Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Change for Super Tuesday

Compromise. I don't always like to do it, but it's a necessity for change. I think if people were willing to compromise more, societies would be a lot more productive. The attitude that winner takes all leaves to many losers.

Currently, I'm a registered Independent, have been since I've been able to vote. Although I take great pride in being a registered independent, I want to give my support to Barack Obama for "Super Tuesday." I believe he represents this country's best chance for positive change.

I feel and polls across the nation suggest that every vote is going to count in Obama's candidacy for president. It's been a fight from the beginning and it will be a bitter fight to the end. While I still have my qualms with a two party system that poses as a democracy, I still want to exercise my right to vote. Tomorrow morning I'm going to switch from an Independent to a Democrat. Obama will get my vote on "Super Tuesday," and if he goes the distance he'll get my vote in November. After all this election hoopla is over I'll switch back.

I know a lot of young people are disenfranchised with our government, the war, the economy, hell our own lives, but we've all got to take responsibility for where we are at and where we hope to be in the future. Every citizen needs to be accountable. I believe this country needs a change, I know it's not going to be easy and I'm not looking forward to the future. Right now I have a pessimistic outlook. I'm of the opinion that President Bush and his administration have made a real mess of things and whoever gets in office is going to have a hell of time trying to clean it up.

With that said, a part of me still has hope for a better tomorrow. As individuals, our influence may seem minuscule, but collectively we can have a positive impact in our communities, our government, and maybe even the world.

I want to give a big kudos to the state of New Hampshire. I love the state's motto, "Live Free or Die," and the fact that independents can choose whether or not they want to caucus for Democrats or Republicans. That's progressive and should be applauded. I love my "nutmeg" state, but seriously I think it's time Connecticut changed how citizens vote for our presidential candidates.

Where I'm at

I'm not as far behind as I thought I would be, but I've still have to do a better job of cuttting out the television. Monday night wasn't good. Major relapse. I watched six episodes of season four of The L Word. I didn't go to bed until 1 a.m. No work was done that night, and when I got home the following day, I was to tired to work. I know it may seem like I haven't made progress but I'm heading in a better direction.

I've made a list of the assignments that I need to focus on in the next couple of weeks. I have two assignments due on February 4, 2008 and I'm going to make those my major focus this weekend, along with some work on my outline for Finding Patience. Tonight when I get home, I'll be putting together another scholarship application and it will go out first thing in the morning. Probably before I go to work. I've written assignment deadlines in my calendars and will schedule my work according to when things are due. I'll always have to read, so I have to make time for it every day. I've not yet Incorporated the couple of hours a night into my schedule. I hope to get that ball rolling this Friday. Wish me perseverance.

I really have to cut ties with television if I'm going to maintain my focus on my workload. While I'm watching my godson on Saturday, I'll be thinking about what my thesis prospectus is going to be. I still can't believe I'm halfway through the writing program. It would be nice to be able to stop the clock, but that's only wishful thinking. Some say there is no rest for the weary, I believe that's true, but in my case I would also add, there can be no T.V viewing or mindless gossiping when there's work to do and deadlines to meet. I have to constantly remind myself "it's my buns on the line." I'm sort of thick headed and have to be told things a few dozen times before it sinks in.

That's where I'm at. How about you?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Anyone out there

Hello fellow bloggers,

Another cold weekend is behind us. I'm already counting down to Spring. I wish I could enjoy the winter months, but I find the cold, especially when temperatures dip below -0 a non-motivator. Despite the cold tempatures, I managed to get out on Saturday. Karim and I went to his co-worker's home to partake in a movie night. I think a good time was had by all, but while I was laughing at the movie I kept thinking to myself, this time could be better spent for me. I should have been reading Aristotle's Poetics or better yet working on my synopsis or restructuring my outline. The upside to me not getting any work done is that I got to spend time with Karim. It's something we don't get to do often, since we both work full-time during the week.

Having to keep that balance between work and play is tough. I always find myself getting sidetracked or losing focus when it comes to my schoolwork. The semester has just started and I already feel like I'm falling behind. I feel like I have to spend this week trying to catch up and that means late nights and not enough sleep.

There are a few things that I can do to help my case, like not gossiping on the phone with girlfriends after the latest breaking news story or talking about the donkey who still hasn't paid me back and won't. It cuts into my homework time and although I enjoy it, I'm the one who pays for it down the road. Instead of chatting it up with co-workers at lunch, I should take 30 minutes and squeeze in some of my reading and or writing. a social butterfly, but the writer in me needs to isolate myself more these next couple of months.

There are a few T.V shows that I like to watch: October Road, Prison Break and The Wire, let me not mention all the shows I would like to catch up on like The L Word, Dexter, House, Nip Tuck, The Shield, Damages, etc. I could go on and on. The good thing is that the WGA strike is still on and most of my shows are down to a couple episodes. I'll squeeze those in and then call it quits. Survivor, The Apprentice, American Idol and the hundreds of other reality T.V shows can continue to saturate and erode our choices of quality programing. For those who get truly disgusted and don't have cable, I recommend you check out public television or visit your local library, and with a recession looming there is nothing like borrowing for free.

Unfortunately I will only be able to do the above sparingly. Although I realize I just have to suck it up, it doesn't make the sucking up any easier.

Here's my to do list for the next week.

  • Do a better job managing my time and workload.
  • Use calendars to plan my schedule accordingly.
  • Don't multi-task. Work on an assignment until it's done.
  • Read at least an hour before I go to bed.
  • Spend less time on the phone with friends.
  • Follow through with what I say I'm going to do.

I'll check in the middle of the week and let you know how I'm doing. If you have any tips, please feel free to post. Comments are welcome.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

In the midst of tradegy

Hello Folks,

I'm cringing inside, the hell that consists of balancing school and job responsibilities has officially begun. My social life hasn't been that eventful, I've been mostly hanging out with Karim and catching up with some close friends. I've also been getting T.V. shows viewing in, I've watched season one of The Tudors, Deadwood season one and two, and the first episode of Entourage, season 4. When I start my required reading for the various courses, I won't have time for those guilty pleasures, not if I plan on getting any sleep.

Last semester I cut back, but I still found myself saying "I'll watch one show," and before I knew it I was watching three shows and to tired to read when I was done with TV. I love T.V but it does suck the life out of me, especially when it's a show I'm really into. Sometimes I tried to squeeze in my reading when I went to the gym, but I was only moderately successful. I also don't want to pull as many all nighters as I did last semester. When I'm tired I don't write as well and in the end I pay for it. This semester it would be nice if I can keep myself ahead and not rushing to meet deadlines at the last minute. I realize that it's my responsibility. I hoping that since I made a point to blog about it, that it helps me stay the course. Time will tell.

In other Connecticut news, the untimely death of two teens and one in critical condition, has devastated many in my "nutmeg" state. News outlets have reported that the fatal accident most likely was a result of speeding and reckless driving. This travesty has focused Connecticut's attention on the need rethink the driving requirements and penalties for young adults under the age of eighteen.

The attention this recent accident has drawn, reminded me of my own driving blunders during my teenage years, like these youth, I made poor choices, but luckily the choices I made only resulted in totaling two vehicles, not my own life of the lives of others. After the second collision, my mom made me in turn in my license and took me off her insurance. At the time I resented her action, but looking back my I can say that my mom did the right things. I don't know what makes teenagers think their invincible to the world around them. I'm glad I've out grown that way of thinking.

Damn, as I'm writing this I just found out Heath Ledger is dead, and it looks like prescription drugs may have contributed. Another talented, younger actor is gone. Last week it was Brad Renfro, who was known for his role as "turbulent youth" in the film "The Client," which also starredSusan Sarandon. I hate seeing talented individuals go at an early age.

Life is so precious and many of us don't realize that fact until it's too late. Writing the entry has put a few things in perspective for me. Although I may struggle throughout this semester, I'm working toward a goal, trying to make my dream of becoming a screenwriter/filmmaker a reality. Each day I'm granted is a day to work towards my goal and that is a blessing I shouldn't dismiss. I'm not always happy with the world I'm living in, but I know I'm not ready to leave it, so while I'm here I have to make the most of what time God has given me. I hope you do the same.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Volunteering for Tax Season

Hey Folks,

Last night I had one of what I hope will be many enriching experiences this tax season. I filed my first tax refund for the 2007 tax season. Grant it, it took me 40 minutes to do, but I got it done. My site coordinator said, "I will get faster each time I due one." I'm sure she's right. This year I'm volunteering at the San Jose VITA tax clinic in New Haven, CT. The site is in the heart of one of New Haven's Hispanic/Latino communities.

The last time I volunteered was in 2005. This free service is great for individuals who make less than $45,000 a year. We make sure that individuals claim their Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), if they are eligible. Today, the EITC is one of the largest anti-poverty tools in the United States (despite the fact that income measures, including the poverty rate, generally do not account for the credit).

Right now things are slow, but as we get closer to the filing deadline for U.S taxpayers (April 15, 2008), more and more people will start to show up.

The woman I assisted last night primary language was Spanish, so I had the assistance of an interpreter. I thought to myself, I really need to consider learning to speak another language. The woman had filed her taxes with the VITA site last year and all her information was in the computer. One would think that would have made my job faster, but I had to get used to all the forms all over again. I kept wondering if the woman thought I was an idiot for taking so long. I doubt she felt that way, she seemed very grateful and even thanked me in English.

On my way home I couldn't help but think, how does this woman provide for her two children making less than 20,000 dollars a year. I wondered if she had health care for herself or her children, how rising energy costs effects her, and is she registered to vote. Making less than$20,000 a year is not enough to support an individual let alone a family. Just a few years ago, I was making less about 20,000 and I was barely keeping my head a float and I was living at home. Thanks mom! I guess people make due and make what they get work, but they should not have to live so close to the poverty line.

Connecticut may be one of the nations wealthiest states, but that wealth is not seen by many of its residents. My nutmeg state has extreme poverty, especially child poverty. It won't be seen in communities like Greenwich, Wilton, Westport, Southbury, Darien, Avon, or West Hartford, just to name a few, instead you'll find it in cities such as New Haven, Hartford, Bridgeport, Waterbury and Danbury, but only if you want to see it.

I think the federal EITC is a start, but it's not enough. Government can and should do more and so should its citizens. That's right, you and me. Last year poverty advocates tried to pass a CT EITC, unfortunately it fell flat in the legislative. The poverty that exists in the United States and throughout the world is a travesty. I believe there's no need for it. As a nation, we are only as strong as our weakest link. We need to help lift immigrants and the working-class poor out of poverty. If citizens and government continue to ignore the issue of poverty, then we will continue to see other social ills which are linked to poverty increase.

My volunteering is only a small piece in this gigantic puzzle, however it's a start and it's got me thinking about the bigger picture. I hope it does the same for you.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Personal Statements

Happy Friday. I'm so glad the weekend is here, even if it looks to bee a gloomy and rainy one. I like the fact that I get to sleep in that, although in my college days I wouldn't have considered 9 a.m, sleeping in late. It would have been more like 12 noon or 2 p.m., depending on how much I partied the night earlier. I guess it's good that the days are behind me for the most

The semester has yet to begin and I'm finding myself busy and already rushing against deadlines. Earlier this week I found two scholarships that I'm going to fill out applications for, and one's deadline is next Tuesday. I've been struggling to write a personal statement/essay for the application. I really have to give it to writers who write their memoirs. It's hard enough to write a fictional story or non fictional work, but I think it takes a special kind of person to look at themself and their family experiences, and expose hardships, personal demons, and family skeletons, for all to read. It's difficult stuff, and I have to do it for this application. Grant it, it's a much smaller scale then memoir, but I find it hard to look at who I am and write about the experiences that got me to where I am, while also articulating where I want to go. I have to get it done, so I'll figure it out. I think my best bet is to free write and see if any of my thoughts eventually lead me to answering the question on the application.

I also need to get the holds off my West Conn account so I can get my transcripts. I hate bureaucracies, everything thing takes forever to get done. This week I paid my balance, so hopefully that's not an issue with Registers, but I better call to make sure. I also had to get a physical since I'm a full-time student. I wasn't aware of that. I had to make a last minute appointment at a medical walk-in center, because my general doctor has retired and I'm still looking for a physician who's in my network. Dealing with health insurance sucks!

Luckily I can send my transcripts and recommendation letters separately and they don't have to be postmarked until 1/22/08. I have a little bit more time and I need it, because I doubt the hold on my account will be resolved by next Tuesday.

I also need to work on my syllabi's for my courses and lets not forget revisions of Finding Patience and a beat by beat breakdown of the scenes. The work has begun and the semester has not even started. So long T.V shows, nights out with friends and other leisure activities.

On the upside, I won't miss that many new shows, since the WGA strike doesn't look it's ending anytime soon. Do you remember Beck's song, "Where It's At?," my answer is in the writing and hopefully one day on the screen.


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

It's a wrap for now

Hey Folks,

This past Sunday I had my second reading of Finding Patience. It went well, but I was disappointed by the audience turn out. Since it was part of the WestConn Literary Festival, I anticipated having most of the MFA students there to check out a fellow writer, but since I had my reading on the last day of the residency, most of the students were ready to get the hell out of dodge.

A select group stayed and I really appreciate those who did. I want to send out a special thanks to the following students and friends: Louisa, Adam, Holly, Kathy, Kirsten, Matt, Brian, Laurel, Allen, Vonda and her family, Mary Ann, Gillian, Agatha, Kim and her family, and my mom. I hope I didn't miss anybody, if so let me know. I would also thank those who gave me advance notice about not being able to attend: Mike, Deb, Paula, Carmen, Karim, Catherine, and Don.

Let me not forget the cast, especially those who traveled from New York City. You all did a wonderful job.

Now that the reading is behind me I have to look to making revisions to the script. Listening to the narration and dialogue, let me know two things: the first is that I need to lengthen the script and the second is that I have a few holes to plug in the story. My work in Writing in the Primary Genre is going to focus heavily on tightening the structure for the script. I definitely have my work cut out for me, but when Finding Patience is done, I want to submit it to a few screenwriting competitions and also query some agents and production companies.

This semester I'm going to be crazy busy. I see myself getting a few more gray hairs. I have a lot to accomplish between now and the end of the semster. I'm working on getting Lifetime Membership, a short film I produced with Lawrence King and others into some local and regional film festivals. I will also blog about my work on that, so stay tuned. I'm working on a grass roots effort, hopefully I can build interest like Richardson, Huckabee, and Obama.

I have a lot to accomplish in 2008 and like the presidential candidates I've got a lot at stake and like them I want my efforts and hardwork to payoff. I guess time will tell for all of us.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Excited about 2008

Hey Bloggers,

I want to say Happy New Year, but I think it's a little cheesy, especially considering the state of the world. Despite some of the tragic world events, I still have some excitement for 2008. Like many I've set new goals and am going to work hard to achieve a good number of them. I really do feel like I'm showing some gains in these last few years. I'm still not at where I thought I'd be, but I doubt most people can look at themselves and say "this is where I thought I'd be" or "this is where I want to be." I hope I don't sound to pessimistic because that's not what trying to exude.

It's just that when I was a naive teenager, I thought I knew everything, I had all the answers and I was going to be making really good money when I graduated college. Real life was a rude awakening for me. Getting a good paying job in communications was impossible for me. I had to hustle with odd jobs being a jack of all trades and that doesn't put you on a career track. Today, things look different, I'm doing pretty (hard work and getting breaks helped me get here). I have a good job with a really good agency. I've got benefits like insurance and a better than average healthcare plan, plus I'm in school working on my master, pursuing what I'm really passionate about. It took me longer than expected to get where I am today and I still feel like I have a long way to go. I'm healthy and it good spirits, so the skies the limit.

I don't doubt that life with throw me some curve balls. I just hope I can maintain my sanity and before able to deal with whatever problems come my way. Right now, I'm at my MFA residency at WestConn. It's where I meet with other writers in my program. We attend writing workshops, lectures, and readings that help to enhance our skills while also connecting us with our mentors for the next semester, and fellow students in the program. The residency began yesterday, so far so good. I'm really looking forward to taking my screenwriting to the next level. This semester my mentor for writing in the primary genre is Leslie Dallas, she was a writer for Gilmore Girls as well as a few other TV shows and film. This will be my first time working with a female screenwriter, which is another reason I'm looking forward to the semester. Yes my social life will dwindle, but all artists, really good and dedicated artists have to pay that price.

I could go on, but I come to an end so I can get back to checking my emails. I really like this blogging thing. I get to some of what's in my head out there. Feel free to respond.