The Future Has Arrived….

Back to the Future

So, 17 year old Marty McFly is out there… somewhere… TODAY! 

I was probably 10 the first time I saw Back to the Future, some summer day in the late 90’s, and I was hooked.  

My day has been completely filled with all things Back to the Future. Several channels (including Amazon Prime) are running all three movies on a loop all day. And why is that? Why am I watching and re-watching a movie I’ve seen so many times I could quote the entire thing?  Why has the world been counting down to today — simply because it’s fun? 

We crave stories. We crave connection. We crave hope and a promise that the future will indeed be there for us. (Preferably with a real hoverboard, thankyouverymuch.)  And brilliant movies well-told connect us with those stories and connect us with our fellow humans.

The girl at Starbucks – who knows nothing about me other than my name and the fact that I drink tall hazelnut americanos – wished me a Happy Back to the Future Day.  No explanation, no backstory. Because of course I’d seen the movie. Why wouldn’t I?

There’s something beautiful about the lifelong power of a good story, don’t you think?

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Live Long, and Prosper…

Leonard Nimoy

I was eight years old when I came home and announced to my parents that I was going to be a writer when I grew up.

For years after that (admittedly crazy) statement, life as a TV writer was nowhere on my horizon. (Any childhood dream of moving to HOLLYWOOD!! – fearsome land of the flashing lights and brilliant stars — was definitely more predicated on the idea of growing up and marrying Leonardo DiCaprio vs. any actual thought that I could grow up and actually write for the small screen…)

See, I grew up without watching much TV.  I Love Lucy and Leave it to Beaver were usually playing at my grandparents’ house, and my fam watched Lois & Clark like clockwork. A few later years, my deep and enduring love for Smallville could not be overstated. But outside of that? I was much more of a books girl.

But there was a show — The Show.

On weekends, whenever we could find reruns, my dad and I would sit and watch Star Trek.

I had no idea in those random moments how much my entire future was getting laid out before me — a future TV writer of the sci-fi persuasion.  I just knew that I loved hanging out with my dad and watching A City on the Edge of Forever, The Trouble with Tribbles or Mirror, Mirror. We watched that show for years together — and still do.  (The last time my dad was in LA, we sat and watched City for probably the millionth time.)

And so tonight, sitting in London on the writing adventure of a lifetime, I find myself sad.

Leonard Nimoy has passed away… 

Even typing that feels just a little impossible.  I’m sorry — that makes no sense.  What???  Decades before I was born, he was creating this weird little show with so many others, imbuing life and humanity into this odd, seemingly emotionless creature.  He was the other, the outsider, the one who just didn’t understand. He railed against our emotions, against our seeming lack of logic, against everything that was wrong with the way we humans went skipping about the galaxy. And we loved him for it… he was our voice of reason in this new world we so desperately wanted.  He was Mr. Spock.

And it was this weird little show that made me love sci-fi. It was this weird little show that made me feel like maybe I wasn’t alone, that even if all my friends hated all things sci-fi and nerd-culture while I loved it, that I’d be all right. I could be me, and let them be them. It was the beginning of Lynn The TV Writer, and I didn’t even know it yet.

So tonight, I’m a bit quiet and a bit reflective, thankful for all of the people who created the worlds that inspired me to create my own.  We were never meant to make it alone — we are all here because someone else went on ahead of us and said — The hell with convention. Let’s make it awesome.  

Where would we be without them?

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The Theory of Everything

Let’s talk about Eddie Redmayne for a minute.

OSCAR.   Okay, as you were.

I saw The Theory of Everything for the second time last night. And I am still in love… 

I am fascinated by the people who know brand new things before the world gets to know them – the people who look at a quickly drawn tumble of numbers on a blackboard, soft bits of chalk getting in between their fingernails, after weeks and months and years of walking through life and imagining — What if???

The people who suddenly understand the motion of the stars or the energy of an atom.  The first man who imagined a way of taking Jules Verne’s wild ideas about space guns and transforming them into one of the grandest moments of human history. One small step for man… The man who takes standard economic theory and turns it on its head. The genius who imagines a wax cylinder of sound — our very own voices preserved for the future. A train, coming to crush a theater — and the moment it stays on screen. The dawn of a new branch of science or mathematics… We’ll call it a quark. 

Can I just sit next to someone in this moment of discovery, please??? 

There is something so perfectly, intensely creative about these future moments — when the way things are always going to be somehow bleeds ever so briefly into now, and we whisper the words “This is where it all begins.” This is the day we first hear of the things that will one day become commonplace and accepted, understood by even the youngest around us. We are changed forever, and our history will begin a new orbit after a moment like this.

This way of life, this constant exploration is THE THING that gives humanity our life and breath… we explore because we do not understand, because we are seeking that something that will explain everything to us… and perhaps we will never ever arrive at such an extravagant moment of – I understand. Completely — any more than we might ever arrive at such a moment of being known completely by another human being. Even someone as brilliant as Stephen Hawking has thought and rethought his theories. And so we continue on.

But we catch glimpses of those moments – brief hints filled with promise and hope.

A few weeks ago, when NASA and friends landed Philae on the comet (and the world spent the next several days making Bruce Willis jokes and listening to “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing”) — they discovered that the comet sang. They think that the song is actually oscillations in the magnetic field around the comet — but no one knows for certain. They just hear the song. One of the scientists on the project – Dr. Karl-Heinz Glassmeier – said what is probably one of my favorite quotes this year:

“This is exciting because it is completely new to us.”

It was unexpected and unexplained — the polite and proper scientific equivalent of “What the hell is this???”  These moments are exciting. These are the ones we live for. They are scary and inviting, overwhelming and beautiful…  They carry us through the darkest places where we are misunderstood and broken, where we live out the brutal consequences of selfish choices gone awry.  None of us are perfect, sadly.  I have every intention of being just that all the time, and it never quite works out the way I wanted it to. But those moments of life – those sweetly quiet moments – I want to live here forever!  Those are the ones I dream about.  I think we all do… And maybe one day we will find that theory of everything — where planets and quarks align and there is a grand, overarching mathematical theory that explains why everything moves the way that it does. We could see back to the beginning of it all…

Or perhaps God is laughing at us, because the best answer we’re ever going to get is “That’s just the way it is…”  And what a weird and mystical universe that would be…

theory of everything

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Surviving Comic Con (A How-To Guide)

I wrote this after Comic Con 2012, and it only seemed fitting to bring it back for today.  Enjoy!!! 

———————

First time at Comic Con?  I can help! 

Comic Con 2012 was a smashing success! 

There are things no one tells you about Comic Con, because it’s kind of like asking about details of Disneyland.  No one tells you about how long they stood in line or how much time they spent staring at the map when they should have been sprinting to make it to yet another showing of Abraham Lincoln. Because who wants to hear that when you can talk about Space Mountain and pizza in Tomorrowland or Indiana Jones and your third Dole Pineapple Whip of the day?  (Just me?  Where was I?  Back to Comic Con…)   So I’m going to try to help you out here.

1. You are going to stand in line.  For a LONG time. It’s worth it.

This morning, Luke and I (and friends) stood 4000+ people back in line for Hall H – home of fantastic panels like FRINGE… and most importantly… DOCTOR WHO!  Doctor Who!

There were people who camped out overnight.  Our 3+ hours in line = a cakewalk. It’s just par for the course if you really want to see specific panels or exhibitions or film clips or you just want to stare at Matt Smith see your geek favorites.

Get used to the lines.  Love the lines.  It’s worth it. Seriously, though.  You’re standing next to people who love exactly the same tv show/movie/comic book that you do.  Make a new friend!  Bring a backpack and snacks to share.  You’ll totally be the cool kid in the lunchroom whose mom packed the good desserts while everyone else is stuck with squishy day-old turkey.

2. Accept that you won’t get to see everything you wanted to see.  It makes you love the things you do get to see. 

This is coming from the girl who couldn’t make it to the Firefly panel.  It just happens sometimes, and that’s okay.  Plan as best you can, and just run with it.  Make better plans for next year. And take tons of pictures in the panels you do get into.  Enjoy it!

3. Sit in on random panels.  You might be in for a surprise or two! 

Nathan Fillion, Sarah Wayne Callies, Liam McIntyreNow, stopping for another moment of truth.  Sometimes, in order to get into a later panel in the day, it means you have to sit through the three panels beforehand.  (They don’t clear the room in between panels at Comic Con.  Once you’re in the room, you’re in.)   Yesterday, while waiting for the Alphas panel in the shiny and beautiful Indigo Ballroom, the moderator got up and announced the TV Guide panel.  Thrilling stuff. But there was no way on earth I was missing Alphas, so TV Guide it was.  (Is there even a TV Guide anymore?  Does anyone still watch that channel?)  And then Joel McHale of Community and The Soup walked in.  And Liam McIntyre from Spartacus. And Maggie Q from Nikita. And Sarah Wayne Callies from The Walking Dead.  And Jasika Nicole from Fringe. And did I mention Matt Smith and Nathan Fillion?  It was a fantastic panel and I am SO glad that I just happened to be there.

And today, I was in Hall H for the Fringe panel at 10am.  And I have been waiting for a year to get into the Doctor Who panel at 12:30 since I couldn’t make it last year (again, see #2). I wouldn’t have missed either of those panels for the world.  But, in between was the Supernatural panel, a show I just haven’t had a chance to watch.  But after today’s panel, I’m seriously going to get Season 1 and start watching.  The panel was hilarious, and it made me want to give the show a try.  I’m so excited for it!

See?  You never know…

4. “Cosplay” = all the awesome costumes around you.

That’s like Comic Con 101.  If you have to ask someone what ‘cosplay’ means, you’ll definitely get the “Who are you and why are you at Comic Con?” look.  So now you know. You’re welcome.

5. Doctor Who. TARDIS. Felicia Day.  The Guild. Firefly. Star Trek. Tribbles. Star Wars. Buffy. JJ Abrams. Jane Espenson. Battlestar Galactica. Geek and Sundry. Summer Glau. The angels have the phonebox.  Chris Hardwick. The Nerdist. Lord of the Rings.

Chris HardwickComic Con 201.  Learn, young Jedi, learn.  It will keep you from asking questions like, “What’s a sonic screwdriver?” in front of 4000 Whovians who will eat your heart out if you mess with their show.  And I like you, readers.  No getting your heart ripped out.  You need to come back!  (And that’s a whole other show anyway…)

As seems to be the theme of this blog, you never know what you’re going to discover.

6.  Be ridiculous.  Wear the hat.  Paint your face.  Let your geek flag fly.  Have fun! 

Have a blast.  It’s so worth it… The real world will be waiting for you on Monday…

I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

love,

an incredibly exhausted and happy Lynn

 

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The Fault in Our Stars

I read The Fault in Our Stars a little over a year ago, and quite literally from the first page — I was in awe.  “Made up stories can matter…”

I’m always leery of novel adaptations – especially ones for the smaller, more intimate books I’ve loved so well.  But this one was absolutely wonderful.  (Perks of Being a Wallflower nailed the novel-to-film adaptation too, brilliantly so.)

And so, Hazel Grace Lancaster will always be living among the pages of a book and in the frames of a film… and we will love her for it. 

And there will be Augustus Waters, fighting for Hazel, encouraging her, loving her.

I think my favorite part of this book and this story is how deftly the deep emotions of life — not just love, but loss, anger, frustration, joy, and even boredom — are dealt with.  Augustus and Hazel are wildly imperfect, facing the unimaginable truth of I will not make it to my 20th birthday.  They’re angry and scared, and it makes them lash out unexpectedly.  These aren’t the preternaturally wise, overly effusive Wise Cancer Kids that we’ve come to expect from our Literature of the Sick Children.  (Augustus occasionally gets close to it — until you realize he’s trying to sound wise and important and he’s not actually all that awesome at it.)

Hazel and Augustus’ existence is not predicated on teaching everyone around them: Carpe Diem!   They watch movies and egg someone’s car and laugh at Patrick, their support group leader.  They’re funny and occasionally wise. They wonder about their families, and how they will handle a post-cancer kid life.  I wonder what my parents will do after I’m dead.  It’s a fact of life, not a strangely speculative question that will never actually have to be answered.

I wonder what happens after I’m dead.  

We all get one life to piece together — filled with 24-hour days and 7-days-a-week.  You go to school, learn how to ride a bike, grow up, finish school, fall in love, find a career, have a baby (and very rarely in that actual order).  You create Your Life.  And the whispers in the air will tell you that unless you’ve got thirty thousand followers on Twitter or a hit movie or your name in the company’s letterhead… well, you haven’t really made it. And so we fight and scream.  We cry because we’re afraid:

What if none of this matters? 

We stand in front of the great void, screaming at the top of our lungs, praying we making a difference while actually wondering deep down in our souls if we are the only ones listening to our voices — like maybe the wind is echoing too loudly and sweeping our own words back across our faces.

There will be many of us out there who make an enormous difference in the world.  I feel like the luckiest girl in the world right now that I’m surrounded by people who get out there and DO the things that most of us will never get a chance to do.  I have friends who are CEOs of their own companies, showrunners and writers, lawyers, editors, directors, musicians, teachers.  They go ahead where few will dare to follow.  The world around us is changing — and we’re trying to create Our Life in a way that matters.  But the echoes of screams and the adoration of the masses won’t be the things that will pull you through into tomorrow.

The most impactful moments of my life have come unexpectedly — in the small moments of dinner with friends or picking up the phone at 4 in the morning, standing together in front of that great void, finally realizing that we are not alone in this… that it is better to be loved deeply by one than adored from afar by millions of strangers.

I’m here for you. Just you.  Okay? 

You are enough.

tfios
Go see this movie!

  

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The Great Gatsby

I am living proof that you can get all the way through high school and college (even being an English major!) without ever having read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

So I picked it up about a year ago.

And I flew through it. I love the book.

jay and daisy

And then… the movie.

Honestly, with this movie, I was in from the moment it was announced. The Great Gatsby is returning to the big screen! And then… Baz Luhrmann (of Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge fame). Leonardo DiCaprio. Carey Mulligan. The list goes on…

Be still my beating heart.

It’s a shining story of beauty and wealth and fun and love stretched out across the years.  Until you look just below the surface – just below the silk – and you find an ugly, rotting self-absorbed center.

And yet you can’t look away.

On one level – this is not your grandmother’s The Great Gatsby.  Continue reading “The Great Gatsby”

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Made-Up Stories Can Matter

Life has been totally crazy lately (hence the serious lack of posts here!)

So – in protest of the craziness, and honestly a bit out of self-preservation, I bought a book just for me, just for my own heart.  It has nothing to do with research for my show.  Nothing to do with things I’m writing.  I don’t plan to write anything similar to it.

I just want to read someone else’s story and disappear into it.

fault in our stars

Enter John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. 

I haven’t even started reading yet, but I am already in love with Green’s words.  This is his author’s note at the front.

This is not so much an author’s note as an author’s reminder of what was printed in small type a few pages ago.  This book is a work of fiction.  I made it up.  

Neither novels nor their readers benefit from attempts to divine whether any facts hide inside a story.  Such efforts attack the very idea that made-up stories can matter, which is sort of the foundational assumption of our species.  

I appreciate your cooperation in this matter.

Made up stories can matter… 

What a revolutionary idea.

We spend our growing up years with questions papering over our hearts like an interior decorator gone bezerk. Will you tell me a story?  Will you read me a story? Tell me about the time when this happened to you.  Why?  When?  What did the strawberry chiffon cake taste like?  Do you think time travel is real?  What would you do if you had a pet dinosaur.  Can I watch a movie?  Will you read me just one more story? 


And why is that?  When you’re 8 – the whole world is new for you.  I’d never been to Africa, but I remember learning about ancient Egyptian culture.  I remember going to the zoo and trying to imagine  what it must be like to be a lion in the jungle. I remember trying out a British accent at 10 and wondering what life would be like if I sounded like that.   When you’re so small,  life isn’t old and average yet.  It’s new and scary as hell and different.  Every day is a new story.

But you still want to hear more.  

I read the Little House on the Prairie books so many times my mom finally took them away from me so I would read something different.  I read all the Nancy Drew books.  I wrote stories of time traveling teenagers and strange alien spaceships and a girl who was in love with a boy and she could never tell anyone about it at all.

Those made-up stories mattered.

Every once in a while I get asked why I decided to be a tv writer instead of going off and becoming a doctor (blood and math. seriously?) or lawyer (arguing for a living? pass.) or businesswoman (I could have survived.)

I want to take this quote and just superglue it to my forehead so everyone who wants to know can read it.  Made-up stories can matter.

And maybe my stories aren’t going to matter in the grand scheme of the world.  I’m not going to cure cancer or solve an international crisis.  But I’m sort of going after the smaller moments anyway.

There’s a Star Trek: TNG episode where the Captain has a chance to re-live his life making the ‘correct’ choices.  He undoes a crucial risk he took – stupid youth gotten way out of hand – and in a flash, he ends up being some a mousy no one on his ship.  I was 16 or so the first time I saw the episode, and I don’t know if it was just the moment I saw it in my life or what – but it sparked something deep and lasting in me.  I was the quiet little wallflower who just wanted to stay out of everyone’s way.  But I wanted SO much out of life – and up until that moment, I lived in fear that I would miss it all.

I suddenly saw my life as if I was headed into those sort of big crucial decisions – and I decided right then and there that I was going to make the big choices and take the big (dare I say stupid) risks and see what would come of it.     My life has been scary as hell some days – but I don’t have a long list of What ifs?

That was a made-up story that mattered.  

One of my favorite college memories is sitting in a friend’s living room with 10 other friends watching Triplets of Belleville. It was a moment in time where I felt safe and surrounded and like maybe – at least for the moment – everything was going to be all right.  We laughed and talked and paused the movie to admire the artistry in every frame.  We drank a good bottle of wine and bonded over our complete inability to cook dinner that night.

In it’s own way, that was a made-up story that mattered. 

A little over a year ago, my best friend and I sat in her living room, painted our nails, ate dinner and marathoned 6 episodes of Dawson’s Creek. And it led into a whole discussion of life in junior high school and all of the fears and weirdness that came along with that time in our lives.  We laughed at the horrible fashions from back then – and cringed when characters had to live through a moment we totally remembered from being that age.  it was a beautiful reminder that we’re not actually alone in any of this thing called life and every bonkers moment we have – someone else has probably been exactly where we are. Today is not forever.

That was a made-up story that mattered.

And it’s true that maybe I would have grown up and become a less-wallflowery type of person.  Maybe I would have taken the risk to be brave after listening to another song or after reading another story.  Maybe my friends and I still would have had an amazing night without watching Triplets.  And surely – my best friend and I could have found a thousand other things to talk about instead of Pacey (*thirteen year old swoon*)

But in those moments, those made-up stories made up precious moments of life I’m talking about and thinking about a year later, five years later, a decade later.

Those are the kind of smaller moments I’m after.  

The kind I wouldn’t trade for anything.  +


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Beasts of the Southern Wild

The entire universe depended on everything fitting together just right… 

I’ve finally found it.

Every year, there’s one film that just defies logic and expectations, and it uses that defiant stance to fold our own thoughts back into surprise as it tells us a brand new story.   Last year’s was The Artist, and now Beasts of the Southern Wild has taken up the strange and otherwordly mantle.   True, those two films are just about as different as could be – but there’s something glimmering below the surface.  There are new stories to tell still… And it’s so wonderfully hopeful.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez by way of Maurice Sendak

Quvenzhané Wallis plays Hushpuppy – the six year old I want to be when I grow up.  In the middle of failing levees and a father who’s alternately loving and distant – Hushpuppy takes in the world with her wide eyes and fights to make sense of it.   She’s innocent without being naive.  You can only learn so much about the world in six years, after all.  And she fills in the gaps of her knowledge with these strangely poetic retellings of the world around her.

Like Emma Donoghue’s Room – some of the things Hushpuppy sees are horrific in their own right, but she’s been so protected from the outside world that she has no idea they’re horrible.  Does that make any sense?  And since we’re seeing the world through Hushpuppy’s eyes, we don’t even see all the horrors as they really are.  

Instead, we see them as gigantic primitive monsters melted free from their southern icebergs. Death incarnate, come for its own.

But she is not afraid. 

When I was little, I was so terrified of my own shadow that it’s amazing I even went to school.  I lived in a world of stringent right and wrong and I was expected to know the difference in any situation, even if I’d never been there before.   I was afraid of getting detention for something I didn’t even know was wrong.

Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like if I would have faced my fears at six or eight years old rather than twenty-five.  

I wish I could have rounded them all up and faced them down.  You do not belong here, anymore.  You do not have power here.  I’ve stripped you of your ability to crush my life, to destroy the lives of the ones I love.  Leave.  

Leave and never return.  

There’s something to be said for the power of a six year old.  They may not fully understand the world, but maybe they understand it in a more holistic way than we ever will.  There is good and evil in the world.  And at least for the moment, we can’t escape it. We can only choose what to do – fight?  Or run away?

Today is not forever, you see. One day we’re actually going to face down the evil that surrounds us.  Because good and evil are not opposites. That puts them on a level playing field, as though the question really is whether or not evil can overcome us all.  Good is not the absence of evil.

Good, and everything that comes along with it, is more vibrant and alive than evil can ever be.  Good is a warrior, a vanquisher, walking in to the very darkest places of our communities, the very darkest parts of our souls, knowing the war is already won.

Sorrow may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning… 

And someone with the heart of a child will lead us all.

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Anna Karenina – A Crumbling Love

It’s that time of year when all the awesome movies hit the big screen.  🙂  Get ready! 

First off – I think Keira Knightley is absolutely stunning in everything.  I know she’s a bit of a polarizing figure in the world of film… but I am such a fan.  And Joe Wright & Keira Knightley together are brilliant.  (Aaron Taylor-Johnson is does a better job than I was expecting… but seriously – the role should have gone to James McAvoy.)

And that might be part of the problem.   I was coming in to Anna Karenina with the sky-high expectations of Pride and Prejudice and Atonement.   And on a certain level, Anna Karenina totally lived up to those expectations.  It’s dazzling, bold and inventive, and that’s saying something for a story that nearly everyone knows starts with a doomed love affair and ends with a train.  It’s so classic it’s nearly become a cliche, a story of society and sex, of hypocrisy and horror when someone steps outside of the accepted norms.

It’s theater of the most arch kind.

And that’s where most of the movie takes place – in a theater, as though we’re watching these characters on stage rather than on screen, leaving aside the sumptuous settings of a failing Russia and allowing us to simply observe the characters and their individual fates.

The film has moments so perfect that they rank up there as some of the best onscreen moments of the year.  And in those moments – I completely saw what Joe Wright was trying to do in telling the story this way. He’s inviting us into the production of it all, and you don’t want to miss a single second.  The closest movie I’ve seen to this one was De-Lovely –  which to this day is still one of my favorite films – where character walk back and forth from stage to real world without missing a beat, as though we’re finally able to step through a play and into the “real” world the characters inhabit.

Karenin and Anna are part of a fading hierarchy, the wealthy couple in government that everyone watches.  You get the sense that they feel as though their life is lived on a stage for all the world to see.

And then comes Count Vronsky, the one upsets their perfect world. All hell breaks loose around the Karenins.  For Vronsky and Anna, though – it’s as if everything in the world has frozen, and they’re coming to life for the first time.  This is where the theatricality of this specific version fits in so well.   There’s an early scene with when they dance beautifully through the theater as everyone else lives in still life around them.

And – in what I think is the movie’s most poignant moment – Anna admits the affair to Karenin as they’re getting ready to sleep.  His eyes grow cold, and you see a man fighting between rage and his steadfast commitment to keep his public persona intact.  But in a real life/theater blending moment – he walks through a door and onto the theater’s stage.  Anna follows, and in a dark theater, surrounded by glaring lights, Karenin sits, staring vacantly out.

He’s a man alone, a man who knows he’s lost the one thing he’s treasured.  He knows he’ll be held up for ridicule and censure.  He’s become a broken man in a heartbeat.  But instead of ripping into Anna, he just looks back at her quietly.

Tell me what I did to deserve this.  

I’ve always thought this story was all the more powerful if you believe that at one point, Anna loved Karenin.  She doesn’t respond to his question, and for a fleeting instant – you believe that she did once love the man sitting in front of her.

A Crumbling Love 

How does a love strong enough to press its way into forever find itself chipped away until it’s a shell of itself?   How is it that someone could vow for always to someone else and somehow find themselves all these years later full of indifference at best, utter disdain at worst?  It’s a common story, and yet somehow it always feels so fresh and raw with every retelling.  They were in love, and then they were not.  It’s such a sad sort of death.

And the train. 

The train gets rendered out in this bizarrely artificial way, and yet it’s that artificiality that gives it such power.  We’ve seen a thousand versions of car crashes and explosions in every movie.  And I think somehow, I’ve managed to put up a wall inside my heart when I watch those moments.  It’s only fake.  Everything’s fine.  But somehow, the fake train slipped through my filter, and for a brief second, theater and reality blended and Anna Karenina’s death got through.

It was blinding.  And it accomplished exactly what it was trying to do.  It made her death seem inevitable and pointless and brutal and broken.

I’ll be honest.  It’s not a perfect film, not by a long shot.  I think Pride and Prejudice and Atonement were definitely stronger films from Wright. In the few brief moments we spend with Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen on screen – it was all I could do to not break out my blu-ray and immerse myself right back into the world of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet.

But Joe Wright has done what few would dare to do – he’s turned a story upside down and nearly inside out.  He’s stripped it of it’s rich and elegant trappings and left us staring on stage at characters who’ve been destroyed by their own making.  We don’t have the choice to look away.  And so we live through them, all the way to death.

Watch it.

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In That Moment, I Swear We Were Infinite…

I’m sitting in my car, typing this out all thumbs, just out of the theater, at the Americana at Brand. And the night is cold and beautiful, and though this is LA so we can’t actually see stars, I like to imagine they’re twinkling far above me.

I miss the stars sometimes.

Sometimes I forget they’re actually there – except the North Star and maybe Orion or the Big Dipper. I remember when I was, still in our first house, and Mom looked up into the sky and said, “Look, there’s Orion’s Belt.”

And me, being the incredibly grounded, literal, tell-me-how-the-world-works kid that I was, I started looking on the ground for an actual, literal, made-from-brown-leather belt on the sidewalk. And my mom kind of laughed, and pointed up to the sky. “No, the stars.”

And that’s the first time I really remember looking at the stars, and the first time I remember feeling so infinitesimally small.

And the world cracked open around me.  

Suddenly I wasn’t a little kid in this tiny, crushing world anymore.

I was alive and free and the feel of the breeze on my skin and my mom standing next to me looking up at the stars and it was beautiful. The world was dangerous –

and I was nothing but a speck.

Any dangers that the universe could throw at me were going to be exponentially larger than anything I could dream up, and more likely than not, I was going to get swept out to the deepest parts of the ocean and drown. And there was nothing I could do about it. Nothing.

But in that moment, I felt so safe. Like the world was so full and so big and if I held my breath and tried to think every thought in the world, for one tiny second, I could grasp a hint of what it all was. And then it would fade , because my heart wasn’t big enough yet.

I think that was the last moment I was ever tied to the earth.

It was like the moment I thought there might be a God out there somewhere, and that if everything all these people had said was true, and if I was really truly lucky, that maybe he knew my name. And it felt like the first time I thought about living forever, and I had this one perfect moment where I just understood.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Perks of Being a WallflowerRead the book.  Watch the film.  Stephen Chbosky, you are incredible. Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller are Charlie, Sam and Patrick, like they’ve always been the characters and we just now noticed.

I was a lot like Charlie in high school. And a little like Sam. I thought no one ever noticed me.

But oh, my friends.  They made me the luckiest girl in the world.

The moments I remember most are so small, a tiny breath of a second.  Standing on stage for the first time as part of an actual rock band.  I was 14 and just starting my freshman year in high school, and everyone else was 17, 18 and 20.  I was terrified and safe all at the same time, and I just knew that they knew how stupid I felt, how much I was so afraid they were going to play some progression I had no idea how to play.

And yet, my fingers found their way across the keyboard at the right moments, and I managed to stay conscious the whole time.  Everything lined up perfectly.

Years later, and in another band, I was driving with friends through the mountains of Colorado.  I think we were heading for Arizona for a show.  In the middle of the night, we made it from my parents front door to the Eisenhower Tunnel in 45 minutes (a ridiculous feat of sheer belief that we were completely invincible – and in that moment, we were.)  It was so cold with the mountain air – and for a few minutes, I curled up in the front seat and closed my eyes.  I could have fallen asleep, because I was so at peace.

We got much further into the mountains, and pulled off to the side of the road.  We turned off the car, and all the lights and just stood there looking up at the Milky Way through the trees.  And the silence went all the way to our souls, and I knew for the rest of my life, I was going to be able to find these guys and tell them anything.  I saw our lives stretching out, and I knew that we’d go off in all these different directions.  We’d all find our One, and get married and have babies.  Maybe we’d move away from Colorado, maybe we’d stop seeing each other every single week. Maybe weeks and months would go by.

It made it sharper and sweeter and I knew that I was holding a bubble about to pop.  Nothing is forever.  But it was in that moment, I found a piece of God I’d never found before.   We turned on the song “Stars” and turned it up as loud as our stereo would go.

It was perfect. 

I understand what Charlie means.  In this moment, I swear we are infinite.

And maybe in a strange way, that moment was infinite.  It’s still reaching forward in time, as full and alive and beautiful as it was in that initial infinite second. It was a second bigger than itself, bigger than the rest of my life all put together.

It was over so fast, and yet sometimes I still live there. 

I know what it’s like to look and only see pain everywhere.  I know what it’s like to want desperately to rescue friends from everything they’ve created as their reality, where you just want to shake them and say, “No!  You deserve so much more!”  I know what it feels like to be invisible.  I know what it feels like to realize I am not alone.  I know how it feels.

And I think our lives are that full of those infinite moments that lap ahead and push us into the future and make us the people we long to be.

Those moments of praying at the ceiling and finally hearing an answer in your soul.  Those moments you know you’re going to remember the rest of your life.  The feeling of leaning against friends on the gym floor at Carr Street.  The feeling of looking out at the moon, your fingers twisted together with the one your heart loves.  That perfect harmony in the middle of a show.  The moment you know you’re surrounded by the ones you’d die for. The way my grandparents’ house smelled when my grandma was cooking meatloaf and smashed potatoes. Those moments of another glass of wine and an indie movie and waking up on your friend’s couch at six in the morning and eating breakfast together at seven with reheated coffee and fresh scrambled eggs.  And laughing.  There is always laughing.

Standing at the ocean, arms outstretched, when every stress falls away for just a second. Where you forget the time that you cut yourself. You forget the look on his face when he told you No.  Not today.  Not ever.  When you forget the words No one wants to hear about you. When you forget the moments you gave up.  The moments where you were so afraid that you missed out on what was really important.  You forget the feel of the bruise. You forget the doctor’s face when you start to cry.  You forget that you ever cried at all.

Now is not the moment to hold onto everything.

Now is the moment to be free. 

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