Morning and Mourning

First, I want to say that I stand with the peaceful protesters.

Second, I condemn rioting, looting and vandalism.

Third, I value our police, first responders and law enforcement.

Finally, there is no place for racism in law enforcement. Equal justice under the law mandates equitable enforcement of the law.

I awoke at 5:57 AM today, a little less than 30 minutes after last night’s curfew in Los Angeles lifted. I had grown used to helicopters circling at the nearby park like clockwork at 11:30 PM each night. I admit that hearing the helicopters made me nervous. The noise pollution was my nightly reminder that COVID-19 was still out there, lurking, being transmitted by those not practicing social distancing. Last night, it was the helicopters hovering at 10 PM that got to me. Those were not patrolling the park. They were patrolling against the rioting and looting taking place. I have a friend who’s a citizen of another country and doing business in California. She’s currently living in Beverly Hills. I made it a point to check on her.

Photo by Edgar Colomba on Pexels.com

Before bed last night, I promised my mother I’d be in touch as soon as I woke up. It’s a quiet morning as I sip my coffee. However, the news is disquieting. Hundreds were arrested yesterday. Businesses in neighborhoods I love were destroyed, already crippled by the pandemic. Those yearning for justice who were peacefully and lawfully protesting, were overshadowed by opportunistic anarchists.

“The medium is the message” is a phrase coined by the Canadian communication thinker Marshall McLuhan. Last night, all many people heard and saw was the rioting and the looting, not the well-justified despair behind the protests. Protest is a legally protected form of communication. Looting and rioting are not. So many will write this off as “an urban problem”, a “race issue”–and put the news into convenient thought-oubliettes of their own making. They’ll write this off as one “incident” among many, not questioning or thinking about the systems and systemic injustices that cause and foment this type of behavior.

It’s hard in the face of such devastation to maintain nuanced thinking patterns. Right now, many Americans are tuned in or tuned out. Many are stuck in the familiar us-versus-them mentalities or “not my problem”. This morning, I read another unsettling article. Rural America has not reached the apex of it’s COVID-19 fight. Being a “small town girl” living in a city devastated by riots and looting, my heart hurts today.

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We love to think in terms of conflict. We are taught that narrative is conflict–man versus man, man versus society, man versus self, man versus nature. One of the biggest issues we have is that we don’t agree what the “conflicts” are. It’s more than right-and-wrong and black-and-white. The type of problems we face are not solved by caped, masked heroes and feel-good soundbites.

We are habituated to think in terms of conflict. What if we started from a place of consensus? Instead of focusing on what we don’t agree on, can we clarify what we do?

Let’s start here:

Can we agree that everyone has the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” regardless of skin color?

Can we agree that public health threats affect all of us, directly or indirectly, rural or urban, young or old, well or not?

What can we agree on? In times of disagreement, we tear down. In times of agreement, we can build. We’re at the point where we need to re-build. A society divided against itself cannot stand. We need to stand up for each other now. If you haven’t done anything lately to heal race relations, take some time and do so today. I donated to the NAACP.

A little extra effort goes a long way. Yes, we’re social distancing. Yes, we’re wearing masks. Thank you. Please take a moment and do something for our health heroes and public health today. I choose to report my symptoms and social distancing to How We Feel app. Find something that’s do-able for you.

Please do something, even if it’s just listening, without judgement or prejudice, to someone’s pain, whether that person has been affected by racism or COVID-19 or both. We must take the time and make the effort to heal each other. The cures are better than the social and medical ills that affect us.

Today’s Happy Thought

I want to stress that in unusual times, our usual coping mechanisms may not be enough. I am feeling that now, today. The past two days, I’ve been trying to buoy myself up with my usuals: a heavy workload, music I like, stand-up comedy, yoga and gong baths. Nothing is taking. I awake today, a person who’s experiencing pain and anxiety.

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

When the coping mechanisms fail, it doesn’t mean that you failed. It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. It means that you’re encouraged to grow and try something new. I did not fail because “what usually works” failed to bolster me up. I am challenged to grow, try and experiment today, and that’s what I will do.

the central authority wraps principal photography

Using groundbreaking techniques, the first socially distanced feature film was shot entirely during the pandemic

By: Matts Marketing

main poster

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – May 26, 2020 – PRLog — The Central Authority, the horror-comedy  brainchild of Kristin West and Dana Olita, has been a brave undertaking in these hazardous times. “We knew this was a huge endeavor going in,” said West, who  co-directed with Armin Nasseri. “We were forced to use the technology  available, which meant doing some unusual things.” Those “unusual things” included dusting off some archaic film techniques and using  brand new processes. “We gave ourselves permission to fail,” says West, “but things worked out fine in the end.”

Those processes including having actors from all over the world come together on the screen. Actress Anna Elena Pepe, who plays Dr Zhivaga, a quarantine sex therapist, says it was an experience for her like no other, “I was in London, and my scene partner (Lachelle Allen) was in Los Angeles. ‘It was fantastic.'”

“The actors were the key,” according to Olita, “We basically let them pick and choose characters and wrote around their choices.” West agrees, “We gave our actors a tremendous amount of freedom, there was a lot of improvisation. Everyone gave great performances and the chemistry the actors have with one and other is magical.”

The Central Authority, takes place in a dystopian future, where entertainment is king. There is no content, so the government (“The Central Authority”) creates a streaming channel where “performers” can submit their material, in order to obtain items in short supply.  The film takes place over one day of programming.

In addition to West, Olita and Nasseri, The Central Authority uses an ensemble cast of working actors, Tick Tock stars, comics and podcast hosts: Lachelle Allen, Brandy Bryant, April Monique Burrill,  Jimmyo Burrill, Lily Burrill, Candice Callins, Charles Chudabala, Rodney Damon Collins, Michael Coulombe, Lauren Deleon, Vanessa Esparanza, Jonathan Freeman-Anderson, Sara Gaston, Katie Gordon, Nate Gordon, Joe Grisaffi, Josh Hutchinson, Betsy Johnson, Allison Michelle, Rory Ogden, Marco Antonio Parra, Anna Elena Pepe, Jake Red, Genoveva Rossi, Nailya Sharakova, Narlyia Sterling, Todd Stroik, and Cristina Vargas. Nasseri said he was “proud to work with such a strong group of diverse actors.” Inclusion has been a recurring theme in Nasseri’s films, with award winning shorts The Carting Call, and Seeking Valentina, already under his belt, Nasseri felt like this was the perfect vehicle for him as a director, editor and actor.

The Central Authority is written by Dana Olita and Kristin West, directed by Armin Nasseri and Kristin West, and produced by Matt Chassin, Armin Nasseri, Dana Olita, Narlyia Sterling, Kristin West and Quarantini Productions.

For more information go to https://www.imdb.com/title/tt12265464/

Visit us on facebook https://www.facebook.com/TheCentralAuthority/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CentralAuth

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/the_central_authority/

when grocery shopping is anxiety-inducing

I need to tell you that I had a breakdown yesterday mid-I afternoon. I still managed to have a good day. That’s my new normal.

I have had to have medical intervention for my anxiety. It’s not just being a “worry wart”. It’s not being a pessimist. For me, anxiety is this fear of being unprepared–that the other shoe is going to drop, that the good won’t last long enough, that I could be blind-sided at any moment.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

In a COVID-19-infected world, my anxiety has gone up, and I self-manage it the best I can.

Here’s what I know:

I never have been germ-phobic. I don’t think my worries about COVID are going to morph into a generalized germ phobia. So that’s win!

I have not always done well in crowds. People not maintaining a social distance is really irking me. That’s one of the things that triggered my breakdown yesterday while getting groceries.

As soon as I feel I’ve taken reasonable measures to protect myself, I feel better. For me, that’s keeping my mask on in public, disinfecting my grocery cart, wiping down my shoes and keys after going out, washing my hands a reasonable amount of times, and drinking hot herbal tea after outings. A feeling of safety and being able to protect myself helps ease the anxiety.

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

No amount of ruminating makes things better. There’s very little I could say or do this moment that would change anything. I can only change how I respond, if I respond at all. Sometimes the best course of action is to do nothing or to do less. It’s hard when you’ve built your identity around being a do-er or achiever. I’ve needed to pivot to how can I be helper, and more particularly, how can I best help myself–first?

If you’re going through this pandemic with anxiety, I feel ya. It’s not easy. It’s hard to have a siege mentality at the grocery store. It’s hard to watch people flout rules and guidelines. Help yourself by taking care of yourself as best you can, first.

Cleaning Up My Perspective & Purses During COVID-19

art artistic bright color
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I work from home.  I’m used to it.  I’ve been busy, even as there’s a great deal of uncertainty in the entertainment industry.  Today, I took a breather and set out to the task of cleaning.  I cleaned my office and I emptied out my purses, which I hadn’t cleaned out since the lock down began .  It was like going though a mini time-capsule.

 

What was in my purses:

promotional materials for a film festival screening I attended

breath mints

coin change for parking

assorted colored pencils, highlighters and post-it notes for marking scripts on-the-go when I chose to work at cafes

an extension cord for plugging my lap top into an electrical outlet at a cafe

a movie ticket

Cleaning out my purses hit me hard.  As I cleaned, I felt like I had just been through a strange time warp.  We don’t know what the future will bring, though we’ve been told there’s a “new normal” coming.  What I want to emphasize here is that, yes, all of this made me blue today.  However, I quickly pivoted to my gratitude for those experiences and the hope that I can have them again soon when it’s safe to do so.

The film festival promo materials reminded me that I love film festivals and seeing my work on the big screen.    I am grateful to all the film festivals that have ever screened my work.

The breath mints were comic.  Though we’ll be wearing masks for awhile, the mints reminded me that we need to keep a (minty) fresh perspective.  Let’s not get stuck into to many ruts or bad thought grooves at this time.

They stopped enforcing most parking ordinances since the stay-at-home order in Los Angeles, so I haven’t needed to feed a meter.  Admittedly, parking Los Angeles has been way easier.  I am grateful for the days in Los Angeles when scoring a parking spot was the biggest of my worries.  I now know there are far bigger things to have anxiety over.  I’ve had to learn how to better manage my anxiety.

cappuccino in ceramic mug
Photo by EYAD Tariq on Pexels.com

I love my home, but sometimes I need to get out of the house to work more efficiently.  I get TOO comfortable.  I am grateful for all the times I’ve had great coffee and a great work day and even run into old friends.  I hope to enjoy this again soon.

The extension cord reminded me of how lucky I am to have basic utilities and that all of my utility services are still going, despite the pandemic.  Those working to keep our water, power and sanitation going are essential workers too and we owe them much for their service at this time.

A movie ticket…There’s much discussion right now of how to move the industry forward during the pandemic.  Fortunately, I am very diversified.  Some are not and it’s been difficult to see how many friends and colleagues are anxious and suffering right now.  The movie ticket is my reminder to rebuild.  The movie ticket is my reminder to adapt as best I can.  There will be no Dark Ages of Entertainment if I can help it.

Instead of yearning for the past, what can we do to bring our appreciation into the future?

 

Kristin West joins The Quarantini Film Festival as a Celebrity Judge

The Quarantini Film Festival is now open for submissions on Film Freeway.

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – May 4, 2020 – PRLog — The Quarantini Film Festival is now open for submissions.  Founder Dana Olita created the festival to keep people entertained while at home during the quarantine.  The new festival is very inexpensive to enter.  $15 per submission for adults and $10 for kids under 14.  The rules are simple.  You must be the creator and you must make the film in your house or backyard.  The festival is monthly and the first submissions are due by May 28th with a winner announced May 31st.

The festival is perfect for kids who want to create a film. There is no limit to what they can create except the length.  Films can be from 1 minute to 30 minutes long.  Kids have their own category so they are judged separately.

The Quarantini Film Festival is excited to announce Celebrity Judge Kristin West will be joining us to judge films.  Kristin West is an award-winning producer, actress, screenwriter, and host.  She’s been privileged to be a jury member of the Chicago Independent Film Festival, the Inland Empire Media Academy Film Festival, and the NYC Midnight Writing Competitions.  Kristin has worked with top names in the film, television, and recording industries including Emmy winners, Golden Globe winners, Grammy winners, and Oscar nominees.

Entries are accepted on Film Freeway https://filmfreeway.com/TheQuarantiniMonthlyFilmFestival

Making the COVID-19 Numbers Personal

I  am sick (not literally) and tired (quite literally) of hearing people say that the deaths from COVID-19 are not large enough to justify the stay-at-home orders. I am fed up with people being so blase about the death toll in the US alone, much less the rest of the world.

signboard informing unavailability of sanitizers
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As of today, April 30,2020, there have been 63,538 deaths in the USA, with roughly 2000 of those deaths occurring today.  Globally, there have been 230,804 deaths, with 3,400 of those deaths happening today.  Numbers of deaths remain abstractions until we put names to numbers, until we compare.   Let me make some comparisons.

In my own life, I identify strongly with three places:  my county of origin, Atascosa Co., Texas, the University of Texas at Austin, my alma mater and San Antonio, Texas, the nearest large city that I visited as a child.

As of today, there have been 1,092,328 cases of COVID-19 in the United States.  Globally, there have been 3.2 million cases.  The city of San Antonio, Texas has a population of 1.5 million people.  San Antonio is the 7th largest city in the U.S.  This virus has infected the numerical equivalent of a large U.S. city.  Is that not enough?

Now let’s take a look at the deaths.  Deaths in the United states are at 63,000.  My county of origin, Atascosa County, Texas, has a population of roughly 49,000.  The University of Texas at Austin, enrolls 50,000 students.  It’s the 7th largest public university in the country.  Corona deaths have taken out the equivalent of a rural Texas county or a large public university.  Is that not enough?

fashion man people sign
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

By the way, the cities in my county of origin range in population of 2,000-10,000 people.  At the current rate of deaths in the U.S., it’s like one small town is dying off per day.  Is that not enough?

I say enough is enough.  We think of numbers as mere data, cold, hard and impersonal, but these figures get very personal when you compare them to what and who you know, where you came from and where you are.  Let’s stay at home, stay well, stay alive and come out safer and stronger with as many members of our communities alive and kicking as possible.

 

 

Fear of the Future

Create a brighter future…The future is yours…

round analog clock
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

The “future” is an abstraction we often associate with positivity, progress and something we can shape.  The truth is we love the future and often fear it at the same time.  I read tarot cards.  I do astrology readings, which more often than not are ways of looking into the future or what’s possible.  However, I know and need to point out that fear of the future often motivates us more often than we care to admit and acknowledge.

As we look towards a post-quarantine, post pandemic world, there is a lot to consider.  Whether we fear future or not is our choice.  Resisting the present undermines our ability to shape the future.  We need to admit that we’re scared, we’ve been naive or neglectful about certain realities.  We need to admit that the world has changed, will not “go back” to where it was and where we were wasn’t all that great either.  We have to shape the future with clear eyes, open minds and open hearts.

How do we do that? We need to ask some questions.

Who am I now?  Answer this honestly.  Own the good and the bad and respect the neutral.

Who do I desire to be?  

What changes, adjustments or work do I need to close the gap between who I am and want to be?

NOW…

What’s the best step I can take, NOW, TODAY, to make those adjustments?

We must also take up these questions as communities, states, and nations.  Who we are today shapes who we become.  We only ever have the present, no matter how much we speculate about what the future could or should be.  It’s time to get deeply present about what our pain points are and what we can do to change them, for the better, in a changed world.

The future is ours, once we fully invest ourselves in the present.

 

 

 

 

 

Quotes for the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day

It’s the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day.  With the corona virus still keeping us indoors, it seems the earth itself is healing too.   Here are some great food-for-thought quotes about our relationship to Earth.

  1. sky earth galaxy universe
    Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

    “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.” Mahatma Gandhi

  2. “Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.” Khalil Gibran
  3. “Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” Henry David Thoreau
  4. “Find your place on the planet. Dig in, and take responsibility from there.” Gary Snyder
  5. “It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” Neil Armstrong
  6. “Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans.” Jacques-Yves Cousteau
  7. “We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” David Brower
  8. We knew that man’s heart, away from nature, becomes hard.” Chief Luther Standing Bear
  9. “We are all butterflies. Earth is our chrysalis.” LeeAnn Taylor
  10. “Someday, I hope that we will all be patriots of our planet and not just of our respective nations.” Zoe Weil
  11. “What have they done to the earth?
    What have they done to our fair sister?
    Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her
    Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn
    And tied her with fences and dragged her down” Jim Morrison
  12. “If you really want to remedy the earth, we have to mend mankind. And to unite mankind, we heal the Earth. That is the only way. Mother Earth will exist with or without us.”  Suzy Kassem
  13. “Life is a dance between heaven and earth, the ebb and flow of life.” Maurice Spees
  14. “The planet was being destroyed by manufacturing processes, and what was being manufactured was lousy, by and large.” Kurt Vonnegut
  15. “Earth is a small town with many neighborhoods in a very big universe.” Ron Garan
  16. “Deep under our feet the Earth holds its molten breath, while the bones of countless generations watch us and wait.” Isaac Marion
  17. “When you look more generally at life on Earth, you find that it is all the same kind of life. There are not many different kinds; there’s only one kind. It uses about fifty fundamental biological building blocks, organic molecules.” Carl Sagan
  18. “We’re reaching the point where the Earth will have to end the burden we’ve placed on her, if we don’t lift the burden ourselves.” Steven M. Greer
  19. To define perpetual growth on a finite planet as the sole measure of economic well-being is to engage in a form of slow collective suicide. To deny or exclude from the calculus of governance and economy the costs of violating the biological support systems of life is the logic of delusion.” Wade Davis
  20. “From the Moon’s surface, the Earth is but a tiny, blue teardrop in the inky blackness of space.” Stewart Stafford

Happy Earth Day!