Tag Archives: it gets better

Monday’s Watch, Listen, Read

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“The very thing that makes you different in high school is the thing that makes you exceptional as an adult.” — Lin-Manuel Miranda

I’ve written about the “It Gets Better” videos before, but this video — created by (the awesome) Susan Blackwell, (the rock star) Hunter Bell and (Bird Bird II) Matt Vogel — deserves to be plugged because it addresses bullying across the spectrum, not just LGBT. Almost everyone who is different is bullied, verbally, physically, emotionally. Every teens deserves to have someone tell them it gets better. Also great about this video, it gently reminds adults to be proactive, to keep their eyes open, their ears and mouths ready to respond, and to listen.

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I keep a list of the songs I write by, which was inspired by a writer-friend who keeps her soundtrack lists on her website (Update: They’re MIA on Catherine’s site now, but email her, if you’re curious). Every piece I write has a different soundtrack. When I’m on a writing binge I get stuck on one artist, whose songs I have memorized, and play them on repeat. After a while I don’t hear the music anymore, but there’s something about the rhythm and having a soundtrack by which to write, that’s important to me. I’ve been listening to a lot of Adele lately. This particular song, “Cold Shoulder,” works nicely with the play I’ve been working on about relationships, finding them, losing them, etc.

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Life Interrupted by Spalding Gray

“A man tells a story over and over so many times he becomes the story. In that way, he is immortal.” -Big Fish

Spalding Gray‘s name is scribbled all over my work notebooks from 2002-2004, but I did not know who he was or what he did. I never met him in person, but I will never forget his voice, with that thick, New England accent. I first talked to Spalding in 2002, when he would call the office where I interned to talk to my boss, who was a friend of his and had directed one of his monologues. My boss would always take Spalding’s calls with enthusiasm, happy to talk to him until work interrupted their convivial conversation. As the years went by, I noticed Spalding’s voice developed a heaviness to it that hadn’t been present before. He had had an accident. It was clear that he was depressed. He still called the office where I worked, but I began to take messages instead of connecting his call immediately. Sometimes, Gray talked to me beyond the scope of the message. I listened, not always certain if he was telling me a story with an ending or simply rambling till I found a way to beg off the call.

I remember passing newsstands when Spalding was missing, his face on the cover of the Post and the Daily News. A few months later, his face appeared on the covers again, when his body was pulled from the East River. This is when I discovered Spalding Gray. I borrowed his filmed monologues from my boss and watched them one after another. I read the transcripts. I was blown away by how one man, sitting at a desk with a single glass of water as a prop, could navigate an audience to places as far away as Cambodia and as close as New York City, piloted only by his words.

His last monologue, “Life Interrupted,” published posthumously, was unfinished. It was also one of his best. There’s a darkness, a light, a hope, a humor, a sadness, and a beauty to it that no other written work I have come across has ever captured quite so intimately. I can’t imagine how Spalding would have finished this monologue or if he would have at all. There’s something about an unfinished work; a sense of incompleteness, of restlessness; that allows a writer to continue living in our minds, giving us the freedom to compose an ending worthy of his singular voice.

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Monday’s Watch, Listen, Read

Watch

I would not have made it through high school or college without some of my best friends. We were all outsiders for one reason or the other. There’s a kinship shared between outsiders during those tumultuous years that helps you get through. I could not imagine life without these friends and relatives, some of whom happened to be gay, lesbian or bisexual. These peeps were my film camp buddies, musical theatre program friends, my prep school and college classmates, my relatives by marriage, and my family by choice.  They were (and still are) my rocks.

The main thing you learn from being an outsider, gay or straight, is that it sucks when you’re in it, but it helps you to become a stronger person. You learn a lot faster that life isn’t about judging or winning, it’s about loving and living in those little moments of beauty — seizing them wherever and whenever they can be found.

Whatever you’re going through now, know that you’re not alone.  There are other people going through the same thing and it will get better. Every day you wake up and every night you go to sleep, you’ve conquered another demon. Keep going. The world has so much to offer and you have so much to offer the world.

Dan Savage’s It Gets Better project is a series of videos aimed at gay, lesbian, bi, and transgendered youth. The message is simple: whatever you’re going through now, it gets better. No amount of bullying or loneliness should push someone to the point of depression or suicide. You are worth more than that. Listen to Dan & Terry’s story and to all the other videos on their YouTube page. These stories will one day be yours, too.

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This song has been playing on a continuous loop in my head. The paper animation in the video reminds me of a Victorian-era valentine. Beautiful.

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I’ve been catching up on back issues of the New Yorker, so this week’s reading is a little less formal but no less habit-forming: Refinery 29. This site is one of my daily go-to sites. It’s a bit of an obsession. I’m sure they have my IP address flagged as a stalker.

I’m not a person who spends a ton of money on clothes. I’ll splurge the day I find the best pair of jeans ever created (or maybe a custom pair) or if I find a fantastic pair of shoes I know will haunt me for years to come if I don’t buy them — this has only happened three times, so far. Apart from those things (and perhaps, one day, an Oscar dress) I’m a pretty practical shopper. That said, I grew up with a mother who made us compare fabrics: brushed cottons and cashmeres to acrylics and polyester. “Feel the difference? You don’t want that rough stuff against your skin.” Our mother always told us the staple pieces in every wardrobe should consist of at least one crisp, white man-tailored shirt, a pair of black pants, a good pair of dark jeans, a nice black leather belt and a dark brown leather belt. Everything could be built on from there. Most PTA moms wore khakis or Lily Pulitzer. My mom dressed like she never left Manhattan, all clad in black with the occasional pop of a white collar. You can take the girl out of the city …

My mother’s fabric obsession lead to my sister’s interest in fashion and later, her degree from the Fashion Institute of Technology. My love of fashion is quieter, though no less passionate. You can wear what you want and I won’t judge (like my mom and sister do) but I’m very specific in my tastes.  I’ve also forecasted my share of trends. I take full credit for bringing back the chandelier earring. I was also wearing a Mad Men-style skirt and peep-toe shoes six years ago, when Matthew Weiner was still developing a little pilot about 1950s ad men. Those peep toes and skirt were inspired by my favorite Carolina Herrera collection ever, RTW 2003. I stalked and refreshed Style.com till that collection was finally posted an entire day after it hit the catwalk — it nearly killed me to wait that long. I’ll also profess my love for The Rachel Zoe Project here. But please, Bravo, focus more on the Balenciaga and less on the babies.

Whether it’s in or it’s out, prêt-àporte or Haute couture, Refinery 29 is my little pop of white in a sea of inky black fashion coverage.