Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Surreal Adventures of The Angry Redheaded Lawyer: "An Italian Miracle" presented by La Mama with the works of Dario D'Ambrosi

On December 12, I had the pleasure of attending this event which was an evening of performance, film screening of the works of Dario D'Ambrosi and a New York City introduction to “The Integrated Theater of Emotion.” “The Integrated Theater of Emotion” is a university level program for mentally disabled people created by Italian actor/director Dario D'Ambrosi, who is also the founder of a theatrical movement called Pathological Theater (Teatro Patologico). The program itself is for people with mental disabilities such as schizophrenia, autism, Down Syndrome or catatonic to academically and professionally participate in careers in theater arts in all aspects, not just the acting realm.

At La Mama December 12, Actress Celeste Moratti served as interpreter at "An Italian Miracle," an evening of a performance, panel discussion and film screening, to introduce New York to "The Integrated Theatre of Emotion," a university-level program for mentally disabled people that has been established by Italian actor/director Dario D'Ambrosi. Photo by Jonathan Slaff

The panel discussion planned for this event was not able to happen due to the Italian government officials who'd planned to participate being unable to attend. Nonetheless, this was an immersive evening and very educational on the whole. The food from Serafina Restaurant was also delicious, as I figured it should be. I remember walking by a location near the Westchester Supreme Court, seeing a sign they had regarding giving your mate the gift of a meal there & “she will love you forever” and being reminded of Quinn Morgendorfer from the '90s show “Daria” always trying to get guys to take her to Chez Pierre (a pricey place in the fictional town of Lawndale where the show takes place, presumably the most expensive place in town); I even posted a picture of that flyer on Instagram and remarked that Serafina is apparently the Chez Pierre of White Plains.

The first presentation we saw was scenes from “The Buzzing of the Flies,” a play by Dario D'Ambrosi with Greta Scacchi and Giorgio Colangeli. This is a story about a group of scientists and psychiatrists trying to return folly to the earth, in order to fight boredom and depression that has resulted from a world where madness has been eliminated. A SWAT team is dispatched to capture 3 different crazy people: a temperamental painter whose wife and child have left him (Franco Brunelli, whose son is introduced at the beginning of the piece seeking answers from the lead psychologist involved in the project), a child who lives in his own mind and wears headphones and a gifted piano player whose gift was suppressed by his family and spends his time counting the butterflies he mentions to a member of the SWAT team sent to retrieve him.

Scene from "The Buzzing of the Flies" by Dario D'Ambrosi.

Eventually the trio bond and we learn that one of the scientists at the facility (Dr. Natalia) also has a mental disorder she has shielded from her colleagues and superior. She thinks it's wrong to “amp up” the trio's psychoses to drive them over the edge for the sake of this “experiment” and helps them escape from the institute by running away instead of committing suicide as they'd originally planned after the “treatment” designed to serve as a form of “therapy.”

There was also a live presentation of the “Integrated Theater of Emotion” university course and a screening of “An Italian Miracle” to illustrate to the audience what this program is all about.

Finally, we were treated to the film “L'Uomo Gall – Days of Antonio” by Dario D'Ambrosi with Celeste Moratti, Luca Lionello and Dario D'Ambrosi. Antonio is a boy from a poor rural province outside Milan who was born mentally handicapped and with one leg shorter than the other. His parents banished him to live in a chicken coop, where he considered himself a rooster and acted as a chicken. Eventually, he is taken to a psychiatric hospital where he tries to live a more normal life. His roommate, played by Dario D'Ambrosi, despises him at first but eventually grows to feel empathy and affection toward Antonio despite Antonio's not living up to his standards of order and cleanliness. The group of characters we meet at the hospital include one actress who was in attendance for this event. She played Antonio, the boy who thinks himself a rooster. This film takes places in the 1920s though I was reminded often of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.” Specifically, it felt like “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Next” times a million in the anguish and badness factor. There is no way you'd get away with doing a film like this in the US and the atrocities you see Antonio go through leave the viewer not being able to help but feel empathy for him. However, there were also light moments in the film such as when the patients are taken to the beach and the girl who's always naked and drawing on herself with lipstick goes right into the ocean sans clothing and feels “right at home.”

Celeste Moratti in "Days of Antonio." Photo courtesy of Teatro Patologio.

I know nothing of the culture in Italy with regard to mental illness but from my understanding of these pieces, it seems many people are confused about it and perhaps also in denial about it. It also feels like there is an element of shame to mental illness which is definitely still present today though it might be more subtle than in earlier decades. Granted it's not like we can say the United States is highly evolved on the subject for a second but I wonder how the perception of mental illness in the US vs. Italy differs and whether one country treats those will mental illnesses better or worse.

My own nephew is autistic and my sister says she doesn't think about what his future is going to be. He is also very high functioning and has gotten some good resources where he lives despite living in a smaller town and state than where this program is offered in Italy or where there are more funds for autistic children like New York City. She deals with his own outbursts and not being able to communicate with him sometimes along with plenty of people not being understanding of his condition. Some relatives outright told her he couldn't come to events or visit because of his autism, which has caused a lot of issues with people.

From what I heard about this program and its aims, which is not to put these people in straight jackets and force them to adapt to society but to use their outbursts and differences in the theatrical arts in order to employ them in a positive and more pro-social way I think it would be great to have something similar in the United States. The aim is not for the students to have talent or get all cues perfectly but to employ their own vision and who they are into the programs they participate in. I certainly fight to have my own space where being myself is an asset instead of something I have to hide. That is something I have attempted to create in being an entertainment attorney who does legal work but also does things like writing reviews, modeling in fashion shows, acting, and other pursuits not typically associated with attorneys.

So if I get to live life on my terms, then why shouldn't anyone else have that opportunity and space for that purpose? I can see what this program is trying to do and applaud the effort.

A huge thumbs up to the actors involved in the presentations and the individuals involved in this event. As an actress, I'm certainly familiar with the challenges involved in working on these projects and properly bringing heart, soul and an ability to relate to these characters. Those involved did a great job of translating that to the audience.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Surreal Adventures of The Angry Redheaded Lawyer "Anna Christie," a play by Eugene O'Neill

Eugene O'Neill's story, “Anna Christie” (directed by Peter Richards) is the tale of a young woman who returns to the town where her father lives to get away from some unpleasantness in her past and accompanies him on his barge where she finds love and has to grapple with her role as a woman of her time along with the expectations of both her father and her love. Can you say “relevant?” How many women are still judged for the things Anna finds herself being denigrated for and forced to survive in a world where a man certainly won't take care of them nor look out for their best interests?

Photo by Maria Baranova - Glenna Freedman PR

I absolutely love this venue. The Wild Project is set up in a space with raised seating as you go up in the rows and is a more traditional venue in the midst of apartment buildings in the East Village, an area where you'd be more likely to see something underground and more hipster like. The raised seating is awesome for being able to see a show without having to contort around someone who's taller or has a fatter head. I also appreciate the reserved seating in a portion of the auditorium where I didn't feel like I was being put on the spot or going to be harassed by anyone when I was simply there to write this review.

Photo by Maria Baranova - Glenna Freedman PR

That being said, the acting in this show was without a doubt superb. I also liked the realistic atmosphere with the fog and cigarette smoking of the early scenes between Anna Christopherson (Therese Plaehn) and Marthy Ownen (Tina Johnson), a lady friend of Anna's father Chris Christopherson (Stephen D'Ambrose). You can definitely see the love Chris has for his daughter though he's absolutely aghast at the horrors Anna has endured by living on the farm and eventually turning to prostitution despite his trying to make life better for her than growing up on the high seas with him.

Photo by Maria Baranova - Glenna Freedman PR

The end of Anna's story should give womankind some hope. Her prospective fiance, a rescued sailor named Mat Burke (Ben Chase) does eventually accept her for doing what she must to survive, believes that she loves him and that she isn't going to return to her past dealings as a prostitute. I did wonder there since oftentimes in real life, even in today's time, the suitor of a woman who'd been raped by a relative who eventually turns to prostitution in order to survive on her own instead of having to remain in the prison created by her rapist would likely prove to be a liar in claiming to love her.

Photo by Maria Baranova - Glenna Freedman PR

Of course, one can't forget about the dedicated and sage Johnny-The Priest (Scott Aiello) who keeps our lead characters comfortably satiated with their drinks and listens when they speak. He was definitely accurate as a bartender to where I hope the actors weren't given real alcohol while performing.

Photo by Maria Baranova - Glenna Freedman PR

This show is definitely worth seeing and if you aren't the type who is sensitive to herbal cigarette smell or water based fog, you will definitely see parallels to your own life if you are a parent, a person who's had to fight for acceptance in life or have had to deal with an older relative who didn't approve of your relationship with his or her offspring/niece or nephew/grandkid/etc. Universal and timeless stories are a hit with me and this show was no exception.

Photo by Maria Baranova - Glenna Freedman PR

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Surreal Adventures of The Angry Redheaded Lawyer: "I Love Being Here With You" featuring Natalie Arneson

After seeing Natalie's last show “Mama Drama,” (http://www.womanaroundtown.com/sections/playing-around/mama-drama-sentimental-and-a-must-see-for-young-mothers-in-nyc-2) I was looking forward to seeing her next show. Her latest installment, a tribute to Peggy Lee entitled “I Love Being Here With You,” did not disappoint.

This show offered the perfect pairing with the famous Don't Tell Mama, a venue I'd heard raves about for years and wanted to go to but had never had the opportunity to patronize. It's a small but very intimate, cozy setting with a staff whose caring shines through. Don't Tell Mama was definitely a proper setting for this tribute to the gifted, unique and sassy Peggy Lee who I didn't know very much about but who definitely sounds like a woman after my own heart in many ways.

From “Mama Drama,” we heard the Disney Princess side of Natalie's voice. In this show, we hear Jazz Natalie. Under the musical direction of Matt Baker (who doubles as the pianist in this musical journey alongside bassist Adam Kabak and drummer Pete Zimmer), we are taken on a journey into the world of one of the most prolific, unique and bold women to ever live in her own time or anyone else's. Peggy Lee was a woman of depth, vision and timelessness. She is the person responsible for Ray Charles, as she gave him the opportunity to share his musical talents with the world while others of her day turned him away due to his drug problems. She also wrote the score to “Lady and the Tramp,” retired at the age of 23 but came back to the music industry after a relentless pursuit by the newly formed Capitol Records and clearly held her own in a world where men typically called the shots.

Natalie brings Peggy's catalog to life and demonstrates how timeless Peggy Lee's music and story really are. “My Man,” for instance is the lament of Everywoman, especially the single women of New York City. We have “Fever,” “It's a Good Day,” “He's a Tramp” and countless other musical gems which Natalie delivers with heart along with stories of Peggy's life and times delivered with a comfortable charm and ease. This show reminded me of events I have seen through a friend's musical collective called The Salon, which is responsible for a yearly party called the Liberty Belle Spectacular (among other events).

The music was definitely rocking and you just felt like dancing at points. The show is definitely family friendly (as I saw young children here), accurate to the era but also modern at the same time. My guest pointed out some performance shortcomings but these were not things I noticed and regardless of if any exist, this was still a show I enjoyed and would recommend to others.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Surreal Adventures of The Angry Redheaded Lawyer: "Vera & Valya & The Magical One Cat Circus" by Reckless Tricycle

Reckless Tricycle, a self described “young company interested in clowns, animals, dark farces and dumb ideas turned beautiful” brings its first offering to the New York stage in “Vera & Valya & The Magical One Cat Circus” at Standard Toykraft in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. This show is “a farce based on age old Russian fairy tales.” Though this is no way my field of expertise, I did find this show very entertaining.

This is the tale of two sisters, Vera (Sarah Traisman) and Valya (Nadja Leonhard-Hooper) who are cursed in their own ways. Vera is incapable of telling a lie at all and Valya falls in love with anyone who comes through the door to their small home out in the middle of nowhere part of Russia. Vera and Valya desperately want the great Victor Voronin (Jeremy Brick), the owner of the Moscow Cat Theater to recruit their magical cat Skaza (which means “furry tail”) for his show. Vera wrote Victor Voronin some years back and the sisters continue to train and await his arrival to see their great cat Skaza in action.

Reckless Tricycle, a young-and-hungry troupe of comedic writer/actors, makes its New York debut with "Vera & Valya & The Magical One Cat Circus," a farce based on age-old Russian fairytales, November 3 to 19, 2016 at Standard ToyKraft, 722 Metropolitan Ave., Brooklyn. The piece is conceived and written by Nadja Leonhard-Hooper and co-directed by her and Olivia McGiff with dramaturgy by Liesl Schillinger. L: Nadja Leonhard-Hooper as Vera. C: Collin Knopp-Schwyn as the Cat. R: Sarah Traisman as Valya. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

Meanwhile Andrei (Patrick Brady), a detective who hunts for missing children, poses as Victor Voronin and proclaims that the sisters have actually tricked a small boy into believing he is a cat. As the sisters can't have their cat taken away if they want to achieve glory in the Moscow Cat Theater, they tie Andrei up until they can figure out what to do. While they are deciding Andrei's fate, the real Victor Voronin arrives to see this amazing act he's heard so much about.

Vera and Valya believe the Moscow Cat Theater is a theater patronized by cats but it turns out the cats are only the performers. Victor wants Skaza for their act but the sisters declare that Skaza only performs for other cats. Andrei escapes, the cast suddenly launches into a musical number and each sister's curse ends up being broken. Vera tells Victor where he can create the illusion of a magical cat that turns out to lead to the home of Baba Yaga, a which who will eat him just as she does all the capitalists. Valya declares she is no longer in love with Victor after he threatens to make Vera disappear.

In the absurd comedy "Vera & Valya & The Magical One Cat Circus" by Nadja Leonhard-Hooper, two sisters of Yaroslavl train a magical cat, hoping someday to join the illustrious Moscow Cat Theatre. L-R: Nadja Leonhard-Hooper as Vera, one of the two sisters (who falls in love with everone who comes through her door), Patrick Brady as a detective impersonating the producer of the Moscow Cat Theatre, Sarah Traisman as Valya, the other sister (who cannot tell a lie). Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

The venue is a literal warehouse space in so “underground” theater. If you long for the days where you could go to a show without pretension, barriers or stuffiness, you definitely have to check out Standard Toykraft in particular. I felt like I was attending a show in someone's indoor backyard in terms of design and lighting and loved the informality of the setting. They even had benches on the side for seating and a hanging basket chair in the lobby I had fun sitting and swinging in.

However, one should not equate informality to amateurism. This cast was amazing, especially Collin Knopp-Schwyn, who played Skazka (the magical cat). He conducted himself as a better cat than any human performer I have seen. He did the cat movements pitch perfect and sold this brilliantly even when I was watching and wondered if he was going to be able to keep the cat movements such as jumping. I love when he moved the hoop down to his level to jump through it with his “paw” as that's something my old cat Stormy would do if you held a treat up too high for his liking. In a twist of irony, Stormy was a Russian Blue.

There was interaction with the audience, a live mirroring exercise between the two Victors, a calling out of the accordion player who provided musical accompaniment and plenty of funny moments. No dull moments in this one though I'm not sure if this is the show to take small children to unless you are a more liberal parent. Teens would be fine, perhaps older or more precious children could understand and follow the humor of this story.

Here's hoping we see more from Reckless Tricycle through The Tank or some other venue.

Front row-- L: Sarah Traisman as Valya, C: Collin Knopp-Schwyn as the Cat, R: Nadja Leonhard-Hooper as Vera. Behind-- L: Patrick Brady as a detective impersonating the producer of the Moscow Cat Theatre. R: Jeremy Brick as Producer of the Moscow Cat Theatre. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween Costumes in the Workplace, Truths You Can't Unlearn and Things You Can't Unsee

Life has overtaken my ability to write things lately. It's hard to be able to sit and write when you're constantly going to events, friends are taking you out, you've got fashion shows/rehearsals/houseguests/bugs to kill/work assignments/Song Pop 2 games and have decided "fuck it" for online dating and guys who make zero effort to spend time with you (well, anyone really).

Today, I wore my costume to work. I was Goth Bunny with emphasis on the "Goth" part. I figured it was something not requiring too much financial investment, I had the clothing for it and it was a means to reclaim a part of my past. At one point, I thought I was goth but it turns out that wasn't the case; sure, Vampire Boy was a goth/punk guy (so not full on "goth" in the true sense) but I never viewed myself as Cindy Sanders (the cheerleader from Freaks and Geeks) like Coney Island Guy did. I had some goth friends but I really came to the realization I wasn't a goth after being forced to go to my ex's sister's funeral a month and a half after my father's. Plus, I'm not nearly as pessimistic as I'd thought I was.

Nobody else had costuming except one judge and her staff; they are cool by definition for that. Other lawyers may be old farts but this woman refuses to become one, ever.

Remember, you're speaking of the woman who wore a tiara to school for a week as a high school senior to protest the draconian administration who refused to let anyone have fun at all. There were no senior pranks or senior skip days so I felt like my spirit was being stifled and didn't appreciate it. No one could nail me for wearing one b/c it wasn't banned in the dress code (which I also had issues with). Lots of people complimented me on it and found it fun. As my mother says, you have to make your own fun in life. This is one way I rebelled.

My mother also loves Halloween and dresses up for it to go trick or treating with the grandkids. I remember her wearing costumes to her jobs. I think something inside you is dead if you don't want to wear a costume on Halloween or have any day where you just get silly; you're what I consider a boring old fart & someone I have no interest in spending time with. I could have stayed married if I wanted to be around boring old farts.

I also wore my costume to a Halloween party and despite being covered and technically in proper court attire (long skirt, Lenore T-shirt, black coverup), I had to hit 2 guys at separate times for getting fresh. One also gave me a flower at random, another was a friend who danced with me and I felt like "How come you're not trying to meet ladies here? I've made it clear I have no romantic interest."

Don't you hate when your guy friends are cunt blocking you? This is why I will not take my law school friend out with me if I want to meet guys & don't trust him if he wanted me to be his wingwoman. He'd be sabotaging me in 2 seconds, I'm certain of it. Just a serious intuition I have.

It looks like my intuition is pretty good so far. I was right when I sensed he hated his old job & he didn't love his ex-girlfriend. My intuition says this guy has never made an emotional investment in a relationship. I spoke to his ex recently; she wanted to catch up & I hope she finds that better guy I know she's capable of getting who'll give her that investment. The guy I made the most investment in totally betrayed me but it's spooky that Psycho Boy outright told me way back when I put up walls and never let anyone in & I see my friend doing the same damn thing. I told him I of all people should not be the one telling him to stop doing that if he ever wants to find happiness in the romantic sense; seriously, I don't think I should have to have that conversation with anyone & if I am saying this, he ought to think hard about that.

I limit my emotional investment in people a lot, especially in dating and probably not in the healthiest of ways but I am aware of it and have tried to work on a balance so I'm not completely hard and can let go a little without feeling like I'm letting anyone think they can destroy me like my ex tried to. Fortunately, I'm not the only woman who's had guys abandon her and never make effort. I've just lost interest in online dating and that whole pursuit b/c I can't deal with the time wasting. I need a dude to actually be serious about hanging out with me & I'm not looking for marriage or meeting parents or anything big and scary. I also need a lot of time to feel comfortable and like someone is trustworthy along with being my intellectual and looks peer.

Though it seems even if you invest time in someone, they can still prove to be a big fat liar. This guy who'd helped me in 2 moves during my survival time was recently outed as an STD spreading, adultering con man. One woman he'd conned had known him from childhood & I thought of people I knew in childhood; I'd never see them being this way. It would be like my law school friend having a secret wife, children, an STD and a fiancee while sleeping with me and half of the straight girls in NYC. I'd wonder when he had time to do all that & how in God's name he got THAT shady considering he told me he wasn't the type to blackmail people with their secrets. I never got involved with the con artist since I just wasn't feeling it, he works in my industry (I have a strict policy against shitting where I eat) and I was seeing other dudes at that time. I was also honest about my situation unless I got forced to lie for survival, actually got a divorce vs. staying married and telling people I was separated/divorced when I wasn't and never dealt with any guy I didn't at least like as a human being even if he wasn't my physical type. That's part of my personal code.

Even when I was using guys for sex and liked the kindness, I did eventually fess up to that fact; no one got mad at me for it, which shocked me. I've met quite a few guys who have more of a female mentality than I do. I wondered if the reason I didn't get involved with this guy was my intuition saying not to somewhere really deep inside (since I never got creeper vibes), I was a better con artist or even amidst the hell that was my life in those days, some force was watching out for me. I felt pretty forsaken 2.5 years ago & really didn't know if I was going to live or die in the next few weeks or months.

Lots of stuff has been going on and a few truths have come up that I just can't unlearn: first off, the mystique of guys has worn off for me. Second, the facade of relationships and happy couples has also vanished for me. Even the cutest guy you meet has flaws and his ordinary moments and mundane tasks in his life. There's no magic world only the beautiful people live in where they are immune from sickness, pain, anger, sadness, guilt, joy or any other universal truths. They still have bed hair and stomach cramps and unpleasant habits you have to deal with; the question is do you want to deal with those. Take it from someone who's a member of that club.

I'm not sure if this is me being further along in life age wise or mentally (where I was always ahead anyway) or I've become really jaded but once you dated hotter guys, were married for years and see behind the curtain of the relationship of some "cute couple" that everyone idolizes, you can't unsee that stuff. You don't get to envy those people or believe their social media personas where it's all sunshine and roses. You don't get to believe they're exempt from the basic miseries of life or never have feelings.

This means when you bond with someone, you're bonding over the deeper connections. You realize a person is a whole person, not just the model or actor or career professional or hottie persona they present to the world at large & that if you put in an emotional investment, you know it's in the entire person (not just the persona or the parts you like about them). I've said for years that love is acceptance; if you can't accept the whole person, you can never really love him/her. It's just like loving and accepting yourself, another necessary condition to loving someone else.

That said, I have a lot of issues with the whole concept of "love" in a Romeo and Juliet sense. I never lived or died for anyone, including my ex-husband even in the happiest days of that relationship. Some days I'm still shocked I was able to love anyone in a romantic way considering my father fucked up that whole concept with his alcoholism. I didn't and don't feel like I have to be emotionally abused or treated badly to feel loved; I just feel like people who do that & claim to love me are big fat liars when they say they love me. I just don't trust someone who says "I love you" in a romantic sense. A total of now 6 guys have said that to me; I feel most of them said it in lust & the rest just wanted to manipulate me emotionally. None really accepted me the person for everything I am and everything I'm not.

A guy I just started seeing told me yesterday (while drunk) that he thinks he's falling in love with me. That spooks me some since I feel like I don't know him well enough to make that call. I also need a LOT of time to get to know someone, feel like I can trust them with the really deep shit (I'll talk about all sorts of stuff but there are things I'll never discuss and emotions I'll never express unless I'm really comfortable with someone & don't think they'll use that against me later) & that they care about me, value me, regard me. It's like "Are you going to ask me for exclusivity? Are you going to smother me? Do I need to be freaked out? What gives?"

I asked him about this today while he was sober (which he confirmed) and explained my isms. Another truth I can't unlearn: guys fall in love with me left & right. I'm not sure if I'm cursed or just seem to attract clingers. I've got to talk to a certain older lawyer friend about this one. Maybe he's got some views on the subject; maybe his girlfriend says "I love you" and he doesn't say it back like my law school friend did with his ex. Had my law school friend loved her, he'd have said that publicly & unabashedly. He'd have acted like a man in love & I knew from one private conversation he wasn't, having been in love myself before and knowing him so well.

My intuition also says if the law school friend pursued me, he'd probably end up falling for me as well & I don't think he'd be able to handle it at all (less so than me, who couldn't handle that and would feel like a scared rabbit in a corner since you can't use your tactics on guys with guy friends who were there for you in deep personal crises). One mutual friend has predicted marriage, which I'm not seeing at this point but I didn't see him being a man and setting his ex free to find a man who'd treasure her & give her the things she wants either. I figured we'd be at their wedding and I'd have to say something meaningful about how they weren't entering in love & were making a mockery of marriage as well as trying to bring innocent children into a lie. I would have had to say something so I could live with myself & told him outright if he wasn't happy, he needed to end it and not lead her on to later betray her like my ex betrayed me.

That guy is like an annoying younger brother I got stuck with & didn't really ask for but I feel like if I weren't around to knock him down a few notches or share some life truths, he'd end up even more screwed up. I've been told he'd miss me if I were gone; that felt good but I wish he'd told ME that. I actually do love him like the younger brother I don't have since that's something I can give to someone. He's never done true pursuit or put himself out there for me to decide if I could love him in a Romeo & Juliet sense. I can't make a guy care or bother with me so I'm not going to beg or demean myself to get any of them to do it, least of all this one. Plus I think he's the type who just wants what he can't have and that's a path which will only lead you to misery. Thanks, Bonnie Raitt. I was thinking of her song "I Can't Make You Love Me."

There are some lessons people have to learn on their own. You can speak once but you can't end someone's denial or change their life patterns. They have to see them and make effort to fix them. I think the con guy's wife, who is apparently aware of his misdeeds and hasn't left him or thrown him out while financially supporting his ass, could be in denial or believe the situation is fixable. It took me a long time to see what everyone else was saying about my ex. Denial and believing you can fix things in a marriage is a powerful emotional state. You don't want to believe what people say about your love but eventually, things happen and your vision gets clear. When you are awakened, you start to see what they told you all along & wonder why it took you so long to see it.

I can't unlearn that everything you see that's shiny about relationships and people is hiding some type of unpleasantness or weird habit or quirk or something shocking. I can't believe in fairy tales. I can't unsee the evidence of this guy I know being a scumbag & think to myself of how fortunate I was not to have gotten in deep enough to be a victim of that misery. I can't unhear the guy I just met saying that he thinks he's falling in love with me (something I'm not quite sure how to feel about since I've not answered the question in my head "could I spend my life with him?").

My first name means "advisor." I like to think people see me as one in various ways. It does no good to live hard times if you aren't sharing your knowledge and wisdom from surviving the storms. Perhaps I'm getting more zen with life?

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Trouble With Men and Dating

Navigating the dating scene when you're divorced is a huge pain in the ass. After the euphoria of realizing you are free, the world is your oyster and those men are on you faster than you can blink (seriously, it's apparently a thing if you're a recently divorced woman; I lived some of that), you slip into some more normalcy.

My moment of dating normalcy came about when I got close to a friend with benefits who fit a million things I want & when I didn't feel suffocation after he called me his "girlfriend" at a fancy event where calling someone your "fuck buddy" would be awkward and creepy. He could have said "my friend" but he called me "girlfriend." It was eerie when I felt proud of that instead of freaked out. That was my "you're making progress" moment. So, having agreed we were cool with this we became exclusive boyfriend/girlfriend.

Life took him out of NYC but after seeing him a few days ago, I still realized there's heat with us. He told me seeing me on the subway was a turn on and up to when we did it (because why wouldn't you with the last boyfriend you had who you'd still sleep with exclusively if he lived in your city) was foreplay. We all deserve a guy who just being with or thinking about puts a smile on our faces. I know I do. I was getting turned on by him holding my hand while we were waiting for his bus to board.

So I came back to the dating scene after that relationship with a discrete mission: training wheels. 3 guys to do the same stuff my cadre was doing for me but this time, it'd be guys I'd consider for future boyfriend instead of dudes where I saw zero future and felt no actual attraction would ever build. I still get approached by those guys but I'm on a specific mission now. So far, my last boyfriend has been a hard act to follow. No one's come close to him. It's amazing he's 27 and far more mature than my ex-husband and my law school friend combined.

I don't think I'll be talking to that law school friend anymore, bringing me to my first issue with men: mixed signals. Do not hug your friend "bye," grab her boob and her butt and then tell her days later you wouldn't want to be a training wheels guy (since if you've been friends with that girl for over a decade, claim to respect her, once asked her if she'd consider you if she got divorced from her husband, and have semi-been there for her in her times of emotional crisis there's no way you can treat her like some whore & everyone knows it). Sorry but if you're touching private parts on me, that tells me you are interested. If I didn't push you away or tell you to stop, that means I'm interested. This isn't rocket science.

The basic view I take of a training wheels guy is we go out, have sex and we see where things go. I'm not asking for marriage or meeting families or to adopt babies or move in together. Simple, basic stuff. I can't even handle that stuff now.

Also, as pertains to this guy he doesn't have the right to act like a jealous boyfriend and trash guys I date or sleep with when I never did that to him. I didn't trash his recent ex-girlfriend when they were dating. I didn't trash girls he tried asking out or doing anything with. He's also kind of a moron to leave this woman dissatisfied then think women in my circle aren't going to ask me about him if he pursues them.

Now this guy could redeem himself and not lead me to think he'd never be able to handle a natural redhead, is all talk and no action (since he claimed to me at one time he'd be the best guy I'd ever be with) & certainly not a threesome with one (which he's asked me about despite knowing I'm straight & his not be willing to do that for me with another guy; he even went so far as to talk to other women he was pursuing about doing a threeway with him and me). I find it laughable he thinks he could handle a threeway with one who's a natural redhead if he couldn't even do the job with one natural redhead.

Yeah, women don't like mixed signals. Certainly not women who've lived what I have; I shouldn't have to be the guy in the interaction. Men usually complain about women sending mixed signals. I definitely don't do that. If I want a guy to do stuff to me, he will know it.

We also hate head games. I hate head games, at least. This is another problem I have with this guy & men in general. You don't grope me one day and a few days later, tell me you're not interested (since you already had piss poor sex with me & you're not going to be able to walk from me after you do it with me in light of the history and skill you know zip about).

Lots of guys who didn't know me became obsessed with me in that regard and certainly wouldn't trash me in that department. Even in the first day of my time of the month when I've got lots of cramps I can take Midol and perform if I'm turned on enough. I bring my best every single time, which is why I'm picky about who I do that with. I'm not going to waste my time feigning interest I don't really have. I feel that's dishonest and I feel bad about having used guys for sex when I was emotionally dead inside though none of the ones involved seemed broken up over it; it was more "Thank you, ma'am! May I have another?"

Women who've actually lived life have no time or patience for head games. I'm not going to play you want me today & you don't tomorrow. You either want me 24/7 or you can go fuck yourself. I'll certainly find others who want me 24/7/365. No loss to me. Hilarious I find 20 somethings who don't play that & my friend of the same age as me can't get that. It's a form of lying in my eyes.

Let's also address how men never seem to get the concept of middle ground: it's always sex robot or wife to them. Why, oh WHY, can't you people get that some women don't want to be treated like whores (and for the record, there's a big difference b/t using sex to cope with the destruction of your entire life & taking advantage of situations so you can move forward in life vs. making non-exclusivity your way of life for all time with no end date in sight & being with guys you don't even like as human beings) but don't want to get married?

I just got legally divorced & had the love of my life full on betray me; excuse me for not wanting to instantly jump into another exclusive relationship. Excuse me for not wanting to meet a guy's parents after my mother in law disrespected my grief over my father's death & did zip to try preserving the sanctity of marriage. This is why I'd prefer a guy whose parents are dead, however callous that sounds or a guy who isn't shoving me in as a love interest. I could meet parents as a friend since most parents don't judge, scrutinize and declare friends aren't "good enough" for their "baby."

On the flip side, excuse the fuck out of me for knowing my worth!!! Excuse me for insisting on a basic level of respect since I exist in the world, have survived the things I have and am doing a hell of a lot better than a lot of women in my shoes would have been. Could YOU do that? I'll bet you couldn't if you were in my shoes with the resources I've had. I especially hate people who've never been in my shoes daring to judge me for things I've done or tell me how to live when some of us didn't get trust funds or Mommy and Daddy right around the corner. Don't come to me with how great and strong you are when you're living off a relative; that's not the same as my situation. The best you can do for me is help me or stay out of my way.

Also, excuse the fuck out of me for being smart and pretty and knowing what I want!! I shouldn't have to dull my light or make myself lesser to make anyone feel better about themselves. I had my ex try that before & refuse to relive that. That's why I'm pursuing guys who have things of their own instead of trying to take from me or destroy me to lift themselves up. I want men for my training wheels, not little boys. If I wanted a boy, I'd go crawling back to my ex.

Oh, and maybe the biggest complaint out there: thinking women should have to settle. Nope. I'm not going to settle. I'm not obligated to go out with every guy who asks nor am I obligated to sleep with all of them. My vagina isn't a restaurant. I can discriminate on any factor I want including age, race, gender, etc. Let me stick to my type; if you don't fit it, don't go all used car salesman on me. You don't know my history, my experiences or any of that.

Plus why would you want to be with some girl who won't feel any interest in you? Wouldn't you prefer someone who WOULD be turned on by you or feels attraction could build over time? I had my last boyfriend; I deserve that caliber of guy & I'm not going for second best just b/c it's convenient. I could just get a vibrator and a cat or see about that male sex robot if I get horny and disenchanted enough.

I won't play for the other team as that's not my thing; I can't change that so sorry, I'm not bisexual, will never be bisexual & didn't even do that threeway for my ex-husband. So it makes this soon to be ex-friend's statements even more incredulous to me. He's not into certain things I'm into that are far less extreme but in the same general freakiness wheel house yet he wants to do that. I think he should just find 2 random women to do that with it, get it done and shut up about it. Excuse the hell out of me for not being a lesbian or bisexual!! Some guy ought to be delighted I won't leave his ass for a woman or seek that touch instead of his; be glad I like heterosexual sex and the real thing on a level that can't even be contemplated.

Some days I feel like I'm fighting a one woman war to keep my standards while everyone around me (men especially) is telling me to settle for things I don't want or to put up with more BS. I need training wheels to redeem my faith in men, not encourage me to get a sex robot.

Another interesting observation I've made is guys aren't these mythical gods who exist on a different plane than women. They've got jobs and hassles as well; it seems many you'd think are getting laid a lot really aren't. So I'd think my little proposal would appeal to them and they'd shape up for that but noooo....God forbid they have to deal with a woman who's got multiple guys while they have multiple girls or who knows what she's seeking or demands some standards for herself. I've been told I intimidate men; I don't think that's a bad, horrible thing by a long shot. I say if you can't take the heat, get your ass out of the kitchen.

Though living it, I'll still take dating over being married to my ex. Possibility is always better than known misery.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Can We Stop Using "The Almighty" to Justify Total Bullshit Already?

That is a HUGE peeve of mine. It pisses me off on many, many levels. By "The Almighty," I'm referring to God. Maybe people use other religious figures in other faiths & countries (Allah some places, Hindu gods in others, the Flying Spaghetti Monster in other circles) but the general idea is the same. It's claiming a person can or can't do something b/c "God will be upset" based on Scripture written BY MAN in a time period where women, minorities and anyone who wasn't rich didn't have rights to speak of.

I've read about more than one model on my Facebook feed who apparently won't do swimsuit or lingerie shows b/c "GOD will not like it" or "the Bible says it's wrong." That's total bullshit & I'll tell you why. For those who haven't read prior entries or don't know about me, I grew up in an independent Baptist home in the Southern US surrounded by religious types (with a fair amount of fundie nutcases mixed in there). I went to a Baptist Christian school for part of my young years and was an ace at the Bible verse look up competition. I was going up in front of the entire school representing my grade for that and spelling bees; in other words, I know what I'm talking about.

If you don't feel comfortable doing swimwear or nudes or "sexier" fare, just say so. "I don't feel comfortable" is reasonable & fair. I'm not comfortable doing nudity, law licenses, business career and religious mother notwithstanding. I won't do Penthouse style work; I feel inauthentic at that anyway. I can wear a sexy outfit but my own aura is more fun than trashy; trashy is a vibe that I don't really have.

I can sum it up like how Cher was described by Bob Mackie wearing sexy fare on her variety show in the 70's: he said she wore the sexiest outfits like she was wearing a T-shirt & jeans, that she just felt comfortable in whatever she wore and it came out when they were doing that show. I feel if I'm going out in lingerie or swimwear, it's merely part of my space as an artist. It's me playing a role and engaging in art; I never really feel like "this is too trashy for me" in things I pick or wear since that's just not how things look on me. Maybe the best way to describe it is I'm too classy & that classiness rolls off me just like the straight rolls off me. I reek of both & people who know me or can pick up vibes well know this so they know it's not an arena that's authentic to me.

So why do I get offended when people use "God" as a justification? Well, the God I believe in isn't a slut shaming asshole giving babies to deadbeats as Puritanical Christians would have you believe. God GAVE you the figure, did he not? God GAVE you the opportunity to model; know how many girls get to do that on any level at all? A small enough number for people to be impressed when they hear you're a model, especially outside of NYC. Granted you have the fakes and the hobbyists but I know I'm no hobbyist or fake since it's just another piece of my entertainment career that I was fortunate enough to get an opportunity to take on. I approach it the same way I approach all the other aspects of my career that I've been at for well over 15 years in some cases.

The patriarchy and mainstream society also love to slut shame women, telling them to cover up all the damn time and asking what they were wearing when some guy raped them. I view my own modeling career as a rebellion against the patriarchy (including my evil ex and his scummy, hating family who wouldn't be picked for modeling no matter how much THEY wanted to do it; if they'd be able to do it, they'd have never harassed me over it). My immediate family supports me in it & friends of mine support me; I'm not about to let the patriarchy or any other hating asshole dare to slut shame me when I present myself in a very particular, precise way. Not my fault you're too much of a moron to get the concept or understand my art.

Using the Almighty to say "I can't model" is just like people using the Almighty as a justification to kill gay people, have slaves, discriminate against minorities and various other shit people have used the Bible as "God's word" to get away with for how many years already. Some people need some far more supportive & less judgy family members (my family is definitely religiously devout). More people need smackdowns for trying to speak for God. Too bad there isn't a gross of anvils somewhere poised to fall from the sky and hit those people in the head; yes, I'm comical and love a good Looney Tunes scenario played out in real life.

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Surreal Adventures of The Angry Redheaded Lawyer: Ahmani Croom Productions "Karma" Fashion Show

As it seems my reviewing talents will not be going to waste despite my no longer writing for "Woman Around Town," this shall commence into an official series I've dubbed "The Surreal Adventures of The Angry Redheaded Lawyer." My adventures are surreal b/c they usually lead to contacts and directions I never foresee or expect. I'm also open to new adventures and opportunities as this is how we expand our minds, learn new things, make new friends, all that good stuff which makes us grow as human beings.

Case in point: this fashion show I will be writing on. Bear in mind that I never said I was a fashion blogger, nor do I pretend to be an expert at this. I'm not a fashion expert but I do know what I like & I do know the experience as a model who's worked in various venues + have talked to designers, photographers and others in the fashion game. I also have my own style and since this is my page, I'll write as I choose.

Mix this in with my background as a review/critique writer and humorous rant writer, and we may find some interesting results here. So, here goes:

Ahmani Croom Productions did its first show with the theme "Karma." The theme alone was enough to sell me on going. A woman who's gone through what I have and had an evil ex-husband who tried to sabotage her modeling career before it could really get started is probably your ideal guest for such a show. In sum, you had me at "Hello."

I came in on my press pass and we waited a bit (as you're often prepared to do when you go to a fashion event). Not being a professional photographer but wanting pics of outfits for this write up, I invited a close friend who's been to a lot of fashion shows as a spectator to be my guest along with another friend who's recently moved to NYC and deserved a glimpse of my entertainment scene/world. I also wanted a female perspective from a non-model/designer/fashion person. Unfortunately, my fashion outsider couldn't make it but my fashion insider did show up & took many of the pics you're going to see here.

I find a seat right in the front row & frantically save one for my photo taking friend. Unbeknownst to me, there was a separate section for press in a different room. The setup at The Highline Loft (the venue for this) was unique as you had two separate rooms connected by a hallway where we could see the models come in and out. Now if it were me, I'd have had a curtain up there or tried my best to avoid having you see the models before their official walk in the room where I was and where the entertainment and action was taking place. Or I might have had my models engage in a little showmanship like maybe wave to the crowd as they passed or posed specially or something. As an actress who's done that a LOT longer than modeling, I often incorporate my acting background into my own show performances. I've also seen one male model in particular I've worked with who is a master at this & quite beloved by the women. Had I been a model, I'd have wanted to do that as I feel when the audience can see you then you are "on" and need to own it.

The show started off with the hosts talking to the audience and engaging them. They picked a couple people to walk the runway and talk to the crowd. As is my fate in life, I was one of the people picked. Unfortunately, my zebra print heels (another item of karma) had been killing my feet by this time so I'd switched to my sneakers and was walking in those. However, I did my best to rock it as is. The top you see in my pic was specifically chosen for this theme as well as the necklace I had on; both came from my ex's family and I'd decided to wear them as part of my reclaiming of things with negative associations. My own take on the "karma" theme since isn't it delicious to wear something you got from people who hated you modeling to a fashion event? I'm not sure if our host knew I was a model or the producer pointed her out to me ahead of time but I liked my 5 minutes in the spotlight.

I love that this show incorporated the audience and made everyone feel they had worth in the world for being there. I saw no air of "I'm better than you" at this event, which is most certainly not the prevailing image of the fashion world or modeling.

A couple of professional dancers started off this event. I didn't get pics of them but they were quite good and it appears they were clothed in High Lights brand by Willie Fulmore III. Great stuff, these guys and their attire. You could definitely wear it in your normal, daily life or in a performance atmosphere for points for utility (I'm big on clothing & pieces that work in many different settings).

The first designer was CLEONS Clothing, by designer Chad Leon. He had a lot of male models in his segment, which my temperamental friend claimed he wouldn't photograph. I decided to get those pics myself where I got some decent angles. Check these out:

Now, as a straight woman we appreciate the presence of male models and getting eye candy as the straight men & lesbians always get their eye candy with female models. Bravo to equality!! I found his looks to have a mix of classic and a funky, retro feel in club wear. His website states that if you wear one of his designs, you should "feel like a different person...like an alter ego." I most certainly saw that here.

The second designer was Fabric Twinz. The collection I saw featured formal wear with both long and short dresses. Feast your eyes on these, taken by Craig Herskowitz:

(Craig said he liked this one)

(The black dress you see in the center felt like the model for what I'd wanted in my wedding dress; I still kind of want that great black dress though I won't be wearing it in any wedding of mine in the foreseeable future.)

I would wear these dresses, without question. I'm also a bit of an evening gown junkie & LOVE dressing up; maybe that's why modeling eventually found me.

The third collection was Toriola, Inc. by designer Tory Famuyiwa featuring his Peacock Reincarnate collection. There was some great stuff here but the one dress I really found super interesting was not one my friend got a great shot of. However, there were other fantastic & more practical designs captured by Craig Herskowitz:

(You can't tell me you don't love the eyes)

I loved the color scheme and felt like anyone could wear it, including my pale, naturally redhaired self. This collection had a mix of the modest and the sexy.

The final segment of the show (after a break for the cocktails, which I'm still wondering if it was rose--my friend thought the drinks were yummy but didn't know if it was rose when I asked him) was bird by Leigh Grahill for the clothing and Trash Cookie by Joy Vay for the accessories. This was a marriage made in heaven.

I say this because as I was viewing these designs I saw the aesthetic of Betsey Johnson, one of my favorite designers and likely someone who's clothing I'd own a lot of if I had more money to buy it. Witness these pics Craig Herskowitz took and tell me you don't see it:

(I LOVED this boa & found it inspired)

(I love the model's expression here; this is how you want your models to feel when they're walking)

Yeah, the last collection was definitely something in this "cool" lawyer's wheelhouse & of her aesthetic.

When you're modeling, that time on the runway feels like eternity but it's really short. You get told to stay out there for a while, pose, etc. for 30 seconds to 1 minute. You're thinking "no problem; it'll fly by" but it doesn't when you're out there. As a result, most models forget to do that hesitation. I saw some of that here & finally understood what photographers meant when they'd told me and other models to "slow down." Sometimes you're at a loss for what to do & you have to consciously slow your brain down.

Thank you to the models who posed when they first came into my room so we could get better pics of you!! I'm sure the professional photographer taking pics a few seats to my right also appreciated it. Overall, I'd say no one struck me as terrified or a total amateur at this; I'm not sure I'd call myself an expert model or a "professional" at it but I didn't see amateur hour here.

Other than some venue limitations like the heat, some acoustics being off and that weird room setup (apparently the second room was for press while I imagined a press pit being a literal segment where I'd be dodging elbows to get any simple smartphone pictures for my entry), I'd declare this show a success. Ahmani should be quite proud of her work and based on the track record of her designers, you should keep your eye on her and her team. Everyone struck me as professional, polite and definitely on a level I've not always seen in my own experiences.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Rebuilding & Reclaiming (A Reflection)

Sometimes we find ourselves in a perfect storm of events. We find that those we counted on, who we thought loved us unconditionally (or were SUPPOSED to love us unconditionally & not throw things away over minor disagreements) never actually did. It can make you feel betrayed, angry, distrustful of anyone else (or bolster your preexisting trust issues), sad, but maybe even a little relieved.

Recently, I found myself able to speak more freely since the ordeal that is my divorce is finally complete with my having no further ties whatsoever to my evil ex. The legal system moves far slower than the life cycle of a relationship, both in marriage and in divorce. So many people have said to me "You're very lucky you didn't have kids/money to fight over." Some have told me "A divorce is nothing. I'm divorced as well." Some of those people told me they have even more than one divorce to their name. I heard that and thought "You managed to go through this TWICE?!?!? How in God's name did you ever trust a relationship enough to even contemplate going through marriage and the possibility of divorce again?" That's not something I could ever see myself doing, certainly not without that guy signing a prenuptial agreement. Sorry, babe my trust is gone in that respect. I got zero justice whatsoever in the legal sense. My ex-husband got away with fucking me over & had a judge who condoned his behavior. Bias is not even enough to describe what that mess was.

It feels like if you become an attorney, even if you pursue a calling like I am and you don't make a dime from it no one listens when you speak or bothers to treat you as a human being. Me having emotional strength and not caving to bullshit from the likes of some Long Island bred Mama's Boy who'd have had nothing in NYC if it weren't for me doesn't = me being a robot with no feelings or permission to have any moral failings or not be some fantasy ideal of what we view people as being.

I was telling one friend that I did feel suicidal a few times in my transient life but the ultimate thing that stopped me was refusing to give my ex-husband or his shitty family the satisfaction of my death. I also didn't feel inclined to give my ex-husband or that family the satisfaction of taking NYC & my career away from me, things I worked my entire life to get. I suppose God, my father, my grandmother and any other angels I had agreed since there's no other reason for me to not have taken the path you'd expect me to after what happened. That bastard can believe I left voluntarily all he wants to but we all know the emotional abuse existed and I'm not the type who's going to ask a saboteur for help or show weakness to someone I know doesn't have my back or give a damn about me. He knows exactly what he did and what he pulled; guess how likely I'd ever forgive him for it?

The weird thing is I've not missed my ex. Not sure I even miss my old life itself that much. I'm pissed about the loss of stability but I'm regaining my own now.

I also like to think the court of public opinion and the court of the universe is on my side. I got an agency deal for commercial + print modeling (the very thing those jerks were against me doing) and for voiceover (the thing that jerk would kill to do) at a legitimate, reputable agency. My company has a movie that got mainstream attention in many ways. I got opportunities to do reviews on my own and even get to do a write up on a fashion show that the show producer invited me to and sought feedback from ME on. I've gotten my own entertainment clients and my own opportunities in the industry I have worked in for nearly 9 years. I keep making my own contacts and my old contacts are making their own waves and headway in this business. Tell me it's "just a hobby" or "worthless." I think a lot of these things are proof that the universe just needed me to get rid of my toxic ex; cleanse the things that held me back, dragged me down and caused problems.

The worst things I've had to deal with are the loss of my cats, the loss of my stability, the loss of my private space and the way things ended, knowing that in retrospect my ex was nothing more than a wannabe leech who was trying to use me as a meal ticket. Well, lesson learned. I married for love; my heart was true. I'm slowly rebuilding back to where I was and then some. I'm reliving my pre-marriage single days. At least my look defies my age so my ex didn't get to steal my youth or beauty like many husbands steal from their wives.

Here's an example of the difference b/t my new tribe and the old one: the new tribe is actually happy for me & opportunities I get. Those people congratulated me and didn't make me feel like I'm some terrible person for getting successful or coming into the status I'd been deprived of with my ex weighing me down. I even got to keep my oldest friend in the world who I hope won't engage in a personality 180 like my last one did; there's one thing in particular that if he did, I'd have to end the friendship since not only would he be a liar but he'd be a massive scumbag hurting innocent people I happen to like. Guess my years ago sense that I should keep him around was right. My life would have been a lot easier at home if I had let my ex dictate my friendships but I refused. There was a principle at work.

The goal now is getting me in order, my life, my career and maybe some quality male companionship. I managed this before & now I'm doing this without being emotionally dead inside. My last boyfriend helped me realize I could indeed do far better than my ex in so many ways, I could do exclusivity with someone again from my choice/free will and I could trust someone again. He even went beyond the simple basics like going with me for major surgery when we were merely FWBs.

I also have been spending time reclaiming things like my old karaoke spot and places I'd previously gone to with my ex. I feel it's necessary to create new imprints and memories having zero to do with him in the city I call home. It's also helpful for showing those people I know who haven't lived here nearly as long as me some spots where they can take people & might not have known about if it weren't for me. When I broke up with other guys, I went through this reclaiming process as well. Get rid of a prior association or letting someone else's "thing" stop you from enjoying it like a particular musician's songs or a particular restaurant.

So, what advice could I impart to you if you're a divorced or soon to be divorced woman or even someone who's lost a parent or dealing with a perfect storm of hell? I like to hope I can impart something of wisdom and value a little over 3 years after my father's sudden death & the match that lit the keg of dynamite.

For one thing, you have to never adopt a poverty mentality. You can't think that you don't deserve better or you aren't worthy of things. That's what caused me to marry my ex. You have to know and believe in your heart that today's circumstances are not where you'll be 5 years from now. You may not know exactly where you will be but you can't think you're stuck in today if you hate today. Plus, no one else has to live your life except you & you will be the most unhappy of all if you want to jump out of your own skin or run away or can't take it anymore. I took steps to avoid being another young mother in NC; you have to figure out your own action plan and move from there.

Second, think about your haters. Do you really want to give them the satisfaction of your death? I think most of us wouldn't (certainly not me since I think venom from hatred gives me some energy when that hatred is well deserved). Want to prove your haters right? Suicide is just giving them what they want; granted you could throw in some homicide first but guns and bullets cost money or you're going to have to wait around to effectively poison someone and for the time where you won't be the first suspect. Homicide would require work and money, things you may not have. Instead give them what they don't want, which is your success and your climbing out of the pit of despair. They don't want your smiles or your winks or cheers or anything good happening to you or resulting from you.

Third, embrace your true self. No one is perfect and we all have our moments of weakness, vulnerability, etc. I think it's better to embrace being imperfect than trying to pretend you're perfect. I certainly have my own flaws & limitations. So does everyone else. Expecting me to be perfect is just stupid; that's unrealistic for anyone. Everyone has to be knocked off a pedestal sooner or later.

Fourth, and something I'm still living myself, it's a process not an instant result. It takes time to get the puzzle pieces to fit together properly or collect your puzzle pieces to make the picture in the first place. You can't spend your time listening to haters, even if if feels like the entire world is telling you to give up on your vision and settle for being ordinary. The biggest irony I'm seeing is my personal Facebook page, the venue where I am my true self with no apologies for not being some typical, boring attorney stereotype, becoming an inadvertent marketing tool. I've started to feel validation in my path and my vision for the first time in this career.

I had to fight for validation and people trusting what I said, listening to me and such for a good chunk of my life. I had to prove I belonged in a normal 1st grade class vs. special ed classes. I had to prove I had talent when I was in the Miss Parkland pageant; my own mother said to me after the dress rehearsal that she had doubts about my ability to do that pageant but after she saw my act, felt I could do it. I feel like when people see me in action or they view my reel, hear me sing, see me live in a fashion show, they instantly get why I'm pursuing this career instead of just going to work in some typical law firm as an associate. They 100% understand why it would be patronizing and insulting to tell me to give up. It would be a betrayal of self and any talent I actually have. Perhaps this is what felt like one of the biggest betrayals with my ex; you expect your husband to understand and be on board with you 100% in whatever endeavor you pursue. If you believe it, your time will come sooner or later.

Finally, never, ever be with someone who disrespects your art, devalues you, tries to censor you or dares to diminish you or your light; having support for what I do is one of the most important things to me. Critical, in fact. When someone is not giving you that support, they are killing your soul and spirit. No one deserves that kind of power.

As I have things to look forward to, build on, care about and focus on to take my mind off my shitty ex and what he did, I don't have to worry about getting revenge. Fortunate for him and his awful family b/c if I didn't have that stuff, I'd have no incentives to give a damn about anything and they'd have to be on the radar screen. I think that old adage "the best way to get over a man is to get under another one," is also true. As time has gone on, what my ex did has become less glaring in my mind. Getting better for me makes me feel less motivated to harm my ex or fuck up his life in some way. It also helps when your ex isn't some superstar who has very much b/c what kind of pleasure could you possibly get from knocking down someone who's already knocked himself down?

Some of us aren't phoenixes or nearly as strong as I am. That's one of your flaws/realities. Some of this was almost too much for me at times so don't go patting me on the back or holding me up as a saint. Just know what your flaws/weaknesses are and heed the wisdom of people who know better. I've always done this in my life & made it a point to forge connections with people who know better than me. Do the same.

Friday, May 6, 2016

So, Porn is a "Public Health Hazard" But The Price of College Educations, the Economic Climate and Poverty AREN'T? Also, Some Words on Prince's Death

Saw this article recently through a site I follow: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/04/20/474943913/utah-declares-porn-a-public-health-hazard

Here are my questions and concerns about this:

Why isn't this resolution addressing the reasons why people actually do porn in the first place? A big part of it is M-O-N-E-Y. Many people need money for things & don't have it. You're not going to pay law school tuition with a job at Wal-Mart. You can't even pay college tuition with the wages from that job. Being a porn actress could make economic sense for women in the short term. Not to mention the degrading and abusive working conditions of entry level crap jobs. I'm sure when you make the comparison, working in the porn industry has to be no worse (or maybe even better) than a job at Wal-Mart or McDonalds.

You never hear these holier than thou types bashing people who work in menial, dead end jobs like flipping burgers but will have a total cow about people doing porn, working as strippers or anything related to the adult industry despite the obvious economic advantage those people will enjoy. Those same judgmental types also never propose higher paying jobs to make porn a less attractive field to people who might be able to work in it. They NEVER address the high costs of getting an education. They NEVER address single parents trying to raise children and keep them housed and clothed. Do these asshole EVER offer to help those women so they don't have to work in the adult industry? In my experience, almost never.

What about the consumers of these products? If you can cut demand, there's no product. The porn industry suffered from the Internet making it possible for people to create homemade stuff for free. We don't hear about child porn so much yet that mess still goes on someplace, at least enough for cops to have steady work busting child porn rings. How about punishing people a little more harshly for consumption if you really want to be effective? Granted, I (hopefully like other rational thinking people in society) think you sound stupid if you propose to jail people for watching porn in the privacy of their homes and hotel rooms. Don't we have enough real criminals to pursue like rapists, drug dealers, murderers, robbers, etc.?

While we're talking about rapists, I see not a word on addressing rape culture. In fact, it seems this is just trying to shame women further and make the whole rape culture scene even more acceptable by putting blame on them for daring to be sexual beings vs. paragons above sex that men have to violate. Are we going to stop letting high school athletes and other "popular" guys get passes on raping women b/c of this status?

Finally, do the people of Utah seriously not consider anything else a public health hazard? What about those economic conditions I mentioned? That whole rape culture thing? The upcoming presidential election? Global warming? Children in bars? The existence of Thinkx underwear? SOMETHING! Anything? Does time just move slower there? I'm curious about this.

I really hope they're not using taxpayer dollars to make police officers deal with this shit unless they are arresting rapists and child traffickers or maybe some holier than thou types who shoot off their mouths with moral condemnation while doing zero to make the option they dislike no longer be appealing (religious/moral arguments aren't acceptable; most of us grew past "because I said so" as a justification for doing or not doing anything). One can only hope.

So, Prince died recently. Looks like a Prince themed wedding won't be happening without creating a soundtrack. The idea of one just sounds really cool to me. He's got a very diverse catalog and it feels like everyone's touting "Purple Rain" when he's got other great albums as well. "Let's Work" has to be one of the best dance songs ever. You hear that and can't help but move. I also like "Controversy" since that song's idea is still controversial in some circles. You have everything from controversial (I remember hearing one song about incest that makes "Darling Nikki" sound chaste; I think it was called "Sister") to sweet and back again & I'm not even familiar with the man's later work.

You have to respect Prince for never taking shit from others, doing his own thing & not giving a damn what anyone else had to say about who he was even if you disagree with every stance he ever took. He also started out in a far less accepting time period and likely had to deal with a lot of hassle on sexuality and his stage persona. Would YOU have been able to do that? Could you even do that today? I'm sure most people couldn't. He even went against his record company at the height of his popularity & got his own music back, which most people never do.

The man had haters a plenty so I wouldn't trust much about how he died unless I heard it in the results of an autopsy. Regardless of how he left, you can appreciate someone's work without condoning their actions as a human being. People still like Michael Jackson, you know. Lots of other people also had less than perfect personal lives and no one trashes their artistic legacy. I also don't know of him being a drug addict or doing something stupid to end his own life like some other people did (and their fans will bash you if you dare point that fact out). Just my two cents. Lots of major things going on in my life at this point so updates are less frequent here.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Gangstas & Lawyers: Is The Gulf Between Them REALLY That Wide?

I know, I know. You're thinking "gangsta" and think people like Eminem or Ice-T or Dr. Dre or Tupac or other gangsta rappers who sold drugs, killed people, became pimps and other varied "gangsta" stuff. You're thinking "You'd want a guy like Eminem as an attorney?" If he were a criminal defense attorney & sober, yes you would.

The jailhouse lawyer, the guy (or woman) who's been incarcerated and has to learn about how to get himself out b/c (s)he can't afford his own attorney is probably the most bad ass & will put your Harvard Law grad to shame. That guy (or woman) knows about the real life implications of the criminal system, has seen the legal trickery played first hand AND fought a fight based on his/her personal interest. Your average sane attorney that I've encountered has some respect for the jailhouse lawyers since they had to learn the law without professors lecturing them through the Socratic Method. They had to self-teach; most of us can't even self study & pass the bar exam.

But let's go beyond criminal law. What skills do you need to be a good & powerful gangsta? You have to be ballsy, take risks, show respect for the leader/elder members/hierarchy in place, be somewhat blind to public opinion, know how to talk your way out of trouble and who you have to do favors for in order to keep yourself and your operations from being busted by the cops or getting shot up and such. You also don't start using your own stash or putting yourself in anything but a clear direction since you'd best be sharp at all times. Probably also helps you make sure you're not getting ripped off by a trusted associate or harmed while you're out of it; bad stuff always happens if you start taking the drugs you're selling or you get high and think it's a good idea to step out of line in whatever fashion.

Doesn't that sound an awful lot like the job of a litigation attorney, particularly a trial attorney? You have to show respect for the judge/court referee and court rules, not give a damn what anyone thinks of you as you present an argument for a client, finagle the law in the best way you can for that client and make the client happy so you don't get reported for ethics violations or sued or even murdered if your client doesn't like how you handled the case ("Cape Fear," anyone?).

As I see it, the only difference between a gangsta and an attorney is that the attorney knows the law & has a position of grudging respect with law enforcement. People think both have lots of money, I'd imagine there's a lot of stress in leading a criminal enterprise since you have to worry about people killing you or getting arrested. The stakes are a bit higher than they are for most attorneys (unless maybe you're Saul Goodman).

Most gangstas also didn't come from privilege or have silver spoons in their mouths at birth. They had to be smart and strategic to get where they were, did they not? They acted to survive. Someone who's got that sense of resourcefulness and pluck ought to be practicing law & advocating since they've been advocating for themselves and took a path lots of people wouldn't. Plus, they actually know what the struggle is like. If you didn't come from money & you were talking to someone who'd been like our well known gangsta rappers, you'd feel way more comfortable and like they understood your pain. It's a psychological fact that we are more comfortable with people who are more like us. The person who's not from money would be less likely to feel an attorney who also came from a poor background was going to patronize them vs. the attorney with a Gucci handbag and wearing some business suit worth as much as their yearly income. I think the former gangbanger or jailhouse lawyer is going to get a lot more information than the trust fund baby.

I was thinking "Now if you showed some of these really enterprising criminals prior to their life of crime that they could be applying their smarts & street savvy in a field where they'd have less direct threat of life and could still apply some of the gang lifestyle, how many might just become Saul Goodmans or very clever trial attorneys?" This is a special breed I'm talking about, the type who has business savvy & is merely there to make a buck vs. getting addicted to drugs, being a perma-lackey, or doing other stupid shit to detract from the business of dollars (whatever they do has a plan & a strategy behind it; it's not murder for murder's sake). These would be the people who look down on the lazy, short sighted types; I think ambitious people exist in all classes of society just like lazy fuckers exist in all classes of society. All races, all countries, I'm sure you will find the ambitious & business oriented types as well as the layabouts who wouldn't last a second running their own businesses.

Figuring out the difference is a skill but there's a difference & it is real. Sadly, gangs are probably more loyal to their members than many attorneys are to other attorneys. I was never in one so I can't say but I can tell you what I've seen and heard about the legal profession and what it's like to be a lawyer in it.