The Backstory

March 3, 2015

I have a habit…

(Some would say that it’s an annoying habit…)

When I see someone (which is almost every day), I immediately formulate a backstory – who they are, what they are doing, where did they come from, why are they so tanned…?

Which is exactly what I did with these two guys at Kits Pool many, many moons ago… (118 to be exact)

I think the fellow to the left (I feel like his name is Javier) is upset at the fellow trailing behind him (definitely a Rodrigo). Rodrigo “forgot” to bring Javier a towel. Javier specifically asked Rodrigo to bring him a towel, but Rodrigo had other things on his mind… specifically, Javier’s wife Gloria.

Javier and Rodrigo first met in España, in the 1970s, when they were both working as swimsuit models for fashion house Blanco. On June 21, 1975, Javier and Rodrigo were eating bull’s tail stew and Patatas Alioli at a little tapas bar in Barcelona, when Rodrigo looked up and saw her… Gloria… She flamencoed into his heart, but before Rodrigo could confess his love, Javier swooped in with promises of a better life… For 40 years Rodrigo has yearned for her… How is he supposed to remember to bring a beach towel?

I think you get the picture…

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I took this picture at Kits Pool in Vancouver, 2003.

The Alarm

February 26, 2015

There is so much to this story… So much.

There was the alarm, of course (hence the title).

There was the fact that it was New Year’s Eve.

There was the fact that we had been consuming alcoholic beverages for most of the afternoon and evening.

There was the fact that we were backstage at the O2 arena in London, En-GLAND.

And, oh yeah… Elton John was there. You know… the English singer, songwriter, composer, pianist, producer, philanthropist, and Knight… Yeah, that guy.

I digress…

In December 2009, my husband and I went to En-GLAND to visit my long-time friend (let’s call her Erin. because that’s her name). Erin lives in a sweet, little village in Suffolk with her En-GLISH husband and their small child.

(I should note: Erin spoils us. She is a fantastic cook, she likes to have fun, she is an easy laugh*, and she has been known to put a mini fridge full of cocktails in the guest bedroom… In other words, she is the perfect host.)

(I should also note: This all took place before we lived in En-GLAND for three years so we didn’t know how things worked… ie. healthcare, TV licenses, and toilets…)

Because Erin is a wonderful, thoughtful human being, and because her husband happens to work at the O2, she went ahead and got us tickets for Elton John’s New Year’s Eve concert. We were so excited. I mean, who doesn’t like Elton John?!?! (Answer: homophobes.)

The day of the concert arrived, and because there was a mini fridge full of cocktails in our room, and because it was New Year’s Eve, and because you only live once… We were celebrating.

Erin’s husband was the designated driver, and we (me, my husband, and Erin) were the designated drinkers.

It takes about an hour and a half to get from Erin’s house to the O2, and because it’s legal for passengers to drink alcohol whilst travelling in a motor vehicle (as far as I know… please don’t quote me on that), we arrived to the O2 feeling slightly tipsy and in desperate need of a toilet. Erin’s husband parked in the employee parking lot and ushered us to the nearest washroom.

This is where it gets interesting (sorry for all the boring bits leading up to this).

My dear husband went to use the restroom first.

Erin and I were waiting patiently (even though our bladders were about to burst), when suddenly an alarm went off… Security lights started flashing and a siren blasted through the corridors. I banged on the door, yelling to my husband that we needed to vacate the premises.

As my husband exited the bathroom, a security guard rushed over and asked if everything was okay. My husband shrugged and said, “yeah.”

The security guard said that the alarm was pulled inside the restroom…

So, yeah… my husband mistakenly pulled the emergency pull cord instead of flushing the toilet, and now an alarm was going off throughout the O2 arena.

…Right as Elton John was about to take the stage for his New Year’s Eve concert.

(In my husband’s defence, there are a lot of different ways to flush a toilet in En-GLAND, and many toilets do have a pull cord or a chain or a string, and it can get very confusing.)

I imagine Elton John was backstage singing, “Hold me closer, Tony Danza”, when the alarm went off… His handlers rushed in and escorted him outside to safety… Elton shivered in the cold, damp British winter for several minutes before security said he could return inside… But by then, Elton was angry and demanded to know who was responsible…. And, after checking the CCTV footage, Elton vowed his revenge upon us…**

I digress.

The security guard quickly deactivated the alarm and (after my husband made his apologies and we all had hearty laugh about the differences in plumbing in Canada and En-GLAND), the show went on… Elton was spectacular.

And I think we all learned a lesson that day***.

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* My favorite kind of people.

** We’re still waiting for Elton’s revenge.

*** Although, to be honest – I’m not sure what.

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The Ice Machine

February 18, 2015

I love my sister all the time.

Yes, there have been times when I have loved my sister a little bit less… like, when she pulled my hair and pinched me and scratched me with her surprisingly long, sharp fingernails daily for the first fourteen years of my life. And, when she cut my hair while I slept. And, when she convinced me (more than once) to trade all of my Halloween candy for what’s behind door #1 (fruit). And, when threatened to throw me down a well like Baby Jessica… Those were some of the times when I loved my sister a little bit less.

But there was one time when I loved my sister a little bit more: September 25, 2009.

I should mention… I love Pearl Jam. The band; not the jam made of pearls (is there such a thing?). I’m not mentioning my love of Pearl Jam just because I can (although I do like to do that), I’m mentioning it because it’s an important part of the story.

My sister and I have a shared love of Pearl Jam, which began in our formative years (early 1990s) and has lasted well into adulthood. We have attended several concerts together, and consider ourselves fans (I don’t mean the instrument that produces a current of air… I mean: admirers, supporters). We enjoy Pearl Jam’s music, and we admire the band’s talent and artistry. It obviously has nothing to do with the fact that Eddie Vedder is a handsome hunk of a man, with an impassioned, rousing vocal quality.

I digress.

My sister’s friend (we’ll call her Paula) worked at a very nice hotel in downtown Vancouver. The night of the concert, Paula arranged a hotel room for my sister and her husband, and offered to baby-sit their children. My sister hadn’t been away from her children in a very long time, and she was very excited.

The night of the concert my sister and her husband picked us up and we all headed downtown together. My sister suggested that we stop by their room for a pre-show cocktail. (Who’s going to turn down a pre-show cocktail?)

When we arrived to the room, there was an envelope on the table. My sister opened it, read it, fell to her knees, and started screaming. I took the card from her, read it, fell to my knees, and started screaming. Our husbands both looked at us like we were crazy.

The card was from Paula and it read: Hi Michelle, I hope you enjoy your stay, and I hope you enjoy sharing a floor with your favorite band. 

My sister and I immediately went to get ice from the machine down the hall, hoping to bump into Stone, Jeff, Mike, Matt, or bump into Eddie. I knew just what I would say: “Oh, hey Eddie. You like ice? I like ice too.”

Our husbands kept trying to get us to come back to the room, but we kept needing more ice. Eventually, our husbands convinced us to go to the concert, so we went. And, it was a fantastic concert (music, lights, band, etc.).

My sister suggested we have a post-show cocktail at the hotel bar. (Who’s going to turn down a post-show cocktail?) As we sat in the hotel bar, I told my sister that I needed to use the washroom. She pointed me to the lobby washroom, but I said that I would really feel more comfortable using the bathroom in their room. My sister said she completely understood and that she would accompany me to the room.

My sister and I made several more trips to the ice machine, eavesdropped at a few doors, analyzed room service trays, laughed so hard we cried, and then returned to our tolerant husbands at the bar.

Here’s why I loved my sister a little bit more:

My sister is a cool, collected (not to mention brilliant) mother of three children and a pillar of her community. Her hobbies include knitting, gardening, and watching historical dramas.

In other words, she doesn’t seem like the kind of person who would go get ice eleven times, head-bang at a rock concert, snort with laughter, and make a sign for her car that says: “Honk if you’re going to Pearl Jam”.

I realized that night: September 25, 2009, that my sister is a juxtaposition, an enigma: a mystery wrapped in a riddle. And that’s why I love her.

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The Fleas

February 11, 2015

I consider myself to be a fairly neat and tidy individual.

Some people might say that I’m obsessively neat and tidy, and they would be wrong.

(They might be trying to compensate for their own home being dirty and disorganized. Because if someone prefers a dirty, disorganized home (or: are too lazy and apathetic to do anything about their dirty, disorganized home), it’s really just a preference isn’t it? I prefer to have my home neat and tidy. They prefer to have their home dirty and disorganized. Neither is right, neither is wrong. It’s just two ways of doing things.)

However, saying that… If it is wrong to be neat and tidy, I don’t want to be right.

There are many reasons to keep your home neat and tidy: the ability to find keys and phone, disease prevention, unannounced visitors, etc.

And, of course when I say, “unannounced visitors”, I don’t just mean your next-door neighbor who wants to share his smoked sausage with you. I mean: pests, bugs, insects, and fleas.

When I even think of the word, I start scratching.

And when I think of a particular French château in the Parisian countryside, I also start scratching.

Let me set the scene for you…

A French château in the Parisian countryside (yes, the same one)…

A friend of a friend of a friend had a massive four-story château that was going to sit empty all summer, and they offered us a week’s stay. The husband and I were living in London at the time, and the Parisian countryside was really just a hop, skip and jump away (more like: a 2-hour flight, a 1-hour subway journey, a 45-minutes bus ride, a 1-hour train trip, and then a lengthy walk, uphill), so we said, “oui”!

As we arrived to the estate, our jaws dropped. The property was gargantuan, with it’s own lake and it’s own forest of trees, and the entire perimeter surrounded by a two-story brick wall.

The château itself was: fabuleusement énorme avec une grande façade et pittoresques petits volets . Ce est exactement la façon dont vous vous imaginez un véritable château.

We opened the door, already in awe. The interior was traditionally decorated with grand, high ceilings, marble floors, and classical furnishings. It had ten bedrooms, seven bathrooms, four sitting rooms, two elegant dining rooms, and a library. It was, in a word: magnifique!

We felt so lucky to be there… That is, until we stopped feeling so lucky to be there… Until we began scratching our legs until they bled.

The husband and I lasted three sleepless, flea-infested nights at the château before we packed it in.

You see, the French are… (how can I say this delicately?)… Pas pris la peine de la propreté (not bothered with cleanliness). They have other things on their mind, like: croissants, berets, bureaucracy, and being arrogant.

The French have a preference, and their preference is being dirty and disorganized. So they shouldn’t be surprised when unannounced visitors arrive.

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We left the château, depressed and defeated. Lucky for us, our wonderful friends were in Normandy and invited us to come stay. We visited the Mont Saint-Michel, we ate cheese with mites in the rind (mimolette), we went to a weird folk festival, we ate a croissant-baguette, we played German board games, and we shot-gunned probiotic drinks. The trip was saved, and we left France older, wiser, and sans fleas.


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The Pictures

February 4, 2015

One of my favourite things in this wonderful world is taking a picture of someone posing for a picture. To clarify, I don’t mean taking a picture of someone posing for me. I mean, a picture of someone posing for someone else.

Like this:

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And this:

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I also really like taking pictures of people taking pictures…

Like this:

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And this:

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I’m also a big fan of taking pictures of people posing for a picture and the people taking the picture.

Like this:

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And this:

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I also like taking pictures of people carrying around their photography equipment.

Like this:

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As my favorite fictional fireball Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Make sure you stop and look around once in a while. You don’t want to miss it.

 

 

 

 

The Writer

January 28, 2015

I was getting my taxes done last week and my accountant Morty asked me a question: “Are you really a writer, or is it more like a hobby?”

I can understand his position. He has signed the accountant’s pledge of honesty, and he is responsible for ensuring the accuracy of a person’s state and federal tax return. I’m sure there are a lot of people coming into H & R Block claiming to be a writer, when they’re really just taking BuzzFeed quizzes all day.

That’s not me!

(Not to say I don’t occasionally take BuzzFeed quizzes… A person would have to be a heartless, humorless fiend not to enjoy their quizzes!)

But I’m definitely not one of those people. I might take one quiz a day (FYI: today was Which Portlandia Character Are You?), but then I’m right back to work, writing this blog, screenplays, short stories, sketches, the occasional joke, hilarious tweets, thought-provoking emails, and of course, my book OH NO YOU DIDN’T, which is now available on Amazon.comAmazon.co.ukand Amazon.ca.

(FYI: I’m Nance.)

Oh, and I write for at least 30-40 hours a week. I take writing and improvisation classes. I go to networking events. I subscribe to magazines that have more words than pictures. I sit in an office chair for most of the day. I’ve written 212 blog posts. I have a Master’s Degree in Screenwriting. I wear black-framed glasses.

So yeah Morty, I’m a real writer!

#boom

#writer

#Morty

#hashtag

 

I’ve been called a lot of things… a lot: dependable, trustworthy, warmhearted, a good friend, inappropriate, elfin, and of course, comely*…

I was recently told that I am a “handsome woman”.

Initially, I took it as an insult… “Handsome” isn’t a word often used to describe a woman, and I mistakenly thought it implied something masculine. And while I’m definitely not very concerned with nail art and eye shadow palettes, I’m still a woman (I checked).

The Urban Dictionary** defines a “handsome woman” as:

A woman with the kind of refined beauty and attractiveness that requires poise, dignity, and strength of mind and character […] Usually applied to a woman who is also very well-groomed and from an upper class background.”

Who am I to argue with the Urban Dictionary**?!?!?

One google search of “handsome woman” reveals that I am in very good company: Sigourney Weaver, Katherine Hepburn, Uma Thurman, Anjelica Huston, Beyoncé, Scarlett Johansson, and my personal hero, comedy legend and all-around badass, the sadly deceased Bea Arthur.

And if that is the definition of a “handsome woman”, then I’m definitely going to need to send a note of apology to my Auntie Linda.

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* Oh, I’ve been called “comely” a time or two. Okay, just the once. But it was in a national newspaper… My co-workers at Opus can attest to the validity of this story:

The year was 2002. The month was April. I was living in Vancouver, and working at an art supply store. It was the best job I ever had: we were all in our early 20s, we were all friends, we all hung out all the time, and there was the occasional “snog” in the paper room during business hours.

Anyhoo, one night a bunch of us went out to The Pic Pub. The Von Bondies were playing. I had downed a few pints of Strongbow cider when I saw him: Elijah.

Elijah Wood, by then ultra-famous for Lord of the Rings, was in town shooting the movie Try Seventeen. He went and sat at a table with his co-star and then-girlfriend Franka Potente, and another older woman.

I nudged my friend Eleanor, who was next to me at the bar, and whispered: “Frodo”. And Eleanor being Eleanor, dared me to go speak to him.

Well, if you knew me back then, you know that I rarely let a day go by without acting on a dare…

I downed the last of my cider and walked right over to Elijah. I told him that I loved Lord of the Rings (a lie) and that I was a fan (I had watched Flipper).

Elijah was (and I’m sure he still is) the sweetest guy ever. He invited me to sit down with him, Franka and the older lady. I don’t remember that much (I was a few beverages in), but I remember him introducing me to Franka and the older lady, and then asking me where I was from. We had a very nice chat, which included me providing information about the maintenance and care of llamas. I also remember him touching my arm (I haven’t washed it since).

After approximately 15 minutes of delightful conversation, I excused myself, thanked him for being wonderful, returned to the bar, and high-fived Eleanor.

As Wood exited the bar a short while later, he stopped to say good-bye. If I wasn’t in love with Elijah before (and who wouldn’t be? Have you seen his gorgeous face?), I certainly was now!

A few days later, whilst at work, Eleanor came up to me waving a copy of the Toronto Star. She held it out to me and told me to read it:

“Ah, springtime in the Rockies. when a young man’s fancy turns to a fancy young woman. In the case of Elijah Wood, it is Run Lola Run’s Franka Potente. And whatever Lola wants, Lola gets.

The duo is co-starring in the romantic comedy Try Seventeen, currently lensing in Vancouver. Last weekend, Wood and Potente were in major lip-lock during a Von Bondies concert.

And when a comely femme fan came up to gush over Wood, Potente was mighty peeved. She went from kissy to hissy.”

And that’s the time that I was called “comely”… by a national newspaper.

A few things to note:

I did not “gush” over Wood. I definitely displayed poise, dignity, and strength of mind and character. I would have loved to kiss off his gorgeous face – but I kept it classy!

Yes, Potente did go from “kissy to hissy”. Perhaps she was intimated by such a handsome woman?

** A well-respected online dictionary of words and phrases.

The Anger!

January 14, 2015

I’m very angry.

I know it’s hard to tell with the written word. Perhaps adding multiple exclamation points would help to punctuate the severity of my anger?

I’m very angry!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Yes, that does seem to get my – exclamation – point across.)

I can’t remember the last time I was this angry.

… (I’m thinking)

… (nothing is coming to mind.)

… (I’m hungry. I should make myself a sandwich. Peanut butter and jam or peanut butter and honey? Whoops. I’m supposed to be thinking of the last time I was this angry.)

… (I’m thinking.)

… (possibly the time that a man almost hit me with his car because he was too busy texting to come to a full stop and he didn’t see me walking across the street, and I shook my fist angrily in his direction.)

But, now that I think of it… That incident actually pales in comparison to the anger I feel right now.

The reason for my anger?

It’s probably not what you think… Unless you’re thinking that I’m angry with a German game manufacturer. Then you’re right.

I know: there are plenty of reasons to be angry with the Germans, but the reason that I’m angry with them really takes the cake.

… (mmmmm… cake.)

Before I tell you why I’m (very) angry with these particular Germans, I should set the scene…

I wasn’t ready for Christmas to be over this year.

I never am, but when January 1st rolled around this year, I just said “no” and refused to accept that the festivities were over. I added a few more Christmas ornaments to the tree. I baked cookies. I lit a scented candle (pine). I wrapped a present (for myself) and put it under the tree. I put on a Christmas record, and poured Bailey’s in my coffee.

I felt a bit warm and fuzzy, but it wasn’t enough.

Then I remembered what always puts me in the holiday spirit… A puzzle. It’s a Manky family tradition (along with smoked turkey, Rice Krispy® balls, and being passive-agressive).

Ravensburger. 1000 piece. The Rhine Valley. (I wasn’t messing around.)

I opened the box (and it made the sound a game box makes… a box fart… It was definitely the box!). I cut open the bag of puzzle pieces and I made it rain (puzzle pieces).

I was drunk on Christmas joy (and possibly, Bailey’s).

I started to puzzle… First the edges, then working my way from the sky, to the mountains… Water, city, leaves!

8 days and 21 hours later…

(The tree is long dead. The cookies have all been eaten. The scented candle was confiscated. The present has been opened and returned for something more suitable. The record still spins, but the Bailey’s is loooooong gone.)

As I placed the last puzzle piece, I felt a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment normally reserved for someone that succeeds in doing something.

Then I looked to the left… A piece was missing. 999 pieces placed, 1 missing.

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I checked the floor, under the rug, my socks, under the puzzle. I swept the floor. I looked for at least 6 minutes. Nothing. Nowhere.

I started to feel slightly agitated… It quickly spiralled from agitation to annoyance, to irritation, to outrage… and then, anger.

It was obviously not me who lost the puzzle piece. I keep a tidy home and I’m aware of all comings and goings.

There is only one group of people to blame: German game manufacturer Ravensburger.

I wondered: Is this some kind of joke? Do they get their jollies by making people less jolly? Is this some kind of sick, sadistic ploy to rid the world of joy?

And then I did what any disappointed, defeated, angry person would do…

I made myself a peanut butter and jam sandwich.

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Update: As of Tuesday January 13 2015 20:05 PMT

I am pleased to report that the puzzle piece was found. In a last ditch effort to complete the puzzle, a sift through the garbage was done at approximately 19:55 PMT. The piece was found lodged in the Ravensburger puzzle piece bag. Kimberly was reported as saying, “I love puzzles, and Germans, again.”

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Oh, my book OH NO YOU DIDN’T is now available on Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk, and Amazon.ca. Go buy it and I’ll give you a kiss on the face.

The Print

January 7, 2015

This is the story about how I came to acquire a limited edition original print from the legendary (and sadly, deceased) Latin American artist Carlos Ortúzar.

I know what you’re thinking, “Who the hell* is Carlos Ortúzar?”

First of all, there is no need to use the h-bomb**. “Heck” would have worked just fine, and would have adequately conveyed the severity of your inquiry.

I get it… You (rightly) want to know who Carlos Ortúzar is.

I’m not one to keep information from people who want information. I’ve always been very forthcoming. Some might say too forthcoming (and truth be told, my forthcoming-ness has oft got me into trouble).

If people ask, I answer (but that’s just me… Honest, open, “real”).

But, before I answer the question at hand (which, I do understand is quite pressing), you might want to ask yourself: “Why am I getting so worked up about this? Why did I feel the need to use the h-bomb** to convey the severity of my inquiry?”

Now that’s a good question (that only you can really answer… but if I might have a stab at an analysis… I’d say that getting worked up about things is a choice. According to a recent article in Psychology Today: “…stress is almost like a dysfunctional badge of honor […] that so many people wear.” 

So un-pin that badge, take a Xanax, and let me finish the story of how I came to acquire a limited edition original print from the legendary (and sadly, deceased) Latin American artist Carlos Ortúzar.

It was a sunny Saturday in April. The year was 1999. I remember the day very well because I became a woman that day***, and that’s not the sort of thing one forgets…

My sister and I decided to go to a few yard sales in the Dunbar neighborhood of Vancouver, British Columbia. One of the first stops was a modern, two-story McMansion with a driveway full of tat.

Something caught my eye.

A lone, abstract print leaned against the fence.

Well, I think you might already have an idea about what happened next… I went ahead and acquired that print.

I should note: I didn’t always know it was a limited edition original print from the legendary (and sadly, deceased) Latin American artist Carlos Ortúzar. Way back then (1999) the internet hadn’t really “caught on” so it wasn’t possible to google “Carlos Ortúzar”.

So, I did what any woman would do… I took the print home, put it in a portfolio and promptly forgot about it.

Fast-forward to 2015

It’s January, and I’m going through my old portfolio from my art school days because January is a wonderful time for reflection. I pull out the lone, abstract print from the portfolio. I looked at the title, the edition, and the name: Carlos Ortúzar.

It all came back to me: Dunbar, the McMansion, acquiring the print (and obviously, becoming a woman***).

And, because the year was 2015 and the internet had now “caught on”, I googled him.

I found out that he was a Latin American artist, born in Santiago, Chile in 1935 and that he died in 1985. I also came across an image of the lone, abstract print I acquired way back when (1999)… and that it was recently featured in an exhibition with Picasso, Man Ray and Lichtenstein.

And that, my friend****, is the story of how I came to acquire a limited edition original print from the legendary (and sadly, deceased) Latin American artist Carlos Ortúzar.

It turns out the print might be worth “no more than a few thousand dollars”, according to a Latin American Art Appraiser from Texas. 

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* I’m sorry mom. I know you don’t like it when I use curse words in my stories, but I can’t be held responsible for what people think, or say, or do. I’m just trying to live my life, and be as forthcoming as possible.

** Not to be confused with the hydrogen bomb.

*** I turned 20, and went from being a teenage, female person to an adult, female person.

**** I can call you that, right?

FYI: OH NO YOU DIDN’T is now available on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, and Amazon.ca

The New Year

December 31, 2014

A version of this article first appeared in DARLING MAGAZINE

LET IT GO… What the Frozen Soundtrack Taught Me About Success

“Let it go, let it go. Can’t hold it back anymore. Let it go, let it go. Turn away and slam the door!”

I watched Frozen with my 2 year-old niece almost a year ago and those lyrics have been ear-worming my brain ever since.

Let it go, let it go.

The message wasn’t just for two princesses on an epic journey. It was also for me.

When I moved to California last year, I had a laundry list of “to-dos” and the expectation that I could and would check them off, one by one. I was passionate, positive, and motivated. I even had a vision board with words and pictures to fuel my efforts. My goals were very simple, really…

I was going to write a hit screenplay, get an agent, walk the red carpet, win an Academy Award, and buy a big house (with a pool) in the Hollywood Hills.

That’s what “success” looked like to me. I put a bottle of champagne in the fridge and told my husband when something exciting happened in my writing career, we would drink it.

I worked hard to achieve my goals: I approached writing like a job. I wrote from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, I took classes, I applied to fellowships, I wrote query letters to agents, I read books, I went to networking events – and as an introverted extrovert, I really dislike networking events.

And now — almost two years after moving to L.A. — I have not had the success I anticipated.

I have not sold a screenplay, landed an agent, or walked a red carpet (unless you count the runner at the entrance of Buca di Beppo). And it might go without saying, but there’s been no Academy Award, and no house in the Hollywood Hills. I placed in a few screenwriting competitions and was a Finalist for a TV writing fellowship, but the bottle of champagne is still in the fridge. Why? I’ve been so focused on what I haven’t achieved in my career, that I haven’t been able to appreciate the small successes, and I’ve not appreciated the successes in other areas of my life.

… I’ve been so focused on what I haven’t achieved in my career, that I haven’t been able to appreciate small successes…

In his new book I Must Say: My Life As a Humble Comedy Legend, Martin Short talks about his “Nine Categories” — a personal inventory of sorts. Short rates and compares his performance in the following areas: Self, Immediate Family, Original Family, Friends, Money, Career, Creativity, Discipline, and Lifestyle. 

For example, “Self” deals with having yearly physicals and maintaining your overall health. As Short says, “Without a highly functioning self, nothing else works.”

“Immediate Family” is the family that lives with you (husband, wife, kids), “Original Family” is your mom, dad and siblings, “Friends” are people you like spending time with. Each category gauges whether the relationships are in a healthy place, and what can be done to strengthen them. “Money,” “Career,” “Creativity,” “Discipline” and “Lifestyle” are about setting and implementing goals.

Short said that when he wasn’t finding success in one area or was out of work, he would turn his attention to another category. This helped keep him positive, focused and motivated. Because, really, it’s not just about one thing: having the ideal career or the ideal partner or the ideal body. It’s about finding a balance, so that if you feel like you’re falling short in one area, you can focus on the positives in the other areas of your life.

As we approach the New Year, many of us reflect on and evaluate our lives. Some people make resolutions or set specific goals to get in better health or to take positive action in their lives.

Sometimes, after a few weeks (or days) the goals you set for yourself might seem daunting and unachievable.

Remember: You are a changing, dynamic being. What is important to you now might not be important to you next year, or even next week. It’s not about giving up on your goals, or dreams. It’s about acceptance and creating a realistic picture for where you are, and the current season of your life. Let it go, let it go. The fear of failure, the pressure to “succeed.” The outcome may not be the one you imagined, but the alternative might also be pretty great.

The outcome may not be the one you imagined, but the alternative might also be pretty great.

Don’t get me wrong — I would still like my talents as a writer to be recognized (and yes, I do happen to have room on my fireplace mantle for an award), but “success” looks different to me now. The pictures and words on my vision board are now centered around “Family” and “Joy.”

I think I’m going to pop that bottle of champagne.

Happy New Year!

The other earworm from Frozen: “The cold never bothered me anyway.”
It never did — I’m from Northern Canada.

 

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