writing down the sun

baby steps

Posted in beach life, the big picture, what i'm thinking now by annie on January 30, 2009

Believe it or not, according to my records this is my first blog post in about six months (excluding posts at my law practice blog).

This from the woman who ran, at one time, no less than 9 blogs simultaneously.

The reasons behind my disappearance from the blogosphere were mostly self-imposed – no, scratch that. Entirely self-imposed. I wanted to see if I could do it — step back from this mad habit — and I wanted to see what my life was like without it.

Conclusions: Yes. And “OK, but I don’t prefer it as a way of life.”

There was more to it, of course. There were projects that demanded attention, and there were major lifechanges brewing in the French Press of Life that had to be Attended To.  Mostly, it was a decision based on need: time management needs, psychological needs, and professional needs.

So, over the last six months or so, I’ve had the opportunity to do some deep-level thinking about life, the universe and everything and while I don’t have the final score yet, I can most readily assure you that not one of my answers is “42.”  (Ironically, though, that is my age. But it’s not an answer, because age is irrelevant.)

Some of the blogs, I’m keeping. The Inspired Solo was helpful, and can still be. I may not be the person to run it any longer, but up it will stay, at least for the time being. The SC Bankruptcy & Consumer Law Blog will be transferred to the wonderful Däna Wilkinson, who has graciously allowed me to come back from time to time and post some thoughts as a non-lawyer.

Oh, yeah. That.

Sorry to bury the lede, but that’s pretty much indicative of my thoughts on this particular decision. For many reasons, none of which I can discuss here yet, I’ve decided to retire from the practice of law, as soon as I get this current crop of clients shepherded through their cases. And oddly, after ten years of angst-ridden internal debate on the question, now that I’ve finally decided, it’s no longer a big deal to me. Not even close to being the biggest thing I’ve got going on right now.

It’s a serious deal, to be sure. This is not the kind of thing you can just shut the door on, or delete a website and be done with it. There are matters to be handled, in particular ways. There are people to be helped. There are papers to be signed, and disclosures to be made, and I’ve made them – or will make them at the appropriate point. So, serious. But not important personally.

What is important: the projects in my Things window —

  • Moving back home to the Tar Heel state, and all that implies (packing up, securing housing, finding a part-time job, warning my brother and sister-in-law so they can make plans to be on vacation the week I need help moving in, that kind of thing)
  • Helping the daughter prepare for the big move (a task unto itself)
  • Dealing with the thing that brought me here (how vague)
  • And launching my new full-time freelance writing career

About that last: I’m scared, hell yes. It’s a scary, scary thing. But it excites me in a way that is new and wonderful, and it’s not mere denial. I mean, I know how scary it is! And I want to do it anyway. This? It’s a huge risk. And it’s one I simply have to take on myself. I simply cannot turn another year older with this “should I or shouldn’t I?” crap still roiling inside my head. Time to answer the question, and the only way to answer it definitively, is to do it, and give it my all. Whatever happens from there I’ll accept. I may grumble and/or rage but I’ll accept.

What I can no longer accept: living life mindlessly, doing the things I “ought” to be doing because I “should” and because it’s what “others” “expect.” I’m sick of living life in the quote marks. Full stop.

So, some housekeeping: we’re moving from here to a new domain: http://www.sherriesisk.com. That will happen over the next few days. I’ll keep the posts to date up here, as well, at least for the time being, but old posts will also migrate over there.

Aaaand … I’ll keep ya posted.

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why katherine heigl was rude, but right

Posted in celebrities by annie on June 14, 2008

Katherine Heigl, who plays Izzy Stevens, a doctor at “Seattle Grace” hospital in the ABC show “Grey’s Anatomy” has ruffled some serious plumage with her decision to remove her name from Emmy consideration — and to be quite open about it when asked why:

“I did not feel that I was given the material this season to warrant an Emmy nomination and in an effort to maintain the integrity of the academy organization, I withdrew my name from contention,” she said. “In addition, I did not want to potentially take away an opportunity from an actress who was given such materials.”

My thoughts: Yeah, you’re right. But Lord almighty do you have to be so damn blunt about it?

For those who don’t watch the show — well, it’s painful lately, so I can’t blame you. With the sole and notable exception of the season finale, which was right on the money, the show’s quality has suffered from what appears to be a serious lack of commitment and focus. Where is it all headed? Nobody apparently knows and that’s the problem. It ain’t the acting. It ain’t the directing. It is, I’m sorry to say, the writing — and the … well, whatever you call whoever’s in charge of making the big picture CEO decisions about the show’s master arc does. That’s all over the place this year.

The character of Izzy in particular has been impacted by this lack of focus. In the show’s universe, it wasn’t that long ago that she lost the love of her life, but this year she was thrown into an ill-advised, completely unforeseen, and totally character-inappropriate relationship with, of all people, her best friend George. That was mercifully aborted almost as soon as it began but not before driving an even greater wedge between the show and its loyal fans.

So, yeah, Heigl’s right when she says she wasn’t given appropriate Emmy-quality material this year. But she should have kept her yap shut as to “why.” Why? ‘Cause she looks like a grade-A, royal queen-bee bitch now, that’s why. And while she obviously has the potential for quite a successful movie career (as opposed to the show’s ostensible star, Ellen Pompeo, who will surely be forever playing Meredith Grey, no matter what show she’s in), that future is dependent on other people deciding “Hey, we like her, let’s hire her.”

And that, for celebrities, as for the real world denizens like us, depends on behavior. Yours. Mine. Heigl’s. We teach people how to treat us, but we also teach them in large part how to feel about us, too.

There’s a charitable fraternity-organization for business people called the Rotary Club. I don’t know much about them except that whenever I have to make a court appearance for a client, I drive past these “Burma Shave”-esque signs they put up on the side of the road headed into Conway. They exhort me to, before I say something (anything!), answer these following questions:

  • Is it true?
  • Is it fair to all concerned?
  • Will it build good will and better relationships?

Y’know, I mock those signs every time I drive by (just a little — in a good-natured way), but there’s something to be said for holding one’s tongue when the answer to one or more of those questions happens to be “no.”

And you can probably put this one in that “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should” category too. We’ve been hanging out there a lot lately, haven’t we?

Source: “Grey’s” Source: Heigl’s comment a slap in the face

just because you can … part 2

Posted in what i'm thinking now by annie on June 13, 2008

The story out of Oceanside, California yesterday has parents, teens, and educators talking — really talking, apparently, even agreeing with each other. Can that ever be a bad thing?

Well — yes, if the talk and agreement is centered around a mass school-wide deception of incomprehensibly epic and cruel proportions.

Imagine: you’re a teen. You go to school Monday morning only to note that several classmates are absent. Weird, you think – or perhaps you don’t notice. Maybe you only notice when the uniformed state troopers start showing up with grim faces and even grimmer news:

Those absent classmates? They’re all dead. Victims of a horrible drunk driving incident.

You and your classmates, with the raw grief that perhaps only teens can muster for each other over the lives of those who thought themselves invincible, predictably — understandably — fall apart. There are tears. There is despondency. There is rage.

Yet this is nothing like the rage that is induced mere hours later when the rumors start to float around. First, just one or two students who were particularly grief-stricken, inconsolable, hysterical with grief even — then more and more, and finally when you all file into the assembly that you used to think was a rapidly planned memorial service for the dead, you realize you all know by this point:

This was all a hoax.

Your teachers, your principals, your fucking guidance counselors all thought this was a good way to get you not to drink and drive over graduation weekend.

From my vantage point of 20-odd years post-high-school, this is how I feel: what the hell were these adults thinking? Were they thinking at all?

This whole charade has the smell of one of those projects that somehow take on lives of their own. You know the kind I mean. They start with just a kernel of an idea, fueled by a good intention. But by the time details start getting added to flesh out this kernel of an idea, the whole thing is a fait accompli and no one can even remember agreeing to the damn thing in the first place.

So, good people get swept up in the tide. Do they question it? Maybe. Maybe somewhere deep inside there’s a tiny whisper urging a bit of caution, another look, a step back. Do they listen? Maybe. Maybe someone tentatively raises a hand in a staff meeting and says, ever so uncertainly, “Are we sure this is the way we want to go?” That hand quickly gets pulled down, though, when the response is dismissive.

The end result: no one stops and takes a moment’s pause. No one takes that crucial step back and thinks about it from the peculiar vantage point of after-the-fact.

And, so, I have no doubt that there are some stunned school officials in Oceanside this week, wondering how in the hell they became such universal objects of scorn and outrage. How? Simple. They got carried away, and didn’t practice the one skill I believe is most needed in this day and age, yet remains sadly absent from our public education curriculum: critical thinking.

There is no reverse on the DVD player of your life. There is, however, a “fast forward” of sorts.

my adventures in spec script writing, part un

Posted in tv, writing by annie on June 7, 2008

So, I’m writing a House spec script. What this means: I write the script in full without payment. Unlike real Hollywood TV writers who, once established, get hired (read: PAID) to write such a thing, I’m writing it “speculatively” — i.e., speculating on something else happening. The catch in my case: the “something else” I’m waiting for isn’t a writing gig on House* but a breakthrough on my novel. So, you might say I’m “speculating” that this endeavor will reassure my shaky choice-shy psyche that yes, it’s OK to finish the novel.

And to start it all off, I’m watching/rewatching old episodes with an eye towards sussing out and understanding the structure. It’s like playing TV detective! (Not “detective on TV” though. That’s something else entirely.)

And as it turns out, your favorite TV shows have a secret life all their own. You think you know — you don’t know! Here’s what I mean:

Normally, House follows a very predictable structure. Teaser – 2 minutes or less. Titles. Act one – six to eight scenes, normally 60% less than 1 minute long, the rest from 1 to 2 minutes long. Hardly ever does a scene go over 2 minutes. Act two has a similar structure; three as well but it’s shorter overall, four is more like three, maybe a bit shorter, and then the last scene sometimes lays a foundation for the next episode.

I haven’t seen ALL the House episodes yet – nor have I analyzed all the ones I have seen. But I feel pretty comfortable stating that they fall within this structure, more or less.

If you’re a regular House watcher you may have felt (as I did) the first part of the finale — “House’s Head” – felt …. different, somehow. Not just the whole “House is the patient — whaaa?!” thing or the amnesia or the hallucinations and hypnosis — something about the whole “feel” of the show was different.

Turns out, there was a very good reason for feeling that way: The structure got turned on its head. The teaser was the same, but then there was an immediate cut back into Act One, after titles, and from that point on all hell broke loose. SEVEN Acts, not four! First act waaaaaay longer than usual! Number of scenes per act decimated! TWO scenes in one of the acts! Average time per scene something like 3 minutes, much longer than usual! Whoa, nelly. What in blue blazes is going on here?

But watching it, you’d never single that out and say “Oh yeah, they changed the structure.” (Unless you were some script nerd, as I fear I am becoming.) Yet the structure completely changed the way you experience the episode. Made it more intimate and at the same time uncomfortable – like you stayed too long at the party and watched the host and hostess get into a crockery-throwing, obscenity-hurling smackdown, yet you just couldn’t NOT look …. or something.

I’m telling you, there’s like this whole secret life of television shows you think you know — you don’t know until you break out the stopwatch! It’s so cool. I never really got into “technique” before — I was more focused on being creative (to varying degrees of success, I might add). This is pure technique and as such it’s very interesting and new.

Also makes me think “What the hell did I agree to do?! No way I can keep all this together!”

Which then makes me think “The hell you say … just watch me.”

Which, when you get right down to it, is The Whole Point.

*Ironically, were I writing this as a wannabe TV writer, and not for creative treatment, I’d be looking for a job on any show other than House, actually. Show runners never read spec scripts for their own shows for legal reasons. I am told.

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time to change clothes

Posted in what i'm thinking now by annie on June 2, 2008

I made it look different. I was gettin’ bored with the old pic and look.

stuck in the house

Posted in tv, writing by annie on June 1, 2008

So I’ve been just consumed — OK, let’s call it what it is — obsessed — with watching the first two seasons of House MD on DVD. A few strange developments have occurred during this marathon:

  • I’ve decided I really like the show after all. I know — that sounds pretentious, like I was too cool for House, one of the (arguably, the) finest shows on TV. Yet it rubbed me the wrong way at first. Probably because of this ass, also being brought up by a nurse who saw firsthand the unbelievable arrogance of most (I didn’t say “all”!) doctors. So — yeah, it started chipping away at my doc-defenses. I admit it — it’s technically good, and I like it. Happy, Dr. Pig Jowls?
  • I’ve developed a simultaneous block on my novel. Actually, to be honest, I’m pretty sure the block arose first. The House marathon was a distraction, but . . .
  • . . . I’m beginning to think the two are connected. What I mean: I think House is the solution.

Explanation: I’m blocked, whatever we agree that this means. For whatever reason, most likely self-induced, I cannot get past a certain point in the novel draft and therefore it sits untouched, damn it. What I think will help: something structured. ‘Cause, see, the novel isn’t, right? It’s like this vast wasteland of possibility.

And what, pray tell, is more structured than an established procedural-cum-character drama spec script?

See where I’m going with this?

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i am tempted …

Posted in celebrities, what i'm thinking now by annie on May 27, 2008

While I generally love my life here on the SC coast, and have lived east of the Mississippi my entire life (in one case, just barely east, but … still), I am lately overcome with this nonsensical urge to pick up and move.

To Los Angeles.

I don’t know where this is coming from, mind you. I’ve always considered myself sort of anti-everything we pseudo-intellectual types think L.A. is all about. I’ve always thought there were three kinds of people in the world: New York people, L.A. people, and every-place-in-between people. I’ve always considered myself firmly in the NYC camp.

So why this sudden urge to haul ass to Hollywood? My acting career is well and truly done. I have no impulses to revive it. Swear to God.

It’s not the weather — we get similar weather here (maybe a bit more humid, and also there’s that whole hurricane thing, although L.A. does have the earthquake thing to balance it out).

I know exactly one person out there — an 85-year-old friend of my late mother’s. So it’s not an abundance of homeys calling me westward.

I’m not a big celebrity freak (though I do like making fun of them — but hell’s bells, I can do that here, too).

What gives?

Why the L.A. pull?

I just. don’t. know.

It’s very curious.

ah, twitter

Posted in what i'm thinking now by annie on May 3, 2008

I have been Twittering (tweeting? twitting?) for a week. I am officially hooked.

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why can’t this happen to me on the mat?

Posted in on the mat by annie on April 26, 2008

So this landed in my email inbox this AM, courtesy Yoga Journal:

You reach up and back, your chest opening into a supported backbend. Then, suddenly, you’re in tears. How did you move from serenity to intensity in just one moment?

“The holistic system of yoga was designed so that these emotional breakthroughs can occur safely,” says Joan Shivarpita Harrigan, Ph.D., a psychologist and the director of Patanjali Kundalini Yoga Care … People enter into the practice of yoga asana for physical fitness or physical health, or even because they’ve heard it’s good for relaxation, but ultimately the purpose of yoga practice is spiritual development.”

This development depends on breaking through places in the subtle body that are blocked with unresolved issues and energy. … And since that means working with emotions, emotional breakthroughs can be seen as markers of progress on the road to personal and spiritual growth.

I plead guilty as charged; I totally do yoga just for the physical benefits. But I’m not anti-spiritual development. I meditate; I pray (in a fashion); I even have spiritual practices I (try to) engage in regularly. I’ve been “doing yoga” for years now.

So how come I’ve never had one of these fabulous oft-touted emotional breakthroughs on the mat?

It sounds fabulous, really. I’m not being facetious. I really would like to have some manifestation of growth, some symbol of growth. I guess I’m saying yes, I’d really like to break down in tears on my yoga mat, just once.

But it’s like the mythical blue pearl, that “Holy Grail” of meditators who’ve theoretically achieved some level of enlightenment. Or the awakening of kundalini energy, likened to an “energy snake” that starts coiling up your spine. (Lovely image, that.) Haven’t had those experiences, either. They happen when (if) they happen and not a minute before, I am told. There is little, if anything, that one can do to coax the blue pearl, or the energy snake — or the tears — into being.

I would think that feeling as I do — a little whiny, to be honest, a little “why not me?!” — is probably counterproductive.

carrington steel’s “book”

Posted in 1 by annie on April 22, 2008

Anyone who can hook me up with a copy of Carrington Steele’s “book” about Oprah out there for a critical review? I’d really like to read it but have absolutely no intention of sending the “author” any money.  PM me or send me a note at Twitter (sherylsisk) or drop me a line here and I’ll email you.