Roller Coaster

Imagine you’re waiting in line for the world’s tallest roller coaster.
You love roller coasters. You have since you were a little kid. But you’ve never ridden anything like this.
People talk about this coaster from all over the country. It is legendary. To be honest you’ve wanted to ride this coaster your entire life. And you find out that this year, the ride is having a grand Re-Opening!

So naturally, you plan a trip. You take all your best friends and when you get there the line is HUGE. It’s so long you can’t even see the ride. But everyone is laughing and cheering getting off it so you go ahead. And you end up waiting in line for three years.

But you get on the ride! You strap in. The operators do their final checks, the safety floor drops, and the ride is in motion.

This is it. The anticipation could not be higher. You shoot forward and bound down a chute around the first turn…

To find out you the hill is so high–it will take you another two years to reach the top.

That’s how excited I am to see my friend on Friday.

His name is Luke Skywalker.
And when I was growing up, he taught me what it meant to be a hero.

It is very hard to accurately describe the joy and catharsis that will come from my simply witnessing the original actor reprise this very fictional character.

I don’t mind to underplay the actual friends and family I’ll be visiting this Christmas.

But it is like reuniting with an old friend. Inevitably you will discover some things have changed. But the event of spending time in that world again isn’t really about reliving old times. It’s about enjoying any opportunity you have to gain more joy with something that inspires you, or “gets” you.

Maybe that meeting will be awkward, or not as classic as before. And you’ll get to talking and it’ll of course be over so soon.

It’s still worth it. You don’t judge when it comes to matters of ritual, or family, or love. You’re simply glad to have what time you’ve been given, and grateful that in an ever changing chaotic world there are some things that stay the same.

80 Reasons I am a Writer

80 Reasons I am a Writer

  1. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
  2. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (Particularly The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Magician’s Nephew, and The Horse and His Boy)
  3. The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book by Bill Watterson
  4. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  5. The Muppet Christmas Carol by Jerry Juhl, Brian Henson
  6. The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, Edgar Allan Woolf, Victor Fleming, King Vidor, George Cukor, Norman Taurog
  7. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi by Lawrence Kasdan, George Lucas, Richard Marquand
  8. Spy Kids 3D: Game Over by Robert Rodriguez
  9. Kangaroo Jack by Steve Bing, Scott Rosenberg, David McNally
  10. Aladdin by Ron Clements, John Musker, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio
  11. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
  12. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  13. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl, Mel Stuart
  14. The Secret of NIMH by Don Bluth, Gary Goldman, John Pomeroy, Will Finn, Ken Anderson
  15. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
  16. The Boxcar Children by Gertrude C. Warner
  17. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  18. The Time Warp Trio by Jon Scieszka
  19. Toy Story 2 by Andrew Stanton, Rita Hsiao, Doug Chamberlin, Chris Webb, John Lasseter
  20. Finding Nemo by Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson, David Reynolds
  21. The Secret Origin of Denzel Crocker! (Episode 3.21 of The Fairly Oddparents!) by Butch Hartman and Steve Marmel
  22. Back to the Future by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale
  23. Back to the Future Part II by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale
  24. The Incredible Worlds of Wally McDoogle by Bill Myers
  25. Left Behind: The Kids by Jerry B. Jenkins, Tim LaHaye, Chris Fabry
  26. Monty Python and the Holy Grail by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin
  27. Johnny English by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, William Davies, Peter Howitt
  28. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, Karey Kirkpatrick, Garth Jennings
  29. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off by John Hughes
  30. Sky High by Paul Hernandez, Bob Schooley, Mark McCorkle, Mike Mitchell
  31. Oliver! By Charles Dickens, Lionel Bart, Vernon Harris, Carol Reed
  32. A Christmas Story by Jean Shepherd, Leigh Brown, Bob Clark
  33. Home Alone by John Hughes
  34. Die Hard by Jeb Stuart, Steven E. De Souza, John McTiernan
  35. Star Wars: The Essential Chronology by Kevin J. Anderson, Daniel Wallace
  36. Halo: Combat Evolved by Bungie
  37. Madness Combat by Matt Jolly aka “Krinkels”
  38. The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King
  39. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street by Stephen Sondheim
  40. The Matrix: Reloaded by Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski
  41. 300 by Michael B. Gordon, Kurt Johnstad, Zack Snyder
  42. The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror by Disney Imagineers, Joe Dante
  43. The Mist by Stephen King, Frank Darabont
  44. A Series of Unfortunate Events by “Lemony Snicket”
  45. “Taxi” written and performed by Harry Chapin
  46. The Angry Video Game Nerd: Friday the 13th by James Rolfe
  47. Pendragon: Journal of an Adventure through Time and Space by D.J. MacHale
  48. Charlie the Unicorn 3 by Jason Steele
  49. The Door in the Dragon’s Throat by Frank Peretti
  50. Thr3e by Ted Dekker
  51. Eragon by Christopher Paolini
  52. The Dark Knight by Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan
  53. The Godfather Part II by Francis Ford Coppola, Mario Puzo
  54. X2 by Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris, David Hayter, Bryan Singer
  55. The Measure of a Man (Episode 2.09 of Star Trek: The Next Generation) by Melinda M. Snodgrass, Robert Scheerer
  56. Walkabout (Episode 1.04 of LOST) by David Fury, Jack Bender
  57. M.I.A. (Episode 2.22 of Quantum Leap) by Donald P. Bellisario, Michael Zinberg
  58. Made in America (Episode 6.21 of The Sopranos) by David Chase
  59. Resignation (Episode 3.22 of House M.D.) by Pamela Davis, Martha Mitchell
  60. Exodus (Episode 4.22 of Stargate SG-1) by Joseph Mallozzi, Paul Mullie, David Warry-Smith
  61. Before I Sleep (Episode 1.15 of Stargate Atlantis) by Carl Binder, Andy Mikita
  62. Let’s Fix Robert (Episode 5.21 of Everybody Loves Raymond) by Jennifer Crittenden, Mike Royce, Gary Halvorson
  63. The Double-Blind Job (Episode 3.05 of Leverage) by Melissa Glenn, Jessica Rieder, Marc Roskin
  64.  Kickassia (That Guy With the Glasses Two Year Anniversary Crossover Episode) by Doug Walker and “Channel Awesome”
  65.  A Softer World by Joey Comeau, Emily Horne
  66.  Questionable Content by Jeph Jacques
  67.  V. For Vendetta by Alan Moore, David Lloyd, Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski, James McTeigue
  68.  The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  69. A Very Potter Musical by Nick Lang, Matt Lang, Brian Holden, Darren Criss, A.J. Holmes
  70. A Very Potter Sequel by Nick Lang, Matt Lang, Brian Holden, Darren Criss
  71.  500 Days of Summer by Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber, Marc Webb
  72.  Begin to Hope by Regina Spektor
  73.  11:11 by Regina Spektor
  74.  Songs by Regina Spektor
  75.  The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  76.  Macbeth by William Shakespeare
  77.  Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  78.  A Scandal in Belgravia (Episode 2.01 of Sherlock) by Steven Moffat, Paul McGuigan
  79. A Very Potter Senior Year by Nick Lang, Matt Lang, Brian Holden, Clark Baxtresser, Pierce Siebers, A.J. Holmes
  80.  Bojack Horseman created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg

Some Frank Words about Anxiety

People tell me I am a very open person.

Presumably this means I am more willing to be vulnerable—though I think this isn’t quite right because true vulnerability—by definition—is always uncomfortable.

I actually don’t think I’m open enough. And I’m nearly always uncomfortable, but not over writing introspective confessionals. I want to unpack these thoughts because by sharing ourselves, we can be better understood.

It’s true I wear a lot of my emotions on my sleeve. Whether that’s a sign of strength or a lack of restraint is for debate. I am direct. I try to resolve conflicts by communicating my own feelings.

I am obsessed with fully knowing myself to be the best person I can be. (I don’t know if it’s narcissistic to think publishing my insights could help others, but I’ve heard encouragement on this before.)

Perhaps one of the reasons people are hesitant to reveal an insecurity or potentially “ugly” part of themselves is that those confessions can be misunderstood. This happened to me last year when I shared something with my film class too early.

It was an insecurity I had claimed as part of my life, but not defining for my life. I don’t know if I had mentally articulated this distinction yet, though, so I put too much prominence on it. From then on I felt in conflict between the class’s perception of me, and my own intuitive understanding of my identity.

This is a conflict I’ve experienced many times, so I’ve thought a lot about those two concepts (Self-definition, and Public Perception). I’ve concluded that “identity” is only really as useful as the self or others make it out to be—so both yourself and others can be wrong about it.

But not all our weaknesses or insecurities need to be feared. By naming them for ourselves we can cement them and turn them into workable metrics for our growth.

For me, talking about my weaknesses helps me accept that they are part of my life. It helps me better accept myself and that I’m still imperfect. And so those areas stop being vulnerable for me.

—-

I turned 24 this year, and the truth is there are very few days when I honestly feel I am okay.

As I said before, that doesn’t mean I’m not okay in reality.

I don’t know if I have the psychiatric condition of “anxiety.” But I deal with a lot of anxieties in my life that someone in conversation might not immediately realize.

One is an anxiety about the gap between who I want to be and who I currently am. I am a perfectionist who despite knowing perception is uncontrollable, desperately wants the “Garrett” you encounter to be the one I know I could be.

For this reason I have difficulty in accepting failure. In a job interview someone asked, “How do you handle failure?” And I talked for six minutes about everything but the question. I am my own harshest critic, but that doesn’t make it easier.

I have an anxiety over time, particularly how I am spending my time.

Netflix breaks me. The idea that I have instant access to shows from the 70s alongside the whole last season of This is Us, or a rewatch of Breaking Bad, and no matter how much time I spend, I will never see it all—is terrifying. Same thing goes for classic literature alongside modern hits in libraries and bookstores.

It often seems imperative for me to always spend my time in pursuit of self-advancement, and ironically, this has led to a lot of wasted time trying to make a decision. I have actually gone to bed early rather than decide how to spend my night—on multiple occasions.

One part of accepting the world as it is is acknowledging that most parts of it are fundamentally uncontrollable. If you are religious, you might say that as humans we are meant to give control to God. If you are not, you might say this is because the world is chaos.

But I sometimes see the random pieces of life as working in opposition to my achieving my lofty goals. Life is messy, but I wish my circumstances were different and better. I have difficulty distinguishing what I can actually do to better myself and what I should relax about.

Though it is ridiculous to have a midlife crisis at 24, I have seen life as a ticking clock since 9th grade.

I see most positive things that happen to me as undeserved. I do not always see the qualities that my friends love about me as I already am. I worry that even if they could understand me they would not care, or that I am fundamentally different from every other person. (This last one I’ve heard is a common anxiety.)

People say I overthink things. I would propose instead that I consider more or different details than what is average. The fullest version of myself and the gift I wish to bring the world is being someone who does consider those details and knows which are relevant.

For all these reasons, I find myself talking at times I wish I were quiet, or quiet at times I wish I would speak up. I do not act like myself.

These anxieties have put a huge toll on my ability to claim personal happiness, and claiming happiness is the only way for anyone to have it.

—-

This last year might have been the worst time in my life. Upon finishing 4 1/2 years of college with a great record, wonderful friendships, and clearly defined life goals, I traveled across the country to educate myself on the television industry in Hollywood and learn how to be a single independent adult. I knew my first year would be challenging, but I resolved to keep my mission simple: find a job in LA and survive for Year 2.

What I didn’t realize was that back home, I was probably exploiting my friends as a crutch for personal therapy or real personal growth, and being so far away with no collegiate/institutional structure would force me to face the dark parts I saw in myself.

The human body is designed to avoid pain at any cost. I learned this because of the spiderweb of destructive behaviors I’ve used to avoid actually confronting my issues. And I’ve realized my anxieties are in reality coping mechanisms.

These are traits about myself I’m not proud of. They don’t constitute my identity, and I’m not obligated to leave room for them—either through self-pity or making excuses. But they have been part of who I am for a long time.

There is no real conclusion to this essay. Just know that if you’re a person who has similar anxieties that have prevented me from seeing you—I see you now. I hope by examining my anxieties I can eventually redeem them, and by defining them myself, I will not be ruled by them.

Good Boy

Was headed back from the coffee shop last night.

Passed this car pulled over to the side on Mulholland Drive.

It’s a windy street. Goes up through the hills where celebrities live.

Not a good place to park.

 

Despite myself I walked over to see if everything was ok.

It looked like no one was there.

But sitting in the driver’s seat was a little brown dog.

I said Hey Boy. What’s Wrong?

The dog said, “Hey.”

 

Except it wasn’t the dog.

There was a man tied up in the back.

 

I turn around to see the man bound by the wrists and legs.

I thought I smelled blood.

“I’m not the dog,” the man said.

“I’m a man and I’m tied up in the back.”

 

I said Holy Crap.

The dog started barking.

The man said, “Good boy.”

I tried calling the cops.

But there was no signal.

We were all alone.

 

I said Whose car is this?

Where are the keys?

Where is the man who tied you up?

I looked out in the darkness. Cold fear paralyzed me as I imagined how the driver might even now be preparing to leap from his hidden place to strike again.

I saw the keys were still in the ignition.

 

I hopped in and started the car.

I shut the door. It locked behind me.

I reached up trembling to the button for OnStar’s 4G Roadside Assistance.

 

“Welcome to OnStar How can we Assist?” The woman said.

I glanced back to the man, but the man was gone.

I realized the man was never there.

“Hello?” The woman said. “I can’t hear you.”

“Bark Bark,” I said.

 

I was trying to be the driver, but there was never a driver.

There was never a dog.

I was the dog.

 

I was the good boy.

Quitting Twitter

I’m done with Twitter and specifically the community it attracts. I confess it’s tempting to try & rack up followers, butt in on any cultural conversation, and have a place to air witty quips. But aside from the ever present narcissism it develops in me it has become too exhausting to weed through all the negativity.

I’m tired of seeing people I respect retweet comments that are hateful.

Here’s a lesson: Generalizations about people are always bad.

Much of culture has become obsessed with being “woke,” and that is good. Diversity is vital. Sometimes, it’s necessary for people who have held power in the past to shut up (to listen), or even be replaced (in order to make future progress possible).

I accept that as someone who lives with privilege, my voice won’t always be relevant. I also acknowledge as a person of faith that I might sometimes believe things you don’t believe.

However, too often I go online to read people who post thoughtlessly, based on assumptions or deepseeded anger. For a long time this has made me question whether (as a person of privilege) my thoughts are valid, whether my feelings matter, and whether my opinions can be important.

As a writer, this is particularly frustrating to me. There is less incentive to interact and critically examine myself if I feel like any conclusions I come to will be dismissed by malicious posters.

But more importantly, Twitter has negatively impacted my creativity. It’s not worth the amount of material I would potentially write if I weren’t dealing with the self-doubt it encourages.

It has become too snowflake-y, and yes, I recognize the irony of allowing excessively offended people to excessively offend me. But I believe in freeing oneself from anything that holds power over you.

I also believe that a world of diverse perspectives cannot come at the cost of individuality. I believe that everybody matters. Excluding less common viewpoints is not woke—it’s bullshit.

I’m tired of having to put up a disclaimer to prove I’m not a hot take, or coming up with an identifier besides Straight White Male to become relevant.

SWM is an idol. A conceptual character that I think never existed in the form of which it is currently being invoked. Nobody likes being misrepresented, but that is the result when people needlessly villainize, or refuse to acknowledge that there are infinite variations of someone’s experience, no matter their demographic.

Our culture wars are too serious to fall into pettiness. Everyone needs to put down their pitchforks and chill out. Don’t apply your pet issue to everything that comes across your feed. Don’t misunderstand justice and liberty. Do your research before posting.

Years from now our generation will be relentlessly lampooned—we will be mired in so many different causes that we run out of abbreviations we thought necessary to invent in order to discuss them.

Lady Bird

Lady Bird  ★★★★1/2

Holy crap!

What a powerful, thought provoking film featuring one of the strongest female protagonists I have ever seen come to life.

(It’s also really funny!)

This coming of age story is believable, and it needs to be in order to support a character that is so out of place in life. This is about someone who knows who she wants to be. But she isn’t quite there yet, and how she sees herself clashes with her circumstances.

It’s about a relationship between a mother and daughter who are joined at the hip but have completely different values and needs in receiving love. And I was so glad to find Metcalf’s delivery laced with layers of hurt, bitterness, insecurity, pride, longing…all those important emotions to prevent the role from being a 1 dimensional and annoying hateful mother. The dad is pretty great too and though more understated definitely plays a role in sustaining the journey.

The movie effortlessly takes the hallmarks of Senior Year, which has been explored through dozens of male narratives, and tells the story of one family and friend group without feeling tropey.

It’s about ambition, and learning to appreciate the moments that shaped you regardless of their class or universality. Christine “Lady Bird” grows up in a Catholic school in “the Midwest of Southern California.” But you can bet her desire to get out and really be someone is relatable, especially in a frightening, rapidly changing world.

It is relevant to current day concerns while firmly set in the early 2000s and being nostalgic for that world. This is a story where one mobile phone message can really represent a defining character moment–the rites of passage here aren’t rampant dick pics and Instagram–it’s before fake news.

It feels like it covered a lot more than 93 minutes but is never boring. Lots ambiguous to dissect on further viewings. Slice of Life in the best way. A+

Me Too

MeToo convicted me in unexpected ways this weekend. Women, I heard you and I’m listening.

It’s not your responsibility to absolve me of my sins.
But I want to publicly apologize for the ways I have contributed to rape culture and perhaps signal my brothers who haven’t felt the beginning of that change yet.

I am a guy who looks too long. Call it what you want–leering, gawking–mostly when I think women haven’t noticed.

Unfortunately, I can’t apologize to every female I’ve done this to in a coffee shop or stranger I’ve passed on the road without making things further about myself.

But by looking at your bodies instead of your eyes, I objectified you, for which there is no excuse. I am sorry for every curious look which made you feel more unsafe in the world, satisfying my desire at the expense of your privacy.

I am sorry for frequenting websites that attempt to dehumanize you, thus encouraging the assault on your humanity which is not Men’s to give and take.

To some this might seem innocuous. “It’s just a look.”
No. It is using sex in a way it was never meant for, and it normalizes that unhealthy interaction for others.

EVERYONE can do more to help stop the problem. I resolve to change.

If you are a woman who follows me who I have affected this way, you don’t need to respond, but I’m sorry.