Okay, okay, so I don't really hate New York City... back at it with the clickbait.
I came to the city yesterday with a lot of expectations. I was sure I'd be let down the minute I stepped foot on the crowded city streets. But I wasn't.
New York City is the most bustling and beautiful city. So much art and creativity around every corner. So many different kinds of people doing different things, all completely consumed in their lives and dreams.
On the first day I ate a burger at a New York diner where I listened to some locals talk about their online dating experience (yes I eavesdropped). I immediately fell in love with their accents and have been practicing mine ever since. After the burger we walked around and almost got hit by a speeding cab. Walking in NYC is kind of like a near death experience every time you cross the street. Will the cars stop? Who knows. Within a few minutes we were practically locals, crossing before the walk light illuminated. Quite the adrenaline rush for somebody who's idea of excitement is trying something new at Starbucks.
After almost dying in the middle of the street we checked into our hotel, walked around Central Park, and had delicious pizza (and cheesecake!). Then it was time for the main event of day one... the opera. We were in the fourth row at the Metropolitan Opera to see La Boheme and holy mackerel king fish was it amazing! Absolutely breathtaking. I've been thinking about it for a solid 24 hours and I can't wait to see it again. I won't spoil the magic of it but I will say I cried multiple times and, like Julia Robert's character in Pretty Woman, Vivian Ward, said, "it was so good I almost peed myself." Go see it. Please.
Needless to say, after two plane flights, a burger, a near death experience, walking, pizza, cheesecake, and a beautiful show, we were pretty exhausted. I slept for eleven hours in the comfortable bed of our hotel. Then I woke up and got ready to see my most anticipated NYC performance... CATS! If you didn't know, Cats is closing at the end of 2017. It's a musical I watched for the first time when I was about five years old. I watched and rewinded that VHS more times than I can count, so it was only fitting that I see it in person.
First impression: so weird. But also so wonderfully magical. The opening number is incredible and a lovely cat-man scared the living daylights out of me when he appeared, out of the dark, in front of us. Mind you, we were not in the Orchestra seats, so I wasn't exactly expecting cast interaction, but we got it! They did an incredible job of bringing us into the story and I loved it. Act II was my favorite and 'Memory' was beautifully haunting. On a different note, the audience was horrendous. People were getting up and leaving like we were in a movie theatre. Okay, I get it, you had to pee, but that's what intermission is for! And the crinkling. All through the first part of Act II there was an abominable crinkling coming from a few rows away. It was really distracting, but not quite as distracting as the teenage girl texting two seats over. Sorry if I sound like a diva, but BROADWAY is not Regal Cinemas. It is a live performance where you're actually supposed to pay attention. Besides, you're not even supposed to be on your phone at a movie theatre, why would you do it at a Broadway performance. End rant.
After Cats (and getting a signed Playbill!!) it was time for some food at a delicious restaurant called Pasta Lovers. The environment was, as Joanie B. put it, very Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin. Very relaxing. And the food was delicious too. Then after a quick trip through Time Square (which I didn't like too much) we went to Junior's for cheesecake and were a little underwhelmed, but at least we can say we've been there. Oh! And how could I forget?! We both got pictures with some NYPD officers, which was on my NYC bucket list and I couldn't be happier. They were so nice and willing to take a photo with some tourists. Shoutout to the men and women in blue who make this city a safer place. I appreciate what you do and respect the hard decisions you have to make.
Back to the title... the reason I "hate" New York City is because, much like the Miley Cyrus song (7 Things) says, it makes me love it. I can't not love New York. The streets, the views, the vibe, it's everything I've dreamed it would be. So, mark my words, one day, a few years from now (maybe 2019), I will live in this fine city and I'll love every minute.
Okay. So maybe this is blog clickbait... this is goodbye but not to you or to this blog (sorry for the scare!). I just wanted to do a little recap of my absolutely insane past few months. They've been some of the hardest months I've had in my entire life, but they've taught me the most beautiful lessons I've ever learned. So this post is my way of saying goodbye to my dark past and hello to my bright future.
Just a few months ago I was preparing for the college graduation I never attended. I made grades I'm proud of and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Morningisde College. Unfortunately, the week of my graduation, my grandmother passed away and instead of walking across the stage, commemorating the accomplishment I've been working toward my whole life, I spent that time preparing for a funeral. Picking flowers, a casket, music, and flipping through photo albums filled with pictures of the woman I called Momo. Then we laid her to rest. Forever. She was gone and that's when my life changed forever.
We went back to Sioux City, almost. I was supposed to be filming the feature film I'd been working on all year. I wrote an original screenplay, casted the parts, found great locations, and was more excited than I'd ever been. Some things happened including cast illnesses and my grandfather's anxiety of being alone. We ultimately turned around and headed back to Florida.
Throughout this whole process my head was spinning. I'd been gone from my hometown for twelve years and now all of a sudden I was back but under the worst possible circumstances. My life was kind of falling apart and, unfortunately, the friends I thought had my back until the end, never called, texted, or messaged asking if I was okay. I get it. We all have lives. But when your "friend" is going through crap like that, you'd think you could spare a second or two just to check on their sanity. Most didn't and, at the time, that killed me.
I've always been closed off. Locks bolted around my heart, because I never wanted to get hurt like I had been in the past. But with some of the people I called friends, best friends, in Sioux City, I let them in. I thought they were in it for the long haul. They weren't. That sucked. But it's okay. If you never let your guard down and care about someone you'll never get hurt. But you'll also never experience how amazing it is to find your best friend. And that best friend could turn into someone even more special than you thought. Yeah, I'm talking about a boyfriend/girlfriend.
During all the madness I had this guy texting me. This guy I'd called my friend for a while. He didn't leave me high and dry. He took time out of his day, every day, to see how I was and what I was up to. I now call that guy my boyfriend and I'm so grateful that God put someone like him in my life. He balances out my sometimes neurotic behavior. He doesn't get angry at me for being late or getting anxious over stupid things. He's just there and it's really nice.
After the funeral, moving back to FL, and all of those fiascos, I moved to Los Angeles for a month. It was supposed to be for six, but lots of stuff happened. None of those things, despite some people's thoughts, had to do with being too homesick or not being able to hack it on my own. They had to do with miscommunications and realizing the dreams I thought I had might not be the dreams I actually had. It's confusing, and I won't get into it in this post. The point is that I moved to LA and then back to FL and that's where I am now.
I'm creating video content for a TV show we were offered, which is crazy exciting. I'm writing my book that I started almost eight years ago. I'm writing screenplays and working with other creative people who share my passions. One of those people is (you probably guessed it) my mom and business partner. We've expanded PNN and upped the quality of our productions. We've opened a bookstore called The Bookshelf and Me (www.thebookshelfandme.com) and we have a lot of other projects going on. Life is good. Really good.
On top of it all, we're going to New York City in FOUR DAYS! My dream city. My dream trip. It's happening and I'm freaking out (in a good way!).
The point of all of this is that the last few months have really, really, really sucked. But even through those tough moments, when I thought life couldn't get any worse or that God somehow forgot about me down here, He didn't. He never has, not for a second.
If you're going through a tough time right now, I know it's hard to think that things could get better. But trust me when I say, everything turns around eventually. Every storm passes. Every downhill spiral comes back up. You just have to wait it out.
Don't hesitate to reach out if you need someone to talk to, a friend to chat with, or just a random person to listen to your problems. I'm always here.
I've Been Loving this song!
I had flown through almost the first four seasons and was becoming addicted to the medical drama. The writing captivated me. The characters were all I could think about.
As someone who wants to create characters much like Meredith Grey, the kind that are so real you can almost feel their pain, I was sucked into Grey's. I convinced myself from the moment I started watching that I wanted to write just like that. Just like Shonda Rhimes did in Grey's Anatomy.
I was wrong.
I'm a Christian.
I don't want to write in the Christian genre, because I believe, as Christians, we need to be in the trenches with non-believers. However, Jesus should be reflected in EVERYTHING I write, create, and do. I don't have to say 'Jesus' every third word. I don't even have to say it at all, because I should be so close to Jesus that He becomes a part of me. Melted into who I am and melting into all I do.
That includes what I watch.
Watching Grey's Anatomy did not reflect Jesus.
Surgeons talking about being God and meeting God in fellow surgeons... that does not reflect Jesus.
Watching men kiss men and women kiss women... that does not reflect Jesus.
Watching people have premarital sex with anyone and everyone... that does not reflect Jesus.
There is ONE God.
Marriage is for a man and a woman. I recognize that the world is messed up. I recognize that there are many LGBTQ people who have been wronged by Christians. That also does not reflect Jesus. My job is to love everyone. To show Jesus to everyone. To be His hands and feet to everyone. Even when I disagree with you. Even when you're sinning. Because, let's be real, I'm sinning too. Every day. But that does not mean I can make allowances for your sins, just as no one can make allowances for mine.
Sex is meant for a married couple. It's the intimate act of giving yourself to your husband or your wife. It's not something you should just do whenever you get a whim.
All of those reasons are reason enough to stop watching Grey's Anatomy, but none of them are THE reason.
For the past several, several, several months I've been "away" from God. I've been out of the Word. I haven't been praying. I've been floundering and struggling and just scooting my way through life.
I have been prioritizing everything above God. The One who deserves all of my attention.
How can I expect to accomplish anything if I push Him to the backburner?
So, I stopped watching Grey's because it had become such a part of my life that it was a god. It was an idol that I placed above the One who holds my heart. That's not okay. That's not okay on SO MANY LEVELS!
So, after struggling for hours and hours over this decision (which should not have been that difficult), I shut off Grey's Anatomy and turned my attention back to my King. My Father. Asking Him what I need to do next. I'm not sure what the answer is, but I'll find it.
I'll find it, because for the first time in months, my priorities are actually straight.
Maybe it's time to take a look at your life. It'll be hard, but what things are you prioritizing over God? What things are you "allowing" for the sake of fitting in or being comfortable. Maybe it's time to make a change.
Living solo in LA has been the best and worst experience.
It's lonely. Like really lonely. I'm living in a place where it seems like everyone wants to be someone else. They're chasing dreams and trying to be somebody, just like me. The lonely part is that they can't see the somebody in the mirror.
They see a work in progress, which we all are.
They're waiting in line and trying to get somewhere. Into the offices of agents and producers. They walk in with work in hand and try to pitch ideas and themselves. Then they apologize for wasting their time, because somehow they can't see the value in who they are and what they do.
They may not be Meryl Streep or Christopher Nolan, but they're worth just as much.
We live in a world where we're always trying to get somewhere. We can never be happy with exactly where we are, especially if it's sitting in our bed watching Netflix and writing a blog post. And, yeah, that may be where I'm at right now.
I went to a college, much like everyone else, where good enough just wasn't good enough. I pushed myself to so many breaking points and told myself that crying over an A- or B was okay. I told myself it would make me better.
I had myself convinced that if I was so anxious I felt like jumping off a cliff, I must be in a good spot. I had to be on the verge of greatness, right?
I was self-deprecating, just like so many. Saying my work was horrible and I wasn't good enough and it wasn't good enough, and claiming that was normal because I was an artist and I could never be satisfied with what I do.
That's a lie.
It's all a lie.
I don't care who you are or what you do. You are valuable. Your time is just as valuable as anyone else's, so don't apologize for wanting to meet with producers or agents or CEOs or anyone. They should feel just as honored to meet you as you are to meet them.
Your value and your worth is not based on your degree, GPA, years of experience, social media following, or the amount of money in your bank account.
Your value is based on the fact that you're human. A human being created in the image of God Himself, just like every other human on this planet.
I'm a writer. I write some really crappy stuff, but I also write some really good stuff. I'm sick of looking at every piece of my work and thinking it's sub-par. Thinking it's stupid or unworthy of praise.
Why can't we be satisfied?
Sure, we should always strive for better, but that doesn't mean we have to hate ourselves and our work. It doesn't mean we can't give ourselves a pat on the back.
After all, in kindergarten you get a gold star for finishing a coloring page or a sheet of addition problems. Shoot, you get gold star for making it through the day without hurting someone or throwing something.
So, I'm here to give you some gold stars.
Did you get out of bed today? Congrats, here's a gold star. I didn't make it out until 11:30am. But, hey, I did make it out.
Did you get some work done today? Maybe you wrote a story or drew a picture or filed some kind of paperwork. Maybe you wrote a sentence on your novel. Congratulations, you deserve a gold star.
Did you drink some coffee today? Yeah, me too. Not sure if I can give you a gold star for that, but I'll certainly give you a high five.
Life is hard.
Adulting is hard.
Teenage-ing is hard.
Who am I kidding? Human-ing is hard.
Give yourself a break. Remember your worth and your value even when others try to take it away.
Oh, and don't forget that gold star. We all need one now and again.
Seven years ago (SHEESH!) I started writing this story called The Case Files of Rebecca Dalton. It was born in a really dark time of my life, but it stuck with me through many years of growth, neglect, and stupidity. It's been on the shelf for about a year or two and today, after watching a few episodes of Shonda Rhimes Masterclass, it came back to life.
It's the story of detectives and lawyers and other members of the criminal justice system of Charlotte, NC. All of the main characters have some sort of trauma in their past. Murdered children, domestic violence, cults, you name it and someone's probably dealt with it. The lead, Rebecca Dalton, used to have everything, until her eight-year-old daughter was murdered.
The pilot episode of the TV series (yeah, that's where we're at now!) picks up nearly a year after her daughter's death. She's trying to get cleared for regular duty as a homicide detective, all while her police family is trying to get on without her. There's a murder and some crime solving. There's also a lot of hurt and heartache.
So why is this different than any run-of-the-mill crime drama and police procedural?
Glad you asked.
This isn't a story of some cops and lawyers who exist only to hunt killers. These are cops and lawyers who see the dirtiest and darkest and most horrific parts of the world. They're just trying to survive. Meanwhile, the whole city is kind of depending on them.
It's raw and real. You won't find a single line about how great it is to save the world, because as far as they're concerned, they just need to keep it from falling apart.
SOOOOOOOOO I want to share a bit with you (the opening scene). If you steal this and pitch it to a network, I'll find you. This is my baby and we all know what happens when a mama bear thinks her baby is in danger. Don't try me... just enjoy.
INT. PSYCHIATRIST'S OFFICE - MORNING
REBECCA DALTON, nearly forty but doesn't look a day over thirty-five. Her hair falls effortlessly over her shoulders as she avoids eye-contact and picks at the corduroy couch beneath her.
DR. WILLIAM HILLMAN looks like every cliché for a psychologist. Thin, silver-rimmed glasses on the tip of his nose. White button-up shirt perfectly ironed and covered with a lint-free grey sweater. Quite the opposite of Rebecca, he looks thirty years his senior.
How're the meds going?
I wouldn't know.
I prescribed them for a reason.
Her eyes dart from the window to her doctor with a blink. Cold and unnerving, she glares at him, straightens her shoulders, and folds her hands together on her crossed legs.
I'm not like your other patients.
You're much more difficult.
Difficult, probably. Smarter, definitely.
Why aren't you taking them?
They freeze my senses. I can't do my job like that.
You can't do your job without them.
She nearly jumps off the couch and walks toward the window, because sharing her deepest feelings is easier looking at the city she protects than it is looking at the doctor tasked with protecting her. She crosses her arms, all of a sudden chilled.
I can't decide what I want, Will. I don't wanna feel it, but when I took those pills and it was all gone, I thought for sure I was dead. Because that dark and cold empty feeling.
That's gotta be what death feels like.
If you're not sleeping or eating or living a normal life, I can't clear you for regular duty.
She turns on her heels to look at him, arms still crossed over her chest.
I'll never live a normal life. Not after all of this. Your pills made me realize that. No matter how bad it hurts, I don't want to stop feeling it.
You'll be chasing after people who did to other people what someone did to your daughter. How will you handle that?
The same way I did before I buried Emily. The crime was no less awful before it happened to my kid.
But it's different now.
Everything's different now.
CUT TO: TITLES
Every year I make a video showing all of our adventures together. But this year I've already edited vlogs of every adventure we've had, so what more is there to show? I wanted something different, fresh. So, I wrote this "poem." It doesn't seem like enough, but NOTHING will seem like enough for your 50th birthday!
Every perfect poem about mothers has already been written.
Words like 'beautiful' and 'graceful' have been used to describe moms for decades.
And frankly, I can't say it any better, but I'm going to try.
You're more beautiful than the sunrise.
More brilliant than a double rainbow after a downpour.
More curious than any cat, and a lot cooler, too.
Your laugh is like therapy,
When it starts loud and robust and fades into breathless wheezes.
And then silence.
Your smile makes diamonds jealous.
It's more than that.
It makes the sun hide behind the clouds, because it knows it can't shine brighter.
Your wisdom comes in stages.
'You can do it' evolves into 'you're amazing' and then 'just do it already'
Tough love melted into shades of encouragement.
Works every time.
Your voice is like a blanket,
The fleece kind
That warms every inch of your body in an instant.
You're the only human being whose opinion matters in my life.
But you'll tell me the only human I need please,
You tell me the only way I can fail,
Is if I stop trying.
If I give up too soon.
And believe me.
Without you, I would have given up a long time ago.
I would look in the mirror and say,
'You're not good enough.
You're not enough.'
You would say,
'Enough is enough'
You taught me that belittling myself doesn't make the train move faster.
It doesn't bring success closer.
And it certainly doesn't motivate me to be better.
Every day of my 20 years you spoke life into my world.
You taught me to be brave,
And you taught me by example.
In the face of hatred and adversity,
You bent but you never broke.
You never stopped moving forward,
Even when it felt like we were on a down escalator trying to go up.
You never lied to me,
Even when the truth hurt.
You never doubted me,
Even when the world said my goals were impossible.
You pushed me,
But not too hard.
You inspired me,
And you still do.
In your 50 years of life, you've taught more people what it means to be
than you'll ever know.
You've proved that beauty, brains, and bravery can come in one package.
And that even in the face of abuse,
You can rise.
Like a phoenix.
Like an eagle.
Like a butterfly from the cocoon.
You said 'It's not over yet'
Even when the lights of your world had been shut off.
You taught me everything,
And I wish this 'poem' was more like Dr. Seuss or some other epic poet.
But to you I know it'll be better.
Because it's a Jenni B. original,
And that's all you ever want.
I love you more than anything in this world.
Thanks for never giving up on me, even when I'd given up on myself.
Thanks for letting me fly.
Thanks for being you.
You've lived HALF A CENTURY! Time to get started on that second half.
And I can't wait to join you on the grand adventure.
All my love always,
First of all, so sorry about the complete failure of '200 days of honesty'. Some things have changed. Allow me to explain...
I'm leaving Burbank. But probably not for the reason you'd think. I didn't get too homesick. I didn't fall flat on my face. I didn't burn down my apartment, although I did set the smoke alarm off several times (just for using my oven!). It's actually really exciting!
Positive Note Network is OFFICIALLY launching our show 'Life on a Positive Note' at the end of this year on INSPIRATION TV! It's a national & international channel that broadcasts people like Joel Osteen and other epic preachers. We're going to be on it!
So I'm leaving Burbank (but still working for Jamie Grace remotely!) to go on another grand adventure. Joanie B. and I are taking a mini cross-country roadtrip, stopping in various cities and filming the first six episodes of our show.
THIS IS INSANE!
So, are you ready for another grand adventure? Because I sure am!
Burbank has treated me well and I have no doubt I'll come back one day to work on a movie at Warner Brothers and a TV show at Disney and maybe even a few things at NBC Universal. But for now it's time to take PNN on the road (literally!).
Until next time...
I've been slack-a-lackin', but let's just be real and say this '200 days of honesty' is just a fancy title that means 'I'll post when I can and don't get mad at me when I can't'. Still sound okay to you? Good.
You may notice the blog name changed to 'The Girl with the Green Cup'. Partly because of my obsession with Confessions of a Shopaholic, and in that film Rebecca Bloomwood (my fashionista spirit-animal) uses the pen name 'The Girl in the Green Scarf'. And it's partly because I just got a really epic cup from Starbucks that's green and it just seemed right.
The past few days have been insanely wonderful. So let's recap...
- Moved to Burbank, CA, which is flipping beautiful btw
- Found the best Chinese restaurant in all of the world (except China, I guess)
- Went to Wal-Mart
- Went to Target (twice within two hours)
- Went to the grocery store
- Walked to Starbucks
- Drove on the 101 freeway
- Drove on the 405 freeway
- Parallel parked (kind of) so I could get coffee
- Drank several cups of coffee (maybe more than several, idk)
In case you wondered... I'm having the time of my life.
Until next time (which may or may not be tomorrow)...
Due to some unforeseen exhaustion, yesterday's post did not happen, so let's have a 2-fer, shall we? Realize this may happen every once in awhile. I'm a human, 20-something, not to mention a millenial so pssh, get over it (please & thank you).
Day 3 - New Mexico!
Before yesterday I had never been to New Mexico and while I can't give the state an accurate rating, I can give the city of Las Cruces a solid 9/10. Beautiful area, lovely people, and the morning was so crisp and wonderful. Highly recommend.
It was amazing to watch the scenery change from TX hill-country to Western desert. Despite the general opinion on the joint, I really liked the desert look. Although I do love cacti, so maybe I'm biased!
Day 4 - Arizona!
We drove from NM to Arizona and saw lots of cacti and dirt, so that's cool. It was pretty lame on day two. When we finally made it to Phoenix we took a little trip to the Arizona Mills mall (which is pretty neat-o!). We had lunch/dinner at Rainforest Cafe and I can't properly convey how horrible the whole experience was, but oh well.
Throughout the process of meandering around, my mom pointed out this pet store. She said "Oh look!" I looked over and saw two furry things and, thinking they were guinea pigs, I followed her into the store. SPOILER ALERT! They weren't guinea pigs. They were puppies. And I nearly cried when I found the most perfect and darling little English Bulldog and then I really almost cried when I saw the precious thing was $6000. I'm about to move to one of the most expensive US cities... I can't afford a $6000 puppy. So, I sadly left the little cutie behind. It would've been easier if they had been guinea pigs.
In other news, the Single Origin Mocha Ice Blended from Coffee Bean is to die for. So go out and try that bad boy if you're near a Coffee Bean and in the mood for an expensive coffee/chocolate milkshake. You probably won't regret it.
Tomorrow when I write to you I'll be in my very first apartment, so get ready. It's gonna be wild... eh not really.
I almost forgot about this post...
Today I spent the entire day in San Antonio, TX with my mom. We ventured around the Riverwalk and through the city and had such an amazing time. Our vlog for today was a travel diary, so it's posted below.
We left from the Holiday Inn around 11AM and drove the 2.5 hours to San Antonio. We have a beautiful 7th story room in the Drury hotel with a view of the city and a sliver of the Riverwalk (which is connected to the hotel!).
The vlog does a better job showing what today was like, but here's a few of the highlights:
• Spending time with my Momma in her old stomping grounds
• Seeing the Riverwalk
• Visiting the Alamo
• Eating at Dick's restaurant and nearly having a panic attack but also having the best time ever!
• Taking a river tour and learning all about San Antonio history
• Eating epic Tex-Mex
• Thinking I saw someone die (he was just drunk)
• Having a mariachi band sing at my dinner table (and it was only $15 + our tip)
It was really just a day of enjoying each other's company and meandering around wherever we wanted to. I don't think today can be beat, but we still have a few more days of travel, so we'll see.