My Dad, Pitbull and Alexa

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 “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.

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A Rum-Drunk Tale of Tragedy

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.

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What I Look Like Tired, Ross Butler, And Morocco!

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

 

What It’s Like Making An Indie Feature

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.

www.moonmanormovie.com 

@moon_manor_movie

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Bleed Your Project / Achieve Bliss

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.

www.moonmanormovie.com 

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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?

Goodbye, Ruby Love

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.

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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.

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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.

 

Why I Removed “Comments” And “Likes” From This Blog

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!

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What my chameleon taught me about love

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.

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The irony of a dirty soap dish

Just found this poem thing I wrote on a napkin maybe a year ago. Beth took this pic of me the other day in the RV I almost bought.
THE IRONY OF A DIRTY SOAP DISH.


Loneliness. What a funny friend. At a sushi bar, surrounded by humans, lonely as the single rice left behind. Why MORE lonely when in company of people, less lonely when just me and my cat — alone?


“Isn’t it ironic?” asked my 90s flat hair hero.


• Ironic as the soap dish being dirty.


Which is something I spent so long contemplating this morning I was late for wherever I was going.


My whole life is late.


Or is it right on time?

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What I don’t post.

There’s so much I don’t share about myself. Since the beginning of the year, I’ve crossed two things off the list I’ve always wanted to do: study fight training and study drumming. I’ve been accomplishing things I never thought I could do, like wielding a machete and singing and drumming at the same time. But I don’t really talk about it. Am I keeping it for myself, or do I have a block around self-expression?

If we don’t post about it, did it ever really happen?

I feel an incredible connection to the Divine, to the goddesses, to the plants. But I feel silly writing about it. Guess I’m afraid of being judged.

But Stevie Nicks says “I see the crystal visions / I keep the visions to myself.”

And she also says “When the rain washes you clean you’ll know.”

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Amtrak across Arizona.

A few weeks ago I was hurtling across the Saguaro Desert on a train trip. Part of me feels like I still haven’t arrived back.

The bumpy, rattling movement of the train (somehow soothing). The curious other passengers (eclectic cross-section of folks travel by train). America going by outside the viewing car (desert, cacti, power plant, river, airplane graveyard, more cacti). We must have passed through a dozen different tiny towns, all with the same 3 things — bar, junkyard, train stop.

We got our Colombian waiter in the dining car to wear my headdress costume. We listened to our luggage attendant talk about how much she hates LA traffic (always end up talking about that no matter where I am in the world). We saw a spectacular sunset in Tucson. We watched an electrical lightning storm during dinner. We laughed til we couldn’t breathe.

But my favorite part, the best part, was this man I filmed from afar during the sunset. While everyone else was scrambling to take photos of the pink sherbet sky, he just gazed out the window, stoic as a sculpture, obscuring everyone’s photos of the sunset, not caring in the slightest. His energy was heavy, lonely. But maybe I’m projecting that, and he was perfectly happy, enjoying the minutely disruptive act of messing up everyone’s photo.

I like how in the video he’s observing nature, yet is separated from it. Perhaps that’s just a thing I think I should say. Seems like something you’d read at a museum.

Actually, the best part was hearing the train whistle all the time. It’s the best sound in the world. Full of romance, full of longing. The 9 hour trip was worth it just for that.

 

I did The Moth!

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Last night I told a group of strangers about my past in beauty pageants. It was The Moth, and I got picked to tell a story! (thanks to @ebschiller signing me up because I was late because I’m always laaaaaate). The theme was “Beauty” and here are the highlights of my story: ⚡️There’s an urban legend in pageants about the girl whose onstage question was “Who do you most want to meet, dead or alive?” And she blanked and answered “Definitely alive!” In other words, being a beauty pageant contest is perhaps the most vilified, misunderstood thing a woman can do in modern culture. I was one of those women. From age 17-24. An adult decision. ⚡️But it was one of the most empowering, positive experiences of my life. And I won. More than once. Because your highest and lowest scores are thrown out, which means because I was strongly mediocre, I won. I was consistently whelming. ⚡️My mom never wanted me to do pageants, but it ended up being a way we bonded, driving to rehearsals and dress shopping. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, it was something we did to get our minds of chemo and the heaviness of her condition. ⚡️other stuff other stuff ⚡️Act 2 where I shared details and anecdotes, to be honest my story lost steam here. I always spend too much time on the set-up.⚡️more stuff about not having a tragic life story and it kept me from winning the ultimate crown … then I connected this to my moms illness but what’s the line between catharsis and exploitation? So I never talked about it in pageants.
⚡️When she passed away, I still felt I couldn’t “use” her death to “get ahead.” I did move back from New Zealand to do one last pageant, Miss Las Vegas, before I aged out. But I lost to a deaf Cher impersonator / flutist. ⚡️Then I kinda didn’t know how to connect it so I said something like “When I look back, the times I felt beautiful weren’t having a crown put on my head, but the times I shared with my mom, that in the last year of her life we had something fun we shared.”

I got good scores!! 🙏 Thank you Mom for being okay with me talking about your illness then, even though I didn’t, and finally making the pageant connection, 13 years later. #themoth #storyteller #futuredreams

This is summer.

I edited this yesterday while relaxing at a river swimming hole. Sometimes nature and technology can be friends. Happy (belated because I’m always belated) Fourth of July.

Shot and edited on an iPhone 6 by me. Poem “The Laughing Heart” by Charles Bukowski, by way of a Levi’s “Go Forth” ad I’ve always loved.

The movie we never finished.

This is the trailer we never released to a movie we never finished writing. It was 5 years ago, and we wanted to make a love letter to Sayulita, Mexico, where Beth’s family had a house. She’d been taking me since we were 15, she’d been going even longer. The film’s theme was about running away, literally and metaphorically. Our characters were living an idyllic expatriate life in Mexico, but discovering that even paradise has its trappings. We wrote dozens of pages and outlines, but the script just never came together. We couldn’t crack it. There was a foreboding about “commodifying” our friendship, and the town we loved so much. Maybe it was meant to be a lesson in the creative process, that some stories just aren’t meant to exist on the page. Her family has since sold the house, and anyway Sayulita has been quite “discovered” by now. Vaya con dios, movie that never was. Thank you @machetebangbang for putting this edit together. All the way to Pluto and back. 💫

 

They named the baby Quest.

My nephew is two. He has ignored me for his entire existence, until last weekend. I get it. I had little to offer. I didn’t provide him milk or a cozy bed or anything other than “Hi, you’re so cute.” I don’t know how I earned it, but suddenly he loves me. Like, can’t get enough of me. Such a gift, albeit an exhausting one. I was reminded of this piece I wrote when he was born, and wanted to share it again (however I edited it a bit, this is the power of perspective to make your writing better). Marveling at how much has changed in just two years. Marveling at how I rarely cry and rarely talk about it when I do, yet a lot of my posts are about me crying. Funny that.

 

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This is what Tulum feels like.

For the last few years, I sorta rolled my eyes when people gushed about Tulum. Now I’ve been there twice in two months. Just something about that place. Two weekends ago I was there swimming in a cave. This weekend I’m doing laundry, driving in traffic, and holding space for sick family members. Life is funny like that. The balance of yay and meh. But back to the cave. It was an underground river system called a cenote. A sacred place. Turns out cenotes are sink holes circling the crater created by the meteor that killed the dinosaurs. And because this was an exquisitely curated gathering, we reached the end of the cenote to find a guy playing a sitar surrounded by red candles. A. Freakin. Sitar. This was a “peak experience” to say the least. How do we then integrate back to our normal lives, with its obligations, rules, and general unsexiness? I used to start planning my next escape, asap. Now I’m finding balance in the obligations and rules. Finding sexy in little pleasures like hot coffee, fresh laundry, and good rest. I think perhaps that’s how we become warriors. Finding contentment no matter where we are, because at least it means we’re alive.



Shot and edited on an iPhone at @our_habitas. “Man in Nature” by Alan Watts.

 

FOR THE RESTLESS HEARTS

You know what they say, “it’s the journey, not the destination” // the ultimate modern cliché. // I’m supposed to be all zen and believe it, but hey – I’m human. I’m goal oriented. Sometimes the journey is really fucking annoying. And after all, who are “they?”

When I was younger I just wanted to party. Now I want to keep my car clean, and my teeth, and my room. // Do volunteer work, be a better daughter, less of a jerk.

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What about those of us who don’t wax poetic? Who can’t bemoan the journey OR the destination? // They progress little by little, they have no choice. // Their goal is less than Bali, fame, Rolls Royce. They don’t move mountains, or even move a rock. // Their goal is just the right to breathe, to speak, even just to walk.

To you I say – you inspire me. To get up day after day, when progress is so minute, Facing yourself like that means you’re a true warrior. More than all the medals, “followers” or loot. So is it the journey or the destination? I don’t know and I don’t care.

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I’m writing poetry, up late at night. // I journeyed to this destination, and it feels pretty alright. // I’ve got air in my lungs. Cheap wine and good weed. Old friends and new lovers. What more could I need?

The end.

Labor Day / Labor Of Love

Writing is rewriting. And so writing is how I’m spending this Labor Day. The familiar excited / daunted feeling of taking a script I’ve “perfected” for a year and tearing it all apart. Looking at it from new angles. Allowing all possibilities. Realizing it wasn’t quite working because I hadn’t quite hit upon the truth of the story yet. The story that wants to be told is actually much bigger than me and my desire to express myself.

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“The writer’s role is to menace the public’s conscience. He must have a position, a point of view. He must see the arts as a vehicle of social criticism and he must focus on the issues of his time. It has forever been thus: So long as men write what they think, then all of the other freedoms — all of them — may remain intact. And it is then that writing becomes a weapon of truth, an article of faith, an act of courage.” — Rod Serling, creator of The Twilight Zone

#cannabiscommunity #legalizeit 👊

When someone you love has Alzheimer’s.

I haven’t posted much of me and my grandma lately, honestly because it’s been pretty tough since we moved her into a home. We know it’s the right thing for her, but it’s hard watching her struggle with having her whole environment change. Her lack of independence. We still do goofy things, like take selfies when I tuck her in on Sunday nights, but she’s not as sharp as she was just a few months ago. To anyone who’s experienced a loved one having Alzheimer’s, or being moved into a home, my heart goes out to you. Its a very emotional process. Even though I know she’s not comprehending as much as she used to, when I tell her she’s my favorite-almost-101 year-old, from the twinkle in her eye I know she understands completely. Because love is the language that lasts forever.

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Summer sucks, unless you’re seventeen.

Lately, I feel grumpy. It’s July, which means days are long and hot. Pool parties. The beach. Short shorts. Blah fucking blah. In other words, a constant reminder that despite my best intentions, somewhere along the line I sold out and became an adult.

I feel nostalgia for the summer of my youth so heavy I can’t breathe. Growing up in the tiny ranch town of Gardnerville, Nevada meant summers were like a country music video on repeat. Especially the sweet spot between ages fifteen and seventeen, when we were old enough to drive but too young to go anywhere.

The launch of summer was Carson Valley Days, the town parade and carnival at Lampe Park. Everyone came and everyone rode the same five rides we’d been riding since we were kids. We spent summer days at Lake Tahoe and summer nights at the river. Cheap beer was usually involved. We rode in the back of pickup trucks, driving too fast down county lanes, nothing but the stars above and our uncertain futures ahead.

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I took this photo a few summers ago on a road trip with my muse Paije. We weren’t in Gardnerville, but the feeling was the same.

The lack of options is what created the bliss. Gardnerville had one movie theater and lots of empty Earth. Social life meant seeing the same movie for the fifth time, or circling up around a bonfire in the desert or the woods, drinking our parents’ purloined liquor and blasting Country Grammar (I know I just seriously dated myself, but Nelly’s debut album was really tight).

I marvel at how we found these bonfire spots. Before Waze, before texting. I guess we called each other on land lines and wrote down the directions?

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That same summer road trip. I wish I had pics of my Gardnerville youth, but I can’t seem to find many.

I could devote an entire book to growing up Gardnerville, and I still might. But for now the last thing I’ll mention here is the scent — summer nights in the ‘Ville are the aroma of hay fields, fresh unpolluted oxygen, cows, wholesome American dreams. I know I’m waxing poetic, we always look back on our youth with a rose-colored lens.

But no matter how many cities I visit, or fancy Hollywood events I attend, nothing feels as great as being seventeen on a summer night, surrounded by my gang of friends, parked at the river, singing Garth Brooks into the night.