I just got finished watching the Brett Morgen documentary, Montage of Heck, on Cobain. I feel compelled to write about it for so many reasons. One of them makes me a superficial, fame-whore sellout, a reason that Cobain himself would despise. My last post on him, written 3 years ago, is pinged on a near weekly basis. The second is a more pure one: I relate very heavily with Cobain’s experience on Earth, his lyrics, his emotions, his stomach trouble, his sensitivity to the other. Thirdly, he died during a very seminal year for me, a year after a major surgery, and during a move to a new town. I am sensitive. On the heels of a rough surgical recovery in Spring 1993, this additional transition was a bit much.
Cobain had debilitating, undiagnosed, stomach problems, emotional problems, trauma, depression, anxiety, angst, a great and active mind, which Morgen effectively exhibited through his chosen medium, the documentary. I, too, have a debilitating, undiagnosable stomach ailment, emotional problems, experienced trauma, feel the pangs of depression and anxiety daily.
I get how he felt.
I get how he feels.
Cobain had an Outlet for His Distress
Cobain, though, got to live his art. It gave him an outlet for some time. The lyrics he wrote were catharsis. He was punk-rock angry. In the documentary, the audience sees Cobain whiling away days on the couch, smoking cigarettes, playing guitar, writing in his numerous notebooks. It appeared as if he was a burnout to the many around him that watched him during this time, but this could not be further from the truth. He was living and writing many of the songs that would later appear on Nirvana’s first album, Nevermind.
I, on the other hand, must squeeze it in after a long day’s work, sometimes in the wee hours of morning.
Morgen and Cobain Use Medium as the Messenger
Just like with Crossfire Hurricane, Morgen allows large swatches of archival film and audio to play uncomfortably longer than necessary. I felt the documentary in such a profound way because Morgen animated the figures and words contained in Cobain’s journals. Morgen also created comic book-like animation to pair with an audio recording of Cobain talking about his first attempted suicide in his teen years. This was new information delivered in a nearly perfect manner. Montage was Heck may be Morgen’s greatest achievements.
Why did Morgen make the choices he did in crafting the documentary? Cobain has been mythologized. He has been written, and written, and written about ad nauseum. The audience needs to feel and experience him in a refreshing way. Morgen got it spot on. The medium is the message, which is how Cobain, and countless other artists like him, would have wanted it. I argue this point in the blog post from three years ago. Cobain wanted to be known for what he created. He did not want the attention that comes with fame. He only wanted his angst and pain to be validated, to be heard. A pure artist, through and through.
Thankfully, Morgen did not go into the gruesome details and numerous controversies over Cobain’s death. He simply ends the documentary with a statement saying that Cobain took his life on April 5, 1994. No throngs of people sitting in parks, nor MTV News clips announcing the news were shown. The screen just faded to black and the credits rolled.
I could not have been happier with the way this documentary was packaged and information put together. New details about Cobain’s life presented in a way that did not humiliate or sensationalize, like so many other documentarians have done with his life and death. This was a celebration of Nirvana and Cobain’s affect on the world. His mother said it best when she heard what would become Nevermind for the first time, “this is going to change everything…because you are not ready for this.”
If you are interested in learning more about what was revealed in the documentary, watch it on HBO, or HBO Go, or read the Rolling Stone article that summarizes nine revelations from the film.
“Wouldn’t it be great if everyone reacted this way?” he asked.
I nodded and burst into tears.
The man talking to me, my friend, asked me this after his new dog put his head on my right foot and his upper body against my shin Thursday morning upon meeting the dog for the first time. The dog sensed my pain, my anxiety, sadness, and stress. This is the second of as many dogs owned by my friend that had the innate ability to know that I needed comfort through quiet confidence. Eery was it that both dogs knew to sit by my side quietly.
I love animals. They are such perceiving creatures. They are pure of heart, mind, and action. They keep it simple. They do not overcomplicate with thoughts, judgments, and other negativities. All of which cause troublesome interactions between people. Dogs are considered to be man’s best friend. The reason, in my opinion, is because they listen to your words, your mind, and soul. Then they anticipate what you need and most of the time all that is needed is to be heard by another sentient being.
The greatest asset my father and brother hold is the ability to sit by your side without any expectation of conversation. My favorite times spent with my immediate family are those times when all four of us watch TV, and maybe drift off to sleep together, in the same room.
In short, dogs, and the males in my family get it. Being present is enough. One does not need to further complicate things with words, thoughts, and unreliable expressions of emotion.
Unfortunately, or fortunately (depends on the day) humans were blessed with emotions and high-level, reasoning ability that force some of us to overthink things. In life you have to take the good, take the bad and do the best that you can.
(“…and there you have the facts of life/the facts of life.” Look, I was born in the late 1970s. I’m not going to leave the low-hanging fruit just blowing in the wind.)
Put more succinctly, I like my brain’s ability to think and solve complex issues in an efficient manner, but must it stew on something small till it overheats like an old car? Yes, it must. But it doesn’t HAVE to.
I can build in the pauses to prevent the car from stalling. Once it overheats, it is toooo late.
I call the shots as to where I want to direct my thoughts, or how much emotional energy I want to invest in something that happened in the past or will happen in future. The so-called preparation and Monday-morning quarterbacking never gets me anywhere but miserable, so I’ve got to “Be here now,” in this moment.
I need to find the dog deep down inside me and experience life.
I must be my own calming, quiet presence, resting my proverbial snout against my own feet and shins to show myself some love.
I deserve it.
Some days there are no mistakes. There are some strange coincidences, though.
People, usually with big, bright smiles on their faces, say, “Coincidences are God’s way of remaining anonymous.”
With that said, today while sitting in front of my computer, I clicked my mouse over my Chrome web browser toolbar by accident. Seemingly out of nowhere came a screen with mass times for a local church affiliated with a Jesuit college.
I said to myself, “I got you God. I can see what you did there. Very entertaining! Well played, sir.”
I then thought, “Hmm, maybe I can make the evening mass time today.”
Turns out, my body had other plans for me. I’m having one of my terrible episodes of debilitating, full-on, level 10 (Actually, “These go to 11.”), stem-to-stern body pain.
It feels like the aches you get with the flu coupled with a buzzing feeling just beneath the skin. And yes, ALL over my body. It hurts to breathe.
Tonight was not the night. I’ll go to mass another night.
I went home after work, ate dinner, and opened up the copy of the alumni magazine from the Jesuit college I graduated from 13 years ago. I read about two men who overcame great odds, rising above and beyond the ways their bodies betrayed them, to live their lives and pursue their dreams.
“Yes, God I see. I get it. You did it again. I got the message. I’m picking up what you are putting down.”
There are people in this world with major obstacles and they have overcome them. You can too, Kara, but only if you lean on something larger than yourself, like God. It has worked for me before…back when I believed and attended mass regularly. Guess where this was happening? Yes, you guessed it, during my college days, around Jesuits.
Today I just wanted to give up. My life is throwing me challenges left and right, and it FEELS as if I live a pain-filled existence. I can’t do the physical pain, the stress, the sadness and the feeling less than everyone around me. My spirituality tank is running on fumes.
Oh, and news flash, everyone else is managing some kind of hardship right now, too. I have had many conversations and counseled teens with craniofacial conditions stating this unavoidable truth. You may not see their scars, like the world can plainly see yours, but everyone has some hardship with which they are grappling.
So long story short, Kara, Shut up. And in the words of Denis Leary, who you quote far too often, “Get a Helmet.”
Take care of yourself, Kara. Love yourself. Listen to the guidance of God, and stop trying to shun and shirk Him by ducking into the dirty, dark alleys of your soul. If you want to be happy, content, and move everything in your life forward, Kara, you have to believe again. Note His presence and take action.
He is looking out for you with His not-so-coincidental mouse clicks. And now it is time that you look after Him, through prayer, possibly attending mass once in a while, and, most importantly, by stopping your daily denial of His existence, like you are Judas or something.
You’re not. You’re Kara — a believer, a Roman Catholic, a Jesuit-educated woman of honor, dignity, and integrity.
So, “Get a Helmet,” and act like it.
Hope. Some days it is in endless supply, other days the shelves are sparsely stocked. Right now, I am perched on a a millimeter thin sliver of hope. I have it, though. Unlike money or time, it doesn’t matter how much hope you have to feel a sense of security.
You just need to recognize its presence.
The days when hope is abundant, it is far easier. I do fully admit that fact, but the days when the hope feels onion-skin thin, those are the days when you grow. You struggle. Struggling is good because it means you are engaged in a fight for some change, or for some greater purpose. If you are struggling, and gaining no ground, you may want to change your goal, change your direction. Hope will help reorient you to a more effective way of achieving your goal enabling you to keep struggling. Ultimately, you will reach your goal.
I think struggling gets a bad rap because it is misunderstood. If you are struggling, you are in a dynamic state. working towards possible improvement. Said another way, one’s circumstances can only get better once the struggle is over and those moments of perceived pain pass. After all, a muscle has to endure tiny tears in order to develop more strength and agility.
And man it sucks. See, it is okay to validate the struggle. It is hard. Remember, though, if hope is recognized your struggle will not be in vain.
I have a modicum of it. Hope is there to get me through tonight and into tomorrow. Hope is blind faith in the universe, and coupled with a bit of struggling, or action, tomorrow can be whatever you choose to make it. I need to remember that if I change my ways great things are possible.
Hope, without hustle, is dead.
We use the word hope in such a flippant way, so much so that we have cheapened it and rendered the word meaningless. How many times have you heard someone say, “I hope things get better.” or “I hope the weather becomes more pleasant.” I hope the [insert sports team of your choice here] win.” Hope is more than that. It is not for suckers. It gives us something to strive for, something to struggle toward. It is the lighthouse beacon from afar, or the light at the end of the tunnel. Hope is your spirit and spirituality at work. It is that which gets you out of bed in the morning, and allows you to sleep at night.
Hope is always there. Search for your hope.
Open your eyes. Open your hearts.
It is there. I promise you.
Fight for yourself
Fight for some one else.
But by God, keep struggling, keep fighting. Never give up.
Hope is alive inside us all.
Please check out the relaunch of my blog that focuses on the Boston Red Sox minor league teams from Pawtucket to the Dominican Republic. I’ve decided to rename it Minor Threat. Thought it had a nice ring to it. What do you think? Hoping to get some traffic over there via my social media accounts, this blog post, and more. I may offer giveaways, shoutouts on Twitter to get you more followers, and other fun stuff. If you have any ideas on how to promote this relaunch, please let me know. You can contact me through the site.
I will continue to contribute to a a great New England blog site, Sportsofboston.com. There are a great team of writers and articles on the Celtics, Bruins, Red Sox, and Patriots. If it’s sports related and happening in New England, there is a good chance we cover it.It has been fun. I am very, very grateful to be part of this talented group of sports writers.
Follow me on Twitter @KaraJ1979 for more!
Thanks for reading!
I hate the attention my feet get. They stopped growing around seventh grade. A geneticist once told me that their stunted growth was due to the unnamed syndrome which also caused my cleft lip and palate. After seventh grade it was game on, people became curious about my feet. I was fielding questions once a week. Then asked, what size shoe did I take, told me my feet were cute, and asked where and how I bought my shoes. The questions still come at me to this day.
To answer all the questions once and for all:
1. I wear size 1 1/2 U.S. children’s, 30 European.
2. Thanks. I don’t want cute feet; I want sexy ones.
3. I, like you, buy my shoes at the store or via Amazon.
4. I go shoe shopping.
I want to love my feet and what better way than to celebrate them in a blog posts with photos. They get me to where I am going. They allow me to walk, run, play tennis, and have taken me through the first 35 years of a wonderful life journey. In thinking about it, they are sexy. Some poor people have large, bony feet, appearing like the skeletons commonly hung in science classrooms. I can’t help but think of Skeletor, enemy of the super hero, He-Man.
And, yes, you should be jealous if that is the motivation behind the questions and comments you make.
This post is one step (pardon the pun), among many, in a more positive direction, toward self-acceptance and away from self-loathing. I have learned that I cannot change much in this world at all. I can only hope to accept it. I am humbled by my body. It teaches me the patience I need to have with myself and others. All I need do is look down and I am reminded. Ahh! Humility.
I hope to build some esteem, laughs, and joy about those two body parts attached to my ankles. Enjoy the photographs. The feet have been there through thick and thin, getting where I need to go, pushing me through to the next milestone on the journey of life.
I can’t believe I did it. I applied to NBCUniversal to be a comedy writer.
Well, not exactly. I applied to be accepted to a workshop that would take place in New York City at 30 Rockefeller Center In March 2015.
I have not heard back yet. What I do know for certain is another door to a room filled with possibility opened in my mind. I could write comedy. I could be a comedy writer.
Initially, I laughed at the application that someone forwarded to me. It called for the following:
- 1-2 pages of Monologue Jokes
- 1-2 pages of middle of the show bit descriptions, similar to Jimmy Fallon’s “Thank You” notes, or David Letterman’s “Stupid Human Tricks.”
- and, 2 Saturday Night Live (SNL) style skits, one with an original character and about pop culture, or something on current events or life.
An optional letter of recommendation could also be included, but it had to be from a real person, not an original character. In so many words, the submitter could not write a letter of recommendation from a figment of their imagination. This is the part in which I burst out laughing during my first reading of the application guidelines.
Finally, NBCUniversal required that you sign away all your literary and copyright to the content that you submitted as part of the application. The long and the short of it was that NBC, the members of the writers’ rooms at 30 Rock, and/or anyone else that read my content could use it. (If I see any of my ideas on air, I will be sure to let everyone know.)
I went back and forth on whether or not to apply, then I thought: “What do I have to lose?” I’m not a comedy writer. I’m a fair-to-middling sports writer that currently is not getting paid. Why not throw my hat in the ring? People think I am funny. I know this because most of them laugh when I tell stories, or throw out a one liner.
The final thing that convinced me were my recent thoughts after watching an episode of Late Night with Seth Meyers, and a few recent sketches of SNL. My thoughts were “anything would be better than this crap.” I laughed only at some of the old SNL stuff, but none of the newer skits. And as for Seth Meyers, let’s just say the man needs help. It takes a village, and that village is not in the “Late Night” writing room.
Here is a sampling of what I submitted (following fair use guidelines to the best of my ability, of course, because I no longer hold the rights to this material)
Paddington came out in theaters today. It’s the story of a bear that was left at a train station with a sign that said look after this bear. In the modern day retelling, Paddington gets left at the airport where he is subject to a TSA full cavity search, and it costs $25 to check his bag when he tries to fly United.
Boyhood, featuring Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke, won the Golden Globe for best film. I’m looking forward to the sequel “Never-Ending Adolescence” starring Scott Disick.
Taken 3 opens in theaters on Friday. It wasn’t bad enough that they made Taken 2. How many more people does Oscar Schindler have to save?
Middle of the Show Content
Uber confessions – Riders and drivers tell their wildest tales of using this service (A cleaned up version of HBO’s Taxicab Confessions.)
Online Dating Profiles – Review online dating profiles. Ask person to come on to the show to help improve the writing of their dating profiles, or talk to them about the success of their dating profile. Bring on someone who is completely fabricating information in his or her profile, from images to how answered questions.
Sketches (I’ll include the whole sketch. This is an area of my submission that I am confident will never see the light of day. If you can believe it, the other one is worse.)
MASTERTEXT THEATER – AN AUTOCORRECT ADVENTURE
The camera focuses in on a fireplace and moves to the HOST OF MASTERTEXT THEATER. The music from PBS Masterpiece Theater plays in the background.
HOST OF MASTERTEXT THEATER (earnestly): Welcome to MasterText Theater. Tonight we will tune in to a couple deciding what to do on a Friday night.
The two characters, a MALE AND a FEMALE, appear in split screen possibly (pre-recorded), phones in hand. They are dating It is Friday night and boyfriend text messages girlfriend about plans for the night.
MALE (texts on phone appears on the screen just below Male’s face, appearing similar to the IMessage App) (voice over of his voice says) Hey, how about Chinese and moving in tonight?
FEMALE (Text notification noise) (Surprised, scared look on her face) (FEMALE voiceover say) We have only been dating for a month. I’m not sure I am ready for that level of commitment.
HOST OF MASTERTEXT THEATER He meant movie. How about a movie tonight?
MALE (Text notification noise) (Confused look on his face. Then realizes his mistake, hits head with hand, and Laughs to himself.) Oh no, I meant a movie.
FEMALE (Text notification noise) (Laughs to herself. Types on phone.) K, that sounds even much better. How about The Hummer Games?
MALE (Text notification noise) (shocked look on his face followed by mischievous grin, and excitement. Fist pumps in the air.). Are you sure you want to watch that? My buddy has it.
HOST OF MASTERTEXT THEATER (Rolls his eyes) She meant The Hunger Games. (Sarcastically) Oooo, burn.
FEMALE (Text notification noise) (Shocked, grossed out face):Oh Autocorrect! I meant the Hunger Games.
MALE (Text notification noise) (Appears bummed, sighs, shakes it off, steadies himself, texts her back): Right! Right, Duck, autocorrect, I don’t really have a friend with that movie. Do you want Chinese, Mexican, or Thai?
FEMALE (Text notification noise) (Texts back): I want chin rests.
Male: (Rolls eyes) Do you mean Chinese?
HOST OF MASTERTEXT THEATER (matter of factly) She meant Chinese.
FEMALE (Text notification noise) (texts) Yes, sorry. This phone just says what it wants. I’ll see you latter day saints.
HOST OF MASTERTEXT THEATER (matter of factly) She meant to say, I’ll see you later.
MALE (Text notification noise) (Agitated now…mouths “what” laughs in aggravation. Angrily texts.) Duck these phones. Duck them all to helicopter. I can’t tall like this any larger. C u toenails. J
HOST OF MASTERTEXT THEATER (shakes head, hesitantly, but matter of factly) I think he’s excited about their date. Uhhhhh! Yeah, we’ll go with that.
(Slightly horrified, rubs left temple with left hand) We will see you next time on MasterText Theater. For now, good night.
(Male and Female appear in split screen, and look exasperated, Smiles, shake their heads.)
Why I Did It?
And now, I continue to wait like I have for the past few weeks. The workshop takes place from March 20-24. There are people whom have been writing comedy far longer than I have, which was basically for two weeks, that probably want to be part of this workshop. In addition, some of my fellow competitors may have agents, and television writing credits. Not me, I am just happy to throw my hat in the ring. Happy to be able to be strong enough to do something so filled with uncertainty that a year ago I would have dismissed it out of hand. Why? Because I had no control over the outcome.
This is messy. Life is messy. I cannot allow this messy life to scare me.
The possibilities are exciting only if you see them, and realize you have nothing to lose.
Therefore living messily, living in shadows of the grey unknown, IS exactly how I want to live. Anything less is just existing.
If you are not living a life filled with your passions, or reaching for the brass ring, a new experience that feeds your soul, stop everything and look around. Find an opportunity where you have nothing to lose. Then go for it.
I’ll let you know how it all turns out, but for right now I am content living in the unknown because I am better for having had the experience.