Bluntness

I sometimes get in trouble with people when I answer a question honestly and it’s an answer they don’t like or agree with.

Anyone else ever have this problem? Sometimes, I really get where Larry David is coming from but this isn’t the time to review his show….

I’m blunt. Many of my readers have figured that out by now and some I think even like me for it. My friends, my good friends who know me deeply, tend to really appreciate it and call on me when they need a blunt, honest answer that won’t be sugar-coated. I like that I can offer that but honestly, it’s not the reason for my bluntness.

Being blunt comes naturally to me. It always has. As far back as I can remember, I’ve had the mindset that time is precious so why waste it? Sugar-coating something or not being honest until it surfaces is to me, SUCH A WASTE OF TIME.

And one thing I’m not willing to do is waste my time. I don’t know how much of it I have, so every second is going to be worth it.

Back to straight-forwardness always coming naturally to me… One story that comes to mind is when I was 22 and a cop bothered me about smoking a cigarette in broad daylight in a place smoking was allowed. I couldn’t help but ask him if he thought he was protecting and serving by carding someone minding their own business and enjoying a cigarette before work when people were getting raped and molested? To his credit, he smiled and told me about “the problem” of underage smoking.

When I see people lie or sugarcoat things so as not “to offend” or “be rude”, I can’t help but wonder, isn’t it more rude not to tell the truth? Why let someone feel good based on a lie or puffery? Can they really feel good about that? And when did one person’s opinion need to be politically correct or adhere to another’s set of rules to be valid?

Black and white is my language. If I have to decode what you are trying to say, chances are our friendship will remain on the surface. And God forbid if I have to call you out on what you’re pretending not to say, all hell will break loose and somehow I become the devil… It perplexes me….

But to show that this is not one-sided, allow me two honest-to-God true stories:

At 18, a college freshman, I was dating a boy in my dorm who I had a major crush on. I had broken up with my high school boyfriend two months prior – I had been with him for three years. Dating wasn’t something I was great at, not to mention my HS boyfriend was the popular senior and I was the loner sophomore.

A few weeks into dating this new boy at my college dorm, I get upset for some reason and get jealous and wanted him to sweep me off my feet. The girl across the hall from me, who had become a friend of mine as much as one could in a few weeks, told me some things: “Wake up, girl. You’re not his fucking girlfriend, so don’t act like it. You’re being jealous and needy. You need to go with it. Grow up.”

She nailed it. I’ve loved her since and she’s a big part of my life now, a girl I love and will adore forever.

At 20, a girl I met at my sorority came over to my boyfriend’s house (the boy mentioned above, whom I ended up dating for four years) and while we were hanging out, I said something stupid, like I asked where something was and it was right in front of me. This girl, who barely knew me, said, “Open your eyes fuck head.”

I fell in love with her. So blunt. So true. I laughed out loud.

These two girls are my best friends in the whole world and have been, going on twenty years now.

My point is with all this is – I love bluntness. Maybe it’s not for everyone but it’s for me and as long as it’s the truth and nothing but, why do I keep coming across people who give me shit for it?

One of my favorite authors/philosophers, Jean Paul Sartre, once said, “Hell is other people.”

In my twenties, I thought he was on to something.

In my thirties, I think it’s sad.

But as I near being forty, I realize hell is other people only if we let them be.

My sister told me that being blunt is part of my personality but with it comes the understanding that people will react as they see fit.

Great point.

Being blunt is a choice and perhaps a way to live a more honest life. Try it…..

 

 

Start Small, Grow Big

I’ve been thinking lately about the difficult things. We as humans all face challenges, some much larger than others, quite a few of our doing and many in the face of adversity, but that’s where we define ourselves really, if you think about it…

I’ve made short films for the past ten years. Most have played the festival circuit, a couple have distribution, but I have yet to hit my stride and earn a living from filmmaking. I’m far from giving up though. That simply won’t happen but my philosophy is to see things as they are and take it from there.

At the beginning of this year, frustrated with the lack of securing the budget to get my first feature film produced, I decided to take the script I wrote (along with a wonderful contributor) and turn it into a book. I haven’t written about it in this blog yet because then it becomes real. Out there. So please, hold me accountable for it.

Allow me to add some facts. I adore books. I’ve read them professionally as a paid book analyst for film production companies and writers for a decade now and read about one book a month for pleasure. I’ll pretty much read anything, though I must admit I’m not too into comics and graphic novels but I have given them a try to be fair.

Once I started writing this book, I started to wonder what took me so long to get here.

But then, who cares? I’m here now.

As I prepare Part I of my book to give to my father, who always provides me with an honest, critical analysis of my work, I can’t help but think about my path here.

I began telling stories when I was seven, filling my neighbor friend’s ears with my thoughts. I then wrote my first script at 12, a tv show titled “Roommates” (true story, I called The Roseanne production office, posed as a teenager “doing a homework assignment and would love a real script to see” and asked for a script, which they sent and I studied for days but I digress…) and then went on to college, unfortunately not as a straight-A student by any means. In fact, I was on academic probation. Twice.

The one class I excelled in happened to be Screenwriting 101. A bunch of my friends hated the teacher and thought he was difficult and I kid you not, some were even getting Ds and failing, unlike any of their other classes. They bitched about him constantly. I, however, found the class to be the easiest one on my schedule. I would often do the assignments the night before and get A’s on them. At the end of the semester, I gave the professor a postcard so he could send me my grade and when I got it in the mail, I smiled. It read, “Are you kidding me? Tops in the class. A++++!!! Have a great summer.”

I channel that when I start to doubt myself.

It’s time for me to write the book I’ve been thinking about for perhaps all my life.

So here I go…

Please wish me luck!!

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
-Benjamin Franklin

Two Strangers

I was waiting in line at a store today when I heard a lady behind me talk loudly to the gentleman she was with. She smiled at a child who walked by with a giant painted decorative Easter egg and exclaimed, “That’s a big egg!”

She caused a few stares. And her clothes made one wonder if she lived on the street. The gentleman she was with answered her questions calmly as she looked in awe at the candy selection near checkout. Her face looked like a face of a forty-year old but her behavior was like that of a ten-year old.

“Oh! Can we go to Best Buy after this?” she asked the person she was with.

He looked into their cart and said maybe they should’t today with all this already. He said they wouldn’t have much room. She agreed and moved on to checking out the chewing gum.

“Your purse is open.”

I turned and realized she was talking to me.

“Oh, thank you! I didn’t realize,” I replied, zipping up my purse pocket.

“You know, you’ve got to be careful. People can get near you and take something and you don’t even know it!” she said, warning me.

“Yes, you’re right. Thanks again. I appreciate it,” I said, smiling at both her and the man she was with. He just stared at me before she continued.

“The other day, someone had some money on a table and another person tried to take it. I saw it and I told him not to do it.”

“Really?” I asked, as the line moved up.

“Oh yeah. He tried to grab it when she wasn’t looking. And you know what?”

“What?” I said, getting into her story.

“He called me stupid.”

“What? Why on Earth…”

“I know. He said I was stupid for stopping him.”

I looked straight into her dark black eyes and said, “You know what? You are not stupid for stopping someone from stealing. In fact, you are very smart. What you did was great. He’s the one who is stupid.”

She looked at me and gave me the biggest smile, feeling very proud.

“Yeah. He’s stupid. Not me.”

My husband, who was shopping in a store next door, came in and asked for the credit card because he forgot his wallet. I quickly handed it to him so he could get back to the register.

When he left, my new friend asked me, “Is that your brother?”

I laughed. “No. That was my husband.”

She looked at me in awe and exclaimed, “No way, you’re too young to be married.”

I’m not going to lie. As I near forty, comments like this one put a smile on my face.

It was my turn for the next register. As I left the line, I told my new friend to have a great day.

“You too!” she said.

Just two strangers, making each other feel good.

 

La vita non è giusta (Life is not fair)

My father told me a story many years ago about his father and I channel it every time I feel dejected.

Only my father can tell this story appropriately, but I will try to do it justice in honor of my grandfather, may he rest in peace.

One afternoon, my eighteen-year old father found himself spilling out all the ways the world had wronged him to his own father, a Sicilian hard-working immigrant. He told his tales of woe as my grandfather smoked his cigarette and listened. After my father was done expressing his suffering, my grandfather looked at him, inhaled a long drag from his cigarette and said to his son,

“La vita non è giusta.”

Life is not fair.

Those seemingly simple words have stayed with me from the moment my father told me this story.

Life is not fair.

My latest film has been rejected from fourteen film festivals so far. I’m 0-14. It’s out to dozens of others but no filmmaker likes to read the oh-so-generic “rejection” letters. They start to get me down. I start to question things – Do I think this film should be screened? Did I do the best job I could? Is it as honest as possible? Should people see it? Does it have something to say that is worth hearing? ………

But then, amid that noise, I hear my grandfather’s voice…

La vita non è giusta.

He’s right. It isn’t.

But so be it. What am I gonna do – cry about it or try to fight for what I want?

Today, as I was thinking about how hard it is to get screening time at festivals, I saw a little slice of nature that reminded me growth was possible despite the odds.

And so, to my friend in the picture above, my father and my grandfather, I thank you. You keep me going…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I care.

I completely surprised myself.

As someone who has never cared for the gender roles society tries to assign and in fact has more than often gone out of their way to disprove them, it struck me odd when I found myself tending to my husband’s every need the past two days and not minding it.

Let me explain.

It’s very easy to go along with the flow when your significant other is healthy and things are going smoothly, both rocking the world in your regular vibe, being on your own little cloud nine…

But then, there are days when things don’t go smoothly and the flow I mentioned starts to ebb.

Like when one of you get sick.

A few days ago, my husband got hit with whatever flu is going around and the poor guy’s throat has been so sore he hasn’t been able to talk, all the while his body has ached for days. I can still see it in his eyes. He’s not himself. This bug has taken over him.

And so, for the past two days, I’ve found myself taking care of him – asking him what he wanted and going to get it right then, doing all the laundry, preparing his favorite tuscan white bean soup and making sure he got fluids and plenty of rest.

And I didn’t mind it at all.

If someone asked me five years ago if I would one day take care of someone like I have the past two days, I might have either laughed thinking they didn’t know me at all or if they did, wonder what they’d been smoking.

My priorities were so much different then.

And as I was driving home from work tonight, I realized I no longer equated taking care of someone as being weak but instead saw it as one of the strongest things you can do.

And I smiled because I’ve come a long way from the girl who lived alone in a studio and loved it.

I care.

And it feels good.

What we talk about when we talk about love

The other day, a friend asked me if I had been to Sicily, the place where my parents were born and the root of my culture. I said “no, not yet” and it made me think of something…

First, a little background.

My husband is not from the state we live in. While I have my immediate family here and have had a life in Los Angeles for the past thirty years, my husband has not. His family and friends are on the east coast but his passion for music and the Pacific Ocean led him out west. (Thankfully!)

A little over a year into our relationship, we decided to step things up a notch. We moved in together. And we wanted me to meet his parents. At that time, roundtrip flights to Orlando were going to cost us nearly a thousand dollars. Having just moved in together and needing to pay for a few surprise expenses like car work and dental bills, we did not have an extra thousand to spend.

A little more background.

I am Sicilian, as most my readers know, and going to Sicily has been on my goal list for as long as I can remember. I have a ton of family there and when I was single, I was planning to go visit there for a month. I had been saving up my frequent flier miles for a round trip ticket for almost a decade.

Then, I met my husband and though I was able to take the trip for the first time in my life, I had postponed it because I wanted to get to know him and felt like something magical was happening.

It was indeed and flash forward back to where we were… moved in and wanting to go to Florida so I could meet his parents but lacking in the funds department.

I went online and looked up how many miles I would need for two round trip tickets to Orlando. It was the exact amount for my Sicilian trip.

Though this even surprised myself, I immediately offered them to be used to fly to Florida. My husband insisted I not give up my trip but I was steadfast on the idea and ultimately, he accepted the gift.

We went to Florida and had the most wonderful of trips. His parents were an absolute pleasure and welcomed me in with open arms, thrilled to see their son and I in love.

I had zero regrets on using those miles. And that’s when I realized I was deeply in love with him and my priorities had shifted. Though Sicily is extremely high on my list, he’s higher.

Six months later, my husband’s father fell ill and passed away.

And that was when I realized those miles were never meant for Sicily.

The Other Night

WARNING – GRAPHIC CONTENT IN THIS BLOG POST

I try to keep my posts all-ages friendly but sometimes, that’s simply not possible.

The other night, I was inside a convenience store buying some sparkling water when I witnessed the most interesting interaction between what appeared to be two homeless males. If I had to judge, I would say one was nearly old enough to drink and new to the streets while the other was not so new to the streets and likely in his later thirties. They were in line before me, buying some beer.

The pudgy older one was purchasing the beer with cash while the skinny younger one grabbed a lighter called “The Torch” and flicked it on. His eyes lit up in awe as he exclaimed with a goofy smile, “I’ve got to have this.”

The older one stared at his friend and said, “No you don’t. You said you were gonna quit that shit. Smoke pot or something but don’t smoke crack.”

The younger one, who seemed to be on some drug already, grabbed the older one’s face and smiled into his eyes. “I love you,” he said and gave him a bear hug.

The older one hugged him back but didn’t give in. “Put it down. You don’t need it.”

Despite the pleading, the younger one took out a few crumpled dollar bills from his short jeans pocket and paid the cashier the three dollars it cost.

As they exited, I heard the older one still saying the younger one didn’t need any torch lighter. He said, “Come on, let’s just go drink our beer and forget about that shit.”

It was my turn at the register. I paid for my water and left.

The homeless guys were outside the store, doing something with their bicycles. I could hear them talk as I walked to the corner to cross the street.

The older one was more serious now. “Do you want to sell you ass? That’s what’s gonna happen if you keep smoking that crack shit.”

The younger one said nothing but had an odd smile on his face.

The older one continued, “I love ya, man, but I don’t want AIDS squirted up your ass. I’m serious. Stop! Smoking! Crack!” He was practically yelling at this point.

The light changed and I continued on, no longer able to make out their conversation.

I’ve been thinking about these two for about a week now.

While it was disturbing to see a young adult on the streets suffering from what appeared to be a crack addiction, it was quite beautiful watching his friend, a fellow homeless man, trying to talk him out of it and get him off it. I hope he succeeds.

#beautyiseverywhere