Academy Nicholls, Here I Come

I did a thing last night.

It might be crazy. It may be a little arrogant? It takes a lot of arrogance to be an artist, or at least that’s what I tell myself so I won’t hide all of my work under a rock. Yes, this writing of mine is a conscious decision in favor of pride in the face of possible humiliation-in a way at least.

Anyway, the thing I did is bold if you say it nicely, foolish if not. We have been struggling so much with money. Last week I decided that I would use my fun money that I’ve been saving for months and all of my returns for our emergency fund and debt payoff. It was more important that little rewards right? I’m so discouraged about money, maybe that is what would make me feel better.

Then I found out that I hadn’t missed the deadline for the Academy Nicholls Fellowship.

For those of you who don’t know what that is, it is the most prestigious film competition out there for new writers. But that’s not what matters to me(although it’s the first thing I tell people so they get the context of what I did.) What matters to me, is that it is the answer to all of the prayers I’ve said this year if I get it.

It is just enough money that Patrick could stay home or work part time while he finishes school, so he could have some time to breathe, which I have been begging God for all year.

It is just enough money that we could cover everything. We wouldn’t be rolling in the dough by any means, but we would be ok. I have been asking for help with that.

I would be getting paid to write MY work. I would be getting paid to do what I always wanted to do, and not on someone else’s terms. I’d have a mentor, but I wouldn’t have to write a story fitting their guidelines. It would be mine. (Not that there’s anything wrong with getting paid to write for someone else, but this is a whole other level.) I have been asking God for this since I was born.

I would have a mentor to encourage and help me to improve my work and it would be their job to help me write another screenplay. I’ve got one almost done, one done, I’d have time to do another one. I’ve been praying for that this year.

I would have more time with Patrick and more time to breathe. I’ve been praying for this since Willow was born.

This year has been so hard. It’s hard to express how hard because some stupid things don’t make any sense if you describe them, but they can devastate you if you are having a hard enough time. I’ve noticed sometimes if I stub my toe I don’t even care, but if a day is bad enough it’s enough to resort me to a sobbing mess, or a cursing sailor. This year, has made the smallest issues into mountains that make me feel completely helpless.

It took over year for me to build the courage to do this. God has been working in so many ways in my life to prepare me. He healed my trauma about miscarriage and spiritual abuse through a hellish year teaching at a Catholic school and a horrific birth that was still the most amazing thing that could ever have happened to me. He healed the trauma from that birth a little over a year later with another birth. He healed the wounds from the Catholic school by bringing me to a new Catholic Church and Bible study.

My first time at the Bible study, I hated it. I was never coming back, until I saw the back of one of the books. “I am looking for a deeper relationship with you.” I knew without a doubt it was God talking to me. Every single time I have made it to this Bible Study He has shown up for me. He has taught me SO much. He brought me back to myself through the women that I met, the readings they supplied, and the time out that I got because of the study. I am incomprehensibly grateful for what He gave me in them.

If I tried to list all of the lies and fears that God came down and disproved this would be the longest blog in the universe, but suffice it to say that He worked on me hard, and that is exhausting and hard, but it was amazing in so many ways too.

Holy Week was like that point in labor when you decide you can’t do it and you are totally ready to give up. I started to think there was no point to anything that I had heard all year. I felt myself fading away, and I was so angry. Easter was, surprisingly, even worse.

It was awful. God sent me a free Christian concert(yes I believe it was from Him because it was my favorite Christian band and I had been longing for a Christian concert and mourning that we couldn’t afford it and this was free) and I was so excited, but then it was actually a Protestant service. I was raised that you don’t go to those, so I was in a tailspin of enjoying it, and being terrified of the guilt and shame of being there. They talked about “taking your place at the table” and “the battle is already won,” and I loved it, and I heard Jesus in it, but then I became lost in sadness about the Catholic Church and the fact that I couldn’t accept their message because I’m Catholic.

I fought that, because none of what they said went against the Church. They had a message that we are supposed to be giving and arent. And sure, I believe there are things Catholics have to offer too, but Protestants have some amazing gifts. So I prayed away the guilt and shame a little bit more everyday.

And I found out about Academy Nicholls.

Part of what I have learned this year through Dave Ramsey is that I have been serving money, not making my money serve God. I’ve got a whole lot more coming about that, and how it doesn’t always look like Scrooge hoarding money, but for now suffice it to say that I was convinced I couldn’t try for this fellowship that I believed God wanted me to try for, because money said no.

I prayed every day for the money, but I was convinced it would be a no.

Then I got the money, and I fell into despair and misery because I became sure I wouldn’t win it.

Then I went home and I read the reading from the Bible Study. Ephesians 6, about putting the armor of faith on to conquer evil in the world. And I knew.

So I entered the Academy Nicholls Fellowship competition, and I probably will not win, but, I could. With the money I spent to enter it, I bought freedom from fear financially, I bought hope, I bought one of the greatest acts of faith of my entire life, I bought a new life. So wish me luck, and say a prayer when you can for my dream job. ♥️♥️♥️

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I’m Fighting a War, and I Need Your Help

To the people of faith who have been there for me so many times, I need your prayers, big prayers.

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to go into film. I wanted this even as a really little girl, and not in a silly, ‘I wanna be a star,’ kind of way, but in a concrete writing films at 6 years old, I am moving to LA, this is my life’s purpose kind of way. It has never gone away, but I have lost hope time and time again.

When I was a kid, no one believed me. Everyone warned me that it doesn’t happen, and that if it does you lose your soul, but I knew better, so I kept writing and kept hoping, but the despair that had been sown in me was so deep that I never tried. Then, I went to college, and the year after I started to believe again, I experienced the most nightmarish season of depression and anxiety and spiritual warfare of my life. Years later, I married my husband who also wants to make movies, and immediately we went through a season of complete despair and misery.

This year, I have finally recovered hope and faith in God, and I believe in His promises for me again. I have been submitting my screenplay, I made a short film alone, I am consistently writing, and Patrick is making video games. At the same time, we are fighting despair back desperately with everything in us. With every step forward, huge things that scare and intimidate us are happening. We are fighting fear with everything in us, but we are tired and we are hurting.

I feel crazy saying this, but I believe 100% that we are fighting serious spiritual warfare right now. I believe we are meant to do what we have always felt called to do, and I believe we are meant to do it now. I am writing to you because we need your prayers. We need the strongest most unfailing prayers you can give us. We cannot make it through this without you. We have things we are meant to say, and we cannot win this fight without you.

Please pray for us.

Rosa Mystica, pray for us.

Come Holy Spirit.

St. Gianna, pray for us.

St. Maria Goretti, pray for us.

St. Paul, pray for us.

The Power of Unity: a review of Grey’s Anatomy on Abuse(TRIGGER WARNING EXPLICIT CONTENT AND SPOILERS)

Tonight, on Grey’s Anatomy, I witnessed, in my opinion, one of the most powerful moments of television in all of history. It may get missed, because we are in season eleventy hundred at this point, but it shouldn’t. It was an episode about abuse and assault, and there a million things to talk about about how masterful everyone involved was. The pivotal moment of the episode was a message of unity, a message to every single survivor of every single kind of suffering or trauma. “You are not alone.”

The episode begins with Meredith’s traditional monologue, this time about trauma, and how it can hide in the most banal moments of existence. Just as a memory of home can appear as quick as the wafting smell of apple pie, a flash of light at the wrong angle can send a person back to the moment they were dead, or wished they were. Immediately, Grey’s is letting us know that the episode may be about one kind of trauma, as we all know from the trailers and warnings, but it’s also about every kind.

Next, we see Jo in her aftermath of whatever she discovered with her birthmother, though we haven’t been clued in yet. She finds a woman who is clearly experiencing severe suffering, and helps her to the ER. This was the first life-changing moment of the episode. Jo looks in the woman’s eyes, and instead of telling her where the emergency room is, she drops everything, all of her own struggles, the busy-ness she is using to escape, and her work for the day, to help this woman to get to where she needed to go, and to keep her safe.

The story unfolds alongside the story of Jo’s discussion with her birth mother. Jo is angry at her mother because of the scars she has from feeling abandoned and unloved. Her mother is scarred in different ways but is just as strong, and just as wounded. She confesses to Jo that she was raped, and that Jo resulted from that rape. Jo fights back with the wounds that she has, trying to forge some sort of connection, but also clearly struggling with the tension of realizing that her suffering was not the whole story.

Whether you believe in abortion or not, the next conversation they have is a gut-wrenching one. She admits that when she saw Jo she fell head over heels in love with her, but that she couldn’t stop seeing her aggressors face whenever she saw Jo. She tells Jo she didn’t have her best to give when she abandoned her at a fire station. Jo responds by telling her that she had an abortion when she got pregnant by her abuser.

It is an uncomfortable moment. Jo’s mother looks away. The set-up of the conversation is all to real, in its awkwardness. There was a moment that all I could ask was, “Is she angry that her mother didn’t abort her?” There was a sense that Jo did think she should have, and the mother’s reaction was immediate and intense, but vague. Shonda Rhimes’ shows are consistent about this when dealing with abortion, she is very conscious of the differing opinions and the pain associated with it on either side, and in true Shonda form, they allow the uncomfortable moment to exist without answering the questions it brings up or tying it up with a neat little bow. It seems to me that the most important part of it was the divide between the two of them.

Meanwhile, Jo’s patient has been revealed to be a survivor of a sexual assault. She is covered with raw, realistic wounds, rivaling any film depiction I have ever seen. The aggressor himself is not given a single moment of screen time. That is reserved for the woman herself alone. Grey’s breaks the cardinal rule of film/tv,”Show don’t tell,” but in this instance, abuse/assault is all too often used for shock factor or to up the ratings, and I believe that they intentionally refused to indulge that.

Jo encourages the woman to do the rape kit, in a way that taught me things I didn’t know about rape kits. In the person of her character, Camilla Luddington told every survivor of every abuser ever, “You can fight this, and it is not your fault.” The way she said, “You did nothing to deserve this,” is still ringing in my chest, holding up a mirror to every time I blamed myself for every thing bad that ever happened.

“You did nothing to deserve this.”

Finally, it is time for her patient to go to surgery, but she is terrified to see the faces of the men who could be around her on the way. In a perspective altering, powerful moment, they reveal that they have asked every woman who worked in the hospital to line the halls so that she will see only their faces.

Now, I’m going to take a little detour here for a second because I can already here all the defenders of men pissed off because all men are not abusers. That’s not the point. As Meredith’s monologue said at the beginning, anything can set off trauma. The point is that this is what she was struggling with, no whether or not it was right or in her head, or whatever else. It was her struggle, and because it was her struggle, it was worth protecting her from it, while she was in a vulnerable state. I’m going to resist the temptation to go off about the “snowflake” mentality and people who complain about them, so I stay focused but that rant may come one day.

In that moment, when the women’s faces lined the halls, I felt the world move. Shonda Rhimes and the team that she assembled had just brought a new light into the world. In that moment, the entire team of Greys Anatomy told every single one of us, “You are not alone.” They also told, specifically those who have suffered any kind of assault or abuse, but especially sexual assault, “We see you, you matter. You are not alone.”

In this pivotal moment, Shondaland did what makes them great. They answered the pain in the world with hope, not a hope that is shallow and false, but a sure resounding hope in the power of the human spirit and community with others. They gave us the language to heal, and an example.

The episode doesn’t conclude with a pretty pink bow of how we are all happy now because we are not alone, but it does end with one character giving her honesty to her husband and another, not. Jo is not ready to talk to Alex and the pain in her is palpable, but while she is in pain and feels alone, she has given her patient the gift of not feeling alone. It’s a tragic truth that often the one who creates love and hope for others struggles to find it for themselves. I hope that we will see Jo heal, but it shouldn’t be surprising that she needs to.

I am an undying fan girl of Shonda Rhimes and what she has created in Grey’s Anatomy.moments like this are what make her the Mistress of Television in my opinion. She has healed broken spots in my soul more times that I can count, and I pray that she has millions more to come, and that in my own film career I will touch people half as well as she does.

Lea Michele: What I wanted to say to you back then

Lea Michele,

I haven’t forgotten you. For years I have had the image of you plastered in my mind from the tabloids after you found out Cory Monteith had died. My heart bled for you. There was one that talked about what he said to you in his last voicemail. It struck me as cruel to report about such a sacred moment in your life. It still does. I have this image of you clutching the phone, crying, and maybe smiling, with paparazzi and flashing cameras all around you. I cannot imagine how hard it must have been to go through losing him.

Who knows, though? I don’t know you, maybe you were always fighting, and you wanted out of the relationship. Maybe he was abusive and you couldn’t stand him. Maybe you never really loved him at all and it was all just for publicity. Or maybe you loved him as deeply as I love my husband or any of the people I’ve lost, and maybe your entire world fell apart when he was gone.

The truth is, I don’t know, but I do know, that whatever the case, you deserved alone time to deal with the loss. You deserved the space to process all the stages of grief without every moment being reported. You deserved time to mourn however you needed.

I want you to know that I pray for you still. I don’t do it everyday, I’m not a stalker, but every once in a while you come to my mind. I think of what a hard time that must have been, and I hope that you have found peace and happiness now. I hope that sometimes you forget it even happened. I hope that it doesn’t hurt too much when it crosses your mind. I hope that you have healed as much as time can heal. I don’t believe time heals all wounds, but I believe it softens even the worst of them.

You may think I’m crazy for writing this letter, honestly, even I do, but I am learning to be true to myself and I write this to honor who I was when I wanted to cry for you, but I felt too silly. I wanted to honor the compassion that I was filled with back when everyone got angry with me for being obsessed with celebrities. I want to let the light I had shine, because I don’t know you, but I love you. I wish the best for you, no matter where or who you are now.

Love,

Me

Thank you, Jussie Smollett: Sending love

 

The first thing I saw when I searched for news of your attack was,

He “turned down extra security before the event.”

My mind started spinning with conspiracy theories from every TV show I have ever watched. If this was the CW, you would have perfectly orchestrated the attack for some money-related reason, or some politician would have done the same, but so that they would get the vote. I caught myself, and I couldn’t believe that was where my mind went. Then, I felt myself question, what if he did make it up, what if I end up feeling stupid?

On the other hand, my heart broke for you, and I was so angry that someone would be so petty. What if you were in a meeting and they told you that they could provide you a second bodyguard, or third, or you could buy more time with one of them? I can honestly say, I don’t think I would have chosen extra security either. How could you have known that you would need it?

Then, I caught myself again while reading the accounts, “Oh, the rope around his neck was a thin one, how convenient,” and I recoiled at myself in shock. I don’t know when I became so un-trusting, that I would look for the smallest detail and use it as an excuse to believe the worst in someone. I used to believe that everyone was good. When I was a kid, I would have prayed for you every day, though I would also have been terrified for my life because my empathy couldn’t understand that I was not the victim of any and everything I witnessed. (Note: I am not exaggerating about this, I once had a dream the KKK tried to burn my house down, and I have never fully recovered.) Some people in my life scared me, though, and now I guess I have hardened my heart to keep from being embarrassed.

The truth is, though, Jussie, is that I am so upset that you would be hurt. You are such a beautiful light to the world, and I am so grateful for you. Your performance as Jamal in Empire inspires me, every time I watch it. Kindness, compassion, and empathy radiates from you through the screen. Your every word, your every song, echoes throughout my life, a butterfly effect of hope. I want to thank you for everything you do.

I saw your family on The Chew a while back, and each of you inspired me with stories of surviving financial struggles as kids. Your mother was your world, and I relished those stories, as I lay pregnant and sick on the couch with my first baby playing on the floor. I admired the joy you and your family brought to discussions of food and family, and I aspire to create a family with that kind of spirit.

Amidst the fear, anger, skepticism, empathy, and sorrow, I happened across articles about the support for you from your Empire family and twitter feeds, and then articles about what you do for people. I already admired your courage for playing a character that would make so many people feel so much that it would emerge as anger, hatred, or worse, but now I discovered that you live the values you perform. I admire your work for LGBTQ, and AIDS. In my own life, sometimes, I don’t know how to feel about the religious and political war of gender equality vs. the traditions with which I was raised, but you have always advocated KINDNESS, and anyone can get behind that.

Thank you for being that kind voice in the world. Thank you for having the courage to perform a role that would make others feel powerful emotions. Thank you for being the kind of person who would deny extra security, because you don’t live with all of your walls up. I am so grateful for who you are as a person, and I hope you know that the whole world is not made of these people, who are willing to hurt others. There is good in the world, and there is gratitude for your place in it.

Thank you.

The Poet Will Die

Leonard: “Why does someone have to die…in your book?”
Virginia: “Someone has to die in order that the rest us should value life more…it’s contrast”
Leonard: “And who will die?”…
Virginia: “The poet will die. The visionary.”

It was one of those when somehow everything is perfectly beautiful and wonderful. A trap suffocated the joy that was meant to be expressed a the day, but it danced at the walls of flesh and fat and begged to breathe. I expunged myself of the trap by breathing it to a dear one who is always ready to hear, even if he doesn’t let me hide from the truth when it is a kind of madness and not tragedy that causes my moaning. Then, after we finished talking, I took a risk.

The Hours had been sitting on my bed for what seemed like weeks, even though it had been only day, perhaps because it had been lingering on my heart for years. Through the cramps of womanhood and growing pains, I limped to the bedroom to fetch the movie and curled into myself to hear it play its sweet song over me. Like a river running over the world, it began. I was not prepared for the bittersweet melancholy, but I knew I wasn’t. I had never been. That is why I had taken so long to see the movie, but I knew there was something important inside that I needed to hear.

It unfolded in front of me. The story of three women, the pressure that death pushed upon them at every turn. There is an insane therapist in Pretty Little Liars who tells Spencer that he is studying “The heaviness of air.” He tells her that to some people the air is just heavier than it is to others. These women lived in the heaviness of air. Mental issues, repressed emotions, and the trap of their own lives threatened to crush the very breath out of them. Both Clarissa and Laura are at different points pictured sitting alone talking to someone in another room. During each scene the woman is crying, crushed, and barely able to bear her own suffering. There is a character in the other room who is talking to her, and asks banal questions, demanding answer after answer. The woman proclaims her answers in sunny, carefree purity, and the other accepts them. In contrast, Virginia’s pain is far too obvious to everyone else. She cannot escape the bars that have been put around her to protect her from herself. Suffocation is the core of the three stories, linking the three women in a world of air as heavy as lead, as they strive to choose life.

I watched as they wove their lives through the web of difficulties and attempts to breathe, and connected my own struggles with theirs. I wondered where the message I had been searching for had gone. And finally, in the end, Virginia Woolf told her husband that the poet visionary must die, so that the rest of us might value life more. He is clearly disturbed by this, because she is the writer, and Virginia Woolf’s husband, of all people, should know that her writing spoke not only for its characters but for herself. His worry is well-founded since only minutes later(in movie-time) she drowns herself. It seemed to me though, that there is something to be said for the idea that the poet dies so that the rest of the world may live.

It is cliche to speak of the tortured poets. Some regard them as ridiculous, others as masochistic, others as insane, still others as bittersweet. It is clear, however, that there is something to the poetic soul that endures a melancholy that is mysterious and powerful. I will admit that I disliked The Hours, for it did not leave crystals on the outside world when I emerged from it’s spell. I didn’t laugh. I didn’t cry. I simply breathed. I admire it as a true work of art, but there is something in Virginia Woolf with which I cannot connect, probably the suicide that I hope to eradicate from my traditional set of temptations. It occurred to me, however, that maybe not every poet dies in the same way.

Virginia Woolf physically died, but maybe not every poet longs to take their own life forever, though I am certain no poet escapes moments of that desire. Jack Kerouac, for instance, went On the Road. Perhaps each day he died to the ideal life, and perhaps in dying to the ideal life, he freed those who suffered its heaviness. James Joyce wrote The Portrait of the Artist of the Young Man, about his conversion away from the Faith. The story of his conversion away from Faith, however, renewed my affection for it.(a story for another time) So. perhaps. his death of faith, allowed it to be reborn. There are countless examples of artists and ways that a death of theirs frees others. After all, the greatest poet of all time, physically died, that we may all have life forever. 

The heaviness of air is omnipresent in The Hours. It plagues everyone in the film in some way, but the air around Clarissa clears when Laura tells her of nearly choosing death, but then abandoning her children in order to survive. Her death was that of her motherhood, her pride, and her picture perfect life. Richard, Clarissa’s friend and Laura’s daughter, committed suicide. Virginia Woolf, of course, committed suicide. Both Virginia and Richard wanted to die in order to free those around them, but it was Laura’s encounter with death, desire for death, and choice to live that truly freed Clarissa from the heaviness that surrounded her. We all know it is better for the poet, for everyone, to choose not to commit suicide, but this film reminds its viewers that one must still die in some way. Surviving, one will still suffer, but bearing that daily death, may one day free another from their own. 

LA or Bust Update

After praying and considering and more praying, I have decided to leave the job I am currently at, so that I can put all of my energy into finding a job in Los Angeles, CA, that will enable me to work on getting into the film business. The city that I am living now is super small(pop. 3000) with very little connection to the arts, and the closest big city is smaller than my hometown, so I am moving to my hometown so that I can at least do some work related to  film while I figure out how to get to an area that is more heavily populated with filmmakers, and maybe even get a job in film, while I am there that enables me to move to an area that I can get really heavily involved. I am praying for guidance and help to find my next move. 

The Bible Verse that has stuck out to me for over a year and been so hard for me to relate has been “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find.” So, I feel like it is important for me to voice what I want. 

I want to act.
I want to start acting in the best way possible.
I want a job that will provide for my living expenses before I move somewhere, or enough money that I don’t have to worry about it.
I want to be a part of a solid Catholic community of filmmakers so that I have others keeping me accountable to being a virtuous person as I strive to do what I care about so much.
I want a job that will not interfere with my growth as an actress and filmmaker.

Lord, there are so many unspoken intentions that you know I have, and you know the fear that resides in my heart as I wait to figure out what I am supposed to do, and have given up the path that I chose, please show me Your Path for me.

Death is the Road to Awe

The Road to Awe

 

Death is the road to awe

What ne’er living beings saw

Death is road less traveled

Solely when life unraveled.

Death is a time for peace

Whose comforting silence gains release

Death is the darkest sign

Of time to come with no time.

 

Awe is a road who fear

Clothes with dangerous leer

Awe is a road with smiles

To come and join in for a while

Awe is a road whose domination

Makes one fear to leave his nation

Awe is a road whose welcoming embrace

Woos one on to beauty’s chase.

 

A road whose mystery beckons

Whispers fear belonging to sin

A road whose menace screams

Beams forth sunbeams gleams

A road whose glittering presence groans,

Ceases to the end all earthly moans.

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