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A New Coat For January

Get a day job, but don't get too good at it.

It will take away from your writing - Matthew Weiner (creator of Mad Men)

Welcome to 2017! It starts with a bang on many collective levels: hearts united in common purpose despite their different beliefs and personal causes, while massive changes and devastating clauses are callously signed off with the twist of a wrist and pursed lips of an unprecedented President. There's a new rooster in town (or, if you prefer, a preening, crowing cock?) making the wind spin in all sorts of unpredictable directions.

Also, by the way, Happy Chinese/ Vietnamese New Year! The Fire Rooster is such a fitting symbol. On a personal level, I'm yearning to adjust my inner dials and levels to better absorb these wild climate changes. The attempt to lower (and thereby neutralize) my internal hustling machine from ten to zero is tougher than expected. So my mantra for consistently showing up and writing is that quote by Matthew Weiner.

Now, whether it was for preparation or procrastination, the exorcist in me also wanted to triumphantly whisper "This house is clean!" and clear the decks of old energy; transforming totally the home environment. Like a Ghostbuster, I started dustbustering the shit out of the apartment while glaring with accusation at my two cats. Amidst their floor clouds of grey fur, I concede that there were a few strands of my own hair. They don't need to know that.

Yet, the ultimate "drag to trash" gesture is slathering your walls with a new color. There was a gallon of bright white ceiling paint idling away in the closet and in defiance of doing things the "correct" way, I proclaimed "Fuck it! Paint is paint! Why not?" Then, amidst a whirlwind of frenetic arms striving to reach high places, I saw deep into the heart of my actions: this inspired yet crazed workout was beginning to bring me again and again face to face with the image of blank white pages all around me. Enabling me to clear a path through all the noisy distractions of everything outside, in order for my words to be allowed to re-fill empty spaces again. Calling me home back to zero, to my nothing. Returning me to the serenity of the possible.

It's a delicate balance: attempting to still myself so that I can tend to the creation of the world within me; while that world just beyond my window is fiercely raging in opposition to unjust upheaval. We're locked inside an empty train carriage, like little Saroo in the stunning true story of Lion, hurtling toward an unknown land where those who should be safely guiding us don't even speak our language. Where are we heading? My husband proudly marched with thousands of women whom I support but my feet just hurt too damned much. I truly hope, though, that my series will be as important a contribution to all those voices that desperately need to be heard: representing diversity, being a woman, being human and the realization that we are all connected and should be treated equally.

On a related note, I'm surprised to hear so much hatred for La La Land because I really must tip my hat to this gifted young director, Damien Chazelle. I'm not a fan of musicals but this extraordinary film truly touched me through countless layers of meaning masquerading as charming simplicity. That's a magnificent trick and I'm currently reading the screenplay, itching to watch it again and unravel how this cinematic magician so skillfully crafted it.

The Oscar buzz may be for Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea, but I just watched Other People on Netflix and was floored yet again by the work of one of my favorite actors Jesse Plemons. His incredible range and levels of nuance are so dazzlingly effortless! Which also perfectly describes the movie: forget the beautified cinematography. Be damned the make-up department, as well! This is a stripped down, raw portrayal of a family coming to terms with cancer via an exquisite balance of comedy and drama just gorgeously told. Quite probably the year's best film.

The artistry of improvisation, given the times, has never seemed more necessary. The warm and surprisingly philosophical comedy Don't Think Twice, written and directed by Mike Birbiglia (also one of the ensemble) examines how in completely unexpected ways we can each shine so much stronger through the power of our combined unique contributions and how such solidarity of purpose and generosity of spirit with our fellow artists can bond us to the point of actually becoming part of a family.

These four films probably couldn't be more different in tone but they all reminded me of how profoundly artists can affect and inspire us all to never give up despite the horrible obstacles or odds of failure we may face.

Through my window, the snow finally blankets my neighborhood; reinforcing my need to start afresh. Amid the tree tops, are two Peregrine Falcons.

It's a sign. Despite the freezing cold and storms we must weather, we will soar higher and faster than ever.

Keep fighting regardless of the fear,

Dianne xxx

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