Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTS)… Crush them!

A large part of my job entails teaching life improvement skills to kids with emotional and behavioral problems. Recently, I read a book that my friend and colleague, Angela, was so kind to share with our team. The book is called Mind Coach by Daniel G Amen, MD. The premise of the book is that people, naturally, have thoughts all the time (both positive ones and negative ones) -they just happen, automatically -IF you never bother to challenge them. This can be particularly detrimental to you when you have certain negative thoughts. The book refers to Automatic Negative Thoughts as ANTS (I see what you did there…) Letting ants go unchallenged may likely result in you believing them -even if they are a lie! (and often, they are lies). A few ANTS here and there (so the book says) might not be that big of a deal but… a whole SLEW of them and, well -that could just ruin your picnic. The book then goes on further to describe various “species” of ANTs -ANTs such as the “‘always’ thinking ANT” -where you might think things like “Man! I am always running late!” or “They never think of inviting me.” There’s the “focusing on the negative” ANT where you might be like “she doesn’t like x,y, and z about me.” … and then there is the “mind reading ANT” -one which I’m noticing more and more as being a particularly pesky ANT in my park which tends to try to take over my picnic all the time (stupid ANTs! Carrying away all my delicious grapes!) The “mind reading ANT” is one where you might be like “That person is frustrated with me but she just doesn’t want to tell me.”

Kristin pointed out to me the other day an interesting common thought process that I have: When I am about to cross the street, frequently, if I’m not in a hurry, when a car is stopped at a stop sign at the time when I’m ready to walk across I will pause and try to look around as if I wasn’t ever intending to cross the street. I do this so that the car will drive on and not wait for me to cross the street (like the law says they have to.) Why do I do this? Well, one reason is that I hate the idea of having to walk in front of the car and think “Aww man! That dude is irritated that he has to wait for me to cross the street before he can continue driving.” And boom… That’s a mind reading ANT. The fellow may not necessarily be bothered at all by me crossing the street! In fact, as Kristin pointed out, the person might actually be thinking something like “Okay! I’m gonna help this guy cross the street safely by stopping traffic behind me.” I just by default ASSUME that making the driver wait is going to irritate him. (This is probably because I get super irritated, myself, whenever I have to wait for someone to cross the street and the person fails to even care how fast they are going -or they don’t bother having any awareness of how they might -GOD FORBID- be holding me up.) This also happens when I’m out walking in crowded areas. Those of you that know me can probably recall instances where we’ve gotten stuck behind an OBLIVIOUS person that doesn’t seem to mind that they might be holding up traffic and/or inconveniencing other people. That cuss drives me NUTS! But that’s another blog post… The point is, I assume that other people carry the same attitude as me and when you think about it… that is just silly. And this issue, I’ve noticed, is one that extends within me further beyond something trivial like crossing the street. I “mind read” people’s impressions of me: I may assume that people might think badly of me (usually around issues that I already think badly of myself on). I project my insecurities onto other people and in many cases I may assume that they may be dissatisfied with me when, in fact, that is likely not the case at all! I’m also probably missing out on so many instances where people are noticing positive qualities about me -just because I’m so anxious and fixated on the part of myself that I worry may not be “good enough” (…whatever that means).

So crap… What do I do? Well… The book says that I gotta stomp on the ANTs. How do I do that? The book says “Cuss it! Make up an opposite POSITIVE thought to counter the negative one -and say it, internally, to yourself. Even if you don’t believe it at first” I mean… You might as well do that, right? If you’re going to have a faulty made up thought -why not err on the side of being over positive? That would at least change your mind set into a direction that would be more productive. So when I’m crossing the street and I notice that I’m assuming that the driver is probably letting out a giant vocal sigh of frustration thinking to himself “Oh GAWD!!! I have to WAIT for this FOOL to hurry up and walk across the street?! I don’t HAVE 4 seconds to sit around and wait for this dude. GAHHHHH!” What I need to do is program an opposite thought such as “Well… I don’t know what that guy is thinking. Maybe he has a mean expression on his face because he had a bad day.” The simple act of me NOTICING that my tendency is to come up with negative mind reading thoughts means I’m already well on the way to having healthier thinking. “Knowing is half the battle -G.I. Joooooe!” Taking that to an even deeper level -when I’m hanging out with folks that I really look up to and I start to think “these guys probably are noticing that I’m not up to par” I might as well re-program myself to think “these guys probably enjoy my company and notice the unique and positive qualities that I have.” SPLAT!!! Peace out, you stupid ANT!

Let’s get real here for a minute. If I’m really going to accomplish my dreams -if I’m really going to do this grad school thing (despite the setbacks) -If I’m really going to create and share an art production -if I’m really going to find a true and honest lover that can challenge me and meet me where I am -if I’m really going to be comfortable in my own skin -it will be in my best interest to not waste my time existing in a space where I have faulty impressions of the world -negative thoughts that more than likely are just of my own creation and aren’t even true. Time to let go. Time to wake up and see how much I just am not able to see. They say the truly wise are the ones who realize how much they actually don’t know… (Wasn’t that Socrates that said that, or something?)

cognitive behavioral therapy
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The ultimate peace and the quest for love

The other day I was going through my DVR to remove old television programs that I’m no longer intending to watch. After getting rid of some old Office reruns and a less than stellar Stargate Universe finale I happened across the Lost season finale. I haven’t been able to bring myself to delete it yet. I decided that before I deleted the show I needed to indulge my love for it one last time so I decided to watch particular parts from the finale.


I went through the entire finale and stopped only to watch the parts where the characters had their moments of remembering each other and their time on the island -the very powerful flashes recounting several of the characters shared moments from all 6 seasons of the show. I remember my good friend, Misty (who is currently in grad school to become a film actor) had mentioned during our Lost finale party about a month ago how juicy the experience must be for the actors to play a scene where suddenly they remember and recognize their long lost very deep relationship with one another. Indeed, it was very powerful and heart warming to watch each character “awaken” into a world where suddenly their problems didn’t matter any more and their destiny became clear (to ascend to whatever comes next after death).

My reaction to one awakening, in particular, caught me off guard with an emotional reaction of my own that I was not expecting to experience… Jack is a character that I feel I can relate to in many ways. He is a very internalized character who is alone with himself in many ways (which is ironic because he was the one always preaching “live together, die alone” -but I digress). Whenever Jack experienced any troubles he would often have to go off and isolate himself to work things out (something that I also do). Jack is a man who has done his best to move forward in life but was still haunted by things from his past -human things. Things like how he never was able to really get straight with his father who was an alcoholic. Throughout all of Lost Jack struggled with understanding his destiny and purpose amidst the background of coming to grips with his father’s flaws -which included flaws that he, no doubt, also observed within himself. The moment which really struck me -and struck me hard- came when Jack and his father, Christian, came, at last to meet each other and Jack discovered that, in fact, he, his father, and everyone else were already dead. Jack has a moment where finally he realizes that he can release everything that he so desperately was trying to hang on to for the sake of saving the world. He had done everything that he could. He was now dead -and as such, he had done all that he could do. His entire life spent trying to figure out his father and what, of his father, he was himself; all of the pain and confusion and lack of answers; all of the things that were never figured out or said between Jack and his father -none of that mattered, anymore. He could let it all go. He was just there with his father and they were able to share each others pain and love in a way that was completely unabashed and unhindered for the first time ever. All that ever weighed Jack down was now lifted. All that remained for Jack to do was simply go out into the church to be in the company and love of all of his friends that he had worked so hard to protect… This is something that I want so desperately for myself. -To live in a space where all confusion and heartache and past pain is lifted and forgiven. All that remains is for everyone to really see and love one another -to travel together into the unknown -the next big adventure. This is something that I very strongly believe will happen to me one day. I honestly believe that in some form or another -when I die, all will be released and all that will exist will be love and togetherness.

Do you remember that beautiful movie What Dreams May Come? My friend Kristin reminded me of that movie the other day when I was explaining to her my reaction to re-watching the Lost finale (as described above). As someone who’s creative work (my blog) is ALSO named after a Shakespeare quote (“Mis-shapen chaos of well-seeming forms! / Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health…” from Romeo and Juliet) it is of no major suprise to me that I feel as though something in What Dream May Come operates on the same wavelength as the kind of things that goes on in my head and heart. (In case you didn’t notice – “What dreams may come” is an excerpt from the famous “To be, or not to be?” speech from Shakespeare’s Hamlet: “For who knows what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil.”) Here is what I love about What Dreams May Come: It’s a film that beautifully illustrates a man’s navigation of his own toils on his quest to find love (home). As he becomes ready in stages along his journey, he comes to re-discover and truly see himself and his family (of whom he had been tragically separated from in a freak car accident which resulted in everyone’s death). I honestly believe that when we die we go on a similar journey -one to reclaim love and release into oblivion all the junk that we had accumulated in our mortal lives.

But why wait until I die, right? What benefit can be had right now -today? How can I work each day to let go of the things that weigh me down so that I can more fully connect and love those who are dear to me? Let this be my mission. Let this take my focus.

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With my freeze ray I will STOP… the world!

Geez! I gotta hurry up and write about how great last week was before this week happens and I have to report on this week’s greatness too!

I would like to take a moment and write about what a joy it was to watch Dr. Horrible’s Sing along Blog for the second time ever last weekend. What a great idea to switch the traditional good guy vs bad guy things around to make the bad guy actually the underdog that you care about while the hero is just this giant douche bag that you want to see get put in his place. It was pretty easy to feel empathy for Dr. Horrible –YET!! at the same time, the psychologist in me, and my forward thinking self also had me saying “wait a minute Dr. Horrible! Just stop a second let’s visit what’s really going on here.” Dr. Horrible could have avoided so much of his pain and downfall if he had just risked being real and putting himself out there a little more. Why did Dr. Horrible think that he had to build this giant crazy freeze ray just so that he could talk to the cute girl at the laundry mat? What was keeping him from jumping in there and risking a conversation? Did he just enjoy his crush with the cute laundry girl and he didn’t want to risk losing that? Was he afraid that she’d reject him and think that he was a creep? Why was he “otherising” himself away from her only to look at her from distance as if she is was some perfect being living some perfect life or something? Obviously I am asking these questions because I have personal experience, myself, as being in both Dr. Horrible’s role and “cute laundry guy’s” role. And not just in “crush” situations –but also in life situations, as well. To explain that further: since not getting accepted into grad school I have been lucky enough to have had several friends challenge me by saying “maybe becoming a therapist isn’t what you’re meant to do. Maybe you’re supposed to do something else.” I am grateful for my friends who have cared enough to have posed this challenging notion to me and I am grateful for the pause that my non-acceptance is now affording me. When asked what I’d do with my life if money wasn’t an issue, I find myself realizing that I’d probably be making movies. I love movies and I love story telling and I love the idea of making my own art with those passions. What is keeping me from doing that?! When looking to answer that question I find myself behaving like Dr. Horrible at the laundry mat. If only there was some magical freeze ray that could stop the world so that I could have time to really dedicate the passion that I perceive the notion of becoming a filmmaker deserves. “Whoa, whoa, whoa, Seth. Let’s visit what’s really going on here.” I have some fears and faulty ideas that are keeping me from really moving forward with the experience of being a filmmaker. Let’s put things in perspective. How hard is it REALLY to make a film. Not hard at all, actually! When you break down the steps. HELL! My freakin CELL phone can record a movie! The technology is easy to come by. And writing? That’s not too hard either –I mean… look at this blog! I’m writing in here all the time, aren’t I? Obviously I have a creative voice that is capable of producing some creative and entertaining thoughts. You guys (you readers) have told me that you enjoy what I put down in here. I have tons of actor friends who would be happy to jump in and work with me on a project. What more do I need? I even have mental health resources available to me to deal with whatever fear issues that I might have coming up that could be preventing me from creating something. Really it just boils down to me going “Okay. I want to do this and I’m going to make the jump!”

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Tapping into a channel

Some Asian cultures believe that creativity comes into being from forces external to the self; the self is just a channel through which creativity flows. If you try to praise one of the people who believes this, they might give you a funny look and say something like “well, thanks, but… it wasn’t really me that made it. I just allowed it to arrive.” This would seem pretty antithetical to how American’s view creativity -what with the way we like to slap our name on everything and take credit. (a funny story shared by some of my Disneyland friends comes to mind: Julie Andrews -and how she insisted that her name be inserted into the front of the fireworks show even though the show really had nothing to do with her. “BITCH!!!”)

Something lovely and well timed occurred for me recently. For whatever reason I was browsing videos that I had uploaded to YouTube when I came to discover that a long lost video I had made several years ago became unlocked and available again. (YouTube used to lock or restrict videos that had copy written songs in them -I guess they got wise and realized that they could allow such videos and just slap on a link in the video to buy the song in order to generate revenue. Whatever.) I made …er. or rather, channeled the creation of this video featuring images from the video game Final Fantasy VIII:

I recall that the creation of this “feather of lead” video felt very poignant and fated, in a way. As I was editing it together I was amazed to find how well the song and the images fit together. At some points the images even aligned to the music on their own and I barely had to make any adjustments at all. The creation of this video really felt as if it were coming through a power higher than myself -and that I, genuinely and joyously, was merely channeling its creation. What is great today is how this video happened to arrive at a time in my life where I feel exactly like the characters in the video do. Namely, I feel like I’ve been on a long journey only to hit a dead end and feel like there is no way out of being stuck from moving on to the things that I want to move on to (graduate school, finding a life partner, starting a career, etc…) The solution to this problem, as it is illustrated in the video, and as countless friends have reminded me, is to remain open and have faith. Just as Walt Disney programed me as a kid:

“Like a bolt out of the blue
Fate steps in and sees you through
When you wish upon a star
Your dreams come true”

A vital component in all this, one which I think Disney lacks, is the reality that… your dreams aren’t going to just be handed to you. You gotta work for your dreams… you gotta work hard! And this kinda sucks… because I feel really lazy. I’m having to work hard right now to keep from labeling myself in saying “I am lazy” -saying that would invite myself to negate my own responsibility to take charge and move forward in life. I also feel afraid: Afraid that I won’t be able to find a lot in life where I can feel adequately fulfilled.

I am at a loss for which direction I am going to go now that I have a year until graduate school and I’m afraid that I’ll either spend this next year broke and miserable or unsatisfied and miserable. The path isn’t clear to me where I can find a balance of getting money and doing something that I care about (and therefore not be miserable). Yeah… I know. I’m not the first to face this challenge. G’ah. The clicheness of this conundrum is boring.

Let me jump back into what is exciting: The unknown. The possibilities. What happens at the end of Lost when Christian Shepperd opens the church doors and the room fills with light? What happens when Squall (the character in the Final Fantasy video that I made) grabs the feather at the end -and everything turns to white? What happens when you are unexpectedly gifted a year of your own life? I don’t know (and that is okay). As long as I remain open, have faith, and work hard -I believe an answer will be channeled through me. It will arrive and it will be clear because right now I am already carrying the answers around already inside me -just like the Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz. God grant me the serenity… pick a point and jump.

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Last night I had a party to celebrate the finale of Lost. The turn out was better than I had hoped and I think we all agree that the experience of finishing the epic 6 year journey of Lost was one that should not be done alone. “Live together, die alone,” right? When you go through the experience of getting close to all these delightful characters for 6 years -having that come to an end can be pretty emotional. There aren’t any shows out there that are quite like Lost -nor will there ever be, really. Having the show end, I’ve found, has me in a place of mourning. Not just for the amazing story and actors -but for the experience of the show as well. Lost has been a phenomena that you share with your friends -something that you experience with your family. I recall many times spent sharing the show with friends who refused to sleep because they just HAD to see what would happen next. Season 1 was like crack. Then there was the experience of getting to be the Lost expert for fans that were interested in the show but didn’t quite follow it completely -they would come to me and ask a bunch of questions. We’d throw our theories and ideas around of what we thought might or might not be happening. There was the little known “Lost experience” on the internet where you could find all these clues that would give privileged information tidbits for the most die-hard fans. There were the weekly visits that my closest of friends would make to watch the show together with me. I’d listen to podcasts that the producers would make where they would joke about how they themselves weren’t sure where the show was going -adding how they thought that season 7 would become the zombie season -where everyone on the island has to start fighting off zombies. Some people got fed up with the show early on. They thought that it got boring or they refused to tolerate the frustration of not having answers. Some people didn’t even bother jumping in because they would have to do a TON of catching up to do and they didn’t want to deal with the self control of taking a break before watching that next episode. Many of us, however, kept watching. We stayed -even through the boring parts in Season 3 and 4. Did the show pay off? For some it did, for some it didn’t. If your definition of “paid off” includes getting all the answers -then you’re probably pretty frustrated. If you’re like me, though, of course it paid off. It’s paid off all along -every week that it was on it paid off. Lost brought me closer with my friends. It let me explore and understand myself better through watching the characters and the choices that they made. It kept my mind and sense of wonder alive. It helped me to feel my own feelings and better understand myself. I’ll be forever grateful to Lost. My eyes are on the horizon for the next show that I can lock into as deeply -yes, there will never be a show that is quite the same -but that is okay. I’ll carry the experience of Lost with me in my heart.

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To die? “To die would be a great adventure!”

“Strike me down and I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi

Finally some news about getting into grad school -if only it was what I wanted to hear. CIIS says that I’m 4th in line on the admission waiting list. They also intimated that 4th in line is most likely too far down on the list for me to make it in to grad school this year. This news is a double edge sword. On one hand I am very upset, confused, angered, and hurt over not knowing why they didn’t take me. On the other hand -at least now I have a direction to move in instead of agonizing over not knowing. I’m trying to piece together a plan B that will make the most out of the year that I will have until CIIS will take me. (For those of you that don’t know -CIIS told me that I could be guaranteed admission to their program for Fall 2011 if I don’t get in this year. So that’s good… it just means that I have to wait an extra year before I get into grad school). I recall this guy who says that walls are just put up to filter out the other people who don’t want what they want bad enough. I’m doing my best to genuinely hold faith that whatever road I take will be the right road for me. Still, I am human and my faith does waiver -it certainly feels as though it is being put to the test right now.

Allow me to take you to my emotional mind right now, if you will. What if everything that I have worked hard for, everything that I thought I was, every intuition that told me that I was uniquely special in some way -what if all of that was wrong? -Just a lie that I kept up to keep myself motivated. What if my orange sweatshirt really has no magical powers at all? Maybe I’m just a joke -just some lazy boring cliché guy that thought he was on top of the world but really he just lived in a bubble of silly imagined fantasy. Take Peter Pan for example. If you can excuse the cheesiness that follows the moment that I am about to indicate in the video, at 1:55 captain Hook traps Peter during their duel to the death. There is this moment where Hook breaks the reality (or non-reality?) of the movie and becomes the voice of self-doubt that people like me fear. (Watch the video)

Hook is such a great movie -that it can (forgive the pun) hook onto themes that touch what adults face while also being a great children’s story. I am Peter Pan! But wait… No, I’m not. I’m Seth. I’m Seth -and I just got rejected from grad school. Misfortune like that doesn’t happen to Peter -that’s not how the story goes. Am I trying to rectify reality with idealism and fantasy? Is that something that everyone does? Are there people who turn their back on one aspect or another? (i.e., people that deny fantasy and live a straight forward life? People who deny reality and live in the world that they make in their heads?) Is this another instance of needing to find a balance? Probably. Cue the writer! I’m always talking about being my own writer of my life’s story. I’m supposedly at the helm of deciding my own direction in life, right? Well, also, at least, if I’m not choosing my own life direction then I can write my interpretation of that destiny, right?

Right now I’m just sitting here fascinated by the writers block that I’m experiencing. Poetically and ironically, here I am writing about how I have writers block (well, metaphoric writers block, anyway). Metaphoric in the sense that I am dumbfounded, for the moment, about how I’m going to interpret my rejection from grad school as a positive thing. What does all of this mean? Why didn’t I get accepted to grad school when I am ready and it is so clear to me that I would be so great at CIIS. How did that not come across?! What happened? At no point in my life have I ever felt this ready to move forward with something only to find the engines stalling again and again. It doesn’t seem right! All my life I have felt secretly in control of manifesting the things that I truly deeply have wanted for myself -things tended to just end up happening for me one way or another. I would want it -and there it would be! Now I’m in a place where what I want is more resounding than ever… and there is no delivery. Where did my angel go? Did I do something wrong? Is there something wrong with me? I feel stuck in an internal conflict. Aptly, my emotional struggle can be personified in the characters of Roger and Mimi from Rent in this number:

Has my fire burned out? Do I become spurned like Roger -let my heart turn cold? Let my faith die? Or do I listen to Mimi and believe in passion and love despite fear? Do I learn to see and own the moment and its glory even in the face of despair and annihilation? For those of you that know me -the choice is clear. It certainly became clear to me when listening to the song. Mimi is so captivating -she is my answer. I am so grateful for shows that can help me bleed -shows like Rent. I must make it my practice to bring art like Rent to life -or, perhaps, to help people connect to it (through therapy?). Okay Mimi -I’m going to choose your path. Now where are you? If only Mimi’s offering was as concrete and visible as it is in the musical. Oh, that’s right -we’re living in reality. Not a musical. I guess we’re back to the “finding a balance” solution again. Where can I find a “real life Mimi” to start me down the road of plan B until grad school will take me in a year.

I kid you not: the first plan B idea to hit my head following the initial shock, disappointment, and pain over not getting accepted to grad school came to me without direct cognitive intent: Without really understanding why, I started singing the “Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes” song from Rent to myself in my head. See -my theatre tech friends in Concord have all been really excited by the fact that Rent the musical is coming to our theatre this August. I, initially, was disappointed that I’d miss getting to work on such an awesome show since I’d be in grad school by the time it opened, but HEY! Now that it is likely that I won’t be going to grad school for a year -that frees me up to be able to tech the show! Isn’t that kind of cool? It’s so funny how things will just arrive to your brain. The “five hundred…” song also happens to fit quite well with my situation: by not getting into grad school for a year I now have 525,600 minutes to do with as I choose. How am I going to spend those? I think a good place to start is, as the song suggests, with “Love.”

I can’t be stopped …Let’s do this.

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Nerdtastic Sunday.

Do I have a story to tell, or WHAT?? So I’m dating this girl named Kristin (who I mentioned in my previous blog post) and last Sunday she got me… She got me real good…. For our second date we were planning to meet in the morning to go to the Bay to Breakers (an event which, shockingly, I have never attended in my 6 years of living in the city and my 27 years of living in the bay area.) At 9:40am I get a text message from Kristin daring me to greet her at my door dressed as a Jedi. Of course, nerd that I am, I was like “Okay! But only if you double dog dare me.” Of course she did -so I quickly began to assemble my Jedi outfit. Well… it was my secondary Jedi outfit because my main one was locked away in a memory box at my parent’s house in Concord (note to self: dig that puppy out because you never know when you’re gonna need it) -yes… I own more than one Jedi costume. ANYWAY. So I got all dressed up and I thought I was looking pretty good (especially for it being my secondary costume). I got all ready to impress Kristin -even down to prepping my iphone app to make lightsaber sounds mixed against Star Wars music. The time comes -I get a call from her letting me know that she had arrived and was across the street. “Alright! Let’s do this!” I said to myself, I went down stairs to greet her, and then what I saw made my jaw drop to the floor… without any hint or warning at all, there is Kristin (a very sexy lady, mind you) DRESSED IN A FULL ON SLAVE LEIA COSTUME!!! No joke. I was speechless. I couldn’t believe it… Here I thought I was gonna show her a thing or two about pushing the limits of being outgoing AND SHE CUSSING 180ED THAT CUSS!!! Oh man… I didn’t even know what to do. I spent the next 30 minutes incoherently attempting to formulate some semblance of normal speech only to find myself blushing and unable to say a thing. Kristin… you win. She got me good!

I had to take a picture because I don’t think any nerds would believe me that Slave Leia came to visit me. Man… Slave Leia -every nerds weakness… The costume was very impressive -it appeared to be made of copper tubing, cardboard, tape, and fabric all painted to be the proper color. The costume didn’t belong to Kristin -she borrowed it from a friend (a person who I must now officially meet). Funnily enough, Kristin actually has fairly limited knowledge of Star Wars seeing as how she tended to focus on areas other than her nerdy side while growing up. (Don’t worry, folks -I’m gonna be working on catching her up on the nerd factor if she so desires). So…. dressed as a dark Jedi and slave princess Leia we proceeded to Bay to Breakers only to find ourselves in good company -TONS of people dressed up in all manner of crazy ways! We had fun people watching and pointing out all the oddities to one another. A few times I had to bust out the ol’ lightsaber to defend the princess from incoming onslaughts of drunken troublemakers. It was quite fun.

To complete our nerdtastic date, I suggested that we watch the pilot of the TV show, Firefly. Even though, apparently, many of her friends are very big fans, Kristin had never seen it! One of my favorite things to do is share movies and tv that is very dear with me with my friends. She continued to make my day by obliging my suggestion. During the show I found myself really getting into the story -surprisingly so. To this day it kills me how well made Firefly was and how horrible and just plain wrong it was that it got canceled before even completing it’s first season. I’m never going to get over that. I explained to Kristin some of the aspects of the show that I really love in particular -namely, the Doctor’s relationship with River. It is so rare to have a caring nurturing male figure in TV or the movies. I really appreciate the way that Firefly so skillfully does. Watching all of the characters in the show -even in the very first episode -they all work so well and so naturally with one another! Their connections with one another are so present and real that (and this will further reveal that I am an uber dork) -that there were a few times when I felt myself tear up just from how present the actors were in the scene. I love Firefly and I love all the characters -they each are a part of me. Shows like Firefly are what make me excited for the future of my work: to foster people to connect with the different characters inside themselves in such a way that they can bring about positive change for themselves. After watching the pilot Kristin conceded that she enjoyed the show (I have yet to meet someone who hasn’t) so I gave her a DVD of the show so she could continue to watch it on her own if she wanted to.

Later that night I got to meet up with some old friends to go and see Amy do her one and only performance of Godspell the musical at the Salvation Army. I love that show! Amy did fantastic (Amazingly, in my 2.5 years of knowing her I never managed to hear her sing by herself until seeing her in Godspell). Amy’s production was quite enjoyable. It was done psudo-community theatre / musical review style where emphasis was primarily on the musical numbers and not so much on the in-between acting part. I was tapping my feet and jiving along with the songs (all of which I know very well) but was saddened when I looked around to find the rest of the room mostly still with relatively blank faces. Godspell is a musical where you’re supposed to get into the songs and clap and dance along. I guess the Salvation Army wasn’t entirely into that sort of way of experiencing the performance? It felt like a shame because I remember the first time I saw Godspell with Alex at a very professional caliber production at DVC circa 2003. At that show there was no way that anyone in the audience could have remained seated without clapping and really getting into the music. During Amy’s show I found myself wanting to get up and really pull the audience fully into the show. Or, I also noticed that I had this strong desire to want to direct the show myself to really pull the actors into their element and get them to fully play and engage the audience. …sigh. Would grad school hurry up and admit me already?! Clearly I have a burning passion for wanting to bring people change under the stage. Yes, I know I don’t necessarily need grad school to do that -but I really want that -particularly since it will give me “skills to pay the bills.” Or… at least, the silly letters that you need at the end of your name so that you can just make an honest living in our society. The program that I have my eye on feels so much like the right one for me to take -it is a balance of theatre and psychology -my two passions.

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