Anticipating Sinead O’Connor’s Memoir

Sinead O’Connor’s memoir could be as gripping, insightful, and empathetic as her song Black Boys on Mopeds if its sex scenes explore the emotions and the spiritual energy that are part of sexuality along with the quest for intimacy and connection.

When I wrote Dream Walking, a coming of age novel, one of my goals was to write sex scenes that were compelling to read, but multi-faceted. My main character is a blocked creative, and her creative outlet became picking up men.

I could not read Fifty Shades of Gray, which struck me as phony and contrived. Two flawless novels with sex scenes that capture the emotional journey as well as the excitement:

The Cheerleader by Ruth Doan MacDougall

The Detroit Free Press said, “One of the truest portraits of an American girl ever written . . . Everything works in MacDougall’s book.”

Forever by Judy Blume

“I wanted to present another kind of story—one in which two seniors in high school fall in love, decide together to have sex, and act responsibly,” Judy Blume

 

 

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Must read biography – Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson is about passion, the creative process, the digital revolution, and so much more. In addition to portraying the phenomenal vision, energy, magic, and explosive temperament of Jobs, Isaacson masterfully takes us into the board rooms, the R&D rooms, and the bathrooms of Apple, Pixar, Disney, Sony, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, The New York Times, and Corning amongst others.

Although Jobs redefined “control freak,” he gave Isaacson unlimited access to every aspect of his life and made himself ignore the research process.

Isaacson tells the story of how each of Apple’s products came to be made in compelling mini chapters. For example, before the iPod could be born, Jobs had to first invent iTunes which involved convincing several major record companies to revolutionize the way that they did business. Another mini chapter details the decision process behind choosing the ungrammatical “Think Different” campaign.

Despite Jobs passion for every facet of designing, manufacturing, selling, and experiencing Apple products, his abrasive management style got him ousted from Apple in 1985. Jobs eventually became CEO of Pixar and then CEO of both for several years. He gambled his personal fortune and nine years of his time on developing Pixar’s animated movies.

Famous for making the impossible happen, Jobs convinced Corning CEO Wendell Weeks to quickly produce a signature component of the iPhone, Gorilla Glass. Weeks who initially balked at the request recollected, “We did it in under six months. We produced a glass that had never been made.”

When Jobs defied his board to create the first Apple store, he indulged his passions for architecture and retailing by becoming involved in every detail from seeking the perfect Italian marble for the floor to the design of the windows and layout.

Unfortunately, Jobs could not will away his cancer, nor could he follow medical advice to adjust his extreme eating habits in order to help him battle the disease that did him in.

My passion has been to build an enduring company where people were motivated to make great products,” Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs should be required reading for every business major. Although the first 55 pages dragged, I relished each and every of the next 520 pages and captivated my 4th grader and 8th grader with selected passages.

First published Jan 2012 @ WritersWhoRock.com

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The Mystery of Suicide and L’Wren Scott

Why would fashion designer L’Wren Scott, a beautiful, highly accomplished woman, kill herself? Although it has been reported that her label was financially troubled, her practical and elegant designs were on the verge of becoming accessible to many via Banana Republic.

Suicide has nothing to do with character and everything to do with brain function. Distorted thoughts make suicide seemed like the reasonable solution to the intense pain those thoughts create. We can see the career and personal options Ms. Scott had, but she could not.

In an August 2014 presentation at the National Alliance of the Mentally Ill (NAMI) California conference, film producer, author, health activist, and actress Mariel Hemingway shared her insight into the mindset of someone who commits suicide, “They believe that leaving is the solution to everyone else’s problem…. they come from such self loathing, such a dark place.” (The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) will air her documentary Running From Crazy that examines the factors leading to the seven suicides that her family experienced.)

Within the novel The Bell Jar, author Sylvia Plath insightfully described this progression of distorted thoughts. As her protagonist Esther becomes more and more depressed, her perceptions become darker and darker, and she further and further isolates herself. As the mental anguish Esther experiences becomes acute, it becomes painful to turn the page as Esther effectively builds a case for herself that suicide makes sense.

What is fashion, but wearable art? Highly creative individuals with enough drive and daring to make a living out of art and realize their creative vision sometimes have brains that tend towards depression. Highly analytical and highly creativity brains crave intense stimulation. That perfectionistic drive to create can isolate one and sometimes enable one to not know what is most important in one’s personal life.

Why anyone would end his or her own life began to fascinate me in high school. I fell in love with a couple of Ernest Hemingway’s novels and his short stories before learning that he had ended his own life. Then I fell in love with the dark humor in Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar and became aware that she had killed herself.

And then, one of the most honest, powerful, compelling rock-n-roll singers who ever lived, Kurt Cobain, killed himself in 1994. Reading between the lines of Charles R. Cross’s sensitive and insightful biography of Cobain, Heavier than Heaven, I could see the chaos resulting from the untreated depression that most likely fueled his drug addiction.

The Stigma Factor in Seeking Treatment
In some professions, being treated for a mental illness such as depression can be detrimental to say the least. Because of the stigma, those experiencing depression also often lose out on the outlet of discussing their struggle with friends and associates.

Treating depression is not an exact science. Mental health is a complex equation and many doctors do not take an integrative approach that examines nutrition, lifestyle, spiritual conflicts, family systems, hormonal fluctuations, and many other variables. At 49, Ms. Scott could have been experiencing perimenopause, which could exacerbate tendencies toward depression.

Ironically, in some ways those who have struggled with addiction and mental illness and adopt an all-encompassing spiritual approach towards reconstructing their lives have an advantage over those who have not struggled with addiction along with mental illness.

With Hope
I met a mom who lost her beautiful, high-achieving 14-year-old daughter Amber to suicide, “As a freshman she played varsity soccer and still had time for her family, her boyfriend and her friends. She was silly. She was bold. She was encouraging. She was determined.

“We now know, Amber was also profoundly sad and didn’t believe that anyone else had felt the way that she did.  She didn’t reach out for the help that was available. She masked her pain in the midst of all her talents and accomplishments. She hid her pain from a community of people who truly loved her.” (From With Hope‘s website.)

Amber’s suicide seemingly came out of nowhere. Her courageous mom started With Hope, a foundation dedicated to preventing suicide through outreach including educating high school students about depression, what could be the subtle clues of someone contemplating suicide, and what to do if one suspects a friend might be suicidal.

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Damon Dunn, Vision and Then Some for Mayor of Long Beach

“I am impressed with Damon’s knowledge of the issues facing Long Beach and his ability to articulate them,” said O’Neill. “Damon’s strength and commitment will help to lead us into a promising future,” Beverly O’Neill endorsing Damon Dunn as reported in May 5, Long Beach Press Telegram.

“I believe that Damon Dunn will bring transparency to City Hall so that residents are given the information on how and why decisions are made that impact this city,” Schipske said in a statement.

Schipske also credited Dunn for his pledge to bring a new ethics code when in office, and for running a “good, truthful, positive campaign” in the primary, Gerrie Schipske endorsing Damon Dunn as reported in April 30, Long Beach Press Telegram.

Damon Dunn epitomizes the power of positive living. Although Damon Dunn was blessed with athletic and academic prowess, it is his approachability, his effectiveness, and his lifelong affinity for serving the community that earns my vote.

Long Beach is poised to become as desired a destination as San Francisco or Seattle.  Dunn has the passion for all the possibilities Long Beach offers and the imagination and drive to make Long Beach truly come into its own.

And since my children refuse to move to Los Angeles and they happen to be minors, I want Long Beach to be even better than it already is.

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How to Teach Your Children Apathy

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May 3, 2014 · 1:07 am

Performing Stand Up

“You do stand up? That must be so hard.”

Trying to get a publishing deal is hard.  Trying to get your television show made is hard.  Getting on stage and making your audience laugh is not hard.  All you have to do is lose your ego.

It is fun to laugh.  And laughter makes you relax.

I became a stand-up comedian, because I was so frustrated by the writing game.  I didn’t have the time to promote my fiction or shop my treatments, but I could perform stand up comedy 10 minutes from home.  When I was just beginning I could bring my two children to many of the open mics and shows. 

For several years all I did was write stand up material and perform.  Now I am back to writing on borrowed time and only do the occasional show.  I no longer have time to routinely do open mics, but there’s always one funny mom on every youth sports team.  I practice on her or during retail transactions. And if I still need to rehearse, there are always my two hostages a.k.a. children.

For my first three years, I would write different material every time I performed.  Eventually I learned that the best way to “write” stand up is to jot down your concept and then work it out talking.  

This spring finds me at Malarkey’s on Thursday nights performing with Comedy Machine who use the room to warm up for the road.  Gina Manning’s performances always make me laugh.

Want to study funny?

 

 

 

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Budget for Lunch

This is a spec humor column I wrote … Not enough pain though to make it funny enough for Funny Times…

Budget for Lunch

“Is that all you’re having for lunch?” my friend Sylvie said as I sat down with my latte at the Grove’s outdoor picnic-style table.

“Of course not,” I responded as I extracted from my purse a peach, a packet of almonds, and a protein bar–some marketing genius’ name for a candy bar with protein powder and brown rice syrup that lets you convince yourself you’re eating healthy.

She still looked skeptical so I took a deep breath and said, “I’m on a budget.” I immediately wished I would have lied and said what is more than socially acceptable and always elicits sympathy, “I’m on a diet.”

“I would have bought you lunch,” she and our other day-tripper said in stereo.

“I know, but I’m enjoying some of my favorite things. This latte is a huge treat for me. For five bucks, I even got to tip the barista.”

Sylvie had already provided the transportation from Long Beach and the free entertainment—tickets to watch Bill Maher run through his monologue and other comedy bits before taping his show.

Maher’s conviction and delivery made me laugh so hard that I forgot all about my budget for the rest of the day. And although I am really good at it, it is hard to feel sorry for yourself when the government shutdown had closed the doors on Head Start, stranded soldiers killed in the line of duty overseas, and unemployed hundreds of thousands of fellow citizens.

Trying to shed expense is like trying to shed pounds. Unlike the government, you have to examine all of your consumption and all of your habits and be willing to change.

Two days later I met up with my friend Emily at my office, which others insist on calling McDonald’s. Emily the dynamo, a former sales manager for a national company that formerly had budget for provocative prime-time commercials, has run the Marina Pacifica Job Club for the last four years while juggling several part-time jobs.

Participating in her job club helped me land my current job. Twice a month her job club hosts speakers, conducts workshops, facilitates networking, offers mock interviewing, and provides plenty of protein bars.

Emily scrutinized her tray and said, “How did I get to seven dollars? I thought I was buying a snack.“ She lifted her burrito as if to weigh it and added, “My eyes must have wandered from the Extra Value menu.”

I sipped my one-dollar iced tea as she continued, “Leslie and I are bringing our own coffee to Starbuck’s and sneaking onto the patio to job hunt online. Isn’t there something wrong with that?

“And forget service. I don’t dare step foot into a restaurant with service. I haven’t had a professional job in five years. I can’t afford service anymore.”

“Neither can I. The only way I get service is when I bribe my kids with extra media time.”

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