“I don’t believe in writing or creating something to suit a particular audience. If you create for someone else, you second-guess yourself. The more confidence you have in your ideas, the more risks you take. The more risks you take, the more you are rewarded.

There is joy in going where you are uncertain. There is reward in the vast unknown.”

Keri Smith, The Reward of Risk Taking


Lola goes to the harbor

In light of the beautiful weekend we’re about to have, here’s the third and last of the Lola Likes series: Lola goes to the harbor, which was taken on a similarly beautiful day in Baltimore. I’d insert something witty in here, but St. Patty’s was a bit rough on me, and I promptly fell asleep when I got home from work yesterday. Yes, I am now grandma status.

Have a great weekend!

Lola Likes, episode 2

My friend, upon viewing the first episode of “Lola Likes,” commented on how hyper she was.

I think the second episode sheds more light on the savage beast. You see, Lola’s a Gemini (like me!), which means she has split personalities. Just like how my personalities are awesome and even more awesome, Lola straddles between excited jumping bean and lazy lump of fur.

She gets especially excited when she sees visitors, other dogs and her “I’m going outside!” trigger — her leash and harness. Her second personality is a bit more calm, with a weakness for belly rubs and naps, honed from years of living with Phil, the master at all of the above. She reminds me of a cat actually. A French fry-eating, potato chip-loving, snow-frolicking cat, who happens to look like a Jack Russell. Or be a Jack Russell. Or something.

Point is, she has a chill side. Of her litter, she was the one afraid to venture away from her siblings. She doesn’t mind sleeping in as long as you do, burrowed under the covers, curled into a ball against your stomach.

So, here’s episode two of Lola’s life in Baltimore. The third will be up Friday (I know you’re super anxious). Happy Humpittydooda Day!

Lola likes, episode 1

I’ve often been asked what Lola does when it’s not winter*.

Does she like warm days? Does she frolic outside when there isn’t snow to plow through?

The answer, my friends, is that yes. As much as this may surprise you, she actually doesn’t hibernate in the warm months only to emerge when the temperature dips below 30 degrees. She’s a fan of spring, summer and  fall,  which is when she’s free to do her other favorite activity, nestling in mounds of fallen leaves.

Just to prove it, I documented her activities during a weekend in Baltimore. Unlike my other Lola videos, there is no snow to be found here. I gathered so much footage I had to divide them into three 3-minute (give or take a couple of seconds) videos. The first installment appears here and the next two later this week.

I hope you enjoy them. Happy Monday.

*Note: No one has really asked me that, but if I ever am asked I’d just tell the truth: Lola is a very savage beast… I’ve said too much already.

Netflix & Me

Poster by Evan B. Harris

It had been a few minutes since the credits first appeared, and still the tears fell.

I know what you’re thinking: “What a sap.” And you’re totally right. I wasn’t always this way, however. Growing up, I was the stoic one. Whenever my siblings and I got scolded for something, I was the one staring my father down, expressionless or, if I was feeling especially defiant, with a smile. I was the same with movies. Crying was a sign of weakness, and emerging from a heartwrenching movie dry-eyed among a sea of weepers was a victory. Even worldwide tragedy failed to move me.

It wasn’t that I was heartless, of course. I was just too young to have loved then lost, to have failed at something I’d worked so hard at, to have been humbled. I needed life experience before I could fully empathize with others. At 25, I’m a bit more hardened by my personal underachievements, failed relationships and the knowledge that life changes whether or not you will it to, and there’s no sense in making sense of it.

Whatever triggered it, it was as if I’d been hoarding my tears all those years so my twentysomething self could cry at any hint of sadness in a movie, a TV show or an Olympic moment, whether or not they were deserving of my sap. You know the scene in “Knocked Up” when Leslie Mann finds out Paul Rudd has been sneaking out to play fantasy baseball with the guys, and she, in tears, tells him she also likes “Spider-Man”? Yup, I cried at that.

And in “Sex and the City” when Harry proposes to Charlotte at the singles mixer? I cry every single time. And I own the DVD.

How about in “Marley and Me” when… well, I don’t want to spoil it for you guys, but when Marley, you know? Cried at that, too. And I’m not talking about whimpering-quietly-to-myself-as-tears-rolled-down-my-cheeks crying. It was the kind of crying you should only do alone, except I happened to be in a room with friends. The only thing that prevented me from engaging in raw ugly-face crying was my fear of ridicule.

But yesterday I was fortunate enough to have been alone to enjoy a full-out ugly-face cry. After months of frugality, I finally allowed myself to subscribe to Netflix (Let me just say the instant playback is amazing. My first Netflix experience was back in the days when good ol’ fashioned snail-mailed DVDs were the only option).  I scoured the list of recommendations, which prompted feelings of pure excitement and insult (“You really think I’d watch THAT?”), and settled on the documentary “Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father.” I knew nothing about it, and that’s how I prefer to watch everything these days. Everything was a surprise.

For 90 minutes I teetered between laughing, crying, horror, crying, disbelief, crying, joy and crying. By the time the credits rolled, I was exhausted. The first thing I wanted to do, which is my litmus test for movies, was tell someone about it. I tweeted, told a friend and my boyfriend about it, but nevertheless it haunted me. It was the most I’d cried over a movie, largely due to the fact that it was constructed so wonderfully, edited in a way in which its audience could feel the filmmaker’s anguish and hope. At one point, I vowed to make an effort to spend more time with loved ones, to help people, to change the world in some way and to galvanize others to join me in my crusade against nothing in particular. What makes it deeply affecting is that all of it actually happened and, incredibly, that those involved were strong enough to rise above their sorrows and help others. They’re perfect examples that courage isn’t about the absence of fear. It’s about knowing and seeing the risks, of all the bad in the world, of the worst that can happen and, in spite of it, living and loving anyway.

To lift my spirits, I watched “Notting Hill” afterward. And you know what? I didn’t cry.