THANK YOU SUFFOLK COUNTY FILM COMMISSION!
June 13, 2019
The biggest of shout-outs to the Suffolk County Film Commission who has been incredibly helpful and supportive throughout our pre-production process so far. Special shout-outs to Suffolk County Economic Development & Planning superstars Erin, Diana, Alex, Jeff, and Allie and Amanda who rocked their first day on the job as interns, all of whom had ideas that will help us tremendously. This kind of thing takes a village and with your help, we can do it!!
About the film: When he was sixteen, my first boyfriend took his own life; Danse Macabre is a dream sequence/imagining of our first encounter since his passing. In addition to creating a meaningful tribute, I’m aiming to spark some much-needed conversation around and de-stigmatization of survivor’s guilt, suicide, grief, and general mental health.
THIRTY DAYS OF CONNECTION: DAY 3
June 6, 2019
THIRTY DAYS OF CONNECTION, DAY 3: WEALTH
I am, at the time of writing this, both the brokest and the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.
Now, I don’t think it is necessarily more meritorious to have more or less money. But it was interesting to me to note that, although being in a tight financial situation has its own stresses, broke-ness CAN coincide with immense happiness and satisfaction in (most) other areas of my life.
And, okay, I know this is gonna sound super woo-woo-y, but…I had the realization the other night that it was only by achieving exactly this that I am FINALLY ready to let all of the wealth waiting for me into my life. But it took genuinely internalizing the fact that wealth is not necessarily financial!
I know I won’t be where I am right now forever. For better or for worse. But that’s just the nature of life. We change. We progress. We grow.
But the key is, clearly, finding a way to genuinely enjoy where you are, at every step of the way.
So, try it:
Exercise: What is something you enjoy in your life that costs absolutely nothing?
Song for today, appropriately, is “Poor Man” by a delightful ska-roots-amazingness band out of Melbourne called Flap! (with exclamation point). I love the chorus:
“I’m a poor man, but I am not ashamed
I’ve got you on my mind instead of money on my brain
I don’t know just what the future holds
But money won’t be what’ll make us happy when we’re old.”
Ain’t it the truth!
THIRTY DAYS OF CONNECTION: DAY 2
June 5, 2019
THIRTY DAYS OF CONNECTION, DAY 2: Carpool karaoke in Russian with my dear Jewish-Korean-Kazakh friend, Alina
As you know, I was honest with the fact that I didn’t really “plan” specifics for this #30DaysOfConnection thing. I had the idea and figured I’d see what happened if I let the rest just come to me.
Well, what ended up happening was something I couldn’t have possibly seen coming, and I ended up finding out some life-changing information that I may never have learned were it not for a conversation this project sparked. I know it’s annoying to say that and not share what it was, but I can’t–it’s too private, and not exactly my story to share, even though it impacts and was shared with me. Maybe one day. For now, though, let’s move onto another absolutely delightful connection.
I’ll never forget what it was like to receive a message on Couchsurfing.com from a Kazakh girl around my age halfway around the world…who also didn’t grow up in a religious Jewish family and came into it later on her own…and happened to be a quarter Korean. What???!?!? As the proud founder and head of the Jews Of Korea! Facebook group for nearly a full decade now, I am VERY interested in all intersections of Jewish and Korean life and culture, and my interest was already piqued.
Alina has seen me through…quite a bit. And I her. I think I can count on two hands the number of times she’s visited the US and we’ve been able to meet in person, but she quickly became, and remains, one of my dearest friends.
Here is a video from Alina’s visit last summer she just sent me today of us belting what has become our friendship’s de facto theme song, Alexander Rybak‘s “Strela Amura” (“Cupid’s Arrow”). In Russian. The shrubs you see are those in front of my building, as we drive past to keep singing at the top of our lungs.
Exercise: Sing something at the top of your lungs today (or tomorrow). Don’t worry about making it pretty. Just make it fun. It’s good for you.
Song: Alexander Rybak – Strela Amura: I can’t find Strela Amura itself but here’s the English version of the song, “Oah”!)
(P.S. Alina likes my #30DaysOfConnection idea and wondered, half-jokingly, if it could somehow help her find a job so she can move here (NY or LA). She’s whip-smart, detail-oriented, and one of my favorite people in the world, so if you have or know of an opening, let’s make some magic happen… 🙂 )
Click Here for Video!
THIRTY DAYS OF CONNECTION: DAY 2
June 5, 2019
Oh okay also: Music is paramount both to this film and to my story and who I am as a whole, so I’ll be including a song I love/want to share in each #30DaysOfConnection post as well. Here’s the first one, for yesterday, June 4th–what would have been Andy’s 32nd birthday–with a little story that still gives me chills when I think about it.
I spoke with Andy’s mother a few months ago before I began work on the film, as I wanted to make sure his family was okay with me doing this. I was pleased to hear that not only was she okay with it, but encouraged me, sharing a piece of information I only wished I’d had half my lifetime ago:
“You probably knew he loved his video games (I did, it’s one of the things we bonded over), but what you might not have known is that what he really loved about them was the music. He would record the music from his games onto tapes and play them over and over again.”
The tears started flowing here, in particular, because…I did the *exact* same thing when I was young. I have a vivid memory of playing a looped recording I’d made of Coo’s Theme from Kirby’s Dream Land 2 (one of my faaaaaavorite games), over and over again on a little portable tape deck for what must have been hours on end, when I got the game for my Game Boy when I was 8 or 9, that immediately came to mind.
I wondered what songs were his favorites.
About a week or two later, I was winding down for the night with some music–lights out, a grab bag of whatever was on my phone playing on shuffle, completely immersed in and focused on the music. And what came on next?
Coo’s Theme, from Kirby’s Dream Land 2.
It has never come up on shuffle before.
Out of curiosity, I looked at when it had been played last, and it was October 2018–exactly when I was turning the outline for this film into a spoken word performance piece (the video for which I may post soon). It has not been played many times before.
Shrugging in surrender and deference to what I couldn’t not see as a “sign” of some sort, I lifted my gaze and said aloud into the darkness around me, “Hi, Andy.”
Please share some of your favorite video game music. What songs get you every time?
And here’s Coo’s Theme, from Kirby’s Dream Land 2:
THIRTY DAYS OF CONNECTION: DAY 1
June 4, 2019
“I should have prepared for this. It’s really not smart to launch a marketing campaign of sorts (albeit one borne of authenticity and genuine desire for change/to help people) without, uh, preparation. What the heck am I going to post today?? I’m not prepared for this!!”
Funny how things work out—because despite the thoughts running through my head as I sat down to work this afternoon, the answers presented themselves to me in a beautifully unexpected, kismet-y way.
I’m here with our film’s production manager and my lovely friend Jennifer Brucker at our production office (coughCoffeeBeancough) wondering WHAT I’m going to do with this idea, when I recognize someone waiting for her coffee. I realize it’s an acquaintance from one of the first Jewish communities I explored here, which wasn’t quite the right fit for me, despite having some lovely people in it. I went up to her and struck up a conversation. Wouldn’t you know—one thing she and her partner are actively working on right now is reconnecting with friends with whom they’ve fallen out of touch. Wouldn’t you also know—she happens to work in the mental health sphere, as an MFT. Needless to say, I was thrilled to reconnect and can’t wait to fill her in on our film. 🙂
Exercise for today: Shoot a quick text or email (or—gasp!—pick up the phone and call!), someone, you’ve been out of touch with for a while, and just say hi and let them know you’re thinking of them. It can go a long way. 🙂
THIRTY DAYS OF CONNECTION: JOIN ME FOR SOMETHING SPECIAL…
June 4, 2019
Today is an incredibly emotionally complex day.
As many of you know, I am currently in pre-production for my first film, which is an imagining of an encounter with my first boyfriend, Andy, since his suicide in high school.
Today, June 4th, 2019, would have been Andy’s 32nd birthday.
(What emotional whiplash from the new talent rep jubilation I shared earlier today, huh?)
I’ve been trying to think of the best way to honor this day for quite some time.
Initially, I’d intended to launch a crowdfunding campaign for our film a few weeks ago, to encompass the significant dates of both my and Andy’s birthdays (exactly two weeks apart). Then I thought maybe we’d launch it ON his birthday. But I never felt comfortable with making his birthday the day we started asking people for money for this film. So I put some thought into what I want to accomplish with this film, and figured out from there what I wanted to do today instead.
It’s an experiment of sorts—I have no idea starting out where it’s going to go, or if it’s going to be successful. But what I’d like it to be is an investigation into the theme of connection in my life—and your lives, too, if you’d like to join me for the ride.
I’m calling it Thirty Days Of Connection (#30DaysOfConnection on here, Twitter, IG, whatever) and what I intend to do each day is explore and strengthen different connections in my life: With friends and family, with professional contacts/colleagues, with people I haven’t spoken to in years, with G-d (substitute with your belief system of choice), with the world around me, and with myself.
Why? Why this? Why now?
One of the major things I’ve been struck by in working on this film so far is just HOW many of the people I talk to about this project have some kind of personal connection to it—EVERYBODY. Not necessarily as specific as a connection to suicide, but relating to feelings of isolation, loneliness, and/or struggling with mental health (depression, anxiety, BPD, bipolar, and beyond)—EVERYONE I HAVE SPOKEN TO ABOUT THIS FILM has some sort of personal connection to it.
SO MANY PEOPLE feel like they want more in their lives—more friends, more love, more meaning…more connection. What I’ve come to realize is that 1) This is far more accessible than we may feel like when we get wrapped up in our day-to-day lives, and 2) action begets action. I can’t help but think that if we all make just a small effort each day to jump-start this connection, it can make a real difference—not only in our own lives, but in those of everyone around us, everyone with whom we interact.
With this in mind, what I intend to do is some sort of little exercise each day for the next thirty days to jump-start connection of some sort, in some area of my life. Share some stuff I love. Shout out some people doing cool things. Probably pet some dogs (with pictures where possible). Share some of the stories of some of the awesome people we have working on this film. I will do my best to share them here/on social media, to encourage anyone who wants to join me to do the same. At the end of those thirty days is when we will (most likely) be launching the crowdfunding campaign to finance the film.
So come on. Join me. Let’s see how much we can change our lives before then. Are you in?