Tag Archives: Life

On a Lighter Note

dog-in-bed

I am a dog lover to the fullest. Every time I see a puppy, I go into full “awwww” mode and will pet and play and make kissy faces. I talk baby-talk to dogs, I give them treats and when driving, I wait patiently for them and their owners to cross the street. I can identify most breeds on sight and I even peruse animal shelters in hopes of one day adopting a dog to replace my beloved pup that passed away earlier this year.

But…

I will never let a dog sleep in the bed with me. And I don’t understand how some people do it. My bed time routine is this… I take a shower. I shave every part of my body that needs shaving – armpits, legs, crotch area, etc. I get out of the shower and proceed to pat myself dry and make sure to stay damp enough for the lotion (that I plan on applying) to absorb. I apply said lotion and then – on particularly cold or dry days – I will apply a thin coat of oil onto my feet. I put on a hair bonnet and a clean nighty. And then I get into my clean (and well-shook) bed, with clean linens that I wash at least once a week.

Now what the fuck do I look like letting a furry-ass, shedding-ass dog, who’s been digging holes and walking all over god’s dirty ass earth all day, climb into bed with me?

Hell no.

I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that.

 

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The Stranger at Starbucks and My Relationship with Holidays

So one thing about me is that I grew up as a Jehovah’s Witness. And for those of you who know anything about this religion, you know that JWs are notorious for what they DON’T do – most specifically for not celebrating holidays. The excuse for not celebrating was mainly attributed to the pagan and otherwise unsavory origins of the holidays and all of the excessive spending and marketing campaigns, etc., etc., etc.

Fast forward to yesterday. I was at Starbucks living my heathen life, sipping a latte and tapping away at my computer. Some middle aged man was sitting nearby waiting for an opportunity to chat me up and as soon as I stood up and prepared to leave, he used the word on my shirt (LOVE) to strike up a conversation.

Guy: “Hey! What does LOVE mean to you?”

 

I managed to avoid answering his random-ass question but did engage in conversation with him for a little bit because – why not? So any who, we start talking about holidays, specifically Kwanzaa. As someone who has celebrated Kwanzaa, I told him that I love the holiday and what it stands for but I don’t think it’s very accessible. He – a person who hadn’t celebrated Kwanzaa in a long while (from what he said) – seemed to become defensive of it. “Well, we need to start exhibiting some of the qualities of Kwanzaa, like Nia (purpose) or Kujichugalia (self-determination)” he said. I agreed, but also remembered that “damn… Kwanzaa has a lot of big African words/phrases that I don’t remember.” Again I reemphasized that it’s not accessible and he starts in on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Guy: “Christmas is supposed to be about Christ but people are focused on giving gifts to EACH OTHER.”

Me: “Well, I’m sure Christ doesn’t mind that people spend time together and take time out to give gifts to each other in celebration of him.”

Please don’t take that last sentence as my endorsement of Christianity or Christ. I’m not saying I don’t believe, but I’m not saying I do either.

Guy: “And then you have Thanksgiving. A holiday that celebrates the slaughter of Native American people. How can we sit there and–”

Me: “I’m Black so that’s not MY burden to bear, nor is it yours… BROTHER.” (I emphasized brother because he was also Black, obviously.)

And for those of you who may feel confused, here’s what I meant by that’s “not my burden”. As Black people, we don’t carry the cultural burden of having ancestors that enacted and carried out the slaughter of millions of Native Americans. And additionally, we don’t carry the moral burden of benefitting from white supremacy so we haven’t received anything from Native American genocide. We can feel anger for Native Americans and the injustices of this country, but Black people have been co-opting American holidays (that were forced on us) and doing whatever we wanted with them since slavery days. And in MYYYYYYY experience, when MYYYYYY Black-ass family gets together, we continue that tradition by using our time together to talk politics, entertainment, history, day to day life and ways to fight white supremacy soooo…. yeah, ain’t nobody wearing Pilgrim hats or standing around saluting the damn flag.

Anyway, I told him that if our country is collectively giving us a day off and telling us to eat delicious food/spend time with our loved ones (something I don’t do enough of, as it is) – then that’s what the hell I’m going to do. And this goes for Independence Day*, Christmas or Memorial Day, my family will be enjoying our day off, eating together and talking shit about white supremacy. It’s just how holidays work for us.*

What was interesting about this entire exchange, though, was I knew everything he was going to say before he said it. It was as if I was hearing all of the speeches, anecdotes and excuses I’d recited as a Jehovah’s Witness kid being thrown back at me. And it all sounded like the words of an overly self-righteous person who took themselves way too seriously. I wanted to tell him to lighten up. Eat a Snickers or Kit-kat or Butterfinger (or whatever candy bar is supposed to make you relax). He was stressed out trying to make me feel guilty for celebrating holidays (outside of Kwanzaa, of course). And I didn’t understand why. I didn’t get why he’d stopped me on my merry way to my car to express his irritation with so many traditional pastimes that – in and of themselves – are harmless and open to personal interpretation. (He also spoke of the trappings of cell phones taking away from person to person interaction – – insert eye roll).

Either way, I still maintain that Kwanzaa needs to be more accessible but I’m going to study up so I can see about celebrating this year even though it’s literally been over fourteen years since I’ve last done so. I’ll consider buying a candle and see where the discussions, performances and dinners are going to be. Again, lovely holiday but as someone who has enough on their plate… it can be exhausting to have to research and actively participate in a week long holiday.

So yeah, that was my interesting experience talking to a total stranger yesterday and it’ll probably be my last for the year. I try not to chat with strangers on the street – if I can help it – and, well, this guy caught me on a good day.

* I have a special shirt that I wear on Independence Day that says “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” It’s based on a speech by Frederick Douglass. I wear this shirt every year but you know what else I do every year? Enjoy delicious barbecue with my friends and family.
*Except Columbus Day. Every person of color knows that man was a POS so I don’t really know what other people do on this day but I know my family barely acknowledges it. And now my state has made it Indigenous People’s Day so I’ve made it tradition to watch movies by Native American filmmakers.

Libya and the Blame Game

I worked on a film project not too long ago and a few days after we wrapped, myself and another producer were going over receipts. When I couldn’t find a particular bundle of receipts from our hairdresser, I brought this to my co-producer’s attention.

“Hmm, I can’t find the hairdresser receipts.”

My co-producer responded without looking up, “Well I gave them to you.”

This comment was in no way a source of help or comfort. Her specifying that she did indeed give it to me didn’t help me to find the missing receipts. It didn’t shed light on any new information that could perhaps help me to figure out where they were. In fact, the only thing this information did was free her of potential blame that she thought I might hurl at her.

This particular co-worker on this project had a history of being passive aggressive and I suspect it’s because she (at the time and at present) worked in a corporate setting. As someone who’s worked in corporate settings for over 10 years, I’m very aware that games of “Who’s to Blame” or “Pass the Blame” (think Hot Potato, but replace the potato with blame) are as important to office culture – if not more important – as fixing problems and getting actual work done. So in an effort to explain to my co-producer the significance of my bringing up that I can’t find the receipts, I replied “I KNOW you gave them to me. What I’M saying is that I can’t find them.”

At that moment, it clicked for my co-producer that she was playing “pass the blame” alone. So she offered up some valuable information that might help in our procuring the receipts. “It’s in a black folder.” This little bit of information got the ball rolling, as a black file should be easy to identify in a sea of receipts and manila folders. Also, I remembered that the black file was something I’d had a long time ago – like near the beginning of production. I asked her when she’d given it to me (to be sure) and she said several weeks ago. And that’s when it hit me that I’d delivered the black file inside of a huge binder of other receipts to our Executive Producer who we were about to meet with in a few minutes. Problem solved. (And nobody died).

The point to this anecdote is this… solving actual problems is infinitely more productive than pointing fingers – unless, of course, you’re Sherlock Holmes and your entire job is identifying a culprit. Yes, it’s absolutely important to hold people accountable, put them under the light, expose them, make them pay for their mistakes, never let them do it again but if there’s a crisis happening, maybe fucking deal with the crisis… immediately.

This whole Libya slavery thing is a mess. I don’t even have the words for what a mess it is. I would say it’s a nightmare, but I don’t want to – even in hyperbole – insinuate that this isn’t reality. It’s very real. And horrible. But what I’m constantly seeing is how much this is Obama and Hilary’s fault.

Now let me devote an entire paragraph to how much this blog rant is NOT going in the direction you think it is. From what I’ve read, this is absolutely and positively Obama and Hilary’s fault. (And I’m saying “from what I’ve read” just in case new light emerges – which I totally doubt. But you never know. The older I get the more I realize that once you think you know something and make a loud, declarative statement, that’s the moment when life slaps the shit out of you and tells you to sit your dumb ass down, so now I always put a “at this moment in time” disclaimer on any definitive statements because… yeah, life.) And for the record, I am not an Obama and Hilary worshipper. In fact, I have a functional level of distrust for politicians and people in power as a general rule of thumb. I say “functional” because I vote and can still hold a conversation – to some degree – about the every day goings ons in politics, without sounding like the Unabomber, but I still have an underlying level of cynicism when it comes to my beliefs in this democracy. Under every U.S. president, people all over the world have died, been tortured, and punished unfairly for our leader’s rulership. So why would an Obama presidency be any different? Also, just in case you’re confused about how I feel about the current administration… F*ck Trump now and forever and into eternity. And his demonic spawn.

But back to Obeezy, should he and Hilary be punished? Maybe. But is that the problem right now? People are literally being sold. How do we fix this? Yes, we’ve figured out who to blame but what good is that right now? Can we re-install Obama back into office and he can undo everything he did in Libya? No? Then let’s figure out what we can do to help these people being sold into slavery. I’m not a big advocate for American Imperialism so I’m not quite sure how the situation can be helped without America making it worse. But I’m open to finding out what regular people like myself can do to stop this madness, whether it be calling a congressman or donating to some charity that’ll get people the hell up out of that situation.

Anyway, I’m frustrated (if you can’t already tell) and my heart weeps for those who are and continue to be abused by the world’s leaders. I’ll be all up and through the internet trying to figure out what tangible thing I can do besides pray and retweet everything. But at the end of the day, it frustrates me when I see the myriad of snarky “Obama’s fault” tweets and articles because I’m seeing more of those than actual tweets and articles about solutions. And I’m terrified that this means that there are none. Knowing why this happened is immensely important but even more-so is using what information we have to figure out how to fix the shit. And again, in no way am I saying that we should collectively take pressure off of Obama and Hilary. If more politicians were held accountable for their actions, perhaps we wouldn’t have such a toxic government, country and planet in the first place. But solutions? What are they? What can we do with what we’ve learned?

We have a man child in office and we already know President Baby isn’t going to do anything but does that completely relieve us of our responsibility to bring light to this issue and shame him for not – at the very least – making a statement? (At this point in time, he hasn’t said anything except tweet a cryptic message about “fake news”).

At the end of the day, I just hope this game of “Who’s to Blame?” ends with an effective solution. On a brighter note, this article from Bustle gives several great tips about how to help…

https://www.bustle.com/p/how-to-help-stop-libyas-slave-trade-fight-slavery-around-the-world-5554300

I’ll try to post more solution oriented articles as I find them.

 

10 Things I Hate About Moving Right Now

We thought we’d be out of our old apartment by now but here we are still checking Zillow and Westside Rentals every day or driving to different properties to take a tour. And because I like bulleted lists, I’m going to just get to the point with this post and write out my list of why moving is the bane of my existence these days. But in the spirit of looking to the bright side, I will add a bonus “positive note” after each bullet point.

  1. My dog is not with our family. My dog passed away a few months ago and this will be my first home (since moving out of my mother’s house) without him. Every day I’m reminded of his absence and nothing hits home more than looking for a new place and telling the landlord “no, we won’t be bringing any pets.” It feels like I’m betraying him. (Positive Note: not having a pet definitely broadens our choices and brings costs down.)
  2. Our current apartment is amazing and I don’t want to leave. Get this… we have a dishwasher, built-in microwave, personal washer and dryer, a balcony, two bedrooms, hardwood floors, plenty of counter space, storage space and relatively new kitchen cabinets, appliances and an updated bathroom. In other words, we’re looking for another unicorn right now and it ain’t happ’nin. (Positive Note: This apartment is expensive as all hell. Leaving will lighten the financial load in a major way.)
  3. Los Angeles charges too got-damn much for too got-damn little. It’s insane what some of these crappy-ass apartments are going for out here. I’ve gone to places and walked in just to turn right back around, tossing an “okay, thanks!” out to the landlord who’s just finished unlocking the door. It’s almost to the point that when me and my hubby see a nice place, we immediately know it’s out of our price range. And if it’s not out of our price range, it freaks us out. I’ve had nightmares thinking about what could possibly be wrong with a place that is moderately priced yet live-able. And after returning at night or a quick briefing from the neighbors in that area, my suspicions are usually verified. (Positive Note: Los Angeles pays more and has better jobs, so in a sense there’s a kind of trade-off.)
  4. Landlords ask for a lot of personal information. This isn’t so much a complaint as an observation. Los Angeles is the only city I’ve experienced where you meet someone for the first time and they’re asking for your social security number, bank account numbers, driver’s license info, pap smear results and whatever else information is needed for an all-in-one do-it-yourself identity theft starter kit. Some of the greasiest, shadiest looking people have sat before me asking a bunch of personal-ass questions before they even hand me the apartment application in the first place. And they’re so used to people just giving up this information without so much as a thought, that when you’re a bit hesitant, they treat you like you’re the one that’s crazy. I’ve asked landlords how they file records of my private information and for how long to be met with a look that implies “who cares?” It’s really insane how much they ask for. (Positive Note: There are ways around this. For one, you’re only required to give up information that would directly help a landlord to know if you can pay your rent or not. Anything else, like say a bank account number, is unnecessary. If you provide a bank statement, you can cross out the number or just give them the last four digits so they can match it up with your credit report. Everything they need would be provided on your credit report anyway.)
  5. My husband is terrible at leaving voice messages and it’s driving me crazy. “Um… hi, my name is um HUSBAND and um . . . (long pause) . . . (whispers) to see *ahem* (screams) I’D LIKE to um see if uh . . . you have an apartment for rent. I mean – uh – I see that you have an apartment for – uh – rent, I just would like to rent an apartment because I’m ummmm . . . (very quietly) moving. (Long pause) I’m moving in a few weeks and . . . it’s . . . it’s – um – we don’t have any pets. And um – we wanted to know if your apartment is um . . . the apartment located at 123 Blankety Lane is uhhhh . . . ummmm . . . uhhhh . . . still available. Okay . . . um . . . Um ok um. Thank you so very much. We um . . . really appreciate you and everything that you do for society. Okay, take care. Um bye!” (Positive Note: I gave him a script and although he was offended and tossed it aside, I secretly heard him using it the other day. Thank ummmm God!)
  6. We have to get rid of a ton of stuff. We’ve built up quite a collection of things and those things have got to go. And while it’s going to be hard to battle my inner voice that tries to tell me to hold onto every single thing, I know it’s going to be even harder battling my husband who will be trying to hold onto every single thing. This man is a beginner hoarder. (Positive note: We’re long overdue for a deep spring cleaning and this will be a good way to start anew.)
  7. Finding a good place is scary. We found a really great apartment the other day and then came back at night. It was creepy and there were some shady characters hanging around but this didn’t immediately stop us in our tracks. What stopped us was a third visit where we talked to some neighbors and one of them gave us the ultimate “buyer beware” speech about why we shouldn’t move in. So that place was off the table for us. The next place we liked was a gated community with hardwood floors, two full bathrooms and large bedrooms. We filled out the application right away and called back in a few days to ask about our status. “The apartment’s not filled yet,” said a man with a thick Spanish accent. “Well, umm when do you hope to ummm (long pause) fill it?” my husband asked. “We don’t know,” the guy replied. And that was the end of that. Today we checked out a townhouse style apartment and we absolutely fell in love with it. After the tour, I bee-lined toward the property manager and smiled, “I love it! Are these the applications?” and I reached out to grab one from the counter-top when she said, “Hold on . . . I’d like to ask you some questions first.” She eyes me up for a bit and looks back and forth to me and my husband suspiciously. “What do you do for a living?” From there we answered a bunch of questions, but then it eventually turned into a one-sided conversation where the woman unloaded all of her personal thoughts. At times, when we managed to bring the conversation back to the business at hand, she stated a few times that it’s not about filling the apartment as soon as possible, it’s about filling it with the right people. We deducted that she was the personal gatekeeper to this property so me and my hubby put on the charm and laughed at her jokes, listened to all seven thousand of her stories and nodded or shook our heads in sympathy for a good forty-five minutes. We were literally being held hostage in this moment by a woman who stood between us and our potential new home. We’ve dropped off the application and can only hope that this place will be the end of our journey. Regardless, it’s really an interesting thing to have such a large part of your life hinge on so many strange people and on so many scenarios that you can’t control. (Positive Note: This last place is IT. I’m claiming it.)
  8. We’re getting rid of the second bedroom. I talked about this in my other post. I’m getting rid of the second bed and replacing it with a desk. But as I write this blog post at 3:30am in the morning because I can’t sleep because my husband is snoring at top volume, I wonder if this is the right decision. (Positive note: It’s the right decision. Also, we’re considering getting a pull out couch or cot for the spare room.)
  9. There’s the part where we actually move. It’s a lot of muscle and hard work that will be needed and I don’t wanna. (Positive note: That’s the least of our problems, really. If anything, I’m glad to be at a point in my life where I can afford a moving truck. The next step will be when I’m able to afford movers. But at the very least I’m going to get a work out.)
  10. I was hoping my next move would be into a house. Yeah, wishful thinking. (Positive note: This move is really prompting a lot of goal setting behavior for me. I’ve been thinking about timelines and hard goals that I’d like to hit within the next two years. I’ve never been good at planning but lately, I’ve been motivated and I attribute that to this move which has put a lot of things into perspective for me.)

That’s all I got! Phew! I feel better. Now let me get my butt back to sleep while I still have this spare bedroom.

My Dream Office

Me and my husband are moving. And if you’ve ever lived in Los Angeles and had to move, you know how much life is sucking for us right now. The stress of finding a new place has taken its toll but there is one beacon of hope guiding me ever so gently to the peaceful shores of… peace. And that beacon – dear reader- is the promise of my new office.

Right now we live in a two-bedroom with a king sized bed in the master and a full sized bed in the spare. The spare room has a tad bit more room (because the bed is smaller) and in that teensy-weensy corner of space, we managed to connect a shelf to the wall and put a big-ass computer on top of it. We scooch a chair up to this shelf and work on the computer, pretending that it’s a desk. Pretending we have an office. And pretending that we can get work done in this cramped up bit of space.

One day (a few months ago) while prepping the spare room for a video shoot, we had to take down the bed. And while the bed was out of the room, seeing how much space we’d deprived ourselves of, we decided immediately that an office would be in our future. It felt like that scene in Step Brothers where Will Ferrell enthusiastically exclaims “We can get so many activities done!” A new world had opened up for us. And from that point on, the clock was ticking until the moment we could be rid of that bed and replace it with a desk.

And now that day is quickly upon us and here’s how I’m thinking it’s going to change my life.

**Drum roll please**

It will give me the feeling of going to work again. As many of you know, I’ve quit my job. And there’s something about not having to wake up in the morning and be somewhere at a specific time or else you’re going to be fired or yelled at that takes the wind right out of your sails. I mean, at first it was cool and the gang. I’d wake up and stare at the ceiling in bliss. Stretch and roll over, taking my sorry ass right back to the magical world of sleepy-time dream-world land. And while these kinds of mornings will never get old for me, they’re not productive AT ALL. They usually lead to a day of playing catchup. I try to get into work mode, but find myself lounging on the couch with the keyboard on my lap, wearing a t-shirt and panties and fighting every instinct to just turn on the TV and catch up on Empire. And guess what? Lucious’s shady ass always wins.

So with this office space, I’m hoping I can jumpstart myself into “office mode.” Sure, I don’t have a commute anymore but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a nine to five. Yeah, I don’t have supervisors to answer to but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a responsibility to do my job in a thorough and efficient manner. And when I really think about it, I do have a supervisor. Myself. And if I can trick myself into following an unnecessarily stingy grocery budget (which I have for the past few weeks), I can surely create an arbitrary corporate schedule for myself to follow. And so with every waking moment, I plan out my days as if getting ready to start a new job. I anticipate waking up early and doing yoga. Taking my shower and doing my hair and makeup. Putting on my work outfit (nothing too formal) and getting to the “office” at nine A-M on the dot to start my workday. I’ll have my coffee on my desk and sift through emails, before reaching out to people and working on new projects, reading scripts, writing scripts, writing other things (blogs, articles, proposals, etc.), reaching out to new contacts and maintaining old ones.

It’s going to be glorious and I can’t wait to bully myself into submission.

A Good Script is Hard To Find

I recently wrote, directed and produced a comedic web series. And now that that Herculean task is nearing completion, I’m back at square one… looking for my next project to produce. Here’s the thing – I don’t really want to write my next project and I’m not too fond of directing it either. I just want to produce. The problem is, I haven’t been able to find a worthy script.

One thing that people don’t really know about producers is that we are the people who do the grunt work. We gather all of the resources and people needed to make films possible. The investors, the crew, the salespeople, the marketing team, the special effects, you name it we have our hand in it. It’s not an easy task, so having a good script is the first requirement.

The first thing a producer has to do is fall in love with the script. Why? Because we will have to be the film’s biggest cheer leader. We have to be. How else are we going to keep things going? How else would we get money for the project? How else are we going to get people excited enough to see the film and to tell their friends to see the film? How are we going to keep ourselves motivated enough to see the project through to completion. So all of these things add up to this one fact: it’s gotta be a good script.

Because nobody’s going to be putting their blood sweat and tears into something they don’t believe in. Especially the person responsible for getting the thing to happen in the first place. So with this in mind, I’ve been looking for something that’s going to knock my socks off. Something that’s going to be my foray into the big leagues of feature length films. Unfortunately, I gots nothing. And the pitches I’ve been getting have so much more promise than the actual execution of these ideas. Also, I get a lot of great pitches from people who aren’t motivated enough to sit down and write the damned script. That frustrates me more than anything.

I have plenty of directing buddies. Plenty of crew people I can call on in a jam. I know a ton of producers, like myself. But my writing buddies fall into one of three categories…

  1. People I wouldn’t work with because they don’t know how to take notes.
  2. People who can’t finish a script and/or can’t tell a good story.
  3. People with no scripts.

In no way am I complaining, though. I feel like I’m being lead toward something else. And that ‘something else’ is writing my own script. Begrudgingly, I’m leafing through old notebooks and spreadsheets of abandoned projects and deciding to hunker down and get them done. Sometimes when you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself. My only problem is, I don’t know if I can do it right.

No time like the present to find out.

A List of Boundaries

I’ve been going to a therapist for well over a year now and – at the risk of sounding like a cliche – I think I had a breakthrough. By rambling on and on a few days ago, I came to a conclusion that is also very-much a cliche.

I have boundary issues.

I move the goal post when it comes to how I allow people to treat me. And here’s the thing, I came to this jarring conclusion about myself in the weirdest, most roundabout way. Through budgeting for groceries.

So here’s the thing. Me and my hubby have been handling our money situation all kinds of wrong. We buy food and then let it go to waste because we end up eating out or just not using up our ingredients. After a while, we’d find that we’ve thrown away hundreds of dollars worth of food at the end of the month. This ate me up inside more than it did my hubby who tends to run to the grocery store two, maybe three times a day. If he has a taste for something, he’s off to the store to get it. He will buy things just because we ran out of it, as opposed to because we plan to eat it. So when we saw that we were running into some rough financial patches, the first thing I wanted to change was our terrible grocery habit.

I created a tight budget and I mean, super tight. We plan our meals for the entire week according to this budget and buy all of the food we will need in one trip to the grocery store. There’s no “I have a taste for this or that” going on. We only do fully planned meals. If there’s a luxury food item it needs to fall within the budget or be made from scratch using ingredients we already have. And surprisingly, this budget has been working really well for us. Why? Because the hubby and I are competitive. So this has turned into a kind of game. How much lower than the budget can we get? How many different recipes can we derive from the ingredients on the list? What foods can we make based on what’s on sale? All of the excuses and strong cravings for eating out have even taken a backseat because the limits we put on ourselves are practically iron-clad. I never knew exhibiting this kind of discipline and self control could be so exhilarating. Also, real-talk, me and the hubster have never eaten so good.

Alright, so back to my boundary issues. I recently jumped off of a feature film project not too long ago. The project was great, but the person I would have been working with was exhibiting some red-flag behaviors and I decided to jump out while we were still in the early stages to avoid bigger issues in the future. This experience was unfortunate but not a big deal for me because… well… shit happens. Life goes on. What stood out for me, though, was everything about this project was something that I promised myself I would never produce in the first place. It pretty much checked every box on my “nope, not gonna happen” lists. But I was willing to forego all of the boundaries that I’d made because the script was really good, and it was a friend that pitched it to me, and it seemed doable, and why not? I’m not doing anything else these days and I can find a way to make it work and and and… It wasn’t that I was afraid to say “no.” It’s just that I wasn’t as firm in my convictions as I thought I was. I had no discipline. No self-control.

And so while relaying this experience to my therapist the other day, I mentioned how happy I was to have ‘dodged a bullet’ but then I had to ask myself how I’d gotten to that point in the first place. Why was I always going back on my word? Why did it seem that I was always biting off more than I could chew when it came to various aspects of my life? Thinking about this question lead me to grasping for areas of my life that were under control. And the first thing that sprang to mind was my super exclusive grocery list. This was the one area of my life where I was as firm as a bouncer at the hottest club in L.A. If it’s not on the list, it’s not happening. Oreo cookies? Nope, not on the list. No ifs, ands or buts. After this breakthrough, I realized that the list had become a healthy obsession. Writing down our restrictive budget made it so real to us that going outside of it was unthinkable.

With all of this in mind, I decided that I would make a list, a budget (if you will) that lays out my personal boundaries. Since having unspoken professional and social boundaries doesn’t seem to be working (similar to how my unspoken grocery boundaries were practically nonexistent) perhaps, writing them down and committing to them obsessively will lead me toward a reasonable social and professional life where I don’t have to waste energy questioning if I did the right or wrong thing. There is no right or wrong thing… only “the list.” Also, I’d like to refer to this list so that I can commit it to memory and possibly even send it out to those who need to know what I’m about.

Here’s what I have so far. It’s broken down into categories…

PROFESSIONAL

I don’t produce other people’s short films or TV pilots for free. I will only work on a short film or pilot that has financing in place and a budget set aside for my fee.

I don’t do crowdfunding.

I will produce a feature ONLY under these conditions…

  • The project must be under $1mil. to produce
  • I produce it alone or with additional producers of my choosing.
  • All above-the-line crew members must be proven professionals. No first-timers in terms of never having had experience doing this job in any capacity.
  • Film must include women of color as leads or in substantial roles.

I don’t read scripts that are not referred from a friend.

If I don’t like your script, I will not meet up with you to talk about it.

If I don’t like your script or concept, I will not produce your movie.

If I don’t like you, I will not produce your movie.

If you don’t take constructive notes or feedback, I will not produce your movie.

If I am directing or producing a film and you refuse to take orders from me, you’re fired.

 

SOCIAL

If you are not as attentive to what I have to say as I am to what you have to say, then we are not friends. I am your therapist and my fee is $33/hour. You only get one time for this to happen before I charge.

I will tell you when you’re being rude and/or inappropriate. If you don’t address it immediately, then our interaction is over regardless of the situation.

I won’t pretend I didn’t notice something you said or did. I will give words to what I feel.

I don’t get into loud arguments or fights in public places. But if I you ever force me into a situation where I must do this, our relationship is over.

MENTAL

I will focus my energy toward being positive and productive. Any changes in mood will be a choice.

 

That’s all I got for now. I’m going to start reading this list and reciting it every day like Arya Stark. Also, I’m sure I’m missing some things so I look forward to adding to this list as much as possible in the future.