anna metcalf
Artist Adventurer!

Mini Storytelling Tour

I’m smack in the middle of a self-made mini storytelling tour. A friend asked me how it’s going. Here’s what I told him:

 I wanted to have a nice strong start in my push toward writing full time with something tangible to put in people’s hands. So I self published a run of 108 little 40-page stapled booklets with some clever, though provoking art from a friend on the front cover. (Total cost in materials only was about $300, actual printing and assemblage took some time). I tell people the book cost me about $3 to make, inform them of a suggested donation of $5 and they can give me more if they can. Sometimes I’ll pull one out of my backpack and just give it to someone I’ve met just in passing, or a friend or someone who has touched me. It’s more important for me to just get the words in people’s hands.

The actual stories have been: over a weekend campground wedding around an outdoor campfire, storytelling and telling anecdotes to a Sociology 101 class at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, meeting people on the street and giving my little book to them if it compels me to do so and then the Free Speech night in my hometown of Nashville. Read the rest of this entry »

Doing Things On Purpose in 2013

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Photo Credit: Montana Young via Flickr cc

That’s what I’m focusing on in 2013. Just doing some shit on purpose, starting with the small stuff and working up to the bigger stuff.

I mean, I’ma put more thought into some things than others, but at this point my daily goal is to just be able to pick what I’d like to eat for dinner. It shouldn’t be that hard, but a lot of times it is.

In times past, I’m all like, “No, Matt we’ve had Mexican five times this week and it’s only Tuesday.” Then we devolve into a twenty minute discussion about dinner, when in reality, if I would have just made a fucking decision – picked something on purpose – we would be eating already, instead of  having Low Blood Sugar Smackdown. So now, when my husband asks that daily dreaded question, I just pick something. On purpose. And I announce it with gusto, whether I’m really feeling it or not. And you know what? He goes along with it. And sometimes . . . sometimes . . . I actually pick Mexican, just to throw him a bone.

So, you’ll see me in social media using the hash tag #DoingThingsOnPurposeIn2013. I encourage you to use it too and tell us when do some stuff on purpose.

What are you doing on purpose in 2013? It’s the Year of The Snake – the year we get to shed our skin, if you believe in that hippy dippy shit like I do.

Where have you found that your life is in ‘default mode’?  And what are you gonna do about that? Let us know in the comments below.

The Day I Almost Ran Over A Banker In My Hooptie-Mobile

These days, everyone hates bankers, but I decided one day to take it a step further.

But in my defense, he kinda had it coming. I don’t even know his name, but I knew him all right; I knew him on sight. I knew him from the day I went in to analyze the perks of getting a new kind of account at Chase (because I’m a money dork).  This guy, pasty and creepy and with a huge fakey jack-o-lantern grin, was not a genuine person interested in answering my questions. He was interested in speaking to me like a child and trying to sell me a high interest credit card. I’m the exact wrong person to try to hornswoggle into debt. I kept asking about the high interest savings account and he just sat there sweating profusely, smiling and telling me why I needed a line of credit. I can’t stand people who waste my time, especially when it’s almost sunset I want to go roller skate.

So a couple months later, I’m driving past my bank, which I do on a daily basis because it sits on a little residential street where I can avoid a busy intersection with a red light. (Here in California, this kind of thing matters.) I’m rolling down the street in Bomb Diggity, my beloved $350 Gorilla-mobile   . . . and who do I see kinda sorta trying to jaywalk in front of me? That’s right . . . him. The sweaty, arrogant banker-man who represents to me in that moment every dirty trick that the entire banking industry is trying to pull on the public.

This ain’t Boston, where you can just dart out in front of oncoming traffic. This is LA, god-dammit, and unless you got a crosswalk, you don’t have shit, buddy, so I just kept on going. Besides he looked like he wanted to cross, but that he had decided to wait until I passed. My window was down and as I passed by, he scowled and yelled, “Asshole!” and flipped a couple fingers my way. Wrong fucking move. I’d had it with this guy. How dumb is he to yell at a person driving by? He still had his bank name tag on, for chrissakes. So I did the only thing I could do.

I slammed on the brakes, threw the stick shift in reverse and stomped the gas. I got a good look at his eyes in my rear view – lot of white and fear. He ran up to the side of his car, which was parked on the street and looked like he was about to climb on top of the hood. (I didn’t give him much room – I’m a precision driver like that.)

I opened my car door, took a deep breath, looked him dead in the eye and calmly said, “Good afternoon, WHAT exactly is your problem?”

That felt really good.

 

So, I Stopped Smoking Pot

 Yes . . . it’s true. I stopped smoking pot.

What??! Hard to believe. Hardest for me to believe, believe you me. Never thought that day would come. I mean, I love that stuff. Like a lot – a lotlotlot; I love weed as much a Mitt Romney loves money, as much as hummingbirds love nectar, as much as dogs love rolling in poop and dead things, er – ok, I think you get the picture. Truth is, I’d smoke all day every day if I could. And for a very long time (read: YEARS), that is exactly what I did.

Don’t worry – I’m not gonna become one of those annoying blowhards who rants and raves why you should quit smoking/vaping/whatever-ing your marijuana. I will probably be a lot more grumpy for a little while. And I’ll probably get a bunch more stuff done and be more productive in general. Or maybe not. I don’t know yet. I am actually one of those incredibly productive stoner-types. Think more “I’ll do all the things!” and less “I’ve got the munchies and could seriously use a nap.”

Nor will I become one of those assholes who excises my pot-smoking friends out of my life. Someone actually did that to me a couple years back. “I’ve cut all my pot-smoking friends out of my life,” she said. “It’s just not something I want to be around.” I would really love to let that person know that I too have now stopped toking, but she’s a twat-nozzle, so fuck her. Anyway . . .

Here’s the truth. Bottom line, inhaling smoke into my lungs just can’t be good for them. It had become my crutch and I woke up a while ago and realized I didn’t need it anymore. There was a time in my life when I really needed marijuana. And I think it helped me get through a lot of tough times, helped me cope with a lot of crappy life situations. It definitely helped me escape depression. It helped me be silly and goofy and spontaneous and awesome and learn that there are different ways of viewing the world. For that, I thank you oh goddess that is grass.

But after so many times of being constantly helped to be silly and goofy and spontaneous and AWESOME and learn that there are different ways of viewing the world, it’s all second nature now. Yes, you read that right – Pot makes you awesome. Ok, maybe not everyone, but it worked for me like that.

And yeah, I know I can eat it, or take those drops or apply a cannabis cream, but it’s just not the same. And I’m ok with that. It’s always an option later on down the road. Basically I just got to the point where my body can’t handle it. So I’m listening to it. Seeing what happens when I try something different. Hoping the smokers hack will go away and that I can breathe at night without wheezing. Self-care is sexy.

But bitches best steer clear for a little while, mkay? My fuse will probably be a little shorter. Oh who am I kidding? It’s always been short. Marijuana (or lack thereof) has got nothing to do with that.

15 Habits – Day One. Declare.

Day One – Declaration. So I’m doing this 15 Habits of a Great Writer Challenge. Here’s day one:

 Declare you’re a writer.

Not just to your wall or computer or notebook, but to an actual person or institution.

OK, cool. I am a writer. And everyone knows it. Everyone in my life knows it, my business cards say it. I went to a comedy workshop last night and said it too, even though nothing I said onstage was funny. That’s OK; I’m still a writer.

I blogged regularly up until about three years ago, when I quietly bowed out one day. It just wasn’t fun anymore. I found that I would spend hours crafting one blog post. I was traveling in South America with the love of my life and all it seemed I wanted to do was while away the hours in crappy internet cafes, working on blog posts, deconstructing some insignificant thing we’d done the day before, when there’d be real life going on in the streets – pigs, protests, parades, you name it. I couldn’t keep up. I was missing out. I was no longer in the moment. I was caught up in hoping people would read my work and waiting for their accolades. I was no longer writing for myself or for the sheer joy of it. This gift had become a burden of sorts and I just couldn’t shake it. So I stopped. For a long time. For three years.

Then all kinds of stuff happened – I came back to LA completely broke, worked for another crazy bitch in the film industry, got sick of that and was unemployed for a long stint. The bright spot was getting a great office job with short hours and kind people. That’s when other parts of life started spiraling down hill a little bit: I did some serious damage to some hip muscles while roller skating, the state of Illinois wanted to take guardianship of my mother, a friend died, my grandma got sick and then died. Not being able to exercise because of my injury, and depressed, I slept a lot and gained weight. I was spiraling down. And frankly, I’m glad I had the time to deal with all of that without pressuring myself to blog about it. Blech!

But every day, every single day without fail, that voice in my head said, “I am a writer. I am a writer!” I’d pound out the payroll and accounts payable and the voice kept going, “This is not permanent. You cannot keep me here. I am a writer, bitch!!” Indeed.

I started doing storytelling shows a year or so ago. Most of my peers are very funny people. I do not consider myself to be funny. Trying to be funny is the one sure way to guarantee that you’ll fuck it up. But I do get laughs – especially when I am just being myself. Often that is the hardest thing to do.

I went to a storytelling show tonight in my neighborhood. There was a dude at a huge table all alone. I sat down. “Ever been to this show tonight?” I said.

“No.”

“How’d you hear about it?” I asked.

“Well, I’m trying to be a writer,” he said.

“Nope,” I said. “You already are. Just say it. I’ll help you – I’ll start. Hi, I’m Anna – I’m a writer!”

I am a writer. And I still pound out payroll and accounts payable too, for the same company with incredibly nice co-workers and gloriously short hours. But I. Am. A. Writer. No mistake. And this is my gift, this compulsion to write words and I will honor it every day for the rest of my life. Whether anyone validates my words or not no longer matters to me. I’m a writer; that’s enough. I don’t have to be the best or the funniest or the most erudite.

It’s just who I am. I am a writer, bitches!

 

Holy Crap, Batman! I’m getting married in 8 weeks! Not Gonna Stress . . .

The theme song Matt put on our wedding website is “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” He’s a fucking genius. Because wedding planning can be stressful, ya’ll. So we listen to that song on our wedding website when we need a reminder.

We’re lackadaisical types. Our wedding date is August 4th. Last Saturday afternoon, we leisurely strolled into our local boutique card shop to peruse wedding invitations. Now, I knew they need to go out ASAP, but I really hadn’t thought too much about it, never mind even begin to fathom how much effort people put into them. “Some people order their invitations a year ahead of time,” the designer at the store said. A year ahead of time??

Then we found out that they have an average 18 day turnaround on their invitations. Darn.

And then PANIC SET IN! The associate at the store felt sorry for us, I could tell. She pointed us in the right direction to a website with very nice invitations, which we ordered that afternoon from home. We even sprung for the extra shipping charges to get them here faster. We are incredibly thrifty people, for us to do this is nothing short of a miracle. Whew, so invitations will go out. Crisis averted.

Now, I just need to find a dress. Yeah, I guess I need to get on that pretty quick-like. Somebody asked me the other day what my plan was for a dress.

“Not be naked,” I said.

As you can see, we’ve got some work to do. Yeah and that whole ring-picking thing is bearing down on us. This catering ain’t gonna decide itself. There’s a bachelorette party in the works and a bridal shower. I haven’t looked at my registry for over three months. Picking out a set of forks is overwhelming.

15 Great Habits of Writers Challenge

I stumbled upon this 15 Great Habits of Writers Challenge this morning. And fortuitously, it just so happened to begin – today. What luck!

I’m doing it. For a bunch of reasons. For the discipline, the challenge, the accountability. And holy shit, last I looked on his website there were over 800 other bloggers who’ve signed up to take the challenge too! Community – cool! So that means it’s also going to be fun, dammit!

the Artist Adventurer blog is not usually about my process as a writer, but since I’m doing this challenge, I’m going to blog this process. If you are a writer, I encourage you to check out Jeff Goin’s link below. His site really is a great writer’s resource, especially if you need a little nudge. Or if you are like myself, and just tuning back into the blogging world after a hiatus, this is going to be a great way to practice stretching those wings again.

Join us!

My neighbor, Lou Diamond Phillips

Or as I refer to him – to his face – LDP. (He’s my buddy, I can get by with that.)

It all started some time last year. I was at a storytelling show in my neighborhood and got invited to sit at a table with a bunch of people I didn’t know. I said hello to my new friends and the natural course of conversation shifted to where I live.

“I’m just around the corner,” I said.

Andrea, the girl across from me said, “Uh huh, go on, go on . . . where?”

“Westminster.”

“Really? Me too!” Andrea said. “Which end?”

“At the corner of 6th.”

Andrea’s eyes got huge. “Oh my god!!” she squealed. “Do you know who your neighbor is?”

“Yeah . . .” I said, confused as to why she’d be so excited. “Which one? I know all of my neighbors . . .”

“LOU DIAMOND PHILLIPS!” she screams.  “He lives in that new modern house just up on 6th. Drives a white Volvo, I’ve seen him.”

That’s when I realized I was about to break my new neighbor-friend’s blissful star gazing bubble. For alas, I do know this Volvo driving dude and as good looking as he is, he’s not LDP. At least I’m pretty sure.

“I hate to break it to you,” I said. “He may look like Lou Diamond Phillips, but that’s just my neighbor Tommy. You’ve probably seen him walking his three gay dogs, too.”

Andrea, obviously a bit disappointed, “Yeah, I thought it might be weird for Lou Diamond Phillips to have three little dogs. But hey, what does your neighbor do for a living anyway??”

“I don’t know.”

I could almost see Andrea’s bubble re-inflate.  “You don’t know??! How could you not know?”

“I don’t make it a habit to ask my friends and neighbors what they do for a living,” I said.

“Well . . . then. Ma-a-aybe it IS Lou Diamond Phillips! Maybe he just says his name is Tommy, you know, for like, a cover.”

She refuses to believe that my neighbor is anyone other than Lou Diamond Phillips. I think it’s a  fine rumor to perpetuate in the neighborhood. I told Tommy about his doppelganger.

And ever since then, Tommy has taken to wearing shades and ditching papparazzi. So, who knows? Maybe my neighbor is LDP. Except for those dogs . . . what kind of dogs do you think LDP would have around? Who’s your celebrity doppelganger?

 

 

 

Fly Sex – Happy Hump Day!

Happy Hump Day!

 

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Politics: Banana-Style

I used to hate the politics of show business.

But, the older I get and the longer I live in LA, working in the Hollywood system, the less I care about what people think of me – (big sigh) and it sure does feel good. Here’s how I remember it, after several glasses of cabernet.

Picture it – the grand ballroom at Hollywood & Highland – right across from the El Capitan theatre. About 1000+ motion picture accountants and studio finance people – happens once a year. I’ve been to about 11 of them now. Hollywood’s a small, small world . . . at every single one of these gatherings, I know I’m gonna see people I adore and people I want to desperately avoid . . . people who’ve fired me or annoyed me. Add one open bar. Stir. Mingle.

So, last night, wandering the ballroom alone in the massive crowd, I spotted two accountants I worked with back in 2003, when I worked on the movie The Italian Job. I got fired from that show. In years past, I probably would have  scuttled by, hoping they didn’t see me. Not this time. I walked right up, plopped my plate down and ate dinner with them. It was civil; lots of smiles all around. That was nice.

Later, I ran into my old friend James from film school, who’s also in the biz. We talked for a long time, I told him about my dinner companions. A few minutes later, James grabbed a colleague of his who was walking by and said, “Anna, I want you to meet . . .” but I didn’t hear the name because the room was loud.

“Anna worked on The Italian Job,” said James.

I shook the colleague’s hand, rolled my eyes and said dismissively, “Yeah, I got fired from that show.”

“Oh really?” he said. “Why’d you get fired?”

“Because,” I said. “That show was crazy, the whole department was crazy, and they were basically afraid I was going to go to the studio and rat them out to ‘Daddy Mike,’ the head of studio finance.” I laughed.

*Side note here – ‘Daddy Mike’ was my personal nickname/inside joke only I was party to for the head of studio finance. I always made sure I wore a cute skirt when I took an envelope of checks over for him to sign. Eh, why not, right?

That’s when the James’ colleague throws his head back in laughter, whips out his business card, tosses it down on the table for me and says, “I’m ‘Daddy Mike!’”

Now that I’m older, wiser and accepting of my big mouth, I love the politics of show business.