Earth Day is Every Day

I could never imagine a world where we didn’t care about Earth Day. It’s not something that has even occurred to me, and it’s slightly terrifying right now to know and understand that there are children being taught in schools across the world that we don’t have to care.

For as long as I have a memory, I can recall memories of celebrating Earth Day in elementary school. The painting, the collages, the reading, the reports on Jane Goodall, the science projects, and the days where we just ran around and had field day. Because we appreciated our Earth and what it gave to us. There have been animals going extinct since I was born. In my childhood bedroom I had a lot of books. I had this one book, and now it’s out of date. But it was a book of endangered animals. I read through it a lot. I remember it had really good artwork. But the book is out of date because so many animals need to be added to it.

Earth Day itself isn’t just about conservation efforts, or more so we can’t focus on that simply alone. I spent a lot of time as a child doing events for Earth Day through girl scouts as well, where we provided conservation teaching. I guess that’s also something I have to mention, I grew up in California. The drought has like always been there. I always knew to recycle, to conserve water, and I had these ideas ingrained in me as a child. We always separated out cans and bottles, and cardboard at my house. It was just the thing to do. It’s strange to me that people don’t know that still even today.  But anyway, Earth Day is also about the science behind conservation. The science that allowed us to understand and realize we need to conserve is why we all really do it.

I did science fair projects in elementary school. I counted the probability of getting different colors of M&M’s (1st place; 1st grade), Understanding if hamsters can be trained (2nd grade, third place), Do plants grow better while listening to a certain type of music? (Blast the country folks, 1st place, third grade)…I forget what I did in fifth grade but I know in sixth I…

mummified fish.

Yes, I grew maggots in one of them. I used different house hold products to see if I could mummify fish with them and obviously my control had to be a rotting fish that sat in our garage for about two weeks. Science happens.

All of those projects were fun and tested my abilities, and really taught me things about our world. Earth Day and science go way back because without science we wouldn’t band together to celebrate and protect our earth that we happened to start to destroy. It’s the duty of every global citizen to speak up for earth and those working hard to understand it.

I’m a poor student when it comes to combining math and science together but I do know one thing and it is that life without science would be pretty boring. Especially without women scientists.

This idea that men run science is so outdated

Let’s talk about what Earth Day means in the year of the girl, as I like to call it- ever since the woman’s march we really have seen women stand up for themselves and others in a sort of revolution unmatched in history. Living through a period of time right now where women are being challenged in the scientific community is so strange to me. I love science and medicine and it’s so bizarre that we are still proving ourselves worthy of things like grants for new breakthroughs. We only have one Earth, and we have to allow everyone who wants to better it, do so. That also applies to smaller things like when someone you don’t like does something really good for earth. But more on that another time maybe? I may be someone who’s future is in media but media helps expose how our Earth is treated and needs help. Media helps gain funding for projects to help Earth. Everything is connected. Earth is round, thus everything is a circle. When more women help Earth, more of Earth can help others. Earth is something that always gives back when you give and nurture it. So yes of course we need more women defending Earth.

I think it’s kind of a cruel joke for us to have called Earth, Mother Earth, as a female but yet allowed men to have the final say in terms of protecting it or researching to save it. We need women’s input and minds because as much as I love hearing about Darwin- I also would love to deeply research women when talking about historical scientific discoveries. And for young girls like me, doing science fair projects- they need to see and understand that women can create. They can discover. It is not a man’s world at all. It is a world for everyone to protect.

I think that as well it’s important for someone like me, within the media mindset of everything to understand that I also have to represent women in science. I grew up with several women in discovery,  but most of all I think Jane Goodall or Mae Jemison had the most impact. I remember learning about them in third grade and being really impacted by them. And sort of spurring off of that and recognizing women in science don’t only have to be taught about to students but be seen in media.

And to everyone saying that representation through movies or tv shows doesn’t make an impact…

at any given day, any hour, I dare you to spend time researching any tweet tagged with Grey’s Anatomy or a cast member’s @ on twitter.

The next generation of female surgeons, doctors, and nurses. Taking over the health care system because their love for it was so thoroughly shown on screen. And medicine is science. It’s STEM. These women are out there researching and going for what they want and conquering the stereotypes.

So not only do I owe it to Earth to have more women in science, but I owe it to my work to showcase that. Science isn’t just about nature and saving that but understanding that we humans are mammals, part of the animal kingdom within nature. We are part of Earth and it’s time we stop separating from that. And also for women to start raising their voices within science. It’s about science instead of silence, and for women to claim their part in creating a better world.

I did a lot of research through out the past few months because I knew about again women that I loved in science and how they’re impacting the world so I reached out and found the Jane Goodall Institute. Jane Goodall really represents women in science because she simply never took no for an answer and kept fighting for her research and is now the number one person skilled in chimpanzee communication- which if you know anything about humans and primates is a big deal. Jane Goodall has developed her institute into this mega idea where they don’t only work on her primate research but they also have expanded. These expansions include inspiring other young girls in STEM fields, but also globally providing women with access to education, healthcare, and clean water. Without these things women can not achieve, and it’s important for us to help struggling countries bring their women forward into a society of education and work, and less disease and death.

So to combine those two together and as a tribute to standing up for women in STEM, using your voice for global good, to fill that silence- through my side project which is Pompeo’s Posse, I wanted to donate to Jane Goodall Institute, while thanking Grey’s Anatomy and Ellen Pompeo, for showcasing strong women in the sciences through representation in the arts. (So buy a shirt, raise your voice, help fund the institute)

Because I believe that every day is earth day if we just cared a little bit more about treating our Earth kindly, researching to protect her and her inhabitants, and to raise our voices for the voiceless. Nature can scream at us through the weather but if we do not stop to listen, what will be done?

Listen to Earth. And defend her.

Drink of choice:

Organic Fair Trade Tea from English Tea Shop!

Flavor: Lemongrass/ginger/citrus

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I don’t have enough spoons

Since my last post discussed how I had come to understand myself under and through the labeling of Spoon theory I decided that because of circumstances that happened to me today I would just kind of elaborate on that through experience.

I sent a text today to one of my friends whom is also a Spoonie, and I told her at the end of the message “I don’t have enough spoons for that!” and she got it right away. Where as if I told anyone else they’d probably just shrug and say oh pack yourself snacks.

What I had sent to her was me complaining about my counselor and how I didn’t realize one of my three hour classes is only one credit! A brief glimpse into college courses here is that 16 credits is like 5 classes which are generally 3 hours each give or take, and 12 credits is the least you can have and be considered a full time student still and I need that to live in the dorms still. Each semester I’ve ended up dropping classes. If you drop before a certain time period they refund you and it doesn’t count on my transcipt. I sat through the first two weeks of class and I knew right away, I couldn’t do this. And in college, its not like highschool. You can’t just suffer through.

Growing with poor math skills really taught me how to be an advocate for myself in education. I have extreme anxiety every time I do a math test. Doing timed multiplication tests in elementary school led to crying almost every week. It was horrible, it was awful, and no amount of one on one tutoring could help me. Because I felt like there was something wrong with me. I felt like I wasn’t as good as the rest of the students who were all around strong in everything, and my class had a very high average in terms of grades. We started doing timed tests in third grade. I was about eight. And I was already at war with my mind. If you know my other posts, you know eight is about the same time I was getting sick as well. So throughout school I would have to personally contact teachers, I would ask for extra time on things, I refused to let myself be diagnosed with a learning disability for fear of being stuck in classes that were too easy for me (that is a whole other issue and understanding if math anxiety is a learning disability, or if I really had math dyslexia). Ok now add that on top of the general amount of bullying we all suffer, and the illnesses shaping up around my body- it was pretty rough but I didn’t understand at the time how bad it was.

College really doesn’t afford you to do that. I can. I have. But it’s not the same amount of hospitality. So when I’m in a class and I feel stressed out and overwhelmed in the second week of class, I know I have to drop. There’s no questions. I’m done with sacrificing my mental health for a grade. If that means taking classes over the summer, I’ll do it.  I am not the typical student. And that isn’t to excuse me when I’m being lazy.

I know when I’m being lazy as a student, and I generally admit to it. I breezed through things often, except of course as discussed math. I finished reading assignments that should take two hours in like thirty. English isn’t hard for me. But when you give it your all for six years of elementary and then two of middle school, things pile up. You get exhausted.

So I had ten credits this morning and I told my counselor to add me to classes she knew were open.

I had class on monday from 3:30-6:20, tuesday from 3:30-6:20, wednesday from 9am-12:30 and 1pm-3pm or so. My schedule was nice. I always have a four day weekend as a tv student. It just happens. That’s when I have TIME to do my homework. My counselor says no worries and adds me to two classes and drops a preq for me (this preq I took and dropped and I’m taking at a junior college over summer).

Yay right?

She signs me up for a class from 12:30-3:20 on BOTH monday and tuesday.

I don’t have enough spoons.

This isn’t me being lazy or me looking for an easy way out. I do back to back on wednesday for TV all the time. I am TIRED on thursdays. I relax with some TGIT and I NEED it.

My first semester had me editing for three hours at 8:30 AM and creating live news style round table shows until 4PM. I was so tired but it was so worth it. I got a tiny lunch break. And now I’m script writing and editing from 9am until 3:20. Small lunch break again.

I don’t have it in me to repeat that EVERY day of the week. I can’t. On top of extra things like going out and filming for class which can be up to six hours of shooting without lunch breaks? A huge part of me is eating snacks or anything to keep up my energy. And it’s still hard to me to feel okay eating in public spaces because I for some reason feel odd doing it.

So I dropped one of the classes, and I kept another so I would have 13 credits and be a full time student. I get an email back pressuring me to add another class to do 16 credits. And it makes me feel awful.

I used to be the perfect student. I still get good grades, I made National Society of College Scholars, I got a 23 overall on the ACT but a 29 in reading alone, I took the SAT with essay twice, I get praised a lot for my work but understanding and letting that part of me go is so strange. I do the best I can now which is enough. But there’s that moment of panic, of anger, of regret for not being better in highschool- and I hate it. I hate that I went through a full blown melt down over my education. I wish I didn’t. I wish I hadn’t been on the verge of failing so much in highschool after spending nights studying and worrying. I wish I had enough spoons. I get exhausted doing pretty much anything anymore and my focus is so poor that if I’m struggling I just tune it out now. I don’t want my dropped classes to be used against me to guilt me into taking more. I want to succeed and strive and sometimes that doesn’t fit what your counselor may want for you.

Always advocate for your education. There are people who will help you if you raise your voice. You think differently than others and that’s perfectly okay.

if you don’t have enough spoons, or energy, it’s okay to back away and step down. You come before anything else.

Everyone has a Story

Chronic.

Chronically.

Chronically ill.

I’ve been diagnosed with EoE for roughly a year now, and it’s only now that I’m coming to terms with understanding my place within the medically ill community. There’s so many things about my diagnosis that people don’t understand, and that I myself am still finding out as well. So much that I never really thought about myself as chronically ill.

I honestly spent so much time researching trying to figure out what the hell I had before I was diagnosed, and all I could find was dysphagia (or Cystic Fibrosis as mentioned in my other post) which is a blanket term for swallowing issues that I really couldn’t think of myself as having EoE or even what the community who had it was like. Mine is very mild now that it’s controlled on a heart burn medication but I never really researched outside of my own bubble. Which knowing me is slightly strange because I like to know everything. I like to know all of my disease what it entails and how it affects me and what I should be on the look out for. So why on earth am I just discovering now that children who have EoE often end up on feeding tubes? It’s just strange to me and I can’t wrap my head around why I didn’t do so much research. The only thing that comes to my mind is that I didn’t want to be chronically ill.

That’s a very frankly insulting idea to have but an issue I suppose is that I didn’t even realize those were my thoughts. I wasn’t scared about being a label, I was just trying to survive the next 24 hours with food in my stomach. Because my symptoms were so certain to me, it made me neglect I guess looking at other people with it.

EoE is as I’ve mentioned before a rare disease, the first journals about it appeared as recently as 2006 and frankly there’s just way too much we don’t know. There’s also so many other diseases that factor into it, like I just discovered that there’s Chronic Eosinophilic Pneumonia or Carryington’s Disease. Pneumonia! Which is one of the things that I am a chronic sufferer of. Maybe my doctor didn’t know about that specific type or maybe she wanted to wait and see about that if the medication didn’t work. But there’s that word again, chronic.

Now will I ever make a post not referencing Ellen Pompeo? Honestly hopefully not, I love her far too much. But here’s where chronic illness plays into that. Don’t lie and say you haven’t scrolled through who a celebrity follows on Instagram, we all stalk. Fans discovered that Ellen followed a chronic illness lifestyle page, where a woman posts quotes and photos and the captions are always related to empowering those with chronic illness, or anyone who can use support of any kind, she’s very welcoming to helping others and even does posts where she lets you just rant and let your anger out. You all can discover Brown Eyes Thick Thighs for yourself and see what she’s all about. But for the longest time I somehow didn’t realize that I could relate to her posts about her illness and even though I have different diseases, that I could be chronically ill too.

I’ve come in contact with several people who are Spoonies, which refers to spoon theory which has to do with invisible illness and chronic illness. A spoon is a measurement for how much they can handle within a day. I struggle to find myself exactly fitting in as a spoonie because on the surface my chronic illnesses are not to the same extreme level that others are. I’m rather high functioning person, although my say need for exercise is probably the biggest change. I always walked very fast when I was younger and I would also be out of breath a lot. People sort of assumed one was due to the other but it was most likely my asthma. I can no longer go on runs or hikes without preparing myself before hand. I always have to make sure to have my inhaler on me. Food is a bit of a trickier issue because I made the choice in light of all of my issues to become vegetarian.

I had a friend who was vegetarian before and the lifestyle seemed very pressured to me and I felt myself rebelling. I never liked meat to begin with, and one of the reasons is the texture made me struggle to swallow it. I remember days of just sitting at the dinner table, struggling to swallow porkchops and it just got mushy and stuck to the back of my throat and I hated it. I stopped eating just about everything but burgers and lean meats before going completely vegetarian.

but back to spoon theory, I kind of made this post to say that I do have chronic fatigue. I started writing this post at 12am when I couldn’t sleep. I don’t fall asleep until 1-2 am most nights and I can’t sleep in past 8am. On school days that means I’m getting up at 7 to be ready in time for my 9am classes. It’s not normal. I find myself out of breath because I walk fast and I have to teach myself that I can’t do that anymore when my lungs are irritable. I can’t eat food late at night anymore because of my medication. That’s about 8 or 9pm when as a college student I’ll be frantically doing assignments until 9pm and forget to make dinner.

I’m constantly tired all the time and I know when I dissociate or tune out of situations because I’m too tired to function. I can’t make it through two back to back classes from 9am to 3:20pm. I mean I do it but I come home and I can’t do any homework we were assigned because I’m too busy trying, unsuccessfully, to nap or making myself food.

So let’s get on the topic of food.

Throughout my life I grew up very slim, and never hit higher than 102lbs. For most of highschool I was from 96-98lb range and I hated it. I hate it so much. I don’t feel comfortable wearing crop tops where you see my ribcage, or bikinis were you can see it either. It’s only recently that I’ve come to terms with all of that. The comments, the questions “are you sure you’re full” as if no one understands that a tiny human has a tiny stomach. The accusing looks that ask if you’re anorexic, and the repeated frustrated replies of no and forcing myself to eat more than I want to. All to prove a point.

So when I had to go on a liquid diet and I couldn’t swallow so much as a ramen noodle, I lost weight. I dropped from 96 to 88 fairly quickly and then over the months I ended up as low as 86. I’m currently in that range and while it is ‘normal’ for me, it’s not ‘underweight’ in terms of worrying doctors because I drink nutritional drinks etc. But it means that I’m constantly hungry. I will eat a full meal, or what makes me full and be hungry within an hour. My metabolism won’t stop. It’s why I’m tired all the time because I’m constantly trying to eat. and I am tired of it. I’m tired of having to eat so much all the time, or trying to bulk myself up. Nothing will ever do the trick. Just a few days ago I had hummus on white bread toast. I had 3 ‘toast’ sandwiches with hummus. 3 in a row. Hungry. All the time. That still didn’t do much so I ended up having shrimp gyoza from Trader Joe’s that I made in my frying pan.  That made me last until dinner time maybe.

And all of this is circumstantial on if my EOE or my seasonal allergies aren’t so bad, and if they’re acting up I’ll stick to applesauce, soups, pasta with pesto instead of tomato sauce-

I can have some acidic foods as long as I take the meds but sometimes I like to lean away from them if I’m having a bad day. This is all just depending on the day though. My other post I mentioned that there was a situation at my school that triggered a lot of stress and anxiety in terms of my living situation. Because of that I was having stomach pain and loosing weight as well. That pain and struggle has left me but it doesn’t stop me from worrying about it especially in terms of getting up early or rushing myself through getting ready.

And all of this worrying about eating and food obviously takes a toll on my mind. I’ve found it harder than ever to concentrate, even on things I love like Tv shows. I can’t focus. I’m finishing this post after having the worst sleep I’ve had maybe ever. I don’t know why this is happening. I’ve had the feeling before, where I try to sleep and I get startled because I feel like I’m falling. This time I woke up after sleeping for maybe 5-6 hours and I felt startled but not from falling. I fell asleep for about an hour and I didn’t wake up feeling refreshed at all. I haven’t had a decent sleep in what seems like forever at this point. and I want it.

Throughout all of this it’s just all so frustrating. Like I mentioned I’m a high functioning person and what that means to me is that I’m very put forward in what I do. Being lazy never used to be a part of me, and I don’t consider myself lazy when I have to consider my illnesses and ‘relax’. Relaxing for me is very important because I can’t just have a lazy day in bed exactly. I have to make so many snacks and do all of these things to prepare. Most times I don’t even get around to watching the Tv I want to because I just space out or I try to sleep. I spent my days in highschool doing everything and above what I needed to do, I was an overachiever and it is hard to not see myself as that anymore. My work is still to the best of my ability but I find myself wanting to be sloppy because I can’t handle it. But that’s in terms of things like writing assignments compared to things like media related projects. I used to be this force of nature but now I find myself struggling.

Another example of me being fatigued is social outings. We went to a museum as a class the other day, we walked there. Which is fine its like ten minutes from our building, but it was rainy with 30mph winds. 30 mph winds plus an asthmatic? Not good. I made it there, and I never felt like I couldn’t breathe its more like my body has to do extra to make up for the stress of breathing in the wind. I had a lovely time, and I walked home and I immediately took a three hour nap. That’s not normal. I grew up never being able to nap. Naps were not a thing until I got to college. Even when I pushed myself the hardest I could in highschool I very rarely came home and napped. There’s this culture online where everyone claims they go home and nap but honestly, really? It’s just not a thing I was used to. I get exhausted so frequently from minor things. Going on a small day trip down the street shouldn’t make me feel like I just ran a marathon.

My EOE comes with seasonal allergies as well so I constantly have stuffy sinuses, post nasal drip and other allergy symptoms that only have relief every few days. I take medication for them but it is only helpful to such a certain extent. As spring comes so do these headcolds, feelings of being foggy and forgetful, and waking up to suddenly not being able to breathe until taking nasal sprays.

And now it’s been a year since this all started and I just want to raise my voice about my story because I feel like I taught myself that what I felt wasn’t a part of it, or that I wasn’t valid enough to be considered something that just lets people know I’m a sensitive person in all terms of existence. I want my rare disease to be heard, I want my feelings to be seen. I think that a lot of EOE isn’t diagnosed until it’s too severe, or it’s not understood as well. It needs awareness and real support for research. I may never be able have a full cure for every one of my ailments but I like to know I’m not alone. And right now for EOE, I feel incredibly alone. Especially because I’m not like the severe cases on feeding tubes and elimination diets. Being vegetarian isn’t that hard compared to what some of these ten year olds must do to eat.

So maybe I am chronically ill, and that’s ok.

“Your story is not more difficult than mine, my story is not more difficult than yours and I think if we all keep can open mind and compassion for each other-life is hard, no matter the circumstances, whether they be blue or red or green or yellow. We all have a story.”- Ellen Pompeo

Here are some sites for more information on EOE

http://apfed.org/about-ead/egids/eoe/

https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/eosinophilic-esophagitis/

http://www.childrenshospital.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions/eosinophilic-esophagitis-ee

http://curedfoundation.4mobilesites.com/

http://www.ausee.org/

Spring forward

“I think we all should just go there, you know tell the truth, go with your gut, follow your instincts”- Meredith Grey

What is a spring forward to you? Is it just time changing and you cleaning away all evidence of winter? Or is it a lifestyle change?

I think we all would love to make that leap, change that bad habit- it’s kind of like pressing restart on your new years resolution. We all could use one of those right? Most days it hurts too much, you’re too tired to care about what you eat, you get petty and can’t take what you say back…we all have those days. But what about springing forward your career?

Take advantage of that career. There is something out there looming over you, maybe even staring at you in the face and you’re pushing it away. Is it too far away and you don’t want to pay for that Uber? Is it at an inconvenient time? Are you too insecure over your own talents to make the plunge?

I understand you. I’m notorious at letting things pass by, or not believing in them fully. That’s not always the best thing and I know that. That type of thinking can plague a project to its eventual doom. Maybe it’s finally time to embrace that book we all read last year. Come on, we all read ‘Year Of Yes’; and if you haven’t get on that Amazon shopping trip. And you know what, I think that no matter what you can’t pressure yourself into doing better.

Never pressure yourself. Positive or negative you shouldn’t feel pressure. If you don’t want it deep inside yourself, it’s not worth it. If you can’t do it with ease, or tell yourself you can make it at least partially- never do it. It’s okay to stay in your comfort zone because the comfort zone isn’t static. The comfort zone is what you think you can handle, which isn’t always reflective of the actual amount that you can handle. You can handle more than you think or less that you think depending on you.

Yes,

YOU

Personally I’ve let a lot anxiety ruin plans for me and I work on myself each and every day to remove that anxiety.  I got over a lot of my traveling fears this past year because I had to fly back and forth from Chicago to California from school to home for example. I don’t like to promise myself anything because that gives me, guess what? Pressure.

I think that we all spring ourselves forward and this is really the time to do it. While thinking about opportunity and chance,  I’m sitting here right now typing when I have multiple live show requests for volunteering open on my email. See I have a pretty complicated schedule and I’m afraid I’ll be too busy with anatomy homework to have time. I’ve previously worked on this show I have an offer for about three times now, and I love it each time. But am I really going to have all my anatomy work piled up? Or am I just overwhelming myself and I should take time out to do something I love?

You need to take those chances. Everything you can. Do it. Take the risk.

Thinking about this and the chances that I do have and I lost over the years. I’ll keep this short since I’m sure you’ve all read my multiple posts about Paley Fest, and I don’t want to repeat them. Just in speaking about things they brought up, and the whole idea of motherhood and having opportunities with your mother are really important. I took that chance, I stepped forward and I asked my mom on a whim if she wanted to go to Paley Fest over spring break. I was like, consider it part of my birthday gift so you don’t have to give me anything in May. And really it was about us going to something together, for something we both enjoyed together and that brought us closer.

13×18, which airs this week, discussed the topic of Maggie’s mother giving Maggie advice. The advice she gives Maggie is to let loose. She tells her all sorts of things about how Maggie is preoccupied with being the best, or the straightest ruler- she’s very focused on her future being just how she wants it to be. Unplanned situations often rile her up. I feel this, I feel this a lot. I plan out every word I’m going to say when I go to order food, or I practice simple conversations before I actually try to make one with anyone. I have to have control, to have order. But due to that I’ve missed so much.  There’s sort of no end to the amount of parallel between Grey’s and my own life but just to really hear that in the dark Dolby Theatre with my mom beside me kind of made me feel things. Like it was my time. I was ready. I need to be ready to make a leap. And just the whole chance that I was given the material presented the way it was in 13×18 is again due to the whole idea of taking a chance. Ellen Pompeo didn’t exactly want to direct an episode so willingly. She didn’t wake up and say, wow I want to break boundaries for women in television today. Okay maybe she did, she’s kind of a badass like that but the whole aspect and idea came from Debbie Allen presenting the idea to her.

I don’t know if Debbie put together the reasoning I did, which is that a mother based episode being directed by someone who lost their mother when they were young is an amazing creative choice in terms of emotion. Which Debbie did say Ellen was very in touch with during a recent interview.

But again the point with me talking about that is that Ellen took a huge risk. She put herself forward, she said yes. She became eager to learn and part of the process of allowing yourself to take a chance, or to be bold is allowing yourself to learn. I’m sure she struggled. We all struggle. To struggle is to be human. We are inherently flawed, but taking that risk and coming out in flying colors and to be confident with what ever mess you think you made is worth it. Make your mistakes worth making.

Spring forward into your passion.

Please do

sincerely the millennial who may or may not have already broken this promise to herself. But it’s okay, she can pick herself up and spring forward whenever she wants.

Drink: English Tea Shop Chocolate Rooibos vanilla

 

Did you hit record?

Did you hit record?

Those four words were all I heard in highschool. They’re all I ever paid attention to. For good reason I suppose. See that was the question we asked as soon as we hit ‘transition’ in the broadcast studio. It was a routine, one that I will never get tired of. If we didn’t hit record then we had no record of what we were showing to the school at the time…it just became nothing. All the hard work, the hours we spent filming events instead of doing homework or sleeping was just gone.

I’ve written a lot about this topic before. I originally was planning on submitting it to Shonda Rhimes’s G2 Pilot Pen contest but I felt too self conscious about it and had struggles with handwriting it and copying the paper. Every time I did it the scanner would ruin my image and I had missed the time to mail in submissions. I also wanted it digitized because I have very sloppy handwriting. So this story never made its way to Shonda.

and I certainly also want to mention that I myself am not the first female director of my highschool’s broadcast program. There were about three I think before me? One was my mentor herself. But I had a lot of circumstances in my three years that I kind of really reflected on.

Everyone focuses on how great it is that I’m a woman and I had this power, and I’m very proud of that. But no one actually understands how hard it was. I enjoyed every second of it and I kept going back each morning because I was in love with the thrill of it. There’s a sense of feeling you get when you do a show and get to use a switcher, and press all these buttons. But life wasn’t just all button pressing.

The lay out of the class is a student run for credit class with a teacher to supervise us. He teaches all the video classes which prepare you for the broadcast class. You take video 1 to get in, although there’s exceptions who never take the class or simultaneously take broadcasting and video 1 together. See you don’t exactly sign up for the class.

I’ll walk you through my interview.

I had video one even though I was qualified to not take it, I was enrolled for elective credit. I went in during a study hour to the first classroom which was a make shift art room with computers and video equipment stored in a shared closet with Art next door. The closet is where I had my interview. Student directors sat on stools with only one set of lights on, for dramatic purposes. They ask about my experience, my leadership skills, my skills working in groups, what I wanted from the class…all to how I would solve technical issues. It wasn’t as scary as they tried to make it be. I got in like the next week. But that process is handed down through all the directors.

So I took my first year as a sophomore and in the spring they called for interviews for director. There’s some sort of rule about how it should go. Sort of like one senior, one junior, one sophomore for each position. Yes there’s multiple positions. I may be a director but there were three of us in total who all had the same power and ability. Our formal titles were different, I actually was executive producer? They actually messed up my year because they picked two incoming juniors and an incoming senior. Which made things unbalanced when we had events to cover that we would be at or when it came time to pick people for our junior year. Anyway I was treated just like any other director, I think.

Only let’s discuss that whole concept of being treated the same as a director. I was formally again, considered by staff and by other students but here is where it becomes a bit…messy? yeah. I’ll say messy.

What do you tell a 15 year old girl when she gets the title of director for a highschool broadcasting class? How do you let her know what she’d face over the next years of her life?

There is no guide book. There’s no process. There’s no amount of training I could have had to make this easier or better for me. I wouldn’t have traded my experiences for the world but I don’t think people realize that my experiences include being disrespected, bullied, put down, invalidated, creatively ignored, and having to do the hard stuff like reporting after the death of a student.

Honestly I learned to care less about what people think if it doesn’t benefit me but let’s forget all that mushy feelings about me finding myself and being able to take charge. I’m a shy person, but I grew and developed with my class of students and I found a way to be loud.

But here it is. We need to dig into the problems I faced out of pure sexism. This isn’t to blame anyone, or point fingers in any way but more of an understanding of how students work in today’s society. It was very difficult my first week. I received the title and status in April I think of that year so I was still 15 nearing 16 and I sort of was coming to terms with having this power. We run the class. We address the class each morning, we content check everything before it airs, we even graded our classmates. I suddenly could speak out when I didn’t like something someone had presented to us to air. I could creatively tell them that they were wrong, and I could propose things for people to film and so I started to try to.

Can you picture a timid 15 year old me, trying to tell an 18 year old senior his package can’t be aired because of say a mic being cut off or audio being fuzzy?

or let’s throw this one in

no one is actually doing work in the studio and you get a sixth sense your teacher is about to come in and witness the lack of effort, and you have the job of telling everyone to start working- and you do, pretty loudly…but they still don’t listen?

Those are two examples of what I dealt with on the daily. No one listened to me. I had to command respect suddenly. These were my peers who I know I sometimes pissed off by putting my foot down over certain topics…which is when middle of my first year I started being called a bitch behind my back. I sort of brushed it off. It worried me at first but then I had come to an understanding that in order to be in a professional environment that I had to accept what was being thrown at me.

There was staff meetings towards the end of my final year where they requested my male co directors over me even though they were discussing a project that I had been following, and was close to the graphic creator for. There were students who gossiped about our program, who put us down constantly and they didn’t even know I was running it. We have credits but no one reads them, they’re just to be fancy I suppose. Or male students accused us of brainwashing when we tried to cover news stories without bias about current state of affairs in our society, which included things that affected our student body like gay marriage and health care. From then we started a small segment were students could send in messages and do an editorial on them, to explain our content choices. It didn’t fair well with students, but was praised by teachers.

It’s hard to pick out a really terrible moment from a vast sea of them.

I had bad times too. When a male student thought it was okay to disrespect a deceased student, whom I was close with which resulted in me screaming at him (and I had lost my patience with him as a poor broadcast student who was flaky and very poor at due dates as well). I did things I was not proud of like undermining someone else’s project and so forth.

I struggled with finding my voice and this program helped me to. So I guess this is time to explain why I get so interested and invested in people directing because I never thought that I couldn’t direct. I never was like oh that’s a man’s job I can’t. It was more that as I became one, and the only female one during my year (and then went to choose two, very deserving, female directors for the year after I left) that I realized I was alone. But I also felt like that gave me power, being the only woman. I took everything into my hands, I often overloaded myself with work. I watched three different news channels a day, I was a junkie- but I believed in helping my classmates receive real news. We didn’t cover just when the sports played but impact stories about our community or the world. I also empowered my female students and I let their voices be heard, and we did things like accepting people to be anchors who had no experience and people thought of as just a cheerleader- she’s in a journalism college now. These people have stories and talents, and I helped them grow.

I get so excited when I see women directing because I know they’ll struggle, even if they never admit if they do. I’ll have felt the same as them. The frustration of not being listen to. The sheer anger when you’re about to go live in five minutes, and a script isn’t done being fixed.

and that moment when you ask did you record?

I can say, yes I did.

Drink: Orange flavored immune boosting drink, in warm water. Also a cup of English Tea Shop super berry mix.

I think I have my letter to Shonda typed up still if anyone wanted to know the full story behind everything. I go into a lot of depth, including things that I don’t mention here like the school trying to remove our program.

Coincidence

Life is kind of a series of coincidences. I’ve lived through many of coincidences, and I’ve reflected on them a lot but there’s one that just blew me away.I mean it’s something significant when just days before you officially change your concentration to something, one of your role models breaks the news they’re pursuing it too.

What do I mean by that?

Well, I’ve always kind of separated my interests from career to the point where I don’t actively search out people to idolize with my same exact goals in my career because I don’t want my story to be me trying to be a carbon copy of them. I am my own person under a realm of influence by the people I look up to and interact with. My want to go to ‘film school’ was that I already knew I wanted to create media within the cinematic elements, not because I idolized anyone.

So like let’s fast forward here to my first year of college, and I’m in this TV program because around sophomore year of highschool I realized I don’t want to make movies, I want to make TV. My sort of goal for TV has always been a way to bring stories to screen that made my classmates feel represented. I will always have a young white woman to represent me, I’ve found several. But I had started to realize my friends didn’t watch TV as much as me because they felt disconnected as POC, or lgbtq+ members and so on. Anyway so that’s why I’m in TV. I also, not to brag, have a real skill in it and have had background training starting from a highschool level ( I was broadcast director & won a few film festivals). I made sure to get into a TV program versus a film program because I knew that the specifics would benefit me, but I originally was in a editing concentration. I love editing but my school combined it with a lot of graphic and visual design, which I have played with and learned I don’t enjoy. So time came around and I changed my concentration this year. I had been planning for months. Then the news broke.

 “It took 13 years, but Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo will boldly follow in several of her co-stars’ footsteps when she directs an episode of the ABC medical drama this spring, TVLine has learned.”
Hold up…you’re telling me I changed my concentration just before I learned Ellen Pompeo, someone whom I’ve looked up to for a few years now, and have always dreamed of seeing what her production company does…actually became a director which is what I changed my concentration to?
I changed from an editing concentration to directing/producing concentration.
My mind was made up before I my appointment time with my counselor, so the actual timing is officially after Ellen’s announcement. I was stunned. As a creative person who over analyzes, seeing someone you look up to or idolize and seeing how their creative mind works is honestly a fever dream. There is nothing better than the rush that comes when trying to analyze someone’s work, that you feel so connected to. I’ve never met Ellen, probably never will; but the life that comes from interviews, and from social media influences how I view her work obviously. Fast forward to now and I got to screen the episode at Paley Fest (side note here, many people met the cast at Paley, my seats were in the balcony and security did not allow anyone from those seats down to orchestra where the cast was signing and taking selfies).  I already talked about the episode and it’s meaningful impact to me last post, how I watched with my mother, so I’m going to talk more about directing here.
First off its a beautiful episode and I don’t only want Ellen to continue to direct Grey’s Anatomy, but this only made me more excited for her production company. Not many people know but Ellen has her own production company, Calamity Jane and she’s bought the rights to multiple movies and mini series. As a media person myself I’m so excited to see her career develop, and I think that’s what made me so excited about all of this. I’m very young and going to college for my dreams, but I see that my dreams can come true at any age. I could discuss more but I’ll just mention here about Ellen’s career, that it didn’t start until she was in her 30’s as an actress that when she moved beyond the Law&Order guest star phase into her first movie role, Moonlight Mile. Quickly after that she was cast in Grey’s Anatomy after Shonda Rhimes suggested to Betsy Beers, “Can we get someone like the girl from Moonlight Mile?” to which Betsy replied they could actually get that girl.
For an actress 30 is considered by majority of Hollywood to be too old, and Ellen felt the backlash of that by being cast as a mother, girlfriend, and love interest in several of her other films. She saw that Meredith Grey was more than the idea of someone’s lover, and a very complex character which is why she’s played her for over 13 years now. So Ellen broke that boundary on TV in 2004 when Grey’s first aired but she didn’t stop there. We can’t mention her directing without talking about the numbers. The number of women directors.
I don’t have numbers for television, and I think they are slightly more than the numbers I have for film alone but the statistic that I go to the most is that there’s only 13% of directors that are women.
13%
Shondaland has made progress with this number for years, for example co-star Chandra Wilson, has directed episodes of Grey’s Anatomy herself, as has Debbie Allen who helped coach Ellen Pompeo on her journey to directing. But the reason for me that Ellen’s episode is such a big deal is because she’s much more visible by viewers, known for this role she plays,  and the influence of this one episode is so great. Because it tells her fans, it tells these young girls, that you can do more. Besides acting Ellen’s always been an activist as well, and really put forward the notion that celebrities are real people. It is so easy to knock away all of her big fancy things because she’s very down to earth in the outlets she uses to interact with people. So that combined with directing is basically a show stopper.
There will probably never be a clear way for me to express the joy I feel knowing someone I adore so much, I can sympathize with in terms of struggles job wise but this is me trying.
This is an open letter to Ellen saying you did amazing, you have such a talent you probably had no idea you had, thank you for listening to Debbie when she wouldn’t take no for an answer. Thank you for documenting it over social media, thank you for being so open at Paley Fest about your process, the vulnerability of your story being told, the personal touch that needed to be shared. Thank you for giving a young aspiring director like me hope, and thank you for breaking barriers.
Love Danielle, a TV student with a directing producing concentration.

Sunshine

I want to open this with a foreword, I had the privilege of being a member of the 2017 Paley Fest event featuring the Grey’s Anatomy cast yesterday afternoon. During this event they streamed 13×18, due to air in two weeks, and Ellen Pompeo’s directorial debut. I will try my hardest not to spoil the episode in this post but the overall theme of what was discussed and viewed hit very close to home for me and as such I will be mentioning that. This is your warning now.

My mother had a life change as we transitioned from the 90’s to the 2000s. She had been working at a hospital in the bay area, on night shifts forever. That didn’t change when I was born either. Due to this she missed a lot of pop culture television, for example she didn’t get to watch Friends. She only watched whatever was on in the hospital offices at the time. In 2001, when I was 3 or 4, we moved and then she decided to become a stay at home mom while being a paid “nanny” close personal friends. My mother was taking care of up to 5 kids at once, when only 3 were her own. Throughout this time tv was obviously an educational tool as we grew up.

Let’s talk about how my passion for TV developed from this, since I am a TV major after all. We had a Tivo I remember, and what I would do before elementary school is as I got ready and ate breakfast- this was before I had developed my craving to watch broadcast news-I would watch as much as I could of something we had taped. I also did this with DVDs. I would watch until I finished my breakfast and then got ready, and watched a little bit more because my mom needed to wait for the 2 other kids to be dropped off at our house for carpool. It was a routine of mine, and my mom never found it to be an issue. I mean I was watching children’s programs after all.

My mom was always constantly encouraging me, and watching with me, and taking me to movies too. I have the luck of having a birthday in May, right before summer. Which is when a lot of children’s movies come out, so of course those were my birthday celebrations. Movies! And what’s really special about this is I kind of view it as her making up for the time she didn’t have to enjoy these things before. I’m also very blessed because I’m the only daughter she has. I’m also the youngest. We ‘baby sat’ a little girl as well, but that ended by the time I was about ten. Strangely, although I had become almost a sort of older sister to the little girl we watched over, I still never viewed myself as one.

Now bring this into middle school and suddenly my mom and I could enjoy the same TV shows. I’d say as early as 6th grade I was watching “real” TV with her because, not to be arrogant but I’m always told I’m far more mature for my age than I should be. I’m an old soul, I would watch I Love Lucy with my mom on weekends when I was younger. I didn’t mind that it was in black and white. I had a love for crime dramas as well, simply because I could figure out killer pretty quickly. I started to use TV to boost my curiosity about the world. But thing was I never watched it without my mom. It wasn’t some sort of parental guidance at all, but we clearly enjoyed the same programs, and discussing them.

Summer before freshman year of highschool I remember doing my first real binge watch with my mom. And of course it was the most perfect series to choose from…

We watched Gilmore Girls.

I remember we had gone to the library one day, and I was looking around the CD selection because I had realized I could rip the CDs and put them onto my IPod Shuffle which meant I didn’t have to buy so many songs. I also really liked early 2000s soft rock music, from the likes of Snow Patrol, Five For Fighting, The Fray and so on. My mom was looking at the DVD rack. It had so many options on it. Dawsons Creek, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The X-files, ER, I’m sure Grey’s Anatomy was there, and Gilmore Girls! We started renting season after season from the library. It was great because my mom came home from work around 3-4 pm, she would make dinner, and then afterwards we would curl up in her bed and just BINGE.

The impact of watching a show with such a strong mother and daughter plot with your own mother is something I truly can’t explain. I felt such a strong connection to Rory Gilmore, because I was not in highschool yet but I had this feeling I would be like her when I was. (That turned out to be true and not true at the same time).Both active readers, dreamers, passion for journalism…so on. The wit and humor of the show was something my own mother and I also shared. That made my year once we completed all 7 seasons. I also felt very accomplished.

I mentioned this in a previous blog post but another notable series my mother and I binged together was Grey’s Anatomy. Which she had always watched. She started with the pilot and stopped after the season 8 finale, which was when she returned to working at a hospital. When I said I wanted to start it she decided it would be fun to rewatch. And it was fun having her beside me watching how I reacted to what she had seen years ago. I remember as we reached season 2, she kept teasing me because she knew the scene with the bulletin board and the panties would happen. Just the guessing game of who, what, why, and when was fun. And again Grey’s in a separate sense is about motherhood as well.

Gilmore Girls is known for it’s portrayal of Rory and Lorelai’s relationship, but also has Lorelai’s strained relationship with her own mother. There is a contrast there. Grey’s has a multitude of contrasts with the motherhood relationships. Watching with my own mother, who adamantly tells me to not put her in a home, and to let her go because she doesn’t want to suffer. While we watch Meredith deal with Ellis in a care home. It’s all this circle. Ironically enough my mom had just started a job where she works with Alzheimer patients as we started the show, which is why she tells me she doesn’t want a care home. She deals with these patients every day.

I connected very personally to Meredith Grey emotionally throughout the course of the series even if I did not have the same circumstances in my life. Of course my mom and I have fought, there’s a lot of things I still don’t tell her but I do have the option to and I suppose this weekend really taught me that I should take advantage of that.

My mom and I loved binging Grey’s so much, and even if we’ve not enjoyed the current seasons so much, we decided to go to Paley Fest together this past weekend. I’m only back from college for a week, because I’m that kid that didn’t go to a local californian college for TV. I attached to the Grey’s cast very closely, and have followed through being a pretty big fan of them because of my attraction to TV. I love to research, I’m a highly curious person. I spent middle school researching everything I could about the Harry Potter Film series, because I wanted to know how they did everything. Same with Grey’s, I researched everything. Then I like to analyze, and I find things that parallel between actors and stories, or what techniques used for scenes and so on.

At Paley Fest my mother and I sat side by side and watched 13×18. Which if you don’t know, is based on Maggie Pierce’s adoptive mother. It’s about their relationship as the nature of her breast cancer changes. It’s a beautiful episode, and was directed by leading lady, Ellen Pompeo. I could spend an entire page talking about the importance to the industry that Ellen directed her own episode, she joins the 13% of Women Directors in Hollywood, and is pushing to break boundaries. People still have the notion that actresses are simply pretty faces, but Ellen Pompeo is a pretty face with a compassionate soul, wisdom beyond her years, insightful mind, and amazing heart. But we need to cut to the chase here. Some background information that Ellen has mentioned in previous interviews is that her own mother died of a prescription drug overdose when she was about 4, almost 5.

As a viewer who thoroughly analyzes everything insanely, I had read this and I was immediately struck because I was like, the Meredith and Ellis storyline in GA is so strong, and you’d think that for an actress to portray that sense of anger and frustration, they had to know what fighting with your mom feels like. But in fact its the opposite. 13×18 has a voiceover about a note Ellis left for Meredith that was incomplete. The sense of being lost in what your mother wants for you, or wants to let you know is seen through the episode, and I can only assume that brings back to Ellen’s loss of a mother. I really don’t want to spoil the episode for anyone but I am so glad I watched this episode with my mother. I wouldn’t trade it for anything to know she’s right beside me.

Another moment that stood out for me and personally touched me was when the q&a started for the episode. It was emotional, almost everyone had wet eyes. Kelly McCreary was crying during her section of the panel. And again Ellen directly addresses the loss of her mother while discussing her direction of the episode. One particular scene, which I as a TV major adored so much because of the use of color theory and emotion conveyed through the simple set design, Ellen explained that she used yellows and oranges to represent sunshine. She associates sunshine with every mother and that warmth you get from the sun, is a mothers warmth.Obviously this painted a picture to me of Ellen seeing her own mother reflected in the warmth of the sun rays. It was very moving to watch, listen to, and feel with my own mother beside me.

The whole idea is that you have only so many moments and to live life the best you can, without worrying too far ahead and loose what’s in front of you. Living my life to the fullest is a little drab, but its warm and cozy curled up binge watching television with my mother. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Photo Mar 19, 12 22 50 PM