Sunday, December 21, 2008

LisaNova

Hi! Celebrating the festival of lights here in San Fran. Hope all is well folks- look for a new blog post soon, but until then Please Please Please vote for my video (Neuroses in D) at the Lisanova holiday video contest.... 

www.lisanovalive.com


winning would be great exposure as well as a fab opportunity to keep doing more net content and chatting with all you fantastic folks. Plus perhaps it will allow me to make enough money to move out of my parent's basement which, if you're a longtime reader, you know is kind of a priority. Keep me posted on holiday happenings people. 

Much Love,
Hannah 

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tiny Pop Post

My interview from the New York Television Festival is on Pop17 today!!

Starts about 50 seconds in.

Watch me take 9 seconds to search for and find the word "publisher." Guess I'm going to work on boning up on my interview skills... mostly I think I was just mesmerized by the adorableness of Sarah Austin.


xo
H

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Teentastic

So now that I've written 288 pages of a book I feel I'm finally in a position to answer these questions which many folks have been asking: What the hell is your book about? And why does everything suck? And why the hell should I care?


First for a little background.

Two years ago I was in my Yale dorm room studying for some bullshit literature test. It was late. I realized I would never be able to cram in enough knowledge of obscure Hegelian ideals to get an 'A' when I decided to procrastinate.

"What's with this whole GPA nonsense?" I thought to myself. "Who even came up with this crap?'

I did some digging. I discovered that the 4.0 grade system was invented at Yale, and I fell off my couch and lay on the floor like a comatose beached starfish reliving the cosmic cycle which had drafted me as a perfectionist pawn and spit me out here... I spent my entire highschool career mastering a system to impress an institution that invented that very system. ***See myriad of EDUCATION and YALE  posts.

Needless to say, I was pissed off. I channeled this into a few Bailey's-fueled nights of too much eye makeup and underaged dancing to horrible club music, then progressed into my "fuck it" phase, during which I ate cookies by the boxfull and stayed in bed for days skipping class, not showering, and watching LOST episodes back to back to back. I moaned and groaned and had a big existential crisis in the Sterling Memorial Library courtyard while smoking a cigarette during the "life is a meaningless abyss, might as well be a trendy hipster and blow ironic cigarette smoke rings into said abyss" phase. And I realized that I could continue to bitch or I could do something. So I started writing.

I wrote a few op-eds about No Child Left Behind, and I wrote a big fat book proposal.

Fast forward to a few months ago. I was put in touch with HCI, a fantastic company based out of Florida known for the Chicken Soup For The Soul series. Young Adult (YA) market is growing. Fangirls are proving their strength. They wanted a teenage memoir. Could I do that?

I wasn't sure. I wrote down a collection of teenage angsty highschool stories, tried to be as honest as possible about the reality of being a teenager, and hoped for the best. It's seven months and 288 pages later, and now I'm pretty sure I can.

SO ONTO THE QUESTIONS!


1. What the hell is your book about?

My book is a teenage memoir. Sure I haven't created the most expansive monarchy in the world, or become a billionaire mogul with my adorably anorexic twin sister, or written, directed, produced, and starred in one of the greatest films of all time. (a big thanks to Alexander, Olsens, and Orson Welles for making my every achievement seem little more than the not-even-sticky-anymore brown star at the end of the sticker supply.) Still, having spent the last few months poring over old yearbooks and reassembling the most awkward and formative moments of my life into some semblance of a story, I cannot escape what a surprisingly... interesting journey it's turned out to be.

And by "interesting" I mean a combination between fascination, frustration, titillation, and utter repulsion. At first compared to what I had initially set out to write about, teenagehood seemed a little frivolous, but the more time I spend with my teenage self and her teenage problems and teenage friends and enemies and frenemies, the more I realize that we're all still teenagers at heart.

Little kids are stupid. Ignorant to the social boundaries we have drawn all around ourselves with different colored cultural crayons. They'll soon learn through a steady dose of indoctrination and humiliation, but until then they'll run out of the bathroom absolutely beaming, shouting "HannahHannahHannah I pooped a circle!!" as my five year old cousin informed me yesterday. When you're a kid you don't know enough to worry about the chickenskin on your arms or your uneven eyebrows or the fact that when you're around pretty girls you get gassy.

Then, hooray! Middleschool. Awkward dancing. Bitchy popular people. Braces. Unfortunate hormonal side effects all 'round. You learn that your parents are not the smartest strongest bestest in the whole wide world, that pretty much nobody other than them wants to listen to your fully choreographed one-woman rendition of Office Krupke from West Side Story, and that your fossil collection is not objectively neato. You learn that pretty much everything you do in a regular day could do with some "cool"ifying, and you watch TV shows with real live teenagers (played by 35 year old underwear models) and figure out the new rules.

All of which you are ready to implement come highschool. New freedoms- cars, parties, that creepy delegate dance at the end of the model UN conference where every greasy nerd in the continental united states cashes in the horny points they've been saving with a whole year of sexual frustration in some super un-PC PDA...

I think the teenage state of mind has been trivialized and overlooked as a result of suburban affluence- all kids have to do is go to school so all of their problems are just angst and hormones. Sure, when your lifespan is 80 years long the second 1/8 might not seem that important, but not too long ago teenaged was middle aged, and it was teenagers on the battlefront in every major revolution. The teenage mind is revolutionary by definition- surging with fundamental synapse zaps which will change your body, your processing, challenge every world view.

Guess what?
There's no Santa, Dad's an alcoholic, the government is lying to you, your mother is having an affair with "auntie cathy," and babies come from sex, which you will think about all the time, but in all probability have about as much chance of having it as you have of being cool and popular, and let's face it... were you?

2. Why does "Everything Suck?"
When I was unpopular everything sucked because I felt like there was something wrong with me. Seriously, I was sure I was defective. Maybe if I just tried harder, got smarter, skinnier, funnier, then I would be able to be "normal." This seemed very important and also very faroff coming from a house where a monkey roams around the kitchen and instead of spending money to fix the gutters my Dad once designed and constructed a vehicular shoe. Here is some advice: if you want people to think you're normal, do not show up to school in a shoe.

After a lot of research and focus and hair gel, eventually I did feel popular. But things weren't perfect at the top- there was competition coupled with all of the self-doubt from before, and a whole new set of expectations that came from being more in the spotlight. Sex, drugs, college applications... You'll have to read the book to find out about drinking Cristall with famous rappers, almost getting kicked out of Yale before I get to attend, being published in Newsweek at 17, and other things too embarrassing to mention in this forum. But the point is that in a time of great flux, if you don't like yourself, then you start searching. Far and wide. And the farther you search the more lost you feel in your own skin, and then by extension, everything kind of does suck.


3. Why the hell should I care?

Well, you certainly don't have to care. But if you're at all interested in understanding yourself, or your peers, and the future of this planet, teenagers are at the crux of it all. The stage for ideological revelation is set in the time between childhood and adulthood- you're reevaluating your place in the world, questioning the things you've always been taught, gaining independence. Maybe you're a bully or a recluse or a cheerleader but whether you loved or hated highschool, it would be hard to identify another chunk of 4 years which is so universally... awkward. You have no expertise, no moves, little freedom, and pretty much no respect. Who even are you? Who are your friends? What are you good for?

In the olden days teenagers were apprentices or serfs. They weren't lazing around all day on Second Life eating Doritos, downloading pirated porn, and shopping for shoes. There wasn't time for having an existential crisis. No dating. No clubbing. NO FACEBOOK. Leisure time leads to high-class problems. ADD. Controlled substances. Depression. Being one of those goth kids who cultivates paleness. People sell these teens prozac. Ipods. Cigarettes and shoes. Ivy League degrees.

And then you get out and you realize that everything and nothing is like highschool. There are still politics, inequality, and suckiness. But there are also still reliable awesome people who you love. Fun things to learn and explore. There's power struggles and ass-kissing and also flexibility and self-determination. So. Many. Possibilities.

The teenager inside you has a lot to say- she's shy and cynical, awkward and gawky and bursting with dreams... she has the power to lead revolutions, the stubbornness to start wars, and the uncertainty to undo all of the good within her by comparing herself as pale comparisons to others. Embrace her passion, respect her questioning, and assure her that it's really, truly, finally okay to be herself.

(And buy her a copy of my teenage memoir Everything Sucks out in August.)

Flannery O'Connor said "anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days." And I'd posit that anybody who has lived through their teenagehood has enough information, happy, crappy, and transformational moments, to write about. 

To all those who laughed when I told them I was writing a memoir at the age of 22-yes it's true it sounds a little funny, and probably even a little pretentious. But who says you need to be at the end of your life to reflect? In fact isn't it going to be more generative/relevant the sooner you start? And don't teenagers deserve something of their own to read? Some honest humor, vulnerability, and  commiseration in a world of too much GPA ADD and MTV? 

After four pages I thought this was a terrible idea for a project. After one hundred I was intrigued. And now after 288 pages, I feel like my book has become something I never expected- sprouted its own personality and agenda and purpose. Just like a real teenager. I'm so excited to see what kind of antics it gets up to before publication. 

Keep me posted, hope all is well, let me know what you're thinking.
xox
H

Saturday, November 22, 2008

All Work And No Play Makes Hannah a Confidence Ponderer. or: Why A Theater Major is at most only 70% BS.

As some of you may know, it is T minus seven days before I hand in my first draft of of my first book.
Now I know first drafts don't have to be perfect, but that doesn't change the fact that the only reason I'm talking to you right now at all is that I am procrastinating having to continue squeezing a baby out of my brain. Get out the bone saws. This one's a struggler.

I hope that you will forgive me for my absence, and take heart in knowing that while I deprived you of any posts more substantial than me mugging with a monkey, (desperate times...) I was depriving myself of sunlight, regular human interaction, and even the most basic human hygiene. I know, I know, I'm quite a catch. Inside my love den strewn with post-its, crusty thai takeout, monkey poop, and glitter nailpolish, things have never looked brighter. This is probably due to the fact that because I have been left to my own devices, (but having absolutely no connection to the recent Twilight epidemic,) I have essentially become a pajama-wearing, chocoholic, nocturnal hermit whose only source of light is florescent.

Not that I would mind some kind of connection to the recent Twilight epidemic. If being mormon and writing about vampire foreplay is the recipe for 25 million books sold and 30 million opening day, then break out the magic golden plates and virgin blood, cuz I'm moving to Utah.

Here's what I think makes vampires so sexy: They can't die, they don't take shit, and for some reason even though they never have occupations, they are always immaculately appointed and live in giant mansions. This all adds up to one thing: CONFIDENCE. I have been thinking about confidence a lot lately. (If you're not up for a neurotic psychoanalytical Magic Shoolbus-esque journey to the center of the mind of a person who's been spending six hours a day reliving all of their most awkward and formative memories in agonizing detail, bail now. I don't blame you- it's a fucking circus in there. Get out while you can.)

For the rest of you- the biggest challenge of writing for me, hands down, is just believing in the idea that I'm actually going to finish something. Starting out with a blank page has got to be one of the most awful experiences in my life- i imagine hell will be and endless repetition of blaring alarm clocks, blank first pages, and the leaky brown water at the bottom of garbage cans. At least in school I could go on an all night bender and churn out something loaded up with enough metaphors and "paradoxes" to confuse my TA into thinking that it deserves an A because as far as literary theory goes, there's a pretty fine line between pretentious genius and pretentious tripe.

I'm trying hard to make sure this book (which is 30 times longer than any mfing paper) isn't pretentious anything, because for all their giggling and gossip, teenage girls are actually ninja masters at social radar. They can detect bullshit and insincerity a mile off. I should know, I was one.

And a confused one at that. I didn't have a dashing vampire lover, or an alternate life as a pop-star, or the body of Lindsay Lohan, so according to popular opinion I was pretty much as important as every other angsty teenage girl with hair line acne, which was not very important at all. I wasn't very confident. I should have been.

Here's what I think about Sarah Palin- 5% fashion, 5% "aw, shucks," 110% confidence. I know, I know Mathy Mcgee, that adds up to more than a hundred. That's how important I think the confidence was- it pushed her over the edge, it made the things that came out of her mouth, no matter how raucously imbecilic, sound totally legitimate, because she committed.

They talk a lot in the theater about commitment. "Commit to your role," "commit to the scene." But what does that really mean? I had an excellent acting teacher last year who, in a refreshing departure from high fallutin theater theory, emphasized the importance of just being real, right now, here in your body. She advised asking yourself the questions that will yield specifics about your character's situation which you can use find intersections into your own experience, getting prepared, and then chilling the fuck out. Don't show how upset you are about having to shoot your mentally retarded lady/mouse-murdering farm buddy. Just exist up there on the stage, and trust yourself. If you believe it, we'll believe it.

Palin certainly had down the "trusting yourself" part even if the preparation wasn't all there, which just goes to show the power of confident improvisation. And politicians have good reason to be confident. They're controlling the lives of thousands, sometimes even billions of people. Nothing'll put a spring in your step quite like the knowledge that with a flip of your little finger, you could make Russia extinct.

Confidence can make dumb people alluring, and turn untalented people into celebrities. I don't think I need to name names..
And you know what? Good for them. Even better for those people who were talented to begin with and then just ran with it. Props to Bowie for prancing around dressed like a time traveling transvestite and not only getting away with it, but marrying a god damn super model. Props to OJ Simpson forgetting off the hook and then having the balls to write a book called "If I Did It." Well probably not so much props as gasps of audacity, but you get the picture...

This is what I've been learning:

1.) A key to writing, and probably a lot of other things, is having confidence. The confidence to face the blank page and get through three more pages of shit believing that maybe on page 4 something worthwhile will come out. And a lot of the time it feels like you're lying to yourself, because you're the one making all the shit, and you're getting that distinct gassy feeling like there's a lot more to come.

2.) The key to having confidence is lying to yourself. Hold on there, don't get your britches in a twist. This isn't Enron or OJ lying, I'm talkin' about some good old fashioned blind faith. Because nobody is born with a 300 page book in their hands, and how are you ever going to get away with becoming a Vice Presidential, glam-rock murderer if you don't have a little faith in a seemingly distant dream?

3. Having confidence and committing can create reality. There were many days when I was sure I wouldn't be able to finish this project the way I wanted to. I wasn't a professional writer who worked 8 hours a day and met deadlines and did outlines. It's true. I wasn't. So I lied to myself a little bit every day, and pretended I was that person. After a while I stopped checking the clock and facebook every 20 minutes, and after 6 months of being confident in a little positive lying, I think I actually became half-competent.

A paper cape and a crown can turn a fine actor into a king. He commits. He doesn't criticize himself, worry about preparation for the next scene, or keep one eye the reviewer in the front row, because he's just in the moment. He's confident.

And the bard wasn't dumb. Life really is a stage. No one is born ready to do what they want to do, and lots of clumsy footwork always precedes the grand tango of every great goal. The only way to be the person who runs 2 miles a day or reads two books a week or turns into Paris Hilton is one audacious cha-cha at a time. Pretend. Do your prep-work, don't freak out about the nay-sayers, stay in the moment a little every day until you've done enough prep to become. Have faith in the progress of a continual process. It's a bitch for web-savvy kids like us to wrap our heads around, but unfortunately, Life Itself is not googleable. So lie yourself into having the confidence to believe that with some well-intentioned patience in pretending, you can get your shit done. And if that sounds a little Dr. Phil for you then surprise because you've unintentionally stumbled upon the long awaited (by nobody but me,) third installment of Hannah's Guide To Eternal Happiness

Anyways, this would all be well and good if I were not, as I mentioned before, totally talking out of my ass right now in a cowardly retreat from the vile whiff of blank-white-book-page. You guys are the best. Thanks for all of your encouragement. I know you wouldn't want to be aiding or abetting my continued procrastination, because if I don't finish this book I can't move out of my parent's house and will probably start traveling around the country in a pink minivan full of cats showing up at your house to crash on your couches and eat your frozen dinners. (I know where you live.)

Please keep me posted on your goings on, I'd love to hear updates on life, work, politics, etc , and if you have something interesting to share feel free to shoot me an email at writinghannah@me.com because in light of my deadline I've been considering the community-fostering, diversity-generating, (ie lazy,) idea of having guest contributors on the blog. No but seriously, I want your probative ponderings like a fat kid wants cake.

Wish me luck people. Back to the trenches.

Much Love,
Hannah

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Amelia pics

Draft due in 23 days and it's slow going... just received a few of the possible shots for the jacket-cover though. We did a bunch of shots and then decided to try some with Amelia. She was cooperative for the most part but not exactly an angel...



Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Stool Hits the Fan

A couple of things I've been thinking about:

Firstly, hooray for Obama. I really never intended for this blog to have political content when it first began, what with my entire political adult consciousness being dominated by 8 years of a man whom I could outcount and outspell by the time I was a third trimester fetus. In those eight years we've become embroiled in a mismanaged,  neverending war, and we've gone from having a surplus to basically becoming a subsidiary of China. Forgive me for preferring to do the crossword than trying to puzzle out what new, horrifically cavalier, authoritarian atrocity the front page might have in store.

Secondly, let's take a look at that word 'cavalier...' Bear with me for a sec. Now that we're on the other side of election night, I can begin to reflect on the message of the Obama campaign without having to overload my brain with images of singing puppies pooping rainbows in order to counteract the bleak scenario that a woman who doesn't know that Africa is a continent might end up in the most influential position in the world. Fhew. Onto cavalier. 

It originated as  the Latin caballarius (horseman,) and was later adopted as a negative title for royalists during the Engish Civil War. The royal in question is Charles I, who decided that despite economic turmoil, his real focus should be cutting off the ears of people who spoke out against required attendance policies for his super awesome High Anglican church. The protestants weren't pleased. Parliament wasn't pleased. The Scots were especially displeased. Apparently King Charles never saw Braveheart, because otherwise he might have kept his nose out of the badass, kilt-wearing, mofo north.

The Scottish rebellion  set the stage for the English Civil War, which paved the way for a constitutional  monarchy, whose parliament did not include representation for a handfull of pissed-off passionate patriots, and now a few centuries later here we stand in the USA instead of "West Britain" with absolutely no monarchy and a pretty nifty constitution. And I tell you this for two reasons. Firstly, legend has it that the first riot began in St Giles Cathedral when a minster who was reading from Charles's fancy new required-prayer-book for the first time was lobbed in the head by a stool. This stool was thrown by a merchant woman named Jenny Henry.  She is reported to have thrown it while shouting "Deil colic the wame o’ ye, fause thief" which, for those of us who don't speak angry Scot, means "Devil cause you severe pain and flatulent distention of your abdomen, false thief..." Severe pain and flatulent distention? Geesh...see? I knew you you shouldn't mess with the Scottish.

This brings me to an interesting comment my good friend Michael made recently about a nasty case of gout. This gout incapacitated British parliamentarian William Pitt so much he was not able to protest the fateful Stamp Act which helped catalyze the Revolutionary War.

Now, of course we can trace back from all world-changing events to a million other small catalysts which each played integral roles because everything is connected. And you can't choose to get  assassinated by the Black Hand or to get gout. But you can choose to throw a stool at someone cavalierly trying to take away your rights. Which is to say...

"Yes we can" is an exciting message of hope after what feels like endless unchecked tyranny. But when you think about it, the only reason this country exists in the first place is that "yes, we did." We did in 1775 and we've been doing ever since: emancipation proclamation, suffrage, civil rights... a whole bunch of Americans doing a whole bunch of good. And I don't point this out to diminish Obama's win, but rather to point out that despite the fact my generation has not lived through a major ideological revolution, despite the completely jaded cynicism adopted by many woebegone anti-Bushies, revolution is in our blood, and although we can't control a lot about the universe, we always have the power of taking a stand. (Or throwing a stool.)

Or, for that matter, performing a devastatingly satirical blow to a political candidate on national television. My father posits that comedienne extraordinaire Tina Fey played a key yet under-acknowledged role in bringing down Palin, and I think he's probably right. Just goes to show how far a little free speech can go.

For me, after experiencing many  "holy shit...like, really?"  moments over the past two days, all of these ideas have helped to make the whole Obama thing seem less surreal, to put it into context, to restore some of my theoretical confidence in the idea of freedom, freedom to write and believe and to make a difference, all without getting your ear cut off.

xo
H




Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Oh Obama

Am exhausted. Am exhilarated. Am still curiously very nervous, like maybe this is all a dream and soon a hurricane of pregnant chads will come plummeting out of the sky. So here is my letter to our new President Elect:

Dear Obama,
video

For all the jaded cynicism our generation is famous for, I don't think any one of us can deny the amazing leaps in equality that that 106 year old woman has seen over her lifetime. And perhaps for the first time in my adult life I see the opportunity to make sure the next century brings even more hope and prosperity. I don't care if it's dumb to be optimistic. Obama isn't a singular savior and of course he's going to need help, but I think we need to start believing that together we can move towards positive, lasting change. If we have even a lingering shred of reverence for the ideals of real democracy, of the American dream, then I don't think we have any other choice. 

Oh god I can't believe it's 5 am. Guess this isn't a dream after all. 

xox,
H

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Captain Fantastic

Just to get your minds briefly off of electionly nerves, take comfort in knowing that other people around the world aren't letting the prospect of prez Palin ruin their day or corrupt their inner child. Take this kid for example, who has just legally changed his name to "Captain Fantastic Faster than Superman Spiderman Batman Wolverine The Hulk and the Flash Combined."


 












Well done, my friend. Way to buck the unimaginative title shackles enforced by The Man. Though god help you if you ever need to go to the DMV, because you're not going to be faster than any superheroes letalone the 95 year old no-legged man behind you when it turns out your name is too long to put on a form. Step to the back of the line. Meet me at window number 6. Sir, are you a terrorist? 

Also, I hope this kid makes an awful lot of money in the next few years because otherwise it's going to be hard to convince anyone to become Mrs. Faster than Superman Spiderman Batman Wolverine The Hulk and the Flash Combined.

But truly, brava for bravery and creativity. Weird little wonders make the world go 'round.

xo
H

Monday, November 3, 2008

Pondering The Dark Side

On this the eve of the election, I'd like to capture my thoughts before America either elects a president who its first 26 presidents could have legally owned, or brazenly subverts the very ideals it was founded upon by manipulating numbers in a final embarrassingly overt goosestep towards corporate totalitarianism.

I am nervous. And not night-before-the-swim-test nervous or even night-you-lose-your-virginity nervous, it's a low rumbling primal panic which I can only liken to Star Wars panic. Disney panic. The edge-of-your-seat-terror that makes you  wonder if Skywalker's doomed after he refuses to join Darth Vader and drops down into the abyss, if the wicked octopus or grand vizier or steroid-pumping-village-misogynist is going to wed/kill/skin the dashing prince and then evil people in dark funny costumes are going to take over the world... if it wasn't a movie of course.

And tonight it's not. It's not a movie and yet I feel like Obama might as well be wearing an American flag cape while a decaying McCain, in a high-tech robotic spider wheelchair wearing an eyepatch and stroking an evil cat, gives orders to a sexy scheming Palin who marches back and forth through their sub-terranian campaign lair in four inch thigh-highs and full-body black leather catsuit bossing around the evangelical ants with a loooooong  whip... umm... is this just me? 

Anyway, the point is that things feel weird folks. I have friends who have peed in waterbottles to keep from interrupting a Halo-playing marathon who got off their asses/couches to volunteer for the Obama campaign not once, but many times. Friends so cheap their body content is at least 1/3 Ramen Noodle who donated a good deal of their hard-earned cash to the campaign. People have registered to vote in record numbers, and yet, something just doesn't feel right. I think we should stop congratulating ourselves for just voting. To vote is a privilege which people have died for, and I think there's a whole lot more to be done for the country than to simply help win an election every 4 years.

Hundreds of millions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of man-hours spent on both sides by good-intentioned people who want to make a difference in an historic election, so many resources and voices and energies devoted to a single day. After tomorrow, half of that is going to have been a waste. And I can't help but wonder what could have happened if all that muscle had been put towards something else, and what will happen to its momentum after the election has come and gone. Shouldn't we be donating our money to good causes whenever we can? Helping people who don't have? Dedicating some of our time to  contribute to making the country which provides for us a better place? Of course a power shift is a hugely significant step on the path to great reform, but worrying about this election has been a wakeup call for me:

Even if Obama wins, we have not "won." This isn't a movie and we can't toss every greedy lobbyist oil fatcat bigot down a reactor shaft. I think if we dedicate ourselves to the ongoing welfare of the country as much as we have to the outcome of this election, we'll have a much better shot at coming closer to the overwhelming good the liberals hope Obama will usher in, but which no mere mortal could fully realize alone. 

Which brings me to the other side. I've heard a lot of people claim that if McCain wins, they're leaving. I heard the same thing about Bush's reelection, and his unelection before that, and nobody seems to be leaving. And that's fine. Because as much as I complain about certain political happenings, atrocities, etc., I really do like it here and I suspect most other people do too. We have New York and Hollywood, purple mountain's majesty and sea to shining sea, we created jazz and country music and baseball and cars and lightbulbs and computers and that movie with hundreds of animated singing Chihuahuas! I mean who among the shivering Plymouth pilgrims ever imagined ordering hundreds of animated singing chihuahuas onto a magical box from an invisible information superweb?

The point being, if things don't turn out the way I want tomorrow, I feel compelled, as a college-graduated adultish-type-person, to take a stand. And if I'm going to leave I'm going to leave. But if I'm going to stay I'm not going to sit around whining like I have for the past 8 years. It's like when I don't clean my room because it's dirty and then I blame the dirt. So in my very indecisive way, before you and your screen, I'm declaring my intention to make some kind of stand in the event of -(Ican'tevensayit)-, and encouraging you to consider making one too...

Jump the ship or grab a bucket? 
-Sigh- 
Wasn't everything so much easier back when the worst possible affront to your values was a PB&J sandwich cut diagonally with crust?

Anyways, I guess what I'm saying is that if we're going to stay on board, we should probably be generous with our time and resources when times are tough even more than when the hero saves the day. Because what if he doesn't? And what if he can't?


Hope all is well out there. Everything in NY is going swimmingly, leaves changing, Sam is much better, book is coming along... now if only we could wrangle Ohio everything might just fall right into place.

Yours Nervously,
H

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Whimsical Bigotry Halloween Factory

video
Sooo... right in time for the day after Halloween comes a very strange musical braindripping which is way too bizarre for me to even recall how it came into being, letalone how I convinced my very talented brother to stoop to playing a tiny piano in trackpants and his bar mitzvah jacket. I do know it coincided with my desire to learn how to experiment cramming as many videofilters as possible into one Final Cut project... or perhaps it was just the moon.

xxx,

Friday, October 24, 2008

Pre-TV ... in D

video
This is entitled  

"Pre-TV reflections as to why I've been so Wildly unproductive as of late set to vaguely generic acoustic stacatto: Neuroses in the key of D"

Autumnly Embraces,
H

Monday, October 13, 2008

Slap in the facebook

Dear Facebook,

Have I not been faithful? Do five years of procrastinatory devotion, tagging, friending, poking, and lastminute birthday reminders mean nothing to you? Our voyeurism orgies? The good times? I don't even have a myspace you miserable humanizer! I gave you my all.

Alas, despite my dedication and allaround awesomeness you have forsaken me and deactivated my account. This, simply put, was a dick move. Why must you spurn me so you vile web temptress? 

Yet I shall not weep. Perhaps this is a harbinger from above, a signal of exciting new adultly times approaching, times when it will no longer behoove me to spend half an hour looking at wall comments of that girl from highschool with the superfine ass... I suppose it never behooved me at all. All those happy hours we spent trolling for hotties on company time, checking updates... have they come to nothing? 

Indeed, I must admit it is with trepidation that I take my first steps into a life without you, my maddeningly captivating comrade. However, in the past few dark hours, as I take stock of all I have lost- friends, groups, witty wall comments, that awesome picture of me dressed as Tomb Raider- I begin to wonder if perhaps the time spent away from your candy-coated-clutches will become more valuable than virtual time. Perhaps I'll actually call my friend on her birthday. Nay, perhaps I'll actually see my friend. Start a group! A real live group that does real things. Maybe i'll do something truly spectacular without worrying about what a missed Facebook album opportunity it was...

Dost thou thinkest that a bluff? Damn you Facebook, mistress of a million eyes, you see through my resolve to the shivering core. You know how much I long to login just one last time, if only to answer that message, to check that album, to bid a final farewell... 

A new account? A fresh start?

Not today,  Facebook. Not today and not tomorrow. If we should meet again someday, know that I will not forget this injustice. Know that without you, although my midnight web stumblings will never be the same, I can see a bright new future on the rise. Damn you Facebook- damn your splendor and your might and your deactivation, but most of all, damn your ways. I'm going to go out in the sunshine with some real live friends and do some real live living and I thank you for the wakeup call, however jarring, you ungrateful harlot.

Gratefully Yours,

Hannah Friedman

P.S. (my Facebook farewells)

Michael: Oh no I lost my inbox! Please send me the last message you sent to writinghannah@me.com so that I can respond! Also, you have a fascinating mind. Also, blog plug on lifetime would be peachy. Thank you so much.
Laz: Send me your blog link again! Hope school is going well my love.
Brian, Jeremy, Lauren, Rachel, Rob, Willy, Benji: A final poke.
Lauren: I never got to join your tv show group... are there episodes online?!!
Mr. McMegatron: Imagine I just wrote something hysterically offensive on your wall.
Others: you can reach me at WRITINGHANNAH@ME.COM or here on the blog. 

Much love & silliness,
Hannah

"Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air..." Emerson 

Saturday, October 11, 2008

All Roads Lead To Rome. (Writing about Writing)

A few of you have asked me to blog about writing. I assume you want something more substantive than this embarassingly accurate reenactment of my day:

Morning... Bleh. email, digg, facebook, email, cookies! Bleh. writing, bitching, itching, knitting, cookies! Bleh. TV. (repeat)


Here goes- Writing is the most rewarding and maddening endeavor I have ever undertaken. Sometimes you sit down at the keyboard and the keys just clickclickclick away like raindrop patter and every image is poignant and you ride atop a soaring wave of creative flow until suddenly you realize it's been 2 hours and 5 pages since you sat down and you exhale a sigh of supreme satisfaction. The world is a beautiful place and you have a beautiful real purpose.

These times are few and far between.

They are flanked by many large angry phalanxes of crappy times. Writer's block is, for me, a misnomer, because it suggests that if the writer were to use some figurative plunging or Draino-powered purging, everything would flow freely. When things are not flowing it never seems the fault of a "block," but rather the crappy crumbling system of my own cerebral plumbing. It's simply no good. It'd be cheaper to trash the whole damn thing than to try and fix a little leak or blockage. I feel like the paragraph I'm staring at is shit, the chapter I'm pondering is shit, the project, and by extension my entire pathetic creative career and very existence is shit...

OPTIMISTIC H: But I've done good stuff before, right? 
U.R.SHIT H: Irrelevant. The well has run dry... the best you can hope for now is that people won't realize when you slap tacky ornaments onto your old, withering, once-mildly-amusing ideas.
HANNUKAH H: Man I love ornaments... and Christmas trees. And ham! Driedels blow.
GOD-FEARING H: You're totally going to hell. Say you love Hannukah.
HANNUKAH H: Fuck no!
GOD-FEARING H: Say it or God will smite you and you won't be written down in his fancy yearbook of people who aren't going to die this year.
NEUROSIS H: Ohmigod Ohmigod Ohmigod I read this thing about black African ants that travel in enormous migrating mountains 10 million strong, and they destroy everything in their path, and if they reach you you die, but not by ant bite, you die by suffocation. 
H: Eiw!
GOD-FEARING H: See? God has some scary shit up his sleeve.
EGALITARIAN H: Her sleeve.
ATHEIST H: Nobody's sleeve.
AGNOSTIC H: Is there even a sleeve at all? 
BUDDHIST H: It is the empty space within the sleeve that defines the sleeve.

REALITY CHECK H: You are all so full of shit. Shut up. What were we talking about again?
U.R.SHIT H: How she's full of shit.
BUDDHIST H: Now now, even shit is part of the oneness of the universe.
SKINNYBITCH H: You're only saying that cuz you're ugly. And FAT. I thought you reached Nirvana by starving yourself under a tree for 40 days... did Nirvana come with a milkshake and a side fries?
BUDDHIST H: You know what? Peace out.
SKINNYBITCH H: That's right fatty- you run! Then maybe in a few millenia you won't be the Chris Farley of deities.

WIKI H: Let's google the gods of greek mythology!
SKINNYBITCH H: Or the Olsen twins!
EGO H: Let's google me!

My curmudgeonly friend Ned says that blogs are literary masturbation, and that nobody wants to read about "all those fruity feelings," and that I should only keep him posted in the event that something truly momentous occurs because why the hell else would he read me instead of Orwell? And with Ego H leading the way I find just the thing...

Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League, the guy who has protested everything from Dogma and The Golden Compass to Bill Maher and a statue of Jesus made out of chocolate, the 
guy who was featured in the Easter episode of South Park using a "doublecross" to seize papal power and condemn Jesus himself for "going against the church," quoted yours truly in a book. Whaaaaat?

 






My favorite part is that after my quote about icky teenage backstabbing he writes "...but not so with Jesus." I have found myself tempted to use this phrase a lot over the past few days, like "Working hard makes me want to get wicked high and play Halo... not so with Jesus" or "I think my brother tangled up the network with all of that online hardcore babysitter porn... not so with Jesus."

Anyway this just goes to show you how far I am usually led astray by bands of roving writerly doubt. One minute I'll be staring at a sentence unsure of what adjective to use and the next I'm having a full out existential crisis followed by an unstoppable craving for South Park, Redtube,  controlled substances, and the meaning of life itself. It's exhausting. 

The strange thing is that when you really are in the zone, when your fingers are flowing in perfect harmony with your thoughts, if you start thinking "oh wow I'm totally in the zone, hot damn that was a great metaphor," you plummet straight back into the pit. Don't overthink it. You can look back later.

Which is to say: I don't really like writing. I like having written. 

The satisfaction of looking back over a whole literary landscape you've crafted stone by stone totally... rocks. But the creative unconscious is a finicky creature who hates nothing more than the over-intellectual analysis that peppered so many of my best college papers. I've been reading a lot of 'writers on writing' and everybody seems to agree on one seemingly simple thing: stop trying so hard, don't be afraid to make mistakes, just do it.

The trick is that, just like with meditation, clearing your mind is much easier said than done. I find that carrying a notebook to get ideas out of my head is helpful, as is scribbling down a list of any "why you're an untalented loser" thoughts which get in the way of uninhibited writing. 

My favorite recent discovery is the fact that all good ideas and potent themes and meaningful truths that want to get written exist in a room with a million doors. 

Stay with me... so you can agonize over symbolism and stare at the computer for 12 hours trying to find the perfect topic or theme or chapter title, but in reality that thing has been waiting around the whole time for you to start knocking. Maybe you start knocking at a door with a picture of your dog on it, which reminds you of your Dad, which reminds you of that time you and your Dad went hiking and played harmonica in the abandoned barn and you realize what you really want to talk about is bonding through music. The door opens and suddenly you're inside- rehearsals, pianos, performance anxiety, it is a rich radiant room and now you're on a roll.

Or maybe you start knocking on a door that has nailpolish on it. And you start writing about painting your nails and that saxophone player who had sparkle nailpolish, or you knock on the sushi door and you write about the first time you ate California rolls in New York City and how your mother said if you didn't stand behind the yellow line someone might throw you into the subway tracks and how the buskers played the Star Spangled Banner as the 4 train pulled away. It doesn't matter what you start writing about because now you're inside the music room again even though you came in from the other side through a different door.

Stop worrying what's right. Write. **

**HYPOCRITE ALERT H: If Hannah could take this advice half as often as she dispenses it she'd have been onto book #4 last year instead of trapped on page 57 of book #1 for the third day straight. Damn.

Keep the faith. Keep smiling. Keep me posted.

xo
H (&H&H&

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Me (MeMeMeMeMe)

Birthdays have always seemed a little anti-climactic since my My Little Pony days. Somewhere along the way, getting the cake slice with the very most frosting became a matter of calorific concern instead of glee, and the wondrous wonder of helium balloons began to deflate. 

Plus, the fact that I've never had one of those incestuous Dawson's Creek/Saved by the Bell 'crews' who throws you surprise parties and gives you big group-hugs as sappy string music plays and you all learn a lesson about friendship and love and not abusing caffeine pills has always made a birthday party consisting of a geriatric primate and my brother and the cat who humps my pillowcase seem like a big YOU'RE LAME-themed commercial for why I should just give up the social struggle and stop shaving my armpits and move into a cave. 

Six year old me would not be pleased with this because she knows your birthday is not about you moving into a cave, but about you being the princess of the whole wide world. 

But time and middleschool brutality have taught me much humility.

A level of humility which is surprisingly difficult to maintain whilst publicizing the completely coincidental public birthday launch of my me themed show all about me:

http://www.mylifetime.com/lifestyle/entertainment/flying-solo/video/1815816476

Hooray!!!
I have nothing else to say because I'm watching it now making ick faces at all the times I sound/look like an idiot. Feel free to echo these embarrassing instances as a means of keeping me grounded, or if you're feeling generous, let me know what doesn't totally suck. Thanks guys. 

Best,
Hannah (Princess of the whole wide day) 

Also, if you liked it, it would be a huge boon if you posted a little love on lifetime:
http://www.mylifetime.com/lifestyle/entertainment/flying-solo


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Ubermenschian Stemcell Baby Army. Also Jetpacks. Plus Democracy.

I refuse to dignify debates with anything longer than two sentences worth of attention, one for each candidate, because anything more would suggest that I think they are actually a reflection of intention or integrity rather than a big red white and blue puppet show for big kids. So... did you notice Obama wore a flag pin while McCain wore a Palpatine, Dark Lord of the Sith mask? 










Talk is cheap. Especially in wake of the past 8 years, in which the value of talk has been so badly bludgeoned that it makes pieces of dog shit look like British Pound Sterling while talk is devalued into pieces of... I was going to say worm shit but that's actually a key natural fertilizer so perhaps pieces of garbage. Unrecyclable biohazardous smelly ugly garbage. 

This is of great concern to me, someone who is attempting to make a living by putting words together. So you can understand how it's hard to watch people with zero accountability saying whatever the heck they want for two hours on primetime. Let's lower taxes! Torture is bad! Look at my friendship bracelet from some dead army kid. No look at MY friendship bracelet from some dead army kid! Freedom!!!

I don't understand how a country so awesome at sensationalistic reality television can put up with this. Where are the tears? The alcoholic rages? I want to see how McCain discusses foreign policy after he finds out his wife has been giving head to Flava Flav in the whitehouse grotto.

Seriously, there should be a reality show where we lock both candidates in a house, deprive them of sleep, and then have fake national disasters of all different shapes and sizes to see how they really deal under pressure- then they're acting instead of just waxing poetic about freedom. They do it in Model UN and I don't see why we can't do it here. It would be like campaign bootcamp. Wake up McCain! Iran has obtained weapons of mass destruction and is threatening to obliterate Israel and you have 12 minutes to come up with a negotiation strategy....

...underwater! Maybe not the underwater part, but how else are we going to keep the ratings up?

I'm sick and tired of all this bullshit political sweettalk lies. And it's contagious- I told you I was only going to spend two sentences discussing this nonsense and I lied straight to your face because here I am still ranting about this whole absurd charade.  So what do we do when we're up to our neck in lies? Do we leave?

This possibility sounds more and more compelling, especially after seeing things like this, which is actually what I originally intended to write my entire post about:


This Swiss guy flew across the English Channel via Jetpack. 

JETPACK.

Holy Shit.

This is my childhood Jetson fantasy come true- they have self opening doors and self cleaning litterboxes and even a magical network of boxes which can magically teleport your thoughts to anywhere in the world, and yet jerky Seagulls are still laughing their winged asses off at us.
Us and penguins. We're both flightless rejects.

Until now. Swiss guy gives flight to the dreams of kids who suck hardcore at every sport and yet still hold out absurd hope that in some alternate reality, they are totally Quiddich masters... the dreams of everyone who's sure they could be Iron Man if only they were a little more genius suave and a billionaire... and the dreams of people like me who are too lazy to walk six blocks to the grocery store and carry their own groceries back. 

Jetpack Flight. The stuff dreams are made of. So if the debate bummed you out like me, take solace in the knowledge that weird and whimsical wonders are all around and above us. 

Or, if you, like me, can't drive past a McDonalds without having a nightmarish fantasy about McCain stealing the election a la 2000, for a giggle that's still politically themed, check out some of the things which are younger than John McCain:

Chocolate Chip Cookies, the lubricated condom, Scrabble, the PB&J sandwich, Zip Codes, and the Minimum Wage. tadaa!

Love,
Hannah

PS... if you are a regular reader of this blog and you haven't entered my Writinghannah Writing Challenge,  you kind of  Writinghannah Writing Suck. We can only become a world-altering establishment-shattering creative community if we create stuff. As a community. So here's the deal: if you're enjoying the blog, it would make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside if you sent it to a few pals who might also enjoy it, and if you've put in your two cents in comments already, I thank you kindly. As for R. Matt- he is not only gentleman and scholar, but also sire-er of my future Postmodern ubermenschian stem cell baby army. (If that's okay with you R. Matt.) 


Monday, September 22, 2008

Bull

I know embarrassingly little about the economy. It's never been a discussion topic in our house because we've never had enough money to warrant interest in the market, and if we ever do it will almost certainly be spent on a 10 acre monkey preserve and some kind of virtual solar powered piano/guitar/kazoo hybrid which also dispenses strawberry shortcake before you can say Bull. 

Plus those guys on Wallstreet don't do a great job of promoting the interesting side of the industry- all that swearing and bidding and sweating... A friend's dad once told me that on the day his wife gave birth to kid number 3, he lost $9 million of a client's money and was so deliriously distraught that he puked and passed out in the bathroom and didn't wake up till the janitor found him that night and the kid was already born. Cherished memories.

Anyway I'm admitting this deficiency in my knowledge base for two reasons: 

1. As our nation plummets even deeper into what would be a comedically meteoric clusterfuck if it weren't going to screw over everyone in my generation while all the idiots who at fault are contentedly dead, it seems prudent to be informed and 

2. I'm guessing most of you out there don't understand every in and out of the market either. It's big and numbery and, until recently, didn't seem to have a huge impact on day to day life if you weren't a high-rolling coke-snorting Rolex-wearing Wallstreet guy. And frankly, it seems to me that a lot of those guys are in those jobs at least partly due to the fact that it's easier to talk to numbers than to other humans. Maybe if you make enough monkey you can buy some friends...

But as I'd like to be the ultimate crunchy hippie whose ideal form of currency is macrame bracelets and hugs, I realize that finance is not all numbery drivel, and that even if it is, it's important to start getting real and getting informed. I went to the bookstore today with my brother to pick out something to inform me investment-wise, became achingly bored in 2 minutes, then wandered into the children's section in search of a colorful remedy where I came across this...























Reeeally? I mean Barack seems like a good guy, but does his story really merit shelf-space next to my beloved childhood One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish? It freaks me out to think that our political system has become so reductive and polarized that candidates are either evil scum or the Harry Potter of politics. Then, not to be outdone, I find the republican counter...














Can you believe this shit? A children's book which features a whole four page watercolor spread of a guy in a cage being tortured for five years?! Who the hell would buy this? 







And, more importantly, where is the middleground? Neither men are complete saints, and canonizing them in children's books is a perfect example of how we're cultivating a nation of followers who don't look beyond the myth to demand the fact. If you want to read to your kids about Jesus or Moses or Santa then fine, but don't start shoveling pagefulls of kiddie-propaganda down their throats about real people who deserve critical, sophisticated analyses.

In such a black and white media circus it's easy to get caught up in absolutes. I've had to remind myself often that I can't constantly defend Obama just because he's not McCain- there are thousands of Obama quotes and interviews and policies which I know nothing about, and if I support him just because of who he is instead of what I know to be truth, I'm no better than the mindless Bush devotees who I've criticized so fervently in the past.  

I think that especially in the face of such unprecedented economic turmoil it's important not to get swept up in Obama-Mythology. He's just a guy like the rest of us with good and bad qualities, and if we mentally bestow him with every positive attribute from MLK to JFK's, we'll be as disappointed and disillusioned as ever. 

Plus, our generation cannot afford to be uninformed... we can't accept the children's book watercolor version of politics, economics, or anything we care about for that matter.  Thoughts? Suggestions? What do you feel uninformed about? Maybe we can do some virtual fact networking. And maybe if you're not as mathtarded as me you can explain how all of a sudden the entire economy can go tits up in one night like a tipsy sorority girl in stilettos? Keep me posted.

xo
H

Thursday, September 18, 2008

TV & Me

I must apologize for being MIA as of late. I got a bitchin case of tendinitis from typing all curled up in bed in what yoga enthusiasts might dub the 'constipated fetus' pose. I know that fetuses can't be constipated and now I also know that pirating crappy mac dictation software and trying to use it in public leads to your yelling obscenities repeatedly at someone who isn't there, thus blurring any differentiation between you and a crazy homeless person- 

"It was a rather aggressive... "Not 'a grass lives.' Delete. AGGRESSIVE. Not 'agar is' goddamn it. Aggressive. Delete. Delete! No don't type delete, just delete. DELETE!"

And then it deletes your entire document. And then you shout "control Z! control Z! whilst tensing your fists up like... a constipated fetus. And then a policeman asks you if there is a problem. Needless to say that little experiment didn't last very long and I decided to let my tendons rest for a bit.

I spent the week at the New York Television Festival at which a reality pilot about me was premiering. I suppose what I should have guessed about reality television is that, instead of being a compilation of your most fantastically intelligent viewpoints and clever quips and humorous moments, it's more like letting someone take hundreds of naked pictures of you and then publish a hideous compilation of all the most hairy scaly blotchy dimply pimply patches for all the world to see. Over and over again when and wherever they would like. In fact I think most people would come off better in their secret sex tape than in their own reality tv show because you can't really be a whiny jerk or a jerky ditz or a ditzy fucktard when all you're doing is having an orgasm. 

That being said, my pilot Flying Solo was a pleasant surprise, and although they cut all my thoughts on positive female role models, and reforming education, and music as a means of cultural communication, and the creative unconscious, and the writing process, and the mark of our generation, at least I didn't look like a megabitch.... It premieres on mylifetime.com in the next few days and I'd love to hear your thoughts. It's a hybrid reality show by P&G combining my footage with the crew's footage to detail my summer.

The festival was smashing and I met tons of creative filmmakers as well as comedy development folks and even the heads of Swedish television. Turns out Swedish television is totally cutting edge- they won an interactive Emmy for a recent project called The Truth about Marika which combined a TV drama with an online conspiracy in which fans were encouraged to uncover the truth about the 20,000 people who have gone missing in Sweden in the past few decades, and the part that blew me away was that in addition to the online hacking there were clues and meetings and surprises planted all over Sweden, blending game with reality, and completely immersing the viewer as a true participant in the mystery. They even had a game where viewers could drive to an actual set in the form of a war trench, suit up in battlegear, and wage computer warfare from within the game. And we think we're pushing the limit with text message American Idol voting...

I always loved those old maps in  history class from before all the continents had been mapped- the ones with big dragons and seamonsters dotting uncharted waters, daring explorers to journey into the unknown, and I was pretty bummed to discover at the age of 7 that the only things truly left to explore are the thick jungle, the deep sea, and outerspace seeing as I am an allergic claustrophobe with a fear of flying. 

But the NYTVF really inspired me to view the internet as a new frontier not only for entertainment and social networking, but for education, creative inspiration, and as a tool for empowering the oppressed. Never before have we had access to so much information from so many different cultures, and I can only hope that this, in the face of religious oppression and intellectual/social intolerance and economic fucking Armageddon, will pave the way for cooperation and innovation as it's done in previous incarnations of cultural renaissance. 

I was heartened to find a community of artists at the festival who were really just plain nice. They were hardworking passionate people who were excited to share their ideas and it made me hopeful about the future despite increasingly dire newspaper headlines. 

I also learned that everyone is desperate for good content, and that even for comedy geniuses only about 10% of ideas are great, and the collaboration leads to greatness, so in the spirit of the festival I'm posing the very first...
Collaborative Writinghannah Challenge!!!

Combine at least three of the following elements into a kick-ass TV series pitch:

Speculum   Kleptomania Beer  Byron  Bear-Baiting  Toddlers  Adultery
Jellybeans   Dr. Seuss Podiatry  Treasure-Hunting  Celebrities  Foot-Fetish
Drugs Collectors Vampires/Ninjas (must use both)  Dating  Amish
Sing-Along   Canada Time-Travel   The-80s  Tits  Fashion  DaDaism
Thoreau  Terrorism Feminism  Dragons  Psoriasis  Lesbians  Marsupials
Defenestration   Mendel Flesh-eating-bacteria Glitter  Lincoln  Dwight
Makeovers Prison Monarchy  Amnesia  Intervention  Japan  Gynocology
Octopi  Johnny-Cash Baking  The-1800s The-Mob  Nietzsche  World-Domination
Sun Tsu Jesus Fungus  Nuts   Ballroom-dancing  Fetuses  Aquaphobia 
Monkey Nymphomania  French Maids Basketball  Puppets  Hipsters

Prizes will be awarded by category and for originality.

Best,
H



Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Quickie plug


my fabulously talented friend Jeremy's new Palin spoof video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGwfrt3gWdo&watch_response

Saturday, September 6, 2008

PH.D. in Yo.U

If you are looking for Yale posts, I suggest you read the intro to this post which is here and here. 


Thank you for your insightful thoughts and questions regarding my most recent education post.  My favorite nervous prefrosh E wrote: “Before you scared the bejeezus out of me concerning Yale. Now you scared the bejeezus out of me in general. Where can I get a REAL education?"  

       

This question and others like it from fellow knowledge-lovers who are frustrated with what one reader described as “recycled thought, recycled theses, and recycled teaching,” deserve a very thoughtful answer, and I spent much of this week turning over possibilities in my mind.          


But an answer came to me, as most exciting answers so often do, as a complete surprise and while I was focused on something else entirely- namely finishing a 50 page chapter summary for my editor.

 

Let me just say that writing is a bitch. You stare at a blank page completely convinced you have absolutely nothing to say, or even if you do kinda have a vague idea of what you’d like to say, crafting those blobs of thought into a cohesive narrative seems about as likely as your being able to sculpt a life sized replica of the David out of peanut butter before lunchtime.           


So in the face of no ideas, no outlines, and no hope, you just have to forge ahead anyway by convincing yourself that something good will happen eventually. Believing in yourself is a clich├ęd mantra, but a popular one because it is such an essential prerequisite for having the balls and audacity to turn passion into product.

 

And therein lies one of my main problems with the ‘idea’ of higher education. We seem to think that we need to do well on the SATs, we need to get good grades, we need to graduate from college in order to be PREPARED. But the truth is, you’re already prepared. You were born with a unique set of abilities and interests and with a completely revolutionary perspective. You, as you are right now, are capable of unrecycled revolutionary thoughts simply because you are the only you there ever has been or will be.


But traditional education thrives on enforcing the belief that you are not enough. How can you expect to accomplish anything if you don’t know algebra? If you don’t read Dostoyevsky? If you can’t speak 2 languages? If you don’t have a college degree? Until you do all of those things, you are still only in the prerequisite part of your life, acquiring the skill points necessary to qualify you as a person who is worthy of doing something real.


Frankly, that's bull...           


I’m not saying that learning isn’t the brightest pigment in your creative palate- learning is profoundly powerful. But even if you spend 50 years amassing millions of shades of information colors, compared to Wikipedia you will still only be a Crayola 10 pack.  And you’ll be so self conscious about what you still don’t have, you’ll never take the plunge and just start scribbling with what you’ve got.                        

 

Ask any four year old fingerpainter about their “creative process” and they will look at you cockeyed. They’re just painting. They have not yet been told how ignorant they are in the face of college-education requirements, so they’re free to follow their own truths.           


“But oh how woefully uneducated they are! Heathens! What they really need is to sit still, listen and repeat!”


We listen and repeat and listen and repeat in different subjects and formats for the better part of 17 years. We fill in bubbles with number two pencils and try to prove we aren’t idiots. But no matter how many bubbles we get ‘right’ we feel like failures in the face of the impossible expectation of being human Wikipedias. We’ll never be ready. But guess what?

 

You have always been ready.

 

And any educational system or institution which focuses on how much you don’t know, instead of nurturing what you intuitively know, is a sham. Haven’t your best teachers been the ones who encourage and engage you with knowledge which, for whatever reason, enriches you? Feels relevant for you? It's not about the subject, it's about how you feel about the subject. And you won't always be able to rationalize why you are drawn to what you are drawn to- your creative unconscious is a vast and thrillingly complicated place and you need to trust in hunches and passions- you'll end up doing something exciting everyday instead of trying to force yourself to be interested in something that seems 'important' but doesn't have meaning for you. 


You are the only expert in yourself. Start listening. 


And this isn’t self indulgent self-help baby stuff. You are an extremely difficult subject- infinitely harder than college classes. Going to Yale was technically tough, but strategically it couldn't have been simpler: just take the tests, do the reading, follow the rules.


What makes writing or painting or inventing so hard is that there is no syllabus for the intricate caverns of your own brain. There’s no expert, no textbook, no study-guide for the midterm. All there is is you, and when you’ve spent 17 years focusing on how much you don’t know, it’s hard to have faith in what you do. It’s hard to have faith in a process which you can’t read about in a book because nobody has ever done it before. It’s completely uncharted territory, and the only way you’re going to figure out how to do it is to do it.


So now you know why I started out talking about self confidence. I was an A student all my life who went to a top college, but having the confidence to follow rules is completely the opposite of believing in your own unique vision.


The ingenious idiocy of persisting in exploring your ideas instead of memorizing others' is not taught in schools because it undermines their authority- the notion that a child could produce something marvelous by following through on their inspiration might make SAT prep courses completely obscolete.


And I'm not saying it's all a waste of time, but remember that tasks which are safe and predictable will never be anything but safe and predictable, while the completely terrifyingly unknowable challenges have the potential to change the world.


So although I don't think I'm going to change the world with my little teen memoir, I do feel like I've learned an enormous amount about myself and my creative process by forcing myself to write even when I don't have a good idea, even when I feel untalented, even when it seems like it'll never sound right, and even when I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing, because showing up and having faith in the face of self-doubt is the only prerequisite for creating something new and worthwhile.

 

There are a billion things you don't know, but you'll only discover something truly unique if you trust in yourself. And the best way, the only way to start, is to just decide you're going to do it without questioning yourself about how unprepared you seem. Everyone feels unprepared. If they don't, then they aren't taking any risks. And risks are the only way that crazy amazing ideas become crazy amazing realities. 


So to answer the original question, "REAL education" is not something you can purchase or download or memorize, it is an active personal journey. It can be supplemented and illuminated by school, but the only way you're going to have the balls to think you can write a sonata or cure a disease or find a unifying theory of the universe is to challenge yourself as often as you can.


Give yourself every opportunity to surprise yourself.


Because everything else you can just find on Wikipedia.


thoughts questions comments?


much love,

(formerly-Hurricane-now-tropical-storm) Hannah