An Artist Finds True Love in P.S. I Love You

“My business is to create.” 

In this post about art-related films, I mentioned that I thought P.S. I Love You was “not a good love story, but a good art story.” After my traditional St. Patrick’s Day viewing of the film (more on that in a moment), I’ve decided that I may have made a hasty judgment, and that art and true love might be more closely related than they seem.

So once upon a time, Josh and I went to Ireland for Spring break and St. Patrick’s day. It was a wild ride and totally exhausting, but absolutely beautiful. It’s something we would love to do again. Spending time in the land of the shamrocks those years ago put me in an inexplicable mood to watch P.S. I Love You–inexplicable because when I last watched this flick as a single and hormonal teenager, I completely hated it. The critic in me thought it was depressing and cheesy as all get-out.

Relax, you swooning and now-irate Gerard Butler fans. Upon watching the film again as an adult in conjunction with Dear Frankie (Butler accent marathon!), I quite surprisingly found it among some of my favorite films of the decade. Not only this, but Josh was quick to second the motion–and it’s a chick flick, guys. Needless to say, it’s now a family favorite.

I’m pretty sure that where I went wrong when I first watched this movie was in watching it as a chick flick–as a cliche story of romantic love, romantic love lost, and romantic love rediscovered.

As a traditional love story, P.S. I Love You is mediocre at best; however, as a story about art, identity, intimacy, and true love it is quite touching and maybe even outstanding.

According to the quirky Holly’s quoting of William Blake in an attempt to impress roguish Irishman Gerry Kennedy, “My business is to create.”

As an art student with no idea what she wants to do with her life, the only thing of which she and (she believes) everyone else on the planet can be sure is that we each need to create something–not because we are obligated to offer something beautiful to the world, but because this something is an inescapable part of who we are, how we are unique, and how we communicate that.

“All I know is, if you don’t figure out this something, you’ll just stay ordinary, and it doesn’t matter if its a work of art or a taco or a pair of socks! Just create something . . . new, and there it is, and it’s you–out in the world, outside of you–and you can look at it, or hear it, or read it, or feel it–and you know a little more about . . . you. A little bit more than anyone else does.” 

What do you know about you?

Not enough? Well, you don’t have to know everything, believe it or not. If you did, what would be the point in looking for yourself through the soul-searching act of pure creation–of pure art?

Which reminds me of another favorite P.S. quote . . .

Holly: “I see people buying bigger apartments and having babies. I get so afraid sometimes our life’s never gonna start.

Gerry: “No, baby. We’re already in our life. It’s already started. This is it. You have to stop waiting.

Man, this scene hits me like a ton of bricks every time.

I know that I and many others like me are constantly guilty of looking to the next milestone of graduation or getting our dream job or buying a house or having kids. We’re too busy looking ahead to inhabit our own lives in the moment.

As far as I’ve been able to figure out in my meager 22 years, life isn’t about scrambling to find out what you’re supposed to do with your life so that you can blissfully do it for the rest of your days ad infinitum.

The scrambling–the journey–the search is your life.

Personally, I believe as Holly does that creating is a big part of that search. It’s a part of the process of knowing and being known–or trying to. It’s reaching deep down inside yourself and and pulling out a piece of what you value or how you see the world, and it says out loud (even if only to you) “This is who I am.” When you appreciate the creations of others, you’re stepping into a bit of who they are and taking a walk around, willing to share that intimacy with them.

This ideology is how I try to approach every moment of each one of my days on this earth. It’s my goal–my mantra–

To know and to make known.

This is love to me. Self-love and love for others all wrapped up in one beautiful life mission. This mantra includes tolerance and acceptance but also challenge and discussion when it comes to really getting to the bottom of what makes a person tick. It sounds so over-simplified, but it’s really not simple. Sometimes what you know about yourself, your God, and your friends/family/etc don’t quite jive, and you have to reconcile that.

But somewhere in the process of constantly pursuing a depth of knowledge of yourself and the world around you, you encounter people who love and understand you for who you really are.

So make something. Make a poem. Make pasta. Make a mess. Make love. Make mistakes.

Every time you let that glimpse of who you really are and who you want to be out into the world, you are leaving yourself vulnerable–open to being known and loved fully, or fully rejected–and you are promising that same love to those who open themselves to you.

Okay, so I know that I waxed a bit philosophical in this post, but I hope that I’ve encouraged lonely people everywhere to let art lead them to every pure form of love.

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Do I Want to Be a Hipster?

“I wanna be a hipster,” she says simply, pointing to her biblical tattoo and short-cropped hair in the middle of a conversation about her favorite folk music lyrics. “I’ve decided. I wanna be a hipster!” She is one of my best friends, and I generally respect her taste a great deal. But I don’t know how to react.

Maybe you can relate with her.

Maybe you most certainly cannot.

Maybe you’ve been enthusiastically jabbering on about your favorite band, independent film, art collection, or philosopher, when suddenly your conversation partner shakes their head and says, “Oh, you’re such a hipster.” You stand there in your plaid shirt, lace cardigan, maroon skinny corduroys, and vintage oxfords unsure of how to take this–and even less sure of how to respond. “Do I say ‘thank you?’ Do I shrug shamefully? Do I adamantly deny it?” This last course of action is the most dangerous, because many people believe that the strongest mark of a hipster is the inability to admit that one is, in fact, a hipster.

I felt that a lot of this trouble could be cleared up by settling on a concrete definition of what it means to be a hipster. Of course, no such definition exists. Even less-than-scholarly Urban Dictionary offers about seven encyclopedia-entry-sized explanations of this cultural phenomenon. Even so, this one seemed like a safe place to start:

“Hipsters are a subculture of men and women typically in their 20’s and 30’s that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter.”

That doesn’t sound too repulsive, does it? Especially for an Urban Dictionary definition. Those can get grody.

Honestly, I want to be a lot of those qualities described in the above definition. I am a lot of those qualities. I love me some intelligent, witty banter and independent thinking. I’m a huge fan of art and indie music. I keep close tabs on progressive politics. I’m creative. I’m in my twenties.

Am I a hipster? And more importantly, is that a bad thing?

What People See as Desirable About Hipster Culture:

Creativity and experimental fashion

So the style in the hipster world is pretty fly. It’s incredibly diverse and usually an eclectic mix of a variety of other styles–bohemian, punk, preppy, scuzzy lumberjack, etc. I know labels are the worst, but words are what we use to make sense of the world, so deal with it, hipster readers. My point is, their fashion and beauty creations tend to be interesting and refreshing.

Also, this gallery of celebrities re-imagined as hipsters is my favorite thing since Benedict Cumberbatch photobombed U2 at the Oscars.

Refusing to get caught up in fads

I dislike sweeping fads as much as the next person, although a job in marketing basically means I have to make a career out of studying them. So when a chunk of the population says, “No, thanks,” and continues to do their own thing despite social pressure, I enjoy that. I appreciate the courage to be oneself without needing the approval of the masses. I knew a girl in college who got engaged to her boyfriend without a ring because they didn’t see the point. I think that kind of freedom has to feel so good.

A genuine appreciation for the arts

Yes, some hipsters only listen to the music they listen to or watch the movies they watch because no one else does. Others, however, really look for a higher standard of quality when it comes to the media they consume. While the masses are content to watch Transformers, hipsters call BS and curl up with The Iron Giant instead. I also notice that hipsters are more likely to be interested in theatre and visual art. Sure, it can feel like snobbery at times, but I really admire it.

A genuine appreciation for vintage culture and nostalgia

I am all about nostalgia lately. I cry thinking about bygone days when people didn’t take a miniature telephone/computer with them every time they left the house. I like it when hipsters value the past and the simple life. They upcycle grandma’s old jewelry and dad’s old trousers. They ride bikes and tune up old record players. This kind of respect for the things of the past is heart-warming to me.

Enjoying knowledge for the sake of knowledge

This might not be an “official” hipster trait, but it’s something that I’ve noticed. Hipsters generally like to know things about the things they like. They make a hobby of gaining knowledge about their hobby. These are the people who read Bukowksi for fun and study coffee growing and roasting techniques. Fine by me. If you care about something, invest some time and effort into it, I say.

P.S. But remember no one likes a know-it-all.

Frugality and resourcefulness

This kind of goes hand-in-hand with appreciating vintage goodies, but hipsters really are responsible for thrifting being as popular as it is now. No, it wasn’t Macklemore. We were doing it before it was cool.

A desire to discuss important topics

Again, maybe not a hallmark of all hipsters, but it’s a trend I’ve seen. Those I’ve encountered who fit the hipster mold are eager to engage with others about social justice issues like feminism, marriage equality, and human trafficking as well as political and economic topics. I personally find it delightfully refreshing to encounter people who are not only educated about what’s happening in the world around them but who also think and feel passionately about those happenings.

What People See as Repellant About Hipster Culture: 

Refusing to acknowledge genuine talent and quality just because it is popular or “mainstream”

This drives me freaking nuts. Yes, Lady Gaga is an overrated mainstream fame-monger. That does nothing to change the fact that she is a stellar vocalist and an out-of-this-world performer. Just admit it! Millions of people love her for a reason! Why does that deter you from admitting she is good?! I can’t even . . .

Seriously, I have never been able to wrap my head around the “They’re famous now, so I can’t like them anymore” thing. They’re famous because they’re good, for crying out loud!

Condescension or snobbiness

You’ve all felt it–judgment from a holier-than-though hipster who felt the need to inform you that your fedora is actually a trilby or that your Chai tea isn’t fair trade. Nuff said.

Excessively expensive or excessively abnegating lifestyles

These are two sides of the same coin. (Abnegation is a 50-cent word for denying yourself things you want). Both extremes are bad as far as I am concerned. Some hipsters are the style who will blow their money on organic everything and memorabilia signed by the Smiths. Others are the kind who won’t wear shoes or eat chocolate in order to make a statement. I’m not a fan of either.

WORST EVER: Caring about being different more than they care about interpersonal connection

This takes the cake in terms of bad hipster qualities. It’s unfortunately come to be the signature of hipsters everywhere. These people find their sense of self in participating in only aspects of culture that are unknown or “underground.” Often the minute these bands, or anime series, or clothing brands, or whatever begin to become popular, their hipster followers will abandon ship and move on the the next heretofore undiscovered thing. It’s as if the only way they can be truly unique is to like things that hardly anyone else likes.

They form their identity based on the things they enjoy rather than the people they enjoy them with.

The irony? Now hipsterism itself has become popular, so the hipsters have nowhere to go. They’re having a massive identity crisis.

So Who Do I Want to Be?

In light of acknowledging the positive and negative aspects of hipsterism, what can those of us who are “on the fence,” if you will, conclude about who we want to be going forward? I can only speak for myself, but I think I’ve learned some important lessons in studying hipsters.

I want to be myself first of all. And I want to be with people second.

Being myself means that if I do or do not like or care about something, I will be honest about it–to myself and to the world.

Being with people means that I will never let these passions alienate me from those I encounter. I will embrace connection.

hipYes, I occasionally enjoy some obscure and/or unpopular things. That just means I’m all the more delighted when I meet someone who shares that interest. If we have that obscure thing in common, odds are we have other things in common and we’ll probably hit it off! Yes, my style of dress is a little unorthodox sometimes (not so much anymore,) but I do it to feel happy and free about my appearance, not to scare people away. Yes, I value academic intelligence and being politically and socially aware, but why would I want to keep those things to myself by avoiding people who are not “up to my standard?”

I want to love and be loved, and if I can love on someone while we both love on existentialist philosophy, Chvrches, Attack on Titan, matcha green tea, blackbox theatre, pad thai, and Modcloth, that does not threaten my sense of self at all.

Why can’t we all embrace intelligence, activism, resourcefulness, creativity, critical consumption of media, multiculturalism, and other admirable qualities without trying to label such things as being counter-cultural and “hipster?”

Alienating ourselves from others through our cultural identity is unhealthy, but so is mindlessly consuming the pop culture fed to us on a large scale. That’s why I love the fact that hipsterism is not a subculture anymore. Hipsterism is becoming mainstream because people are realizing that they can explore the culture beyond what is readily accessible to them and in so doing encounter others who are also happy to challenge the status quo.

Yes, we are all forming our own identities, but our identities are tangled up in the people we let into our worlds. Let’s fill those worlds with the things we love and trust that they will attract people who we might come to love as well.

For Your Inspiration: Creative Commentaries

Hi all!

Sorry for the absence. I have been darting back and forth between my home in Rochester and the beautiful city of Canandiagua in order to spend time with my extended family who have traveled up from Georgia and Pennsylvania to vacation for the week.There were beaches, boating, cookouts, amusement parks, and only the teensiest sunburn.

I have also had my hands full with two feline bundles of joy who don’t quite sleep through the night. (Apologies to those of you who were offended or otherwise put out by my “baby” joke. I found it humorous.)

Then there’s the whole job-hunting situation. Interviews, meetings, and query-letter-typing have a way of feeling like they have consumed your whole day no matter how long they actually take.

Anyway, excuses aside, I thought that rather than stress myself out with writing a new post for the blog I would link you to some of the best creative fodder I have bumped into online recently.

What is the Shortest Poem?Screen shot 2013-07-08 at 1.21.27 PM

If you have not yet discovered the YouTube channel Vsauce yet, you haven’t lived. Michael may be my  favorite human being on the planet. Watching just a few of his videos will make it clear to you that he possesses one of the most well-rounded brains on the planet. Math, science, art, and the humanities are all one mass of intellectual musing to him. This video is about poetry and artistic brevity.

Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Theatremusic-man

A sweet love letter to the theatre from the blog of a personal friend I have had the pleasure of both acting with and directing in the past.

ginabrillion Gina Brillon – First Latina Comedian Wins NBC Stand-Up Deal

I discovered this gal on a channel-flipping encounter with The View. This routine never gets old. I could listen to her do her South Bronx Puerto-Rican accent all day. I’m holding out to see if she has any Spanish language material. I wish this funny girl lots of success.

visualstorytelling13Visual Storytelling: New Language for the Information Age

Maria Popova at Brainpickings is pure brilliance, but this article is more informational and inspiring than anything I have even seen her compose in the past. I especially love the inforgraphics about how to make movies.

kutcher_jobsTrailer for Ashton Kutcher’s Steve Jobs Film

Saw this at the beginning of Now You See Me (which was great). Artsy indie film and technology moguls? I don’t know if it’s Josh or me who is more excited!

Poetry Slam: “Hebrew Mamita”

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Hebrew Mamita – Jessica Thurston

Around Yom Kippur I posted a video of  Vanessa Hidary reciting her signature piece entitled “Hebrew Mamita.” I have long loved this piece and spoken word poetry in general, so when a friend from CUFI asked me if i could come up with something artsy to help celebrate Israeli independence at the campus I-Fest (Israeli Festival), this was the first thing to come to mind.

The quality of my video is nothing compared to Hidary’s, but I think I did well and made the piece my own. Heck, I’m amazed that I was able to even memorize the thing!

Also, yes, I do censor myself.

And I’m not wearing shoes.

Acts of Renewal

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When I was a fifteen-year-old junior in high school, my mom, my aunt, and I made a trip to Roberts Wesleyan College for a preview day. They were both RWC alums, and I was casually looking for a Christian school to attend for my undergrad.

As a part of the preview weekend, I attended a chapel service. I was blown away as chapel consisted not of praise songs and a stodgy speaker, but of an American Sign Language performance to music followed by an amazing drama performance by husband and wife duo Acts of Renewal. The team merged teaching, humor, biblical stories, secular themes, and eternal truths into an eclectic, beautiful, and powerful theatrical performance. I was hooked.

Coming to the end of my Roberts career having been active in drama ministry myself, I couldn’t believe my luck when Acts of Renewal appeared on the chapel schedule in the final semester of my senior year. I wasn’t about to let this opportunity slip away. Following the equally inspiring chapel performance, I introduced Josh and myself as the founders of Muse Creative Arts Ministry and told them about the impact they had had on me as a young Christian and artist over five years ago.

That was the moment when Jim Shores and Carol Anderson-Shores became my friends.

It was so surreal that the artists who I had idolized as the embodiment of what Josh’s and my theatrical love could grow into as a couple were sitting down to lunch with me and wanting to hear about my life and accomplishments. Jim and Carol were a total encouragement and inspiration. They offered specific advice for projects Josh and I have volunteered to participate in for ministry purposes, and they expressed general excitement that people with similar passions and talents were coming behind them.

I am so blessed to have met them, and hope that Josh and I will have the joy of knowing them for years to come.

Awkward and Awesome Thursday: PUSHing Through

Still image from a summer shoot with PUSH

Okay, so I’ve been fairly vocal on here about the fact that I’m pretty overwhelmed what with all of my classes, my internship, work, Muse, being married, being a sane person, being an at least somewhat nice person, and the like.

Basically I’ve hopped over to Nine to Phive long enough to complain about everything that’s going wrong, all the while being a bit hazy on everything that’s going right.

One of these such things is my simply fabulous internship at the local film studio Envision Productions. Paul, my supervisor, has taken me on all sorts of adventures with him, one of which involves filming a documentary about PUSH Physical Theatre. More on them later, but for now, suffice it to say that I am loving my job. Any day that I get to spend watching them work makes my own work seem worthwhile–and not nearly as exhausting as it could be. These guys work up sweat!

However awesome this crew may be, whenever there’s a lot of sweat, there’s a chance for a lot of awkward . . .

Awkward:

  • I get to work with these people . . . GAAAAAHHH . . . NOT . . . WORTHY . . .
  • I don’t vaccuum. Ever.
  • My hair keeps falling out.
  • The previous two items added together means little red dust bunnies strewn around the living room carpet.
  • Professor No. 1: Read the next four chapters of the book by Thursday. Professor No. 2: Read the last three chapters of the book by Thursday. Oh, and also these two chapters of this other book I forgot to tell you to buy. Me: AAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!
  • Making bacon-raisin empanadas this weekend. Don’t knock it ’til you try it. 
  • That stupid Roll-Up-the-Rim-to-Win business on Tim Horton’s coffee cups. I have to use my teeth every time.

Awesome:

  • Even though I “made up my mind” to pursue a degree in communication and an internship in film, I still get to spend time in the theatre. You don’t know how good that feels 🙂
  • Being in the bathroom and overhearing my supervisor talking about me: “She’s great. She knows what she’s doing. She knows how to shoot, how to edit, how to light . . . It’s great.” *Blush*
  • Hosting our first Couchsurfer!
  • The rim-rolling paid off! We won two free drinks. The cup says free coffee or latte, but they actually let you get any drink any size.
  • Theatre dates with my love ❤ Can’t wait to see The Whipping Man in a few weeks.