never let me down

db.jpg

I’m still not convinced that David Bowie is actually dead. He was such a never-ending force of artistry and bold creativity for so long, that it makes accepting the fact that he’s no longer on this planet a hard pill to swallow. Nevertheless, he is actually gone from this realm. But he hasn’t stopped inspiring me.

With a mere 8 days left of my daily blogging fest, I’m slogging towards the end and feeling creatively zapped. I sat down this morning with coffee in hand and knew I had to start reading and listening to things that inspired me. I can’t summon these witty, wise wonderful posts on my own, people. So I had to act fast. If I let a feeling of “Oh, screw it!” takeover, I will be paralyzed and ain’t nothing coming out of this keyboard, honeychild. After falling down, the Google/YouTube rabbit hole, I landed, as I have before, on Bowie. I’m toying with idea of writing posts about different records from 1987 (like I did with True Blue and Tidal last year) so after perusing the Wikipedia page from that year, there he was: David Bowie. How could I forget that Bowie had released Never Let Me Down in 1987?

The record, considered a flop by many, was one I owned and in my 15-year-old brain didn’t think was that bad. Sure, it wasn’t the Changes One, greatest hits cassette that I burned a hole in. Nor was it Let’s Dance. But it was still Bowie for crying out loud. Bowie to me is like that saying about bad pizza- it’s still pizza. Besides, there are some great tracks on the record. Like the title song, for example. It’s Bowie does Motown or Motown does Bowie does 1987. Whatever it is, it’s decent track that holds up today. Also, you can do a lot worse in an 80’s song than “Day-In Day-Out”,the lead single from the record.

And even Bowie himself considered “Time Will Crawl” to be one of his all time favorite songs. The homoerotic dance moments in the video alone prohibit it from being a throwaway track.

Yet the album is far from perfect. Many of the songs are way over produced, a quality Bowie blamed himself for as he handed off the project to other people and didn’t stay involved. Some of the songs songs should probably not exist at all. I mean nobody, least of all our dear David Bowie, needs a song featuring a rap by Mickey Rourke. I swear I’m not making that up.  Plus, the timing of the record is notoriously crappy. After the mega success of Let’s Dance in 1983, Bowie struggled to find his footing. The followup, Tonight, was a commercial failure which breaks my heart to no end considering it features Bowie and Tina Turner singing the title track. That alone should shield it from any negativity.

Couple that with the tanking at the box office of Labyrinth, a fate unimaginable to kids who grew up loving that film and its music, and Bowie couldn’t catch a break. Things didn’t get better in 1987 as Never Let Me Down, despite decent sales, was seen as a flop, critically. Listening to it this morning, and I know this is a mega-fan speaking so my opinion isn’t exactly untainted, I found it to be really good. Charming, experimental, observational about societal issues yet tinged with Bowie’s cosmic optimism, Never Let Me Down, is far from a bad listen. Yet the real reason, I believe, I stumbled on it this morning, is this quote from Bowie in 1995 about the record:

“I felt dissatisfied with everything I was doing, and eventually it started showing in my work. Let’s Dance was an excellent album in a certain genre, but the next two albums after that [Tonight and Never Let Me Down] showed that my lack of interest in my own work was really becoming transparent. My nadir was Never Let Me Down. It was such an awful album. I’ve gotten to a place now where I’m not very judgmental about myself. I put out what I do, whether it’s in visual arts or in music, because I know that everything I do is really heartfelt. Even if it’s a failure artistically, it doesn’t bother me in the same way that Never Let Me Down bothers me. I really shouldn’t have even bothered going into the studio to record it.”

I got chills reading that. Why? Because it felt so relatable and shocking at the same time. There is something incredibly human and reassuring about David Bowie struggling to find his footing in his work. This man, this god, this inspiration to millions, had bad times where he felt like his work sucked. What a relief. If David Bowie can feel disheartened by the creative process and hate what he’s doing but somehow still carry on, than goddamnit, I can keep writing for the rest of the month. I can let myself off the hook. I can breathe and laugh about things that weren’t that great. And most importantly, I can keep going.

So thank you, David Bowie. As always, you never let me down.

Sunday Reads– Again.

Bunny-bunny-rabbits-30656386-640-427.jpg

Oh hey, Sunday.

Well, here we are smack dab in the middle of the season of bunnies & tulips. The sniffles, exhaustion and pure Sunday-ness of the current moment are prohibiting me from saying something about spring and renewal and religion and or even chocolate. I mean. Me not coming up with 500 words on chocolate? There is clearly a disturbance in the writing force. The old battery pack is drained and my body is sending me a clear message to take it easy or suffer all week-long. Message received, body.

However, I’m carrying on and much of today will look like me resting, nibbling on candy and reading. Here’s a list (I promised you it would happen!!) of things I liked and read or want to read:

Rachel Syme on Cynthia Nixon Playing Emily Dickinson: Ever since I read about A Quiet Passion, a new film about Emily Dickinson starring Cynthia Nixon, I’ve been dying to see it. Here, in The New Yorker, Rachel Syme talks to Nixon about the film as well as her career.

Alex DiFrancesco on Disappearing Before Coming Out: Whoa. This is a tour de force about disappearing and coming out as transgender. I was blown away and cannot recommend it enough.

Alison McNearney on Fabrege Eggs: Okay, so I am a straight up nerd for art mysteries and I will be gobbling down this story about the missing Fabrege Eggs along with some Cadbury Mini Eggs later.

Emily Nussbaum on Colbert: I don’t always agree with Emily Nussbaum and that’s a good thing. Her analysis of television comes from the place of a fan who wants to see it at its absolute best and sometimes it’s peppered with some harsh truths. This piece about Colbert will be devoured and enjoyed by me today (and probably tweeted about later.)

Yours Truly on Lots of Shit: If you can’t promote yourself, how the hell are you gonna promote someone else? Can I get an amen up in here? RuPaul misquoting aside, I’ve been writing everyday this month and if you’ve missed a few, Sunday is an excellent day to catch up. Why not read about my man crush on Aquaman? Or my take on the new documentary Strike a Pose? How about taking in spring flowers even as the world collapses around us? Or maybe read an unexpectedly popular post about potatoes?  In all seriousness, I’m so grateful for the new subscribers, followers and forwards that April has gifted me. I’m glad this crazy ass idea of writing ever day is paying off. So thank you for that.

That’s all for now. Back tomorrow with an essay about, well, my ass. So that’s something to look forward to. Enjoy your own Sunday and as always tweet me or leave links in the comments section of what I should read!

‘Strike a Pose’ Strikes a Chord

slam_704.jpg

“Look, around. Everywhere you turn is heartache. It’s everywhere that you go.” Madonna,Vogue, 1990

It wasn’t the scene of Madonna simulating oral sex on a bottle. Nor was it the many scenes of her openly discussing her love life. It wasn’t even the scene where she turned “Like a Virgin” into a masturbating with a crucifix blasphemy filled ballad that people were talking about when they talked about 1991’s Truth or Dare. It was the scene where two of her male dancers kissed each other while playing the game in the title of the film. The sight of two men making out on the big screen was so nonexistent in 1991 that jaws dropped around the world when the film was released. Now over 25 years later, the story behind that kiss as well as the all the dirt on the tour, the film and the diva herself can be seen in the new documentary Strike a Pose, now on Netflix.

As a Madonna fan, I’ve been dying to see Strike a Pose since I read about it last year. The main reason being that Truth or Dare was seminal in my life as a gay teen trying to find the courage to come out. What that seemingly simple scene did for me and others like me was show that who we were was okay. Madonna and her dancers were presenting a life where you could be yourself and not give a fuck about what people thought. Sure sounded good to me, the terminally effeminate and unique soul that I was. Yet according to the film, that scene and the glamorous carefree life that came with it also came at a price.

Strike a Pose profiles the lives of six of Madonna’s dancers from the Blonde Ambition tour who were also featured in the “Vogue” music video. Luis, Jose, Salim, Carlton, Kevin and Oliver became instant stars during the tour and their fame exploded when moviegoers met them a year later in Truth or Dare. The movie takes an unflinching look at the past and pulls no punches especially when talking about the AIDS crisis. Two of the dancers, Carlton and Luis, tell heart-wrenching stories about how they were terrified to tell Madonna and other members of the company that they were HIV positive. Carlton found out in Japan while Blonde Ambition was getting ready to take over the world and Salim was diagnosed in 1987 but kept it hidden. Their stories are incredibly sad and ironic given that Madonna was vocal advocate for HIV and AIDS, having just lost her friend artist Keith Haring to the disease. These dancers were very young and I can’t imagine how terrifying that world was back then. Thus the story of Strike a Pose, after it gets done dishing the showbiz details, quickly becomes to a story I can really relate to: a story of survival.

How do you deal with the fall outs of instant fame? If we are to believe Strike a Pose, the answer is, not very well. These kids thrust into the spotlight were given all the drugs, booze and VIP access that they could handle and they rightfully took advantage of it. Naturally, things got ugly pretty quickly. Jose and Luis, who became minor club sensations with a record of their own, both got hooked on heroin and parted ways with Madonna after their addictions got out of control. For Carlton and Salim, the battle to stay well in a society where everyone with your condition is dying is a very real one, not helped by collective shaming and ignorance. In one of the films, more devastating segments, we’re introduced to Gabriel, the dancer featured, along with Salim, in that famous kiss. Gabriel died from complications of AIDS in 1995 at the age of 26. According to his mother, Gabriel wanted Madonna to cut the kiss from the film and after she told him to “Get over it”, he  went on to sue her for forcing him to come out. It’s an unsavory moment but not the only one. Kevin and Oliver also sued Madonna for compensation from the film. Yet the movie goes surprisingly lite on the Madonna bashing which is surprising given that her reputation as a difficult  boss and coworker is legendary.

It’s because of this however that Strike a Pose is effective and moving. By avoiding being a victim, bitchfest, Strike Pose turns into a portrait of growth. It isn’t about Madonna anymore. It’s about the six dancers and what happened since their worlds were turned upside down. Against the odds, these men have somehow stayed well, gotten sober and survived. Salim’s story, for me, is the center of the films’ heart and message of resilience. Still dancing and living in New York, Salim speaks  publicly for the first time about being positive and the result is a raw, tear-jerking emotional moment.

As a fan of Madonna and Truth or Dare, the movie delivers on the serving the desired nostalgia of the time. With clips of the film and access to the songs, the movie gives a fan what they want. But as somebody sober with HIV, the movie goes a lot deeper and soon becomes relatable and courageous. Gay men like myself have always been attracted to women who survive. Cher, Elizabeth Taylor and Tina Turner all had been through the ringer and counted out but somehow came back. It’s a glamour and toughness that we as gay men latch onto and find aspirational. Yet what Strike a Pose does beautifully is finally give gay men the fierce, empowered, truthful comeback story of their own.

Sunday Reads

madonna reads

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”  – Stephen King

With two cats dozing deeply, I’m currently sipping a hot cup of coffee in my pajamas in bed. While this is all very cozy, I’m actually hard at work. I mean not “at work” like working in a salt mine or even “at work” like the band who recorded that “Down Under” song. But today, I’m taking the work of reading very seriously today, as directed by the quote at the top of the post.  By designating this morning and later this afternoon as the chunk of time where I’ll sit and read, I’m hoping that I can replenish ye olde creative well. As I whined about yesterday, I was feeling sort of drained and uninspired yesterday. My head felt fuzzy, my body was tired and all I wanted to do was watch Justice League cartoons on Netflix until I passed out. I was in need of a physical recharge, for sure. But I also needed a creative recharge too. Hence the reading situation I currently find myself in.

I’ve always been a book fanatic. I was one of those kids who’d get a book from the school book fair and have it done by the time school was over. Being in Beverly Cleary country currently is of no small significance to me as her books along with those of Judy Blume really taught me the foundations of storytelling and turned me into the book lover I am today. My mom owned a bookstore/frame shop during the late 80s thru the early 2000s which meant I could read whatever I wanted when I wanted. At the peak of my powers at age 20, I was reading like 2 books a week. It came second nature. 24 years and several thousand lost brain cells later, I am sadly not the reader I once was. I go through bursts of reading dozens of books and then dry spells that last months. I’d blame the internet but that’s bullshit.

In fact, the internet is chockfull of good things to read. I am trying to read things that like our dear Mr. King implies will help me write the sort of stuff I want to write. Therefore, I’ve been devouring all kinds of personal essays and interviews to assist me in my larger project which is compiling a book of collected essays. And so, in a clunky segue with zero chill, here are five spectacular things I’ve read recently and loved:

Jeanette Cooperman on George Hodgman:  It is impossible for me to put into words how important George Hodgman and his beautiful book Bettyville are to me. It’s a such a lovely, funny, heartbreaking book and this profile of him is literate, lovely and wise.

Claire Foster on Loving an Addict: A real life buddy and writing mentor,  Claire Foster nails the heartbreak of loving and losing someone to addiction. This piece written for The Transformation Is Real (ran by another friend and inspiration Daniel Maurer) is truly beautiful.

Betsy Andrews on Tamales and Trump: Being the foodie nerd that I am, I am a sucker for great food writing and this political and profound piece by Betsy Andrews harkens back to the Gourmet magazine pieces I used to love back in the early 2000’s.

Brandon Taylor on Stevie Nicks and Elizabeth Bishop: The always thoughtful Brandon Taylor, whom I was introduced to on Twitter, dissects the words and lyrics of two icons while artfully tackling the subject of grief. Plus anything Stevie related is always a must read for me and this is a good one.

Mark Goodson on Being Broken: Nobody writes with as much humility and compassion as my friend Mark and this piece, along with one entitled Keep Listening, is one of my favorites as of late.

As I mentioned, I’m also reading the amazing Melissa Broder and excitedly awaiting delving into How to Ruin Everything by George Watsky so I should “get back to work.” However, I need to grab more coffee first as it doesn’t look like Larry will be any help in that department.

lazy larry

But do me a favor: please comment and tell what you’re reading and provide links. I know. I’m so needy. That’s me the needy reader. xo- S.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

make magic/make a mess

sparkle writer.jpg

Okay, terrific. I’ve decided to write every damn day in April in an as of yet untitled blogging event promoted and invented solely by myself to basically keep me busy and out of trouble. Well, that’s all peachy, my dear. But there’s one fuck up we have to deal with first: what exactly do you plan to write about for 30 days, mister smarty pants?

Insert cricket sound here. 

Oh yeeeaaaah. I should probably come up with stuff to say for the next 25 days, shouldn’t I? In my life as a social media manager and content writer, I’d tell clients in a haughty, know-it-all voice that they need to come up with an editorial calendar. You know, a list of posts they wanted to publish for the next several days. I figured I should do that for myself and set out to create a publishing calendar for the ages, filled with awe-inspiring posts and soon to be viral must-reads. Sadly, all I was able to come up with was some song lyrics and a post I wanna write about how Aaron Spelling shows turned me into a glamour junkie (Don’t worry. It’s coming.) So my rock solid advice turned out to sort of suck when applied to myself. But then it hit me: why not talk about writing and more specifically how to make something, regardless if you’re inspired or not?

Insert lightening bolt sound here. 

First off, I think the idea of one thing or one person inspiring our writing is insane to me. Like talk about a lot of pressure on that artist. Being the good addict that I am, my motto for inspiration is “more is more.” I gleefully admit to being a hoarder of inspiration. The more art I look at, the more music I listen to, the more television I binge, the more I read, the better. The flow needs to be constant. For example, I am currently bingeing Twin Peaks, Veep and The Wire. All shows I have never seen(I know, I know, I know) and all different levels of storytelling. I had to temporarily walk away from my Twin Peaks fest last night after a dream sequence made me feel like I relapsed on hallucinogens.

I chose to read instead. Currently, I’m cramming down as many essay collections I can get my hands on. The first? So Sad Today by Melissa Broder. It’s freaking beautiful, hilarious and as promised in the title, heartbreakingly sad. It’s blowing my mind open which is kind of the job of all good inspirations and is actually informing how I’ll put together my own essay collection. I have found the more channels I have open, the more new stuff will flow through. Here’s a few things currently inspiring me:

inspirations.jpg

True, it’s not foolproof. Like this morning when I first woke up and thought to myself, “For once in my life, I have nothing to say.” Yet it eventually comes.

When I am finally filled with this mystical juju called inspiration, the next thing I need to do is sit down and do the whole writing part. This is the unglamorous part for me. This is the slog. I’d rather have beautiful, witty ideas flow out of my brain which would then manifest themselves into existence, if we’re being honest here. Taking the time and doing the physical act of writing is the part I’m less thrilled about. Sure, I always feel better when I do it but the simple thought of doing it can stop me cold in my tracks. If just plop down in front of the laptop and not think too much about it, it’ll flow right out. But if I’m kicking, screaming and dragging my feet, it’ll be miserable. Also? I’ve found the just sit down and go approach works when I’m not 100% inspired either. That’s actually an exciting way to write. Feels more organic like you don’t know what the hell will wind up on the screen. Obviously much of this site is composed that way, for better or for worse. Inspired or not, for me nothing comes if I don’t give myself a break.

Which leads me to my last point: as long as I make something, it’s a success. I need to write something, create anything, just get it down, regardless of how shitty it may or may not be.  I can’t go there with how many views I’ll get, how many comments will be left or if I’m just writing something, only to have thrown it down the deep, dark internet void never to be heard from again. Sounds hard which it is. But I think, like most good things in my life, I learned it in recovery. This idea of just not drinking or using drugs and just showing up for myself was enough for a very long time. In fact, some days it’s still enough and quiet frankly a tall muthafucking order. What was happening when I did this though was I was teaching myself to stay out of the results and do what was in front of me. Turns out this way of living is applicable for everything from emptying the cat box to paying bills and to writing. Over time and on projects as varied as 2 act plays about Craigslist to press release for small businesses, the task of getting writing done gets done when I just do what’s in front of me.

The best thing about breathing and giving myself a break when I’m writing is I realize that what I have to bring to the table as a writer is enough. That my talent is enough. That my experiences are enough. That flawed, procrastinating, occasionally bitchy, old me is enough. And I hope you know that about you, too.

Insert wild applause noise here. 

 

 

Carrie On

carrie on.jpg

“Sometimes you can only find Heaven by slowly backing away from Hell.”  

-Carrie Fisher, Wishful Drinking

In a Barnes & Noble in Glendale, CA, there she was. Carrie Fisher. No, not in person but in book form. It was her memoir Wishful Drinking. I was just a month or so sober, shopping with my mom and utterly miserable/confounded/fucked up. In times of crisis my mom and I often go to bookstores and libraries and getting sober and leaving a ten plus year relationship certainly qualified as a crisis. Like every newly sober person ever, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. But I knew I needed her book. And I needed it badly.  I devoured her first novel Postcards from the Edge at age 15 and she instantly became a source of storytelling inspiration. Here was this actress, this princess I always wanted to be, writing her soul out; utterly truthful, hilarious and talking about really dark shit. It blew my mind as a teenager from an alcoholic home who still had problems even acknowledging the truth, much less telling the truth about anything. So in 2009 with my head up my ass, I knew I needed that book. I knew this because she had been there for me before and I knew I could count on her again.

The usual snickering and laughing like a crazy person by yourself that happens with a Carrie Fisher book ensued once I got my hands on Wishful Drinking. It came at the precise right time in my life, as books usually do. Dishy, sad, profound and really funny, it was the tonic required to deal with my life. But what didn’t I know then or even as a fifteen year old is that Carrie Fisher wasn’t just entertaining me. She was actually helping me figure how I could someday talk about my own really dark shit too.

But in that moment with a life in turmoil what Carrie Fisher was giving me was a good laugh. Wishful Drinking is so jam-packed with Carrie Fisherisms that it’s sort of like hanging out with an old friend who maybe overshares a little too much which could be exhausting in real life but makes for one hell of an entertaining read. There are literally hundreds of gems and nuggets of wisdom in that book especially for addicts and alcoholics but here’s a few of my favorites:

“I feel I’m very sane about how crazy I am.”

“Happy is one of the many things I’m likely to be over the course of a day and certainly over the course of a lifetime. But I think if you have the expectation that you’re going to be happy throughout your life–more to the point, if you have a need to be comfortable all the time–well, among other things, you have the makings of a classic drug addict or alcoholic.”

“Anyway, at a certain point in my early twenties, my mother started to become worried about my obviously ever-increasing drug ingestion. So she ended up doing what any concerned parent would do. She called Cary Grant.”

“And not that it matters, but my mother is not a lesbian! She’s just a really, really bad heterosexual.”

“Having waited my entire life to get an award for something, anything…I now get awards all the time for being mentally ill. It’s better than being bad at being insane, right? How tragic would it be to be runner-up for Bipolar Woman of the Year?”

This gift, this memoir, this book picked up in a bookstore on a Sunday with my mom was the beginning of the long process of what I like to call “the light turning on.” For me it was never a simple flick of a switch but a billion positive messages, a million tears and thousands of laughs that eventually lead to the light being turned on. Wishful Drinking and Carrie Fisher were a part of that. I’m incredibly grateful that Carrie Fisher was the one to show me that the truth could be funny, fierce and freeing. And more than that it could help other people too.

When news of her death took over the internet yesterday, I realized instantly that I wasn’t the only one to have the light turned on by Carrie Fisher. My amazing editor Anna David wrote about it in Time. Sober friends tweeted about her impact all day long. And friends and relatives who knew how much she meant to me texted to offer their condolences. See, the thing is that even though Carrie Fisher and I never met, she was important. By following her example of learning how to laugh at the shitshow of my life, I’ve been able to recover. I’ve been able to get better and I’ve learned how to laugh at the other curve balls life has thrown my way in sobriety.

But now that Carrie is gone, it’s up to us. It’s up to us make one another laugh about really dark shit. It’s up to us to keep writing our truth, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us and the people around us. It’s up to us to speak out for people with addiction, alcoholism and mental illness. We get to carry this torch for one another and laugh together and what an incredible gift. I don’t treat it lightly and plan on doing my damnedest to continue her work.

I was given the writing note this fall that a piece of mine needed to be “funnier and sassier and Sean-like.” While I rose to that challenge and fired on all smart ass cyllanders, what this person was actually saying was, “Be more like Carrie Fisher.” And from here on out I will keep trying to do just that.

“If my life wasn’t funny it would just be true, and that is unacceptable.”
― Carrie Fisher, Wishful Drinking

 

 

beauty’s where you find it: the search for inspiration in uninspired times

d6b51e411ff2aa4f2002a60feb9a1056.jpg

Here’s a puzzle for a cold and gray Friday: where the hell does inspiration come from? I call it a puzzle because at first glance, 2016 isn’t exactly a hotbed of inspiring moments and benchmark artistic achievements. When a reality star is our new president-elect and the most talked about musical performance of the year came from Corey Feldman, you wouldn’t be totally wrong for calling modern culture a trash heap of uninspired garbage. Still, as a creative person and a writer, inspiration is vital and my mission of seeking it out is never-ending.

2286488_orig.jpg

Modigliani. That’s always a good place for me to start. In specific, this particular Modigliani shown here which currently lives at the Norton Simon in Pasadena(my favorite Los Angeles museum and highly underrated in my expert museum trolling opinion.) This forlorn pregnant woman was Modigliani’s wife whom he painted a zillion times.  I remember staring at this photo back in 2010 with this guy I was dating (who later became my husband) and reading the little description printed next to it. It told the story of this woman, Jeanne Hébuterne, and how she jumped out a window killing herself and her unborn child the day after Modigliani died. I remember tearing up looking at this stunning woman and her pregnant belly. A painting nearly 100 years old absolutely devastated me with its profound beauty and tragic tale behind it. This moment in Pasadena with the guy I would marry has become my touchstone for inspiration. That creative people wield this type of power and potential to utterly rock the emotional core of those who come in contact with their work, suddenly hit me on that day. Sure, I’d been writing and making stuff my whole life, but my Modigliani moment cemented that the fight to stay inspired and keep pushing myself as a creative person was indeed a noble one.

filmsdelautomne2016_arrival-768x511.jpg

Next, the journey takes me to the present. Sure, finding inspiration among classic art is one thing but can it be found in current culture? My endless Twitter pop culture griping aside, I’m going to say yes. I am what you would call a mass consumer when it comes to pop culture. It’s a buffet and I load my plate up with whatever I can grab. Some of it is delicious. A lot of it isn’t great. But my theory is at least I’ve tried it. I’ve always been obsessed with “the new” which I’m sure at one point was born out of a desire to look cool in front of kids who I wanted to like me. Today, however, this obsession to see what’s next and what’s happening in the moment I think serves me pretty well as a creative person.

Honestly? I’ll watch, read or listen to anything that looks interesting. Like the other day, we took in a double feature in honor of my birthday. My perfect birthday at age 10 was going to the movies and eating cake. Funny how little has changed. We saw Moonlight (which I,like the rest of the world, loved) and we saw Arrival. The latter, a seemingly standard aliens and humans film was the one that really surprised me, however. The emotional content, the questions it asks about regret and the idea of being given the gift of language totally blew my brain open.  I found myself sobbing and feeling exhilarated when we left the theater. Another Modigliani moment but this time starring Amy Adams and a small popcorn. It caught me off guard and shattered my expectations, which is what most good art should do. Not to discount Moonlight at all, mind you. It’s a beautiful film which spurned a series of conversations over the next couple of days between me and Michael, another sign of good art. With a ton of writing to get done over the following days, this temporary escape to CinemaLand gave me much-needed fuel.

eye know.jpg

Usually this quest takes me back to the here and now. The things around me: plants, animals, murals, art, weird neighbors, eavesdropped conversations, moments of tenderness amongst strangers –all of it gets shoved in the inspiration file. I can’t exactly get tickets in advance for this kind of stuff so the trick is to keep my eyes open and be alert. It does help that I’m an avid walker  and more often than not just stroll into these kinds of situations. Locations like the aforementioned museums or bookstores and libraries are more prone to be gateways to inspiration too.

Social media and the internet at large can be a never-ending fountain of inspiration too.  But it’s a double-edged sword as I’ve found just as much stuff online to depress the shit out of me as I have to inspire me. Thankfully, my online tribe is filled with some badass creative types. I recently turned over the question, “What’s currently inspiring you?” to these folks and the answers I got were, well inspiring. Everything from Little Women and Riot Girl LPs to animals and children to links to videos to discussions on how feelings like anger or depression might be the best sources of creativity of all. In crowdsourcing this question, I tapped into another source of inspiration: other artists and writers trudging through the work just like I am. These people I know and the million I don’t know are on the same quest as me and there’s something comforting about that.

This means I’m not alone and that I should keep going. I should keep watching, keep reading and keep saying yes.  Because in the words of Working Girl,“I read a lot of things. You never know where the big ideas could come from.”

But now it’s your turn: Are you one of those creative types who bubbles over all day long with inspiration always at your fingertips? Does inspiration soak in slowly through a steady stream of exposure to films, art, music and books? Or do you look back into the past or maybe even stay there until you’ve found what you’re looking for? Tell me about in the comments section and feel free to include videos, links and photos.