For auld lang syne

Okay, so I don’t really believe in time, but Happy New Year!

Look, it's me 9 years ago with sparklers. Can you tell I'm terrified? Photo by Laura Pope.
Look, it’s me 9 years ago with sparklers. Can you tell I’m terrified? Photo by Laura Pope.

Even though I think labelling periods of our lives as generally good or bad (i.e. “This year sucked!” or “What a great day!”) is actually not helpful and overgeneralizes the nuances of life, I’ve been thinking a lot about this past year for myself. For the past few months, I’ve been taking stock of everything that has happened. It’s a lot. It’s amazing how short and yet how expansive 365 days can be. Even more amazing is how vastly different a year can seem, just based on perspective.

When I focus on the struggle, the pain, the mistakes – this year seems awful and exhausting. Another year older, another year full of disillusionment, of hard lessons learned, of heartbreak, and parts of myself – innocence, behavior, ideas, friends, truths – lost.

But when I count my blessings, and there are so, so many – this year seems miraculous. I’ve finally finished filming my short film, got into stand-up comedy, shot over 15 new web videos, co-founded a sketch team, made it as a semi-finalist in a comedy festival, received a promotion at my job (which I love), and I’ve met hundreds of new awesome people and made so many new awesome friends. Not to mention I got in touch with my birth-family, created several new paintings, started eating meat again (I know) and continue to grow every moment as a breathing, living, flesh-and-blood human being.

My gratitude is overwhelming. So instead of going on further about how great my year was and how lucky I feel to be alive, I want to instead brag about some of my wonderful friends. Because they’ve had amazing years as well:

Chris Chianesi  launched his new webseries, #MANNYPROBZ, and he’s hilarious and his costar Leisl is adorable and it’s everything you want in a comedy webseries. Also, I was cinematographer on a couple of them and those shoots were so much fun.

Jessie Evans launched her new series, “Jessie Eats,” and it’s everything you want in a food blog/webseries – which is basically watching her adorably enjoy all sorts of delicious cuisine and drinks and you fall in love with her within seconds.

Taylor Tobin started writing for the website, Brokelyn, and her food listicles are all you’ll ever need while dining in Brooklyn. Her culinary advice has never led me astray.

Christina Stone has started making custom puppets! They are fuzzy, adorable, and hand-sewn. It’s the perfect gift to give to the children and young-at-heart in your life. You can contact her through her website to place an order.

Emily Duncan premiered her new, original musical, “Me and my Birdie,” which premiered at the Bad Theater Festival, and it was touching and hilarious. AND she collaborated with the magnificent Regina Gibson – they co-wrote and composed a new holiday song you can see Regina, who has the voice of Greta Garbo but 10x sexier, perform here.

Rowan Rivers started a new blog where he divulges his magickal insight on tarot card analysis and it’s wonderful. I love his writing.

Check out this touching and very funny video by Glamour Magazine starring the extremely talented Keisha Zollar and Andrew Kimler, as they talk about their first month of marriage.

The incredible Morgan Clarke is the drummer for the awesome band, Worthy Fools, who just released their EP this year, which you can buy on iTunes!

Cartoonist and illustrator Kyle Rose launched his new webcomic, The Working Stiff, and he’s made major progress on his upcoming book, The Comic Book Convention Survival Guide, so stay tuned!

Producer/Actor Andria Kozica released two new web shorts on Funny or Die this year that are hysterical! Go Bag and Meeting Mr. Reich.

And my best friend since 3rd grade, Nicole Sweeney, literally just seconds ago made the Board of Directors for Pure Romance, a company whose mission statement and products I love. You can buy awesome stuff from her here.

Honestly, I can go on and on and on. I’m am so #blessed to know so many amazing, passionate, creative artists and creators. Sometimes I just scroll through my Facebook feed and beam with pride. How lucky are we?

Here are some more friends who are creating awesome work you should check out:

ChEckiT! Dance, headed by the sweet and lovely Allison Brzezinski

Urban Spiritual, by the insightful chief editor/writer Terence Stone

The SoulGlo Project, a podcast and monthly live show with Keisha Zollar, Anna Suzuki, and Emily Schorr Lesnick.

Have a wedding upcoming or a special event you want captured to remember forever? Hire James Sireno Productions – seriously, Jimmy and his wife, Chelsea, are two of the nicest, most professional, talented videographers I know!

More people you need to keep track of because they’re about to be FAMOUS, they’re that talented:

J.W. Crump, Stephanie BencinMadonna RefugiaTabitha VidaurriDavid MonkCarolyn BusaBilly Bob ThompsonAlyson Leigh RosenfeldKristin Seltman, Miranda KahnBetsy Lippitt, Sarah Knittel, Graham Halstead, Ana Defillo, and actually this is super stressing me out because I have way too many talented friends and not enough time right now to list them all so please just go look at my Facebook friend list because I haven’t even gotten into the hundreds of New York comedians I’ve met this year who are hysterical and exciting.

So congratulations, mazel tov! If you’re reading this, that means you’ve made it through another year. I hope your 2015 was filled with as much love and pain and wonder and life as mine has, and I hope your 2016 is just as full, if not fuller.

Happy New Year!

EDIT: I can’t believe I completely forgot my amazing and talented friend, Hannah Cauhépé who, after doing a daily photo challenge for a year from her home in Paris, has now embarked on a massive world-wide journey and continues to document it with her breath-taking photos. She also has just unveiled her new project, The Lesbian Gaze, where she takes beautiful portraits of lesbian, queer, bi women from all over the world. I forgot because she’s always on the move, currently she’s in Nicaragua! Check out her work!!

Lay off the Millennials

So this was going to be an extremely rant-y post about how grossly inaccurate the popular sweeping negative generalizations about Americans born between 1980 and 2000 are – a HUGE span of years, by the way – but then I stumbled across this political cartoonist’s take on it all and it’s pretty fantastic.

Instead, I’m going to continue the rant discussion in regards to film and television, as that is my area of work (and hopefully someday, expertise). The other day I came across this article on Indiewire.com, a trade online publication for independent films, about the SXSW grand jury prize-winning film, Fort Tilden. Read here. Full disclosure: I haven’t seen this film yet, but reading this review brought up feelings of frustration in regards to my fellow “millennial” filmmakers.

Okay, so here goes:

Dear fellow filmmakers and TV producers,

Please stop making us all look bad. I know that your goal is probably to be bitingly accurate, but I, for one, am really getting sick of watching whining, spoiled, self-involved, vapid white 20-somethings (specifically girls) who live in Brooklyn and have their daddies pay for everything. We get it. Women like that exist. They may even represent the ugliness inside all of us or something metaphorical like that. They have sex with emotionally unavailable, spoiled, self-involved, vapid, vain white 20-something men and wonder why they’re unhappy. They make mistakes, they take drugs, they have no direction. The problem is, that is only one small, very specific, and exclusive section of the so-called “millennial generation.” And Lena Dunham already did it, and she’s doing it well. So please, show me something new.

In every generation, the old folks like to berate us young folks. The future of America is doomed, we’re all lazy, in their day they worked really hard, etc. I understand that and in 20 years, I’ll probably say the same about the next generation. (I actually already worry about 12-18 year olds.) I may have been born in 1987, but the world of Fort Tilden, Girls, and Tiny Furniture is not my world. In fact, much like anytime I visit Williamsburg, I usually feel very purposefully left out. (I still really like beards though)

Let me give you a bit of background on myself and my friends. Yes, the majority of us graduated from NYU Tisch, SVA, or another similar NYC arts school. The majority of us are struggling artists or work in the entertainment industry. All of us continually contemplate (usually over watered-down well drinks in a dive bar) our purpose, our life choices, and our chosen career paths or lack thereof. But all of us work really, really, really hard at what we do. Some may still get financial assistance from their parents, but only out of necessity. We all temp or waitress or bartend or sit at a desk assisting a demanding boss/network/production company for hours and hours and hours every day. We understand the sacrifices we have to make to do what we love, and we’re constantly trying to find the best compromise that lets us eat while still keeping our souls alive. We’re trying to get in touch with our own sense of spirituality and the universe, we’re making amends and healing our childhood traumas, and we’re trying to eat better, live cleaner, and be responsible. We are on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Tumblr (don’t lie, you are too!), but most of the time, it’s to promote our own passion projects that we’re self-funding through Kickstarter or Indie Go-Go. We go see each other in the theatre and attend our own film screenings. We may go out and drink and dance and maybe even do drugs, but we’re always keeping our eyes and ears and minds and hearts open to new experiences, new people, new ideas, new cultures.

artwork in the 191st 1 train tunnel
artwork in the 191st 1 train tunnel

Best of all? We’re every single color, race, and creed. We’re straight and gay and lesbian and bi and queer. We’re not walking stereotypes, we’re complex human beings. We’re supportive of human and animal rights. We keep up on the news on a global scale, whether it’s through CNN or Facebook. We march in the Gay Pride parade and sign protests against companies that publicly declare against our rights. Conservatives and Republicans may call us liberal and foolish, but we are members of disenfranchised groups. We experience oppression, discrimination, and the glass ceiling every day. And we dream of a world where it does get better. We understand that we don’t understand the gray area. We want to find love and success and happiness and sometimes it’s really hard not knowing where or when or even if we’ll ever find that.

So have faith in us. We’re young, but don’t hold that against us. Not all millennials are self-centered, socially-inept whipper snappers. Some of us are just trying to get through our 20s alive. My friends and I are magnificent people. We have a lot to learn. And I can’t wait to see what we come up with.