Friday, September 23, 2011

Buffalo Bullies Breed Hatred

A few years ago, a fatal car crash occurred at a dangerous intersection near my town.  One week later, a traffic light appeared.

Had the light been installed when locals first advocated its need, the accident might have been avoided.  Actually, I'm confident it would have been avoided, but that's a discussion for another day.  My question is: exactly how many teens need to commit suicide before laws are passed to protect them?

Jamey Rodemeyer, a fourteen year-old from Buffalo, New York, took his life last weekend.  After years of battling bullies targeting his sexual orientation, Jamey joined predecessors Billy Lucas, Tyler Clementi, Seth Walsh, and countless others who lived the same heartache and chose the same outcome.

In May, Jamey posted a video message as part of the It Gets Better Project.  Four months later, he was found dead outside his home.

The news has left Americans outraged and celebrities taking a stand.  Lady Gaga, the recipient of Jamey's final tweet, is advocating for laws against bullying.  Gaga vowed on twitter to meet with the president and continue fighting to end this hate crime.

Jamey's story reminds us this movement is far from over.  Whether a bully, victim, advocate, or bystander, we all participate in this fatal cycle.  If a person fears heights, they can choose to avoid planes.  If one fears the ocean, they stick to pools.  And if someone fears spiders, they find someone else to squish them.

But a teen cannot find someone to attend school in his or her place.  Bullied teens confront their greatest fear every day; we throw them in the line of fire and do little to protect them.  It's hard to learn when you're afraid. Exactly who wins with this system?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Perseverance Pays

I watched the premier of X FACTOR last night.  I can't help it; I'm a sucker for shows where regular people get the opportunity to change their life forever.  I also believe writers are artists.  We're different from performers, but we face similar struggles and heartache while chasing our big break.

When the word no is shouted in your face time and time again, it's easy to lose faith.  Lack of confidence is the easiest ways to derail the train chasing our goals.  If we don't believe we will reach our destination, why not bail at the next stop?

My brain focuses on a lot of negatives; specifically, the slow pace I've maintained during the editing process.  I over-analyze everything, keeping myself from moving forward until I rectify my dilemmas.  I drill the same sections until I'm satisfied, only to change my mind a few days later.  I can't let things go.  I have a hard time believing my edits improve the story.  And no matter how hard I try, I can't believe anyone would want to read a book I wrote.

Negativity is toxic.   But despite the damage it causes, I allow it to infiltrate my blood.  It's become an addiction.  In Tweak, Nic Sheff discusses that, as an addict, his body knew when he injected an impure substance.  It got pissed; when someone orders fillet, you can't serve flank.

In a twisted way, I respond this way to positive energy.  It doesn't feed the craving; it doesn't provide what I'm used to.  When your told no your entire life, you believe it.  When you never make the cut, it's tough to keep trying.  When you always fail, success is inconceivable.  You tell yourself you don't have what it takes; that dreams come true for other people, and you are not one of them.

Stacy Francis knows the destruction of self-doubt.  For over a decade, she believed she was too old to pursue her dream.  But when this 42 year-old single mom took the Los Angeles spotlight, 4,300 people rooted her on.

Inspiration surrounds us like the oxygen we breathe.  We can't touch it, but we feel its effects.  Stacy's journey boosted my drive.  Uncertainty is part of life; we will never know ahead of time if a risk will pay off, nor will we know when our moment will come.  For Stacy, it took 42 years.  Some have a shorter journey; others take even longer.  But each day builds the person we are at the end.  Each day holds the opportunity for our craft to be improved.  We can use this time to learn, grow, and push ourselves forward.  Or, we can concede to negativity and let our dreams evaporate.  The choice is ours.

Never giving up will not guarantee our moment.  But giving up guarantees that moment never comes.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Worst Movies Ever Blogfest

Today I'm participating in the Worst Movies Ever Blogfest, organized by Alex Cavanaugh.  I only selected movies I've seen (I say this because I know of worse, but having never seen them, I feel it's unfair they be included).  The movies listed reflect my opinion only; these were horrible experiences for me, which doesn't mean they were necessarily horrible for you.  It's all about diversity, folks!

The Ten Worst Movies Ever

10.  Fame (2009): Because when the movie ended, nobody wanted to live forever. 

9. The Village (2004): The movie we do not speak of, staring those we do not mention, should be advertised as 'the film we must not sit through.'

8.  Death Becomes Her (1992): Give me a break (no pun intended, since the movie focused on watching people break into pieces after taking some immortality potion). 

7.  Coneheads (1993): It should have been named NO HEADS, after those who wrote the script.

6.  From Justin To Kelly (2003): Some things, even I don't understand, like how it's possible this nonsense was in theaters to begin with (I'm singing this to you).  

5.  I Know Who Killed Me (2003): Because ten minutes into this movie, I wanted to be killed also.

4.  Lady In The Water (2006): Supposedly based on a bedtime story, this tale is sure to knock out even the most caffeinated viewers.

3.  Jeepers Creepers (2001): The only thing eating me was the ten bucks I wasted.

2.  The Royal Tenenbaums (2001): Because you can find a better plot in porn.

1.  Reign of Fire (2002): Had I known what I was walking into, I'd have torched myself for the occasion.

And finally.....just for fun...
The worst movie to be made in the future is....
Jer$ey Sh0re, The Movie (2015)
When bride-to-be Sammi catches her fiance, Ronnie, smooshing in the lovecuzzi with a sloppotamus, she calls off her wedding for the fifth and final time (HA!).  Bridesmaids JWoww and Deena comfort Sammi in her 45,865,817 time of need, taking her out for an evening of fist pumping, drinking, and making out in cabs.  Meanwhile, The Situation uses his check from Abercrombie to have a foursome, while best-selling author Snooki comes face to face with her ghostwriter.  When learning a sequel is not in the cards, she enrolls in Pole Dancing 101 and advances to head of the class.  Pauly is brought on a daytime talk show where his latest stalker makes him take a paternity test for the twins she is carrying.  Vinny practices growing a beard while plotting to destroy the duck phone and Hurricane Angelina returns to seduce the guidos and fight the meatballs.

Thanks for stopping in today.  Enjoy the rest of the Blogfest!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering, Ten Years later

I was a freshman in college.  It was my eighteenth day living on campus, and although my first class did not begin until 11AM, I woke up early.  It wasn't something that happened often.

Being of the AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) era, I learned of the attacks via a friend's away message.  I don't remember my initial thought; I do remember terrorism was not it.  It wasn't until turning on CNN that I realized the severity of what happened.

Classes were cancelled.  My RA stopped in to ask if I was okay.  When I said yes, he asked me not to use my cell unless it was an emergency.

As an American originally from the state of NY - an American with relatives on both sides of my family living and working in Manhattan - I'm fortunate nobody I know was involved in the attacks.  But, living nearby has allowed me to meet people who were directly involved: people who saw the planes hit, people who lost jobs, people who lost loved ones.  Their recollection of that day is far different from mine.

A decade has passed, but America continues to grieve.  Many still live in fear.  Many continue feeling empty.

I watched a portion of the live coverage airing the 10th Anniversary memorial ceremony.  A woman who lost her brother said there is still no closure and still no answers.  A girl who lost her father said ten is just a number and he would always be remembered.  A man stated the names of those lost are now etched in stone, but are forever etched in our hearts.  Every name is engraved.  Every name was read.

The events of 9/11 affected us differently.  But we all remember together.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Book Package Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Dayna, a teacher in NYC receiving 10 new MG/YA novels for her school.  Dayna's comment entry was generated by, making her the winner of this diverse book package.  Dayna, please e-mail your shipping information and I'll get that sent out.

Thanks to everyone who entered and helped spread the word.  And a special thanks to all the teachers out there beginning another school year.  Thank you for all you do.  I've posted this before, but should you find yourself needing an extra dose of encouragement, here is one of my favorite video clips from Taylor Mali.

You make a difference!