, please.
I used to feel happiest when traveling. Experiencing new places, new people, my only job to discover and explore. It was a hack to feel present, when in reality my inner life was fixated on the past or worrying about the future. My self-worth was based on what exciting new adventure I was cooking up. The truth is I was running – from responsibility, from commitment, from myself. My constant companions were anxiety, credit card debt, and a bunch of photos of the places I’d been that nothing to anyone but me.
Today, being at home is as fulfilling as being abroad. I especially love my office. It overlooks the yard with the pond and the majestic tree. The light is more buttery and brilliant than anywhere I’ve yet seen. This is where I’ve cooked up Forever Flowers, essays and blog posts. This is where @machetebangbang and I have written Moon Manor, with our dog / cat / chameleon colleagues nearby. My office is on the other side of the bathroom, a weird secret hovel high up with the squirrels and scarabs. My mind feels good here. Passport stamps are cool, but inner peace is the best high of all.
Everything on the train is grubby, and it’s more expensive than a flight. But something happens to the mind when on the train. The tethers are loosened. You enter a meditative state. The most fruitful writing and reading time. Nature drifts by outside and you have the best seat in the house. You pass rivers and mountains not even cars can access. It’s the best of all worlds, I’m in a comfortable seat watching the world like a movie screen. Neighborhoods with neighborhood things—kids jumping on trampolines, clothes drying on the line, rusted cars and stray dogs. This trip was 36 hours, my longest yet. The Coast Starlight through the forest and the agricultural fields and the ocean. America’s great West Coast journeying Seattle > LA.
On June 8th, 2018 my dear grandmother “Ruby Love” departed this world for the next. She was 102.
For years I took her dinner every Sunday and painted her nails. Being closer to her was one of the best things about moving to LA. We would discuss what she was reading on her Kindle (she thought 50 Shades of Grey was “mildly entertaining”). She wore shirts that said “Seen it all, done it all, just don’t remember it all.” She loved the Lakers and Johnny Depp. Most of these photos were taken when she was 98, 99, and 100. Dear lord – I hope I have her genes. She was born before women could even vote, and yet she was my biggest teacher of tolerance – people of all faiths, colors and orientations were welcome at her table. I’m trying to not focus on the last 2 years she spent in a home, Alzheimer’s obscuring her personality, although this was also part of her journey and doesn’t need to be banished from her story. Ruby Love was a grand dame, and a muse. Uncle Jimmy and Uncle Ricky wrote a song about her, the first screenplay I ever had optioned was about her. Muse-ship doesn’t end just because a body has finished hanging out on Earth. I’d like to think it’s just the beginning.
The essence of my grandmother is best told in the small details. For years, her exercise was walking inside the perimeter of her apartment, the route so well-worn it was a dark track in the carpet. She liked her nails painted beige or silver, never pink. She wore chic pantsuits and was a champion bowler. She loved Gatorade. My sister Jessica remembers how grandma raised a family and made her extended family important, each and every year, that she loved going to lunch, and shopping at the 99 cent Store.
My grandmother was unsentimental, blunt and sassy. She was not cookies and doilies, she was low-fat and LeSportSac bags. But in our every Sunday routine, the night would inevitably end with me putting my head in her lap so she could rake her long nails across my hair, not unlike how you’d pet a cat. Once we fell into the ritual we’d both go quiet, silently enjoying each other’s company.
I really only knew my grandmother as a single woman living on her own, since my grandfather passed when I was little. She was living proof that a woman cannot only be happy living on her own, she can thrive.
It was only in her late 90s that she started to slow down, and that was only after she fell off a treadmill at the gym. Being on the treadmill at that age is incredible in and of itself! Assistance came in the form of Uncle Jimmy, who heroically put up with her passenger-seat driving on their errands around town.
And I want you to know something about the documentary on grandma I’ve been low-key filming for years – she was directing the footage with me. She came alive when I got out the camera. We had an agreement that I would film everything, not just the happy funny moments, but her whole process into the end of her life. She was always ahead of her time.
I removed the option to add “comments” or “likes” on this blog because www.eringranat.com is my digital heart. The forum for my self-expression. Free from the electric sting of a numerical scale that indicates relevance and worthiness.
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE feedback on my blog. It makes me purr and want to hug you cat-on-cat like this photo. But if you feel called to leave me a comment or a like, I want to actually engage with you in a non-public facing way. An old-fashioned conversation, between two people (but via email (laughing emoji) which is why you’ll see my email is in the About section). This is the same reason why I’ve left up every embarrassing angsty post since I started this blog 8 years ago. And why I don’t have visible the number of followers this blog has (which is a respectable number I’m very proud of).
Really, this is about QUALITY not QUANTITY. And being vulnerable. Because vulnerability is the source of true strength. Note: I removed comments and likes for all posts moving forward, if someone knows how to mass remove on past posts hook it up!
Last month was my birthday so I ran away to Tulum for a few days. To me, this picture is México. Rather than the beach and margaritas and all that, it’s the dusty roads, the bark of raggedy dogs, the delightful, too sweet taste of Mexican Coke.
Remembering my first visits to México as a tween, giddy to buy cheap beer without an ID, the rough streets of those early days of Sayulita where Beth’s family had a house and we had a whole other life we’d bi-annually dip into and be “G.I.T.s” … Gypsies In Training. I decided last minute to come on this trip, so maybe I became a gypsy after all? But that’s a cultural appropriation – gypsies are a people who’ve been persecuted terribly over the centuries, the Coachella-fication of their aesthetic on par with Tulum’s tourists who know nothing about the tension simmering under the sunburned streets. But let me not travel down that path. This is a “HBD to me” post after all. Age just has a way of ripping off the blinders.
Back to waxing poetic about the intoxicating magic of México. And thanking @our_habitas and @uproxxtravel for giving me wings to explore @artwithmetulum. A new year for new opportunities. Shameless hotel balcony selfies shall endure, however.
I hope more festivals will take a cue from @artwithmetulum and #partyforapurpose. Four days of art, music and food centered around talks on sustainability and social change. I did a story over at @uproxxtravel if you wanna go seeeee. “The mission of Art With Me *GNP is to enrich the local community, preserve the natural environment and strengthen the artistic development of Tulum through conscious and sustainable practice. Art With Me has chosen solid waste management as the central environmental topic for its’ first year, due to the threat it has on the Mesoamerican ReefSystem (SAM), the ocean and the local people of Tulum.” This was a great sculpture at Art With Me by Daniel Popper. Installations like this were hidden everywhere in the beach and the jungle. Photo by Peter Ruprecht.
So honored to announce SACRED SHIT, the new short film by me and @machetebangbang, is the May official selection of MOONFAZE FILMS. In the spirit of pure collaboration we created each scene in the moment, pulled by whatever she or I were inspired to express, free from the usual film grind of scheduling and logistics. Thrilled this experiment in art-for-art’s-sake is being recognized by such a prestigious journal. And this week is Beltane, the day to honor life and earth energies, so get thee to www.moonfazefilms.com to watch it and read our feature and check out the amazing things these women are doing.
“SACRED SHIT” is a vulnerable raw look into attachment and the sometimes impossible art of letting go. A portrait of the mind and it’s many manipulations, Sacred Shit is a reminder to look inward and seek light in darkness. To ask ourselves what is it that we actually hold sacred? Celebrating the eternal bond between two women, this film also encapsulates our innate deep need for connection and friendship. Some sacred shit indeed. A must see.” -MOONFAZE FEMINIST FILM JOURNAL
Hotel rooms strike me as the loveliest and loneliest places on earth
Everything is fresh, the illusion of perfect
A temporary home in a tower of travelers
When you don’t have to worry about clean towels or making the bed
The mind can dive into more existential pursuits
The square of toilet paper origami
The smart appeal of bleach
A room service pre-order form, so you can eat bacon and eggs two minutes upon waking
52 channels to flip through, the only place left to watch basic cable and feel like a kid again
But after a few days, your clean paradise becomes a prison
And it’s depressing to be in a room masquerading as your own but it belonged to the guy before you and the family after you and really it belongs to the maid
And the plastic key is so plastic
And they politely request in an aggressive way
That you check out by 11am
Where once the bland painting on the wall was blessedly free of personal attachment, it’s now offensive in its non offensive-ness,
And maybe you peek behind it and see a doodle left by a past resident
And you’re disgruntled you didn’t think to do something edgy like that
The bad coffee in its single serving pouch makes you mad because you’re a single serving person in a single serving room in this single serving life
And so you go home, where the to-do list lives, and boxes that need sorting left over from when you moved in, and the oven needs fixing
But it’s perfect in its imperfection because it sounds like ice cream trucks and lawn mowers outside because it’s a neighborhood
And it’s a home
And it’s yours
I never thought I would love a reptile. There’s something unnerving about them. They’re cold to the touch. They don’t crave human affection. There’s nothing cuddly about them. Then I got Seneca the Chameleon.
Seneca came into my life as a pal for Lev when he was recovering from his accident. The first time I held him, I was entranced. He grips onto you with these little velvet hands. He’s so fragile, with tiny claws and fake teeth nature painted onto his lips. All this creature does is chill. Being in his presence is like beholding a wizard.
He’s not the type of chameleon who changes color based on his environment, he merges between brilliant reds, oranges, blues and greens. His eyes move independently of each other. He falls asleep in my hand. I know I’m like a big ol weirdo declaring my love for my chameleon like this, but he’s just the most special little dude.
I had my first experience with religious zealots! This was originally going to be a post celebrating that CONFETTI, the wonderful weird short film by @machetebangbang that I acted in and 1st AD’ed won the Vanguard Award for Best Experimental Short at the Lindsey Film Festival (hooray!), BUT THEN, friends who have since become very … passionate … about their religious beliefs started commenting on my Facebook that I clearly worship Lucifer and “serve evil at its core.” I appreciate social media being a platform for discussion, so I’m leaving the comments up. But spreading negativity and judgement does not interest me. You’ve been blocked.
On a lighter note, this is one of my favorite films I’ve ever been involved with. The irony is, it’s quite literally about spreading the light. WATCH it here. Congrats, team. This was one for the ages.
In totally unrelated news …
Uproxx Travel sent me to Sun Valley, Idaho last week to attend the Sun Valley Film Festival and to experience experiences, and it was my first time back on skis in 7 years and it didn’t suck. I told myself I quit skiing because it was too expensive, too repetitive, too obnoxious (rich white people sport). Growing up in the Tahoe area with ski bums as parents, I was skiing before I could walk. It’s the one athletic thing I’m pretty good at, and the one thing that was easy to quit when I wanted to move to Spain and needed spending money, so I sold all my gear. Getting back on the mountain last week was surprisingly emotional, and now I know the truth.
I quit skiing because it was too painful a reminder of my family being happy and together, before my mom got sick. She was an excellent skier, the best in our family, and skiing without her felt pointless and so, so cold.
But as I sat on the chairlift in Sun Valley, I remembered to remember the happy memories and not dwell on the sad stuff. And for a moment I was a kid again, my sister and I snuggled between my parents on the lift, life extending only so far as the next hot cocoa we’d get in the lodge, my mom glamorous in her ski onesie, all of us smelling like sunscreen, my dad rubbing my hands to keep them warm.
Another reason I quit is because when I was 7 years old I fell 80 feet off a chairlift (or was it 70 feet when I was 8? I have to check the newspaper article about it), and I’ve been plagued with extreme fear of heights ever since. But that’s a story for the article.