I have always been teased for finding a restaurant (wherever I live) and becoming a regular. It’s just my nature to find a place where I feel comfortable. I fluctuate between regular cycles at the local haunt, going out with friends, or being very happily nestled in my apartment. Quiet and alone. Over the last few days, I have spent a lot of time going out with friends.

Sometimes going out involves a Japonaise Fête at a friend’s flat in the 13th arr.
Homemade food. Lychee alcohol mixed with fruit juice. Rosé or white wine. Or beer.
Our host is under thirty years old. Who wants to go to a keg party?

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~ * ~

How about dancing on the Seine? Swing or salsa, anyone? Another friend wanted
to check out the action on the banks of this famous river that runs through the city,
splitting Paris into the Left Bank and the Right Bank.

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~ * ~

Everyone will tell you that I am in love with this city. Just walking around
and looking at how gorgeous this city is can make your day or night.

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~ * ~

Sit at a café! There are countless cafés on countless corners and side streets.
Grab a coffee or a delicious bite to eat. If you journal, this is the place to park it.

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~ * ~

Or sit at your neighborhood haunt! Morning. Noon. Or night.
The world that is just down the street from your apartment becomes a
little more familiar! Like when the roller skaters pass through Nation
every Friday at midnight while the weather is good.

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Moving to Paris. Part one: Los Angeles to Zurich

From JOURNAL ONE: June 4, 2011

      

And so I am on my flight to France (by the way of Zurich) and have felt a roller-coaster of emotions as I departed Los Angeles (“for good.”) The only thing that makes this trip “hard’ is that one should never, ever fly Suisse Air in economy… let alone Suisse Air, which apparently isn’t even Suisse Air anymore. It’s been a horrible experience so far. Besides the narrowest seats ever, it looks like a crummy old plane. And the woman sitting next to me is encroaching on my space and smells of body oder mixed with pot. Thank goodness it’s freezing cold inside the plane, because she was forced to put on her leather jacket, which has suppressed most of the smell. This is not a great experience; however, I am rising above it!

Side note: Suisse Air has shit customer service. As my friend Nikki drove me to LAX, I feared that I would be ten minutes late to checking-in, which had at 18:00 (6pm.) I called and asked the representative to see if she could let LAX’s Suisse desk know that I would be a few minutes late. The woman, however, refused to help me (no matter how politely I pleaded,) but did end up giving me the number for the LAX desk… which was out of service when I dialed it. I called the original number again and the male representative falsely told me that there was a 60-minute (not 90-minute) check-in.

Long story short, I got to the desk (again with no help from the LAX worker, who told me that there was no Suisse desk there, even though it was in front of us,) and the representative at the check-in was very helpful, even when her supervisor almost refused to tell her whether or not I could be allowed to check-in… even though I WAS on-time after all! At one point, the supervisor ignored the representative and started to check someone else in without answering her! In the end, I got onto my plane, with it’s exceptionally narrow seats and had one of the most uncomfortable flights I have ever had.

~~~~~

The last month in Los Angeles has been truly great. So great that it gave me a false sense of comfort and was probably one of the best times I spent there during my 10-year run. What made it wonderful was my complete emotional abandonment. I ceased to care about (mainly) how I was perceived by those around me.  During this time, I spent an entire month with Nikki and slept on her lovely couch (although I started out at my friend Jessica’s place, where my attempt to couch surf was thwarted when she kindly gave me her bed!) Bless both Nikki and Jessica for their honest friendship and support. And I will never forget waking up every morning to Nikki’s cat, Ava, as she crawled on top of me and purred. This morning ritual was accompanied by the garbage trucks outside in the morning. It reminded me of the ocean where Tamarind Avenue was the Pacific and the trucks were Great White Sharks taking out baby seals.

   

Now I am one hour and sixteen minutes away from touching down in Zurich. I am only a few hours away from arriving in Paris. People say that I am brave to do this… right now, I am silently wondering if and when the fear is going to kick in. Each time I start to hear or imagine the question, “Did I do the right thing?” I stop myself short of truly finishing that question, because I know that LA had ceased to have meaning for me. My drive had almost all, but disappeared… until I decided to move and then I was inspired again.

The future is truly unknown for me right now. I know I will succeed wildly in some areas of my life and fail (or fall short) in others. I do worry about what is ahead of me. Will film truly continue to be a part of my life or will it quietly wither away and fall at the wayside, because I left Hollywood. I have wondered if I am too artsy a filmmaker to ever get my work made. (Time to destination: 0:59.) I wonder if my creative inclinations have put me in the realm of talented, yet unmarketable. I guess I’ll just have to see.

~~~~~

I do wonder about my future. I am standing at the doorway that leads into a great unknown. Like there is a desert ahead of me… but do not know what plants and flowers will be there, although I know it’s truly up to me. It is (and always will be) my choice to decide what gets planted there. (0:51.) Perhaps I do need a sabbatical (of some sorts) in order to re-connect with myself. Figure out what makes me truly happy. I may be wrong, but I think Europe will be the first step in securing this happiness. I may be wrong… and here I am on a plane wondering if I am going to remain in Paris, move to London… or return to the USA. (The last one is very doubtful.)

It’s even doubtful in my early journal entry about my move and I’m not even in Paris yet. Perhaps I have romanticized Paris and how I suspect I’ll feel there. Perhaps I have not. All I do know is that I did not like living in LA. (Flying over Paris right now! 0:44 to Zurich.) All I can say with certainty is I did not like LA and part of me needed to leave in order to truly move on with my life. I had become trapped emotionally and creatively in one spot. There will be things I love and hate about Paris. My inability to speak French will be difficult (at first.) I am sure there will be trying times, but I it will be an adventure. Life will be very interesting and that is what I want most of all. An interesting life.

When the Journey is Success

“Success is not measured by what a man accomplishes, but by the opposition he has encountered and the courage with which he has maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds.” – Charles Lindbergh. (“What is Success?” The Change Blog. Peter Clemens.)

“I don’t think success can be measured. I think success is defined by your expectations, aspirations, and attitudes towards reaching them. I also don’t think success is an end result, because no one ever reaches a junction and decides to stop trying… It’s like evolution. (“What is Success?” Pogomix.)

My most recent success was moving to Paris. I made the decision and I did it.

It is less than a week until my 33rd birthday. February 3rd, 1979. I don’t really have a strong feeling about the age. I guess what comes to mind is “what have I done in my thirty-three years on earth?” which makes me then immediately ask myself, “Have I been successful?

I don’t really know how to answer that. What is success? As you can see from the above quotes, I have been googling “What is success?” It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around the word success, especially since I have not attained a very important life goal: directing a feature film. I feel like I have not reached my potential – whatever that is – although I would simply replace this goal with another one (i.e. feature film 2 or a novella.)

In some ways, I have achieved some amount of success. I moved to Los Angeles in 2002 with the goal of being a Production Assistant in Hollywood and I was a successful PA. I then decided to shoot a short film, which won an award and screened at several festivals. I then decided to move to Paris and I made that happen.

However, when I look at Google’s dictionary definition of “success”,  I become discouraged. It says:

  1. The accomplishment of an aim or purpose.
  2. The attainment of popularity or profit.

And the definition from Dictionary.com:

  1. The attainment of wealth, position, honor…

As I read these, I feel a sense of failure mildly sweep through my living room while I sit on my couch. Right now I struggle to keep the idea of failure separate from me. I have yet to accomplish my aim. Nor have I made a living out of my chosen profession. How does one snap out of this? How does one pull themselves up from their bootstraps and say, “Wait a minute here!? You’re not making bullshit crap. You’re an artist.” I stop and I look around me. True. I am making something more than cookie cutter crap.

Then I get to thinking. I have won an award for a short film that I wrote-directed in 2008. Perhaps that is a sign of success. Perhaps success happens in levels. We figure out a goal/aim (i.e. make a short film) and we strive to accomplish it and receive recognition that we have successfully completed our goal (i.e. Audience Choice Award.) Then it is our job to move forward to the next level. It’s like Super Mario Brothers.

For years, I have been guilty of measuring my level of success with others. There are feature film directors that shot their first film before their thirtieth birthdays, let alone thirty-third. There are filmmakers that made short films that won the Best Short Oscar Award; however, I cannot lose myself in this comparison. If I think about the filmmakers that I respect and admire, they are not the Hollywood Heavy Hitters. They are the World’s Masters: Krzysztof kieslowski, Wong Kar Wai, Zhang Yimou, Patrice Chéreau, François Ozon…

And when I think that I haven’t reached a level of success that is acceptable for a thirty-three year old, I remember some of my achievements, which includes screening along with filmmakers that I admire. Two shorts that I admire greatly – New Boy and Gone Fishing – both screened with me (and several other talented short filmmakers!) at the Rhode Island International Film Festival. (The former was later nominated for an Academy Award in 2008, while the latter won the Best Narrative Short at the Producer’s Guild of America.)

I feel that the “company I keep” is/was in itself a measurement of “success.” However, I know that I shouldn’t compare myself to other people. None of us should. And while my contemporaries bring a smile to my face, as well as a sense of pride about my work, I remind myself that I can only measure my success by the work, dedication, and time I put into making my next goal happen. What truly stands out to me – and calms me when faced with “Are you a success?” – is the idea that success is connected with persisting until you succeed; that happiness is found in the journey and that the journey is success. One might even say that the goal is one very large cherry on top of a huge sundae called WORK.

 

The Change Blog: http://www.thechangeblog.com/what-is-success/
Pogmix: http://www.pogomix.net/what-is-success