Dec 6, 2014

World of Pretend (poem)

We live in a world of pretend
Showing only our best sides
To family and friends
Hiding our scars
Our cracks our pains
Everything is perfect
And we're happy all the time
But it's all far from the truth
Look closely see through the facade
We are not all we pretend to be
But if we tell the truth
If we bare our pains to the world
We're painted as negative
And told to cheer up
Get over it
Move on
But it isn't always so easy
To be happy all the time
When our hearts are breaking
And the world is a mess
And everywhere is death
From my living room floor
To Ferguson or Cleveland or Staten Island
West Africa, Iraq or Syria
So leave me alone
I need to grieve
But that won't stop me
From posting funny cat videos
With tears streaming down my face
Pretending everything is okay

Nov 3, 2014

Cosplay, Interview, Guest Blog, Giveaway & Release Party Galore!

Hi, hello, how are ya?

I am busy as all get out!

I always think I have more time, but there's never enough time in the world for everything I want to do.

But before I get into all that, how was your Halloween? Did you dress up? I love dressing up. It's one of my favorite things to do, though I rarely have the opportunity or time to do it. I used to always dress up for Halloween. It's my favorite holiday -- so much so that I even got married on Halloween! But as one gets older there seems to be a lot less opportunities to dress up for it. That's why I love Comikaze. It's near where I live, so it's easy to get to, and I get to dress up and check out new indie comic books and buy some collectibles.

Last year I went as Slave Leia, which was a big hit. Tons of people asked for photos with me. I had no idea of the kind of attention I'd get! This year I was feeling a little more shy, so I went with some less revealing costumes (plus it was chillier this year).

I was torn between a few different ideas, but I ultimately decided on an Anarchy Cheerleader from the Smells Like Teen Spirit video (my 20 year old self was so proud)...

And Goth Trek...

I also got to pose with my favorite monster...

And what would a comic book convention be without comic books?

Comikaze Comic Book Haul Day 1
Comikaze Comic Book Haul Day 2
My goals for the weekend were to discover some new indie comic books and find some back issues of older ones that I recently discovered. I had recently read Black Science 1, Lazarus 1, and Fatale 1 and was dying to read more so those were top priority. I met one of the creators of Metalocalypse, so I had to get a couple of his comic books signed. I also stumbled onto a Neil Gaiman coined comic book, as well as a couple Blade Runner ones, so those were must haves. The rest were new discoveries. One new one that I enjoyed was Menhit: the Mighty, about a shy girl who discovers she's the reincarnation of an ancient, powerful goddess. That one was fun! Another fun one was Time Mason, which features Albert Einstein as a time traveling hero sent out to right wrongs and fight time crimes. Most of the rest I have yet to read.

I also got a couple of collectibles, including Jon Snow and Ghost Funko vinyl figures (not pictured), as well as the super awesome Galaxy Quest ship (pictured above), which now makes me want to collect ALL the major scifi ships, damn it! I will own Serenity one day, I will...

Speaking of collectibles... (smooth segue, eh?)


Scarlett and I are currently running a contest for our new book, SAURIMONDE II. You should totally enter to win -- right here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

As you can see we have lots of cool prizes. I'm pretty excited to start making the Saurimonde themed necklaces. I'm still getting the parts in the mail but here's a glimpse of what I have so far so you can get an idea of what they will look like when completed.

Inside the pendant will be a Saurimonde themed image with glass covering.


Scarlett and I have been wicked busy promoting our new book with all sorts of Facebook Parties, interviews, and guest blog posts. Here's a snippet from a lengthy author interview we did for Rising Shadow:

What is the target audience of Saurimonde and Saurimonde II?

Scarlett: I think people who loves dark fantasy and are interested in supernatural mythology and in magic will enjoy this book. There are strong elements of sex and violence but the action is fairly tightly written so it is a bit of a page turner. The first book contains quite a bit of death magic and the metaphor of 'day and night are not what they seem' is also a metaphor for the psychological aspects of what needs to be destroyed in oneself to come back to the essential authentic wild soul. I also think that anyone who has every been bullied or been forced to live in the shadow of someone more powerful than themselves and has found the courage to rise up and find their own voice and personal power will enjoy these books.

Melissa: I would add anyone who is fascinated by otherworldliness, things unseen but felt, and the thin veil between the normal and the paranormal, like shapeshifters, and those who want to escape to another world for a while.


And, just today, our guest blog post for The Qwillery was posted. You should totally check that out here:

It's about the Inspirations for the Conjuring of Saurimonde. Fun, esoteric legends for the fantasy-minded.


What else, what else? Oh! Geesh, how could I forget?

We're also having our big SAURIMONDE II release party on November 11 at 8PM EDT over on Facebook. You should come join us in celebrating the launch of our new book. There will be prizes, guest authors, and, of course, us. Come, hang out, ask us anything! 

Here's the link for that:


Well, I think that about covers it. I know it was a lot of stuff to read, so thank you if you made it this far!! I really need to get more on the ball with timely blog posts but I seem to blink and weeks whiz by. It's mostly due to the fact that I'm working on my next book, Xodus. It's a massive scifi epic that involves teenage twin girls, their younger brother, missing parents, spaceships, aliens, special powers, a dying earth, and travelling across the universe. Phew! I've been having a blast both writing it and researching for it. I am endlessly fascinated by sites like and looking up various ideas on how to build a spaceship that could actually travel in deep space, as well as all the conspiracy theories on UFOs and alien abductions. At some point I've really got to post a blog about my trip to Joshua Tree for Contact in the Desert. A fabulous mix of bonkers and believable! But I'll save that for another blog post...

Until next time...

"Never give up, never surrender!"

Oct 20, 2014

Writing, writing, writing!

I haven't blogged in awhile, namely because I have been buried under heaps o' words. I used to blog all the time. I wish I still had time to blog more often, but it seems that after writing or editing all day, I'm pretty worn out of words and mostly just want to sink into my couch and either play video games or read. I also don't use Twitter, Google+, or Facebook nearly as often as I used to for the same reasons. It's funny, because those are the very things that can really aid a writer in getting her words out there, but if I have to choose, I must choose writing books over blogs and posts. 

Prior to the days of the Internet, there was never an issue. I'd spend hours at my computer pounding away, deleting, banging my head on the screen, and delighting in finding inspiration... Or sometimes I'd walk down to this idyllic lake near Boston College, lay out a blanket, have a little picnic, and daydream while fighting geese away from my snacks. Minutes turned into hours, days slipped by. Sometimes I'd have a script or a poem or a short story, sometimes I'd have a bunch of false starts, but I'd always have words and pretty much nowhere to share them.

And while the Internet technically existed back then, it didn't exist in the form it does now, or even the form it did 10 years ago when I'd create Tripod pages to post my ramblings. Then Blogger and MySpace were born and I had new avenues to share my thoughts with even more audiences. I posted all the time back then! Every event I attended turned into a blog or a book review or just a bunch of rants and raves over some injustice I stumbled upon. However, I didn't seem to be writing as much for myself. It seemed I was solely writing for an audience, to get "hits" on my blog counter. Oversharing in the name of art all for the sake of vanity. Then Facebook and Twitter were born and oversharing became the name of the game, whether you were a writer or not. But the funny thing is, the more avenues there are to express yourself, the wider the audience, the less I feel compelled to share. Sure, I'll repost that funny cat video or that Guardians of Galaxy Which Character Are You? quiz and I'll check in periodically to Foursquare or snap a pic on Instagram, but I'm not really blogging about events anymore or even my real life day-to-day like I used to. I wonder why?

Then there was a backlash to Facebook (when isn't there?) and Ello was born (wasn't there also Diaspora?). I joined. I'll always give something new on the Internet a go, but I can't help feeling a little bored by it all... I remember how I used to love to spend hours down the rabbit holes of Tumblr or Pinterest. And, sure, every now and then I'll swing by my old digital haunts and check out some new posts, but on a deeper level I just don't care anymore. I scroll lazily through Facebook or Instagram posts, like a couple, comment on a few, then I might remember that Twitter and G+ exist and give those a whirl, but I do so with my mind only half paying attention and with a feeling of "I'd rather be doing something else." It's almost as if I only check my feeds out of some sort of obligation or duty. 

And I long for the days before the Internet...

For the days of never knowing what everyone is doing all the time. For the days of never comparing life's milestones or vacation destinations. For running into an old friend and catching up rather than having someone get angry at me for not liking every post or picture. For having days slip by while I'm writing without having everyone worried that something might have happened to me because I didn't comment on the latest celebrity death or car chase.

And I wonder if I should delete my Facebook account. Go off the grid. And I fantasize about giant solar flares taking out the Internet.

But then I remember that as a writer I live a pretty solitary life and it's great to connect with people every so often online and feel like I have a weekly social life, not to mention my family who live thousands of miles away. And I remember that as a writer, the Internet is one of, if not the best ways to get our words out there into the world without jumping through all the hoops of traditional publishing. Without Skype and Google Docs and Amazon, Scarlett, who lives in France, and I wouldn't be able to conjure up dark tales of witchcraft and the occult and share it with all of you.

And, thus, I get to the point of this post...

Saurimonde II, our follow-up to Saurimonde, is now available on Amazon.

Here's our book blurb:

After becoming suddenly human again, the tragically lovely Saurimonde, and her handsome consort, Sordel, realize their overwhelming attraction for each other despite the unnatural way in which they met. All goes well until Saurimonde discovers the terrible truth about Sordel's birth, which causes him to fall prey to his now demonized aunt, the wise-woman Elazki, as circumstances conspire to make Saurimonde believe Sordel has left her for another woman.

With the aid of a not so innocent priest the wise woman spends her nights converting the young women of the village for their own nefarious plans. Will Saurimonde be able to overcome the demons and find Sordel in time to save him from a malefic fate? Or will she succumb to the answering of an ancient rite, a Beltane bacchanal, which promises to leave none of them alive?

Next up for Scarlett is a fantastical new tale filled with "old world magic and erotic overtones," while I'll be delving into the world of science fiction with my decade old story idea about aliens and spaceships called Xodus. It's a long time coming. I was raised on Doctor Who, Star Trek, and Star Wars, so scifi is in my blood. 

And now I have to go meet Scarlett on Skype to prepare for our first stop on our promotional tour, which just so happens to be occurring on Facebook, of course.

Perhaps, the Internet isn't so bad after all...

Aug 29, 2014

Suffering from Chronic Ovarian Cysts & How I Found a Preventative Cure

"2cmleftovariancyst" by James Heilman, MD - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

As some of you know I suffer from chronic ovarian cysts that leave me doubled over in pain and unable to get out of bed for hours -- or at least I used to. Allow me to explain...

A few years ago I sought out medical specialists for help. I was experiencing a plethora of pains including abdomen pain but also stomach pain, back pain, as well as other ailments like frequent urination and severe moodiness. Everyone treated these symptoms as separate issues. I was given all sorts of pills that only seemed to make me feel worse. They gave me birth control pills for the cysts, which resulted in me acting like a crazy person, they gave me an assortment of painkillers that destroyed my stomach, they gave me Cymbalta, which made me go literally insane (an experience I've been writing a book about called Medicated) and they gave me Detrol for the frequent urination that, well, you can read about that here if you want. Then I discovered some non-western medical guidance that steered me onto a new path, but it was only the beginning...

That guidance came from a constitutional acupuncturist who told me about the 8 body types and a restricted diet (see this blog here for more on that), but while that helped with some stomach issues, once a month I'd still experience excruciating pain as well as all my other symptoms all together like some perfect storm.

Also, somewhere around this time I got my medical marijuana card to help with the pain because I couldn't stomach pain killers like Vicodin or Percocet. The medical marijuana helped ease my pain some and give me my appetite back, but after awhile I felt like it overtook my life. I'm not saying I became addicted, because it's not that kind of drug, more like it made me even more antisocial than I already was, it made me second guess everything I did and eventually started making me paranoid. I knew I couldn't keep it up and that I had to quit. After all, it was only a bandaid. What I really needed to do was find out why I was experiencing the pain in the first place and fix it rather than cover it up with pot bliss.

So I scoured the internet night and day reading various blogs and forum discussions. What I discovered is that many women suffer from chronic ovarian cysts and have all the same symptoms I had: abdomen pain, back pain, leg pain, stomach pain, constant urination (from the cyst pressing against the bladder), severe mood swings, fatigue, and more.

I was not alone.

Also, many of them experienced the same frustrations at the doctor's office as I did -- doctor's would toss pain killers at them or, in some cases, even tell them that it was all in their heads! I had one doctor try to suggest that to me once, but after surgery he gleefully told me I was right, my body was riddled with cysts and a large one had burst leaving a bunch of fluid everywhere that was wreaking havoc on my body. Great. It's so awesome to be proven right but what would be even better is to be taken seriously from the get go and receive preventative care, not just metaphorical bandaids and surgery, especially since ovarian cyst surgery only drains the cysts you have, it doesn't prevent more from happening.

After months of research, I collected everything that helped these women suffering from chronic ovarian cysts and tried them out for myself -- from herbal remedies like Vitex (chaste tree berry) to exercise to avoiding certain foods or drinks.

And while, of course, I must recommend exercise because, if nothing else, it lifts the spirit, the only remedy that really worked for me? Avoiding caffeine.

I experimented in the past with cutting it, wherein I'd stop getting cysts, then having it again, and the cysts would return. However, it's been about 8 months since I've consistently avoided caffeine and 7 months since my last cyst pain. (I also quit medical marijuana 4 months ago since I no longer needed it really and I've got tons more energy, get more work done, and feel loads more social -- well, I mean, for me. I'm still a loner at heart.)

My life has taken a 360 degree turn. I haven't felt this happy, healthy and pain-free in a long time. Once I stopped getting cysts, I also stopped getting all the other symptoms. They were obviously all connected. I'm so grateful to all those women who shared their woes on the internet. Had it not been for them, I may have never stumbled onto a preventative cure for my ovarian cysts. It's just a shame I had to discern it that way. It would have been so much easier if there had been some sort of medical study done on preventing ovarian cysts resulting in a cure that did not require taking medicine so that a doctor could have said to me years ago, "Quit caffeine. See what happens." Oh well, better late than never!

I decided to blog about this in case anyone else out there is also suffering from ovarian cysts, feeling frustrated and seeking a cure. You are not alone! The answers are out there. Google "ovarian cysts alternative treatment." There are so many pages listing so many options that don't require surgery or for you to pollute your body with more toxins. (Speaking of toxins, I even found taking bentonite clay baths to help lessen cyst symptoms, though it was 100% quitting caffeine that finally prevented them for me.)

Good luck and stay strong. You can beat this! I'm living proof.

Jun 30, 2014

Goodbye, Friend (Remembering Satchel)

It took me awhile to write this blog because the pain has been so great, but I wanted to honor him, Satchel. To write something, anything to remember him. And I wanted to include photos, but I haven’t been able to go through them without crying -- and they still make me cry, but I’ll include them anyway. Heck, I haven’t been able to wake up, go to bed, or get through my day without crying. I miss him so much I have a constant ache in my chest and a never-ending upset stomach. But I have to write something, it’s what keeps me sane in insane times, so here goes…

The problem with being young and naive and rescuing a couple litters of kittens is that one day when you’re older these kittens will be senior cats, get sick, and pass away.

I think, in order to bear the pain that is life, we trick ourselves into thinking our loved ones are invincible, be they our parents or our pets. We convince ourselves they’ll never die, they’ll be with us until the end. But they won’t. Everything fucking dies. And no matter how many we lose, the pain never lessens.

In fact, it might get worse…

I remember the day I found Satchel. There had been an old, beat-up, pregnant alley cat that hung around our porch. We called her Stripe due to her prominent dark tiger stripes. Shortly after she gave birth, one of her older offspring started bringing us her kittens. She’d leap up, kitten’s neck held firmly in mouth, and drop them off right in front of our sliding glass door. Somehow she knew, somehow she trusted us. 

The first one she brought we named Tiki, but she didn’t last long. We brought her to the vet, got her shots, etc. but she was too far gone. We buried her in Griffith Park. This tiny tiger striped kitten. 

Shortly after that she brought us one or two more… I’m not sure how many because I never saw those ones. Jeremy did. For a long time he never even told me about them. They were already gone… It was too late. There was nothing, no power in the universe, that could help them.

Then one day in May 2002, on Mother’s Day no less, I was on the phone with my Mum when I heard a tiny meow. I looked out on the porch and there was a little black kitten so small he fit in the palm of my hand.

I exclaimed, “Oh, my god!”

And my Mum said, “What? What is it?”

“There’s a tiny black kitten on the porch.”

All black? You have to bring him in and save him!

We brought him to the vet and got his tests and shots. He was so young that he hadn’t been fully weaned. Jeremy and I took turns feeding him with those oral medicine syringes to get him to eat because he didn’t fully understand how to use a proper bottle with a nipple. I was absolutely determined to keep him alive. It became my life’s goal. I also had to teach him how to use the litter box by rubbing his belly with a warm, damp cloth after he ate and placing him in it. There were quite a few accidents before he learned and a couple chairs had to be thrown out in the process…

He was like a child, but also a best friend. He snuggled better than most cats. He seemed to prefer us to them most of the time. We often joked that he thought he was ‘a people’. He took quite a shining to Jeremy and slept with him every single night and went running to the door to greet him after he came home from a long day on set. But when he didn’t feel well, he came to me and I’d do everything I could to make him better until one day a time came when I no longer could. That was my job -- to make him better, but I couldn’t fix this. His kidneys were failing. We could keep him alive with medicine but what was his quality of life? He hated having the medicine, especially the saline IV. He took to hiding, hissing, and not eating. My precious baby boy. What was I supposed to do? We decided we’d just balance it -- if he seemed well enough, we’d skip the medicine so he could be happy and comfortable, until, after a little while, we realized he was in pain and needed it to be physically comfortable, even if not emotionally. Better he hate us for giving it to him, than hurt -- quality of life -- until one day when the medicine was no longer enough….

It’s so hard to say goodbye. I still haven’t fully accepted that he’s gone and I’ll never see him again. I mean, of course I have on an intellectual level, but deep down I just want to hold him again. I just want to hear his precious little meow. See his face, bright yellow eyes looking up at me, irises growing narrow in the sunlight pouring in through the window. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready… There’s never enough time.

When you lose someone, be they a human or a pet, as soon as you wake up and right as you go to bed are the absolute worst moments of existence.

Mornings are extra hard because he would come and wake me up everyday asking for food and if I wasn’t ready to get up, he’d burrow under the blanket next to me and spoon. He was so cuddly. I can’t even write about it without unleashing a flood of tears. I miss how he felt next to me. His long, furry, warm, little body pushed up against me purring away. Why can’t there be a time machine so I can go back and do that one more time -- there just isn’t enough time in the world. There isn’t enough time for all the love and all the loved ones. I need one more snuggle. Too soon. Gone too soon.

We love you so much Satchel. We hope we made your life better, we hope we brought you comfort and happiness, and I’m sorry for all the medicine. Goodbye, friend.

Apr 15, 2014

Scifi, Fantasy, & a Blood Moon

Blood Moon captured April 14th/15th (raw image)

Earlier today I submitted the first 50 pages of a scifi manuscript to a contest of sorts to be considered for publication by a start up genre publisher under the wings of a giant publishing house. This is the first time as an adult I have tried to get something traditionally published.

In high school and college I had several poems published and a couple short stories, but nothing big. Then I sort of lost my way down graphic design and film-making paths for almost a decade, but then sprang back with my first book in 2012, a self published memoir, to test the waters. However, I craved to write fiction, but didn't yet have the confidence to tackle it alone. Enter Scarlett Amaris, with whom I wrote and published a dark fantasy called, Saurimonde.

Armed with my newfound confidence I wanted to tackle a solo fiction project, but what? I had a few old ideas collecting virtual dust on various hard drives, so I pulled everything out from poems to scripts and read it all, the good, the bad, and the really, truly awful. And I was more confused than ever.

I took a break on fiction to work on Medicated again, my follow-up to In The Now, about a traumatic experience I had in 2008. I finally figured out a solid outline for the book, but the next step was gathering up all my scattered journals and rereading them. I wasn't ready to go there. I thought 6 years was enough time, but it wasn't. Maybe next year? The 7 year itch.

Meanwhile, I continued writing miscellaneous story ideas here and there, as well as notes from my favorite articles and documentaries that more often than not tended towards science... When it hit me. Maybe I should write a scifi story? My whole life I have worshiped scifi authors from Dick to Gibson. I instantly thought I wasn't worthy, didn't know enough, and could never pull it off, so I began devouring more science fiction literature as homework. More and more story ideas began bubbling up, until finally I realized I had about 30,000 words of notes. But what to do with them?

That's when I noticed a call to arms from a new publisher, so I started chipping away at those notes until a cohesive narrative formed based loosely on an old screenplay I had written for a long defunct project and, today, I submitted the first 50 pages (15,000+ words) after a zillion edits and rewrites (okay maybe not a zillion but it felt like it).

I don't expect to hit it out of the park on my first at bat (But how cool would that be? Seriously. Anyway...), but it's a first step towards another big life goal. So, even if they say no (in 2 months allegedly), it doesn't matter. I'll keep writing it until I get from 55,000 to 100,000 words and I'll submit it anywhere they'll take it!

Meanwhile, I've been continuing to work on the Saurimonde sequel with Scarlett and it just keeps getting better and better. If you haven't already, hop on over to to read the first 3 chapters.

*deep breath*

And so it begins... Continues? Never ends? *shrug* Something, something, dark side.

Feb 6, 2014

Author Interviews: Behind the Scenes from a Tech Perspective

Manzin filming Scarlett, Yvette, and me with the Flip

When Scarlett last came into town from France we had an excellent opportunity to get both us authors on film together since we’re rarely on the same continent. We had little time or money, but big visions!

Once we came up with a concept we needed a cast, crew, equipment, locations, props, and costumes. We scoured the town for deals and called upon friends for favors. (Thank you Jeremy, Marnie, Yvette, and Manzin!) Thankfully, I already had a couple digital cameras lying around: 2 Flips (remember those?!) - one with a wide angle lens attachment - and a Sony Cybershot, as well as some lights (Strand Pulsar 500 watts).

Jeremy and I had purchased the Flip cameras on a whim awhile back shortly after the company, Cisco, who had acquired them from the original makers, announced they would shutter the doors on the versatile, yet single-function camera due to the rapid rise of advanced video camera functions available on nearly every smartphone (source: NY Times "Cisco Shuts Down Flip"). They were dirt cheap, so we snagged two plus a few accessories. However, we barely used them. Finally, here was a chance to bust them out and see how they fared compared to smartphones or more advanced digital cameras.

We found them easy to use, but limited. Jeremy said he would specifically recommend them for daylight use, adding that they were super handy for that and less noisy outdoors, but he found them to not be great in lower light. Also, I felt that the footage from the Sony CyberShot was crisper and the colors bolder.

Ambidextrous Jeremy filming with a Flip in each hand.

For our actual interview footage, which we shot at night, we decided to use his extra light kit (while he was off lighting vampires or some-such somewhere). Thankfully, I was once a grip/electric so I knew how to use them, otherwise we might have been SOL! I thought those shots came out fairly decent, after dropping a couple scrims in front of the lens so that our faces weren't completely blown out. (Though a little blow out smooths out the skin nicely.)

Fast forward to after the holiday hiatus and now I was presented with the ultimate challenge: edit all that damn footage into a cohesive video. Crap.

Scarlett and I had already released a video (see below) that was edited on my PC with a purchased program from CyberLink and it was such a pain in the ass trying to get everything to sync up properly that I wanted to murder everyone within a 3 mile radius of me. (It would look one way on the timeline, but then after rendering, clips would shift one way or the other and audio tracks would slip out of sync for no apparent reason. OMG it was so annoying!)

So, I knew that if everyone I loved was going to survive this next editing attempt, I would need to finally admit that Mac was better than PC at something, open up my cobwebbed wallet, and give Apple all my money.

My new favorite thing.

And now after having completed my first edit on a Mac using the software that the damn thing came with, I have to say that I am now a little bit in love it.

Despite a few minor complaints with iMovie (that are really complaints about the most recent version of iMovie which is apparently stripped of some of its more advanced (yet I feel necessary) features from previous versions (the bastards!)), not only did I not want to murder anyone while editing, I actually enjoyed it and found myself in the zone a number of times.

I'm pretty proud of the results and itching to shoot and edit more. If you haven't viewed our Author Interviews video already, check it out below, wherein you'll the discover, among other things, the inspiration behind the infamous snake sex scene (or 'snex!).

Maybe now I’ll finally shoot and edit my post-apocalyptic short,  Gas Mask. But first I need a cast, crew…. Shit. Maybe I should just use Barbies…

Jan 9, 2014

Live to Work or Work to Live? (Or, It's All About Labels)

A few years ago my co-writer moved to France and after about, oh, maybe a year there, I asked her what the biggest difference was between France and America and she said it was how they lived and viewed life and pleasure versus work - they worked to live, whereas Americans lived to work. Well, that got me thinking...

At the time I had been struggling with this concept of "work." I was writing and designing but I wasn't "working" and as a result I felt devalued. Like the only measure of my worth was my title and my salary, yet I knew so many people who made truly decent money but were living quietly sad and desperate lives. Now, in retrospect, I can look back and realize that, in general, I am far happier (despite miscellaneous personal losses) now that I am no longer traditionally employed nor looking for a "regular job" than I ever was while gainfully employed.

Yet, in school, all I was ever really taught was how to get a job, or the necessary skills to obtain a job, never how to invent my own job or, more importantly, how to be happy in life. No teacher or course curriculum taught me how to accept loss, live with determination, take the time to just stop and appreciate it all, or not only to chase my dreams, but also manifest them into reality. No one. I learned all that the long, hard way. I learned to grin and bear every bit of unsolicited advice from every well meaning acquaintance. I listened to how there must be some job out there to which I was uniquely suited. But why? Why must we all fit inside boxes to be labeled, piled on a shelf, and forgotten? Why must we each work so hard to make money and never live or achieve real happiness or contentment? (Unless of course you think happiness is a myth and I know of some who do finding it all very overrated and to those I simply say that when I speak or write of happiness I purely mean just being happy enough to want to get up out of bed every day and do whatever it is you do, I don't mean constantly bouncing off the walls like a lunatic on crazy pills. For example, I'm mostly happy. Yes, some days I might break down in tears because my hormones have me in their evil grip or I think of something I'd like to say to a friend who is no longer here, or I might even just be in a generally mopey mood one day or bitchy the next, but I'm still happier now doing what I do than I was in the past when I was spending my days unsuccessfully job hunting or laboring away in an office. *shudder*) I think of all the days of their lives people work jobs they hate, living only for the weekend and vacations when they can (maybe) finally be their true selves building train sets or going for long drives or planting flowers or whatever and I wonder why they can't be their true selves everyday. Why must we live in suits and shadows? Can you imagine if every single day of your life you could wake up whenever you want and do whatever you want with the entirety of your day? Maybe you'd get bored and eventually want a job, but then it would be by choice not by default or, worse, by force.

Sometimes I think America got it all wrong somewhere along the way. All this focus on "jobs," yet so many people statistically unhappy with their jobs. It doesn't make any sense. We weren't meant to get up at a certain hour every day to commute to a cubicle to push buttons on a machine for 8+ hours and commute home to mindlessly watch TV all night, were we? Were we? We were meant for greater things: art, music, dance... science, medicine, philosophy... discovery and entertainment. Life is so rich, has so much more to offer, seems a shame to waste it on a "job," when you could spend every precious moment doing something you love.

Now, I know that some might argue that if we were all left to our own devices that we might spend the day stoned playing video games instead of, y'know, curing cancer or writing the next Great American Novel, and we have to have someone do the shittier work, I suppose, but here's the thing, I don't know the answers or how to solve the broken riddle that is America, but I do know that there's definitely something to working to live rather than living to work. I know that from personal experience I'm far happier making it up as I go along than I was "working." But how do we get there? How do we make a change as a nation? How do we fix what's broken when half (or some) of the country don't even realize it's broken, or if they do, think so for all the wrong reasons? How do we get to a point where we are not defined by our jobs, but rather by our souls?

I remember once when I was out to dinner with a group, many of whom I had never met before, when someone at the table announced we should all go around and say what we did for a living so we could all better acquaint ourselves. Not like, what's your passion or your dream, but your day job. I was just coming out of a particularly bad time in my life where my only goal for each day was getting out of bed so I wasn't too excited at the prospect of labeling myself. When it got to my turn, I simply said, "I'm between labels," and left it at that. That guy spent the rest of the night completely ignoring me while pouring all his attention on the writers and filmmakers in the room. Eventually at one point in the evening, he mentioned one particular director that he'd love to meet and maybe work with one day but he'd only ever exchanged Facebook messages with him. I chuckled to myself. I knew that director. I had his personal number in my phone. I could have called him at that instant and handed the phone over. But I didn't. I didn't even mention that I knew him. I just sat there silently sipping my margarita thinking he'll never know how close he came to making his dream come true if he had only not ignored me for my lack of label. But that's the America we live in. It's all about your status or how much you're worth, but I've had more fun at Hollywood parties talking to the maid than any celebrity. Meanwhile noticing how much she goes unnoticed by everyone else. Just because of her job. Like it somehow makes her less than as a person. We are all people. We are all equal. And we are all going to die. Speaking of... I noticed a couple tweets this morning from Anonymous about a 91 year old woman dying because of some shenanigans pulled by Gov. Christie, wherein Anon called for an apology for her death and some jackass replied, "...Stop acting like it was a child or someone of more value," and Anon replied, "We're all of value..." And we are. All of us. Old, young, rich, poor, famous, unknown, female, male, boss, maid - we are all equally valuable yet our stupid society has tricked us into mistakenly thinking that if you're a certain thing - even if you're born into it and didn't even earn it - you are somehow more or less worthy. It's all about labels. That's where we screwed up. So how do we fix it??