Pen Pals in the 21st Century

I love to write letters and I have from a long time back. I think it started when my dad, stepmom and older sisters moved to the Big Island and mom and Jen and I lived on Oahu, then Maui. Making long distance phone calls back then was expensive and rare. I think we might talk on the phone on Sunday evenings, but that was about it. So I started writing letters and my dad would write back. I loved loved loved getting letters! Nothing was more exciting (other than going to the bookstore) than to go to the post office and have something in Box F for me.Woman Writing Letters by Charles Dana Gibson 

In the newspapers back then there were small sections with a list of pen pals you could write to. In 8th grade I wrote to a few in the US and to some in Germany. (At the time "West Germany.") Somehow my name was put into an English language magazine for school kids learning English there and I started to get lots of letters. Joy oh joy! I replied to every one and wrote steadily to about 20 of them for a year or so. The letters slowed to a trickle as some of them lost interest and faded away, and by the time I graduated from high school, I had four regular pen-pals left in Germany: Ute, Elfriede (Evi), Antonia (Toni) and Andrea. 

When I travelled to Europe in 1989 and again in 1992, I met them all and their families. It was amazing. And to this day (almost 30 years later!) I still write Christmas cards with Evi and Andrea. I somehow lost Ute and Antonia over the last ten years, and while I still send letters to Antonia's address in Amberg, I have not heard from her ever. Same with Ute. Then recently I got a friend request on Facebook from Ute! We have caught up, got new addresses for each other and remain in touch. Still no Toni, though, and that makes me sad.

In the internet age, the series of tubes had been an amazing way to find people you knew a long time ago, something that would have been tough to do ten years ago. Recently I discovered a Facebook group for my elementary school on Maui, Lihikai. Many of the people in that group are from my class and we are now talking about having a get together in June when we're home. That will be mind blowing! Seeing faces that are so similar, but grown up is fantastic. I was at Lihikai from third through sixth grade so these memories are a bit pockmarked and I'm sure the gaps will be filled in.

I thought about all this as I was skype-chatting with a new friend, Helen, last week. We met in Belfast on The Project last fall and bonded over the work and a friend we have in common. (Our friend Carole had been in Belfast a year or so before, working on City of Ember.) We became Facebook friends, of course, and have stayed in touch. The reason I thought of pen pals was because in our skype-chat we were sending pictures back and forth of ourselves as kids and google map view images of our houses. The one 40 minute skype-chat we had would have been months of pen pal letters (with pictures) back in the day.

I like being in this internet bridge generation, having grown up with rotary phones and snail mail, and unwrapping the first and my first Macintosh on Christmas in 1984. Now I've (almost) fully embraced the online life, blogging and tweeting and facebooking my way to greater happiness. Okay, well, that's a bit over the top, but you know what I mean. I do appreciate that it is so much easier to stay in touch with people, especially when you make new friends (like I do on movie sets, far from home). I like being able to just send them a wall post to say "hi, thinking of you..."Writing_letters1 I have also made new friends on Twitter who I now know in real life and who will be friends for a long time. 

But there was something about sitting down to write letters. Pulling the sheet from the envelope, rereading what my friends had to say, looking at the pictures they sent, then deciding what paper I wanted to use and which color pen. Then the writing of a reply, sealing it up, addressing it, stamping it, mailing it. Then the sweet wait time until I got a reply in my (actual) mailbox.

Oh I still write letters. If you've read this blog long enough, you know I like my paper and ink. (Sadly it seems I've been writing condolence letters more than anything lately.) I like to get out the stationery and fancy pen and write a "thinking of you" note to an old friend or family member. I'm old school and will never change. I guess it's becoming a thing of the past, but I'll only give you my pen (and paper) when you pry it from my cold dead hands!

2nd Six Weeks -- How's It Going?

March 26 was the end of my 2nd six week plan. How did I do?

My second Six Week Plan was:

  1. Exercise at least six days a week with higher # of reps and greater intensity. I need to have sore muscles after exercising to know I pushed it harder.
  2. Eat less and eat better, make two specific meals a week (from cookbooks)
  3. Bring book proposal to Rough Draft shape and find a better time to work on it during the day.
  4. Continue writer's group! 

Here are the scores:

1. I did exercise at least 6 days a week and upped the reps/times/intensity of each exercise I did. That felt good and at one point Kurt pointed out that he could tell how much stronger I have gotten. Excellent Awesome Feedback! I did take a week off of exercising for, um, fertility reasons. The doctor suggested not doing much bouncing around during that certain fertile time of the month. So I took those six exercise days off. I started back again this last Monday (The start of the new six weeks) and have exercised only three days this week. It felt great and I then let myself get distracted by item #4.

2. Got very cranky at myself for not eating better (the secret goal is to lose weight) and my weight was staying the same or creeping up. So I started back on weight watchers online and it's helped a lot. I've lost five pounds already and am continuing this good momentum. My biggest problems is portions so the online guide is very helpful for keeping me on track. Plus I don't like going to actual WW meetings/offices. A bit too culty. But I like WW as it is all regular food you make and eat, not packaged stuff you buy. It forces you to be better at regular life eating. So kudos to me on that great start.

3. Kind of in fail territory here. Just am not getting excited about my book proposal. I have more fun just doing the website, so I'm leaving it there for now.

4. FTW territory here! (FTW = For The Win) as we have set dates on calendars to accomplish certain tasks, etc. The writing is cranking along and while it is challenging at times, it never gets dull! On top of that creative work, I've joined in on Script Frenzy (as you've read.) As of today I've written up to page 11 (10.1 pages). I'm extremely excited about just getting more words on a page.

There is a bit of paying work to do that started this past week and will continue into next week. Nice have money coming in again and also I get to work from home, unsupervised, which is always ideal. 

Also, I haven't talked about my resolution to do charity work at least once a month for the year. January and February I spent time volunteering at KCRW during their pledge drive. On March 31st I spent an afternoon at the LA Food Bank, working with other volunteers to sort donated food. Fascinating place, the Food Bank. I was glad to be there helping and I think I will go back again in April once or twice. So far I ROCK on this resolution. 

This past week was the start to the 3rd six weeks of 2010. My goals:

  1. Get back to exercising 6 days a week, at higher reps/more intensity, even if it means getting up earlier.
  2. Continue the better eating habits and stick with the continuing weight loss plan. 
  3. Keep cracking on with the writer's group, finish my (min.) 100 pages for Writer's Frenzy and create, create create!

Script Frenzy!


You might have noticed my new badge over there on the right for Script Frenzy. It's a fun project simply created to help get writers motivated. 30 days - 100 pages. All in the month of April. There are over 15,000 people signed up. There are no prizes, no one reads your script (unless you want them to), no real rules, no one holding your feet to the fire. It's all about you and getting those words on the page!

I have been wanting to finish a script for a while now but have been putting it off and putting it off with no real good reason. So I'm using April's script frenzy time to do so. And then in the last few weeks I learned of a public domain story through a current writing project partner and the two of us are going to tackle aspects of it. I'm going to bang out a draft of a script for it. Plus all the other creative work on the other thing I haven't talked about plus a short FX paying gig. 

April is going to be awesomely busy and creative!

Yesterday I was so busy working my both sides of my brain, the logical work side and the creative fun side that I was exhausted by the end of the day! It took me a while to get up this morning. I'm going to sleep in a little bit tomorrow though. Whew.

If you have something you've been promising yourself you'd write. Do it now! It doesn't have to be perfect or even anywhere near finished. IT'S JUST A DRAFT! Just get it out on paper.

End of Six Weeks -- How Am I Doing?

My Six week plan was:

  1. Exercise at least six days a week
  2. Eat less and eat better
  3. Complete my book proposal
  4. Start a writer's group for two specific projects

How am I doing? 

I have exercised at least six days a week. The first week was only five days, this last week was also only five days. However, there were two weeks where I did seven days. So I averaged it out. The best part is, I have already gotten stronger. I know this because the exercises are not leaving me sore anymore -- so I have to up the reps and intensity. The other best part is (I can have as many best parts as I want!) that I LOOK FORWARD TO EXERCISING! Holy cow it's been a long time since I've felt that way about it. So while the Wii Fit might not be the best long term exercise plan, it's a damn fine one now because I *want* to do it. In fact, I have to force myself to stop playing so I can get showered and dressed for work. This is a good thing.

In regard to eating, I have not improved much. I haven't lost more than the four pounds I lost earlier in the six week plan. Maintaining is better than gaining. So I will press on with the better eating plan. The longer hours than expected work schedule has been a bit challenging to the better eating, and I'm going to work at getting things done ahead of time. But then I'm doing so much more fun stuff on the weekends (See item #4 above) that I don't have much time then either! I choose how I use my time and I have not chosen to spend time making healthier food yet. 

The book proposal sits idle. I think I put it in the wrong part of my schedule and it floundered. I was working on it just after waking up and before exercising, all before work. Normally I can get a good chunk of writing done at that time of the morning. But this was different kind of writing and I found myself not very enthusiastic. I think I will try switching my book proposal work time to a different time of day. I have one more week of super busy work, then I'll restart on it.

As to item #4 -- it is moving ahead splendidly. It keeps me going through the week and I can't wait to have more time to devote to it!

So what will the next six weeks have? Much of the same

  1. Exercise at least six days a week with higher # of reps and greater intensity. I need to have sore muscles after exercising to know I pushed it harder.
  2. Eat less and eat better, make two specific meals a week (from cookbooks)
  3. Bring book proposal to Rough Draft shape and find a better time to work on it during the day.
  4. Continue writer's group! 

I'm feeling good about another six weeks and am quite proud of myself for how much exercise I've done. Thanks to the Wii Fit for getting me into a new habit.

I'll check back in about three weeks on this!

Feeling Unglued

There are so many big changes on the horizon that I spend a lot of time pretending I don't see them coming. These are changes that scare the bejesus out of me. And these are changes that I want, that I'm actively seeking, that I desire. They all involve things I've never done before so they seem so foreign and almost impossible. I say almost because I am still an optimist and I still want them to happen. 

I know I haven't talked much about what my/our plans are for 2010. I've mentioned vague notions about creativity and new roads. I'm not discussing much openly about that because as Benjamin Franklin said "Well done is better than well said." Or if you prefer Shakespeare, "Talkers are no good doers." I would rather tell you about it all after it's done. So stay tuned.

On other fronts, there are kids in our future. No, I'm not pregnant. We got delayed a bit on this over the last two years with other family things to deal with, my sister getting sick then dying. Kurt's mom needing to be in a nursing home for a while then moving her to LA. Big stuff that took up/takes up a lot of space. Now we are looking ahead to all those amazing joyous things that so many of our friends are experiencing. 

Part of this "make the family bigger" plan involves making the house bigger. Or at least making the garage bigger to accommodate new office and guest space so that il bambino has a spot inside the house. (I guess it's frowned upon to have a baby's room in a separate building?) This will take time and money and energy and effort. It will mean steady income and cramming ourselves back into this space while that goes on. 

As a good friend said recently about a new phase in her young son's life "It's a transition." Good thing to remind myself of as we keep moving forward. Life never sits still, things are always in transition, some are just smaller and less obvious than others. 

While all this goes on, I am feeling unglued. But that doesn't stop me. It can slow me down sometimes, but it won't stop me. 

Resolutions and Commitments

Here at the end of week three of the new year and week three of my six week plan, I find myself sliding a bit, not moving forward. No one is perfect so I'm not beating myself up, just acknowledging where I am.

Today I've been hit with great positive reminders about commitment and moving forward and moving through fear. It started with Seth Godin's email today about needing everything to be okay: 

"No, everything is not going to be okay. It never is. It isn't okay now. Change, by definition, changes things. It makes some things better and some things worse. But everything is never okay. Finding the bravery to shun faux reassurance is a critical step in producing important change. Once you free yourself from the need for perfect acceptance, it's a lot easier to launch work that matters."

Thank you Seth.

Then on Twitter Sean Bonner retweeted Rev Run who posted:

"People don't fail for lack of talent, they fail for lack of commitment."

Thank you Sean and thank you Rev Run!

And not long after that tweet, Jenny Yerrick Martin tweeted about a new guru, a new inspiration for us all, a young man who committed himself to losing weight and lost over 125 pounds in a year. Here is Jenny's post which is about commitment and goals and determination. All extremely inspiring things to read and be reminded about.

Thank you Jenny!

My six week plan has been slightly vague in some areas, more specific in others. It is:

  • Exercise at least six days a week
  • Eat less and eat better
  • Complete my book proposal
  • Start a writer's group for two specific projects

So far I have exercised six days a week, creating sore muscles -- a good thing! I have eaten somewhat less and somewhat better and have lost about four pounds since the holiday high. Also good, but not enough. I'm about halfway through my book proposal, and I'm getting a bit slow each time I open the document. I need a recharge on that. Lastly, I have started the group of writers and that is very exciting.

A friend on twitter (JacMac30) said, "Can't say you strike me as someone that wavers from a task." I appreciate that this is how I look to others. Some commitments are easy: my marriage for one. Yes, marriage takes work and effort, but since I just adore and love Kurt so much, that effort and work and commitment is so much easier. My paying job is not a difficult commitment, though it does have its challenges as every job does. And there are personal challenges about that job I'm working on. But I'm so grateful for the income and the people I get to meet that the commitment often feels effortless.

So I'm recommitting to my goals and when the fear filled voices - either the ones in my head or the ones from non-believers - start speaking, I will remind myself of what my commitments are and move forward. 

Now I'm off to fire up the Wii Fit and sweat for an hour.

Inspiration From Seth Godin

Without them – Seth Godin

One of the most common things I hear is, "I'd like to do something remarkable like that, but my xyz won't let me." Where xyz = my boss, my publisher, my partner, my licensor, my franchisor, etc.

Well, you can fail by going along with that and not doing it, or you can do it, cause a ruckus and work things out later.

In my experience, once it's clear you're willing (not just willing, but itching, moving, and yes, implementing) without them, things start to happen. People are rarely willing to step up and stop you, and often just waiting to follow someone crazy enough to actually do something.

I'm going. Come along if you like.

♡ ☆ ♄ ☩ ☮ ✷ ☝ ♡ ☆ ♄ ☩ ☮ ✷ ☝ ♡ ☆ ♄ ☩ ☮ ✷ ☝ 

Thank you Mr. Godin for reminding me of what I have to do.

Lean and Mean!

Remember that scene in Stripes where John Candy explains why he joined the army? No? Well, let me jog your memory:

This is how I'm feeling here in the early days of 2010. I've been swallowing a lot of aggression along with a lot of food (some of it pizza) in the last month and I have to figure out a better way to deal with it. So, instead of joining the army, I will be focusing on better ways of expressing my FEELINGS! Like, oh I don't know, writing, exercising? Yes and yes.

I will be a lean mean fighting/writing/creating machine in 2010!

Punk Rock And Me

Yeah. I'm not really that punk rock. More of a poser really. But listening to Green Day (I know, I know, bear with me...) has really made me feel good. I think it's because I can sing/shout and pound my hands on my steering wheel to the music, which is "acceptable" in our society. Really what I want to do is scream and yell and break things and run and run and run until I can't run anymore, until I can barely breath. 

Most of it is my sister being dead. How could she leave me and my mom and her kids this way? How could she be so selfish? The preppie-square in me says: Stop it. You are the one being selfish. I say: Fuck you, square-preppie me, I'm pissed off, leave me alone.
I want to pound on the drums, which really means I want to break things. There is so much to get out. But in moments of mellow-ness, when the volume on 21st Century Breakdown is not rattling the windows in the car, I think: Okay, I can't suddenly be a rock and roll drummer and sit down at a drum kit and beat out some cathartic rhythms. What can I do? How can I express all this? Writing. How can I be a punk writer? Wait, do I have to be a punk writer? Doesn't that mean I just want to be HONEST? 

Yes, that's it. Honest. True. Harsh even, in some situations. My punk side says: Stop being such a pussy and write what you feel! My preppie-square side says: ooooh, scary!

Time to really get over it. Stop being so afraid. 

Time to bang out some truth.