Monday, May 2, 2011

Writing Workshops LA: My Face Essay

So it's a few days late BUT nonetheless, here is number 2 in the blog series following my creative nonfiction class with "Writing Workshops LA."

Our teacher, Chris (short for Christine), told us to read Robert Benchley's short essay entitled, "My Face." She then asked us to write about our own. That is all the information she gave us. I kinda snorted at the ominous vague prompt. I was already thinking, "Great. Do I have to spend like an hour in front of the mirror 'staring' at my face and then write what I see? Jesus." However, in reading the essay a few days ago and understanding the freedom of following the theme, I knew ex-actly how I would write my face essay.

Here it is. Staring at you in the face (ha.)

*All my fellow drama nerds will appreciate this short essay. I hope.


An Actor’s Face

What I loved about acting was the way my face felt. Manipulating my eyebrows and mouth, smiling or frowning, and darting my eyes every-which-way, I was exercising my first creative passion.

In my first performance I was Mrs. Baywater: the town’s rich, old lady, who wore curtains for dresses and birds as hats, and had a fox for a shawl. Thick perfect ringlets hung on each side of my face, framed my eyebrows just the way I needed. Mrs. Baywater existed in my eyebrows and in my turned-up cheek. This, at age 14, is what I felt conveyed rich and snobby: my cheek looked down to no one. With the gift of knowing how to curve my right eyebrow, I questioned all my “townsmen” taste in attire and hygiene. Though it was the wild, wild, west, Mrs. Baywater saw no need to allow one’s hair or clothing to become “wild” as well. I raised my eyebrow every time I entered onto the stage; Mrs. Baywater had arrived. I would purse my lips: Mrs. Baywater needed attention. I would scrunch my nose: Mrs. Baywater was becoming annoyed with the conversation. My face told all details the playwright didn’t write down. My face was in charge of letting the audience know who I was and where I came from. Why and how Mrs. Baywater spoke and reacted always came back to my face. This is how acting and I found each other: through my face.

My favorite musical I did was South Pacific. I was just one of the nurses but I couldn’t have had more fun with my role. Being part of the ensemble frees you. Your imagination tells you who your character is-not the playwright. I was Rosie the Riveter. If Rosie the Riveter was a nurse in the south pacific who had an on-and-off again relationship with the solider, Dennis, then yes-I was her. Rosie transformed on my face every time I applied each of my lips with red, warrior, paint. Men call it red lipstick. Silly men. With each stroke of red as I pouted to the mirror lined with bright bulbs, Rosie said hello louder and louder. The tail to each eyeliner mark on my left and right eye had me daring any one to guess what I was thinking: this was my Rosie in South Pacific. After all the paint was placed perfectly, powdered, and set, my face tingled with the anticipation of being bad. ass.

My final role was intended for a man. George Orwell’s 1984 had its character, O’Brien as the leading officer of the Big Brother brigade. I read the play and felt most intrigued as an actress to depict O’Brien more than the frivolously-in-love, Julia. I wanted a challenge and my face smiled with agreement. Ohhowexciting, my lips curled.

When my face and I sat down with the text, we concluded that O’Brien did not necessarily need to all female or all male. A bit of both masculine and feminine qualities, O’Brien emerged on my face as stiff: concentrated so intently on the need to succeed. (Brainwashing is not for quitters.) My lips tightened and my eyes were centered. Never did I falter with looking “around” or “pass,” but rather, my eyes situated themselves on someone-always. O’Brien never glazed over nor did she bother with paying attention to anyone she was not speaking to directly. When she spoke, my eyes penetrated. My jaw worked intentionally for the first time and my face build itself upon that rigid jaw line I sealed to O’Brien. There was no ease in any of my facial features, and it took calm and collective training in my mind to work my intense and composed face. It felt empowering. My face was important and I moved like a gridlock into the place where eyes, lips, and clenched cheekbones hollowed my face in the stage lights and a walking skull tormented Winston Smith to submission. Big Brother was alive.

This face-I miss. Widely labeled by the public as “the actor’s mask,” I find that “mask” is not the sufficient term to convey how much your own face is involved. It’s your muscles. Your pupils. You are in charge of every subtle choice and action. This face-I miss, because I played.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Writing Workshops LA: My First Class

Tonight was the first of eight classes in my creative nonfiction workshop. Through great occurrences of a tweet and a click I discovered "Writing Workshops LA:" a private writing school one of my regulars at the cafe founded. Very cool. There were spaces left in the creative nonfiction class and I thought to myself: Andrea, get your shit together.

When I was a student, I did fairly well as a student. Despite my procrastinating ways, I did my work-and well-for the most part. So then I graduated. And I tried to rush back into school again, it was my comfort zone. But school said no-go live (or at least that's how I optimistically interpreted my rejections). So I lived, and moved to a new city and new job, new skills, and new movies, new restaurants. And then I had an idea-a book idea. I threw myself into my new literary relationship. Head. Over. Heels. And then we started fighting and then we made up, but still I was getting frustrated. And then there was the tweet. Who knew what a tweet could do?

The first class was wonderful. All six ladies (who all have names with either an A or an E-I'm fondly calling this workshop the A & E channel) are wonderful. I'm so excited to read more of their work as our first assignment gave us a preview to each one of our voices. The prompt was: why I write. And so-here's my answer. The next several blogs will follow my journey on the first kind of adult thing I consider with my writing career. Taking a class, making connections, and finally meeting people who are on the same lovely, agonizing struggle as I. Writing-blah-what a bitch.

"Why I Write"

Why I write-for the past several years I’ve had a different answer on each new birthday. I knew that what I wanted to hone, to craft, to nurture, was my writing. There was vast room for improvement and for learning but when I graduated high school, that’s all I knew. 6 years, one degree, and 8 rejections from creative writing programs across the nation later, I have a solid answer: people.

I write because I am genuinely interested in them: their stories. It’s absurd and, yet so liberating, my ability to strike up a conversation with a stranger and open up. Listening has become a great component to my writing, without it, I will fail. The thing about “people” is that they’re like the roses we don’t stop to smell. Yeah-I’m using that cliché. But honestly, we are so quick to get to point A to point B and even more so, point C-that we forget to sit down and chat with one another.

What gets me going as a writer, what makes my mind buzz, is sitting down with one person and cracking them open. It’s like a fantastic piñata. Now I’m not saying that every Henry and Nancy has an epic story, but as a writer I must pick and choose which ones I see worthwhile. A storyteller picks the stories that cater to his abilities whether that may be in humor, in suspense, or in drama, but the important factor lies in the storyteller’s skill to know which story fits him and vice versa.

I write because I am on the pursuit for these people-these stories-that will fit me as much as I will fit them. A writer’s subject must be willing to be as open and as a part of the storytelling as the writer and, in fiction, that can be quickly remedied: you dictate and create the subjects; as a part of your imagination, they have no choice! On the other hand, real-life subjects with pulses and free will can tell you no. I risk a broken ego every time I ask someone to let me listen, to let me in. Though however dangerous this path may be for my writer’s ego, I welcome it. I’ve come to a point in my life where I do not want my writing to be about me necessarily and what I choose to create in this novel or this story, but rather about novels and stories already existing-walking and breathing pass me.

I’m a conversationalist: that’s why I write.


Until next Tuesday....

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Matthew Santos- Break Free (Frequency TV)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Poetic Listening

I love voices.

Big voices.

If I could label my taste in music it would be such-big, fill-up-the-room-and-your-heart voices.

I recently went to go see a small show with Matthew Santos. He's best known for his great contribution to Lupe Fiasco's hit single "Superstar." You know that amazing hook/chorus? That's Matthew Santos. I loved that chorus and I adamantly went searching for this "Santos" fellow.

That was a few years back and since then I've written a short story based off his song "Love Sick Fool" (the story is even titled after the song), I've ponder many, many times to him, I've cried, and I've oooed and ahhhedd him to any one that will listen to me.

I finally got to see him live at The Hotel Cafe in Hollywood. I sat in the front-only inches from him and his guitar and yes-I did cry for the first time at a live show. In a concert, I've probably would have gotten away with my tears. Everyone so jammed together and looking only straight ahead, no one would have cared less to check if the strange, emotional chick next to them was crying for real or not. However, at the more intimate and quiet ambiance of The Hotel Cafe, most of the audience seated at tables, yeah-I'm pretty certain my lady neighbor to my right saw the tears I tried to hold back.

Why did I cry? Simple-I really love big voices. And Matthew's was enormous. It's so breathtakingly beautiful that the whole room was hushed for a full hour. His first intro song was all harmonies (not a word was sung) and people didn't even clap. Yes, we were that quickly mesmerized. His lyrics are sweet and contemplative, but his voice stole the show. As it should be. I teared up because who gets to see that everyday? I've asked Alex numerous times to sing for me but he continues to be a butthead about it so no-I can't witness firsthand a truly amazing voice.

After his show, I naturally was processing the hour that I spent and came to terms with the running theme in my music collection: the voices. Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra, Adele, Matthew Santos, Gavin Degraw (his stripped version of his album "Chariot" showcases the "voice" without all the rock fuss), Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Lauryn Hill, Freddie Mercury, John Legend, Stevie Wonder, and more!

Adele is currently on tour for her newest album "21." She's a favorite now among the American music scene and is booked in all the big venues in San Diego and LA. I'm passing though because I'm greedy now. Snobby too. I want to watch Adele in a place like The Hotel Cafe. I want to witness her "unplugged" session where there's only 20 of us. Hell, even my wedding would have to many people for my liking. Maybe, someday, the stars will align and I'll hear word of a super secret show Adele is performing. Lord-if that ever occurred-there would be tears. Tears, tears, tears. As a blubbery mess Adele might think me crazy or "that fan" but I'm okay with that. I can't help myself when my heart is full and my soul is soothed.

I am a poetic listener.

Crying is a natural side effect.


Adele "Melt My Heart to Stone"
video

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Music Journal

All this nonfiction has me sentimental over my old frenemy, fiction.

One of my favorite creative writing exercises ever was what my professor called a "music journal." A music journal were short entries lasting as long as the song did and writing whatever came to mind throughout the song. It was, of course, a brainstorming tool. Get your creative juices flowing so-to-speak. But what I really reveled in it was the fact I kinda did this on my own already.

Every one of my short stories has a soundtrack.

Needless to say, this exercise was easy for me. It was a rush. Write to the speed of the song. The emotion, the rhythms and the beats, the crescendo and the lulls. Music is a survival tool to my fiction. Maybe it's all those movies I see, but I believe that every story needs a tune.

So here is my music journal because fiction, you kill me, but I love you.


1. "Countdown" by Phoenix

My hair poked him in the eye but we didn't care. Head-banging was our specialty and this was our grand finale. HE raised the volume a bit more. At volume notch "60" the house shook with each new bass introduced to our "I need to feel something" song. Our parents knew that we knew that this family was never going to reciprocate from what had occurred the night before. I couldn't stop jumping and neither could Bobby. I loved him for that-I knew that he was my brother because of it. We jumped together and we knew that our parents knew that we would leave. We couldn't be around the house without the blasting music because once it all went silent-we would all have to talk.


2. "I Was A Lover" by TV on the Radio

Roxanne gilded across the stage. Dripping from sweat but nevertheless sexy. She dragged her heels on purpose because that's what got them going. Her eyes scanned the audience of cameras. All flickers-not a moment to breathe, but she knew what it was all about. She had to deal-it was in her contract. She was far enough to not give a shit but appear grateful. One hand at 45 degree-angle to her hip, the other limp but ready to wave. "Heyhoneywhataboutthatnewrumoryouhad-" she didn't bother to listen to the rest. Dragging along she reached point B. Around the corner, and the path become pitched black. Door closing, she turned one last time to flash her own 1000 watts. A bang as the lock entered back into its latch and she closed her eyes: home.

3. "Private Eyes" by Hall & Oates

It was the new government's sick joke that the song be played on every radio station on every hour. All stations were presented with a list of approved songs for the public a media buddy of mine informed me. The crew was taking a rare break on 9th hour. Those damn big boys had some sense of humor. Personally I thought their love for Hall & Oates was gay. But I suppose that's what power does to a man-makes him gay: never ceasing to be happy. Happy bastards. It was good times indeed for their lot. For the rest of us, we sat listening to the synchronized harmonies and thought about what we wouldn't be able to do tomorrow or who we wouldn't see. Our women might as well been non-existent. Extinct. They deliberately wanted us to turn to each other for comfort. Sick fucking irony. They were watching us but we were as well. Our first move would come sooner than the 10th hour.

4. "Death is a Disease" by Clint Marshall for Aronaseky's "The Fountain"

My eyes scanned the text as fast as they could. Meaningless-I thought to myself. The pursuit was futile as the words had no meaning to me. Scratches engraved on the paper, I squeezed the edges of the cover to force some sort of miracle upon my brain to the book. Please-I begged it. I was at an age when trying seemed too young and not reading too old.

5. "Julia" by The Beatles

I never sang alone in public. I forbid it. Yes, I could carry a tune-no problem. "Happy Birthday" never stressed me out. But if there was audience and it was only I singing-I rather be dead. But Julia was dead. She was still crying. Three hours and the tears wouldn't stop. I didn't know what else to do. So I sang. I sang because that boy from that party should have never touched. That boy from the party from Friday night on her night out away from home should never have existed. He needed to still be a stranger that didn't like the way Julia looked her in light blue dress with her white mary jane heels. He was not allowed to like her legs-firm from being a runner. His eyes should have turned to the next girl because Julia was my sister and I never needed to sing to her.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mad Hops

I grew up watching basketball. I bled red, black, and white. I hungered for the playoffs and the show-down that inevitable came. My Pippin and my Jordan, together-the way it was always meant to be-like my parents. As a child, there was no Jordan without Pippin. And if there ever was, I threw a fit.

Often, my dad and I really bonded over the games. Like any child and father to any sport. We screamed and cheered and screamed again. For this to be ok and even furthermore, done INside the house, and if it to be ok with MY mother was another reason to scream even harder.

The glory-the adrenaline of winning and being on the side of the winners was something so tremendous I didn't know what to do with myself but jump-

Up and down.

And scream.

Now-

pass a decade and some change and I'm still exactly the same way.


Funny enough, I don't watch sports anymore. A basketball game will cross my path a few times a year and it's like a reflex: scream.

SCREam my brain continues to egg me on. My fists begin to clench and my teeth are already grinding. No matter who the opponent team is all I see is Sun. I hated the Phoenix Suns like I hated the dentist when I was a kid. And when you get a root canal at age 6 because you wanted to feel the breeze pass through your hair locks down the hill while seated on the handlebars of your cousin's bike only to kiss the concrete with your two front teeth-you really do not like the dentist or his damn chair.

So forever I will see the Suns and Charles Barkley as my lifetime sports-arch nemesis.

Factor in: movies. Sports movies.

I'm a fanatic. A fanatic mess.

You all know I love movies. I'm even marrying movies in the form of a writer/director named Alex. I was pretty bad before Alex and I've gone off the deep-end post-Alex and post-moving-to-L.A.-and finding many other movie nerds worse-if not-just like me.

My favorite all-time movie is Remember the Titans.

But I never watch football. It's not that I hate it-I just don't really get jazzed about it.

What's great about "movie magic" is their ability to take the best plays, the best suspense of something you really only see in the like the last 5 mins of any real-life sports game and they elongate it for roughly 120 mins. Holy balls.

That's a drug for yours truly.

Hello, my name is Andrea Galvez and I'm addicted to watching sports movies and cheering.

And screaming.

Now, finally factor this: The Fighter starring Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale as the famous boxing brothers from Lowell.

I never-and I mean never-watch boxing. I watch more football than boxing.

But The Fighter-dear Lord-The Fighter nearly had me out of my seat with my clenched fist in the air grunting a "hellyaymof*****!"

I will buy that movie when it goes on sale because I need to see it in the comfort of my own home where I can freely curse out all my good cheer.

I cannot start to describe the agony it was to watch that film in silence.

Why God! Why!

Plus, for some reason a Sunday matinee showing of The Fighter was the Burbank Senior Citizen's activity of the week. There were way too many older folks in the theater to make me comfortable of the fact that a Boston obscenities marathon sprinkled with graphic violence inside and outside of the ring was about to run.

Nevertheless... I'm sorry, I couldn't contain myself.
Honestly, I allowed only like 40% madsportswoman out.

The clenched fists were the first to go (sorry Alex's fingers).
Then came the gasps-and the mumbled grunts.
Then the "come on!"...but again, at 40% it was more like a "come on." (No exclamation point).

There were a few "awwww....."s and "ayyyyyy....."s

I looked and then didn't. Covered my eyes and then stared.

In the end, The Fighter was awesome. It's seated now, right under Remember the Titans in a comfortable 2nd place on my top movie list of forever.

But what was a true shame was the fact that I couldn't-in good courtesy conscience-jump.

Again, I love to scream and then jump!

Up and down.

The Fighter had my inside-rude-inconsiderate-self jumping up and down through all the credits.

I was in the back row- I could've jumped. Curses.

My recommendation for your next weekend trip: your local theater, The Fighter, and your inside-mad-hops.

It's worth the 12-15 dollars.
That's something to jump up and down for...





Tuesday, January 4, 2011

For Me

Ok. I have to write the story somewhere before I start making things up. Granted, my future children and grandchildren will get a censored version until their old enough.

Intriguing beginning, no?...

But I have to write this before time and other matters like my book and all the planning and a bunch of other fuss makes the details fuzzy. So read if you like. This one, again (sorry followers) is more for me than you.

Hm. I'll keep these uber-personal blogs to a minimum this 2011-bare with me. I think I finally have a few things together in my life. Less boo-hoo more woo-hoo! (hahahahahaha I loved that I just wrote boo-hoo and woo-hoo in the same sentence. Ah....)

Continuing on-

On December 28th, 2010 Alexander Michael Dandino proposed marriage to I, Andrea Georgina Galvez.

Holy. Balls.

Now, holy balls would have been a much more appropriate word choice than my original repetitive phrase throughout the whole exchange.

"Shut-the-fuck-up" doesn't have quite the lady-like ring to it. But really, who are we kidding. For the better part of my daily speech, and more so around the ones I feel completely comfortable with I really don't know how to talk (politely). Hence my guess why I get so sick of myself at work sometimes cause all I say are nice things, but luckily my co-workers are just as bad as me so the backroom keeps me grounded to my usual shit-talkin'-self.

I'm fairly certain I'll stop cursing when I start raising my first child. At that point I'll just start spelling (thanks Jaime Bauer for the model on that one :wink:)

The time I believe was about 2:00 pm. (I know this because my car oil change appointment with Goodyear was 2:30 pm.

Yes, I was late.

But I like to think my excuse for my tardiness is valid.

Quick background tid-bit about me: I love wearing comfy pants. Literally the first thing I do when I get home from work is put my pajamas pants on and take off my shoes. Instantly work is off when my jeans are off.

I was lounging about my recently-bought and wonderfully cushiony bed when Alex came into the room. I hugged him and asked if we could watch the rest of "How I Met Your Mother" later that day. He said yes and I remember feeling very content with a hug from Alex and the future viewing of HIMYM. Life-in that moment-was nice.

Time was ticking and I grabbed those darn jeans to be ready to leave for my appointment. No sooner had I finished buttoning that Alex did one gesture that made me know EXACTLY what was coming. Alex raised his arm, extended his hand, and spread his fingers wide followed with a "OK. I'm sorry this is not the best time..." and then I started cursing.

And laughing.

You know the feeling when you're in the library and you stumble upon the funniest thing you have ever seen/heard and you CANNOT stop laughing, but because you're in the silence of a library you have to stifle it which then only leads into a fit of giggles that never ends?

Times that by like a gazillon and that's how hard I was laughing while Alex endearingly asked me to marry him.

So I: cursing and laughing
And Alex: asking and kneeling

made a deal to be around each other for as long as we lived to see what would come of our lives-together.

It was a beautifully, hilarious, casual proposal that had Alex's name written all over it.

Romance from Alex lies in his idiosyncrasies as boyfriend, fiancee, and future-husband. It's the little moments he gives me that make me want to stick around forever to collect as many as I can.

Ok-haha-I have to stop here. I'm getting way to caught up in writing about this. This is as far as I will go publicly (I gotta save some for the wedding). As writers, I asked Alex if we could please write our own vows. I mean, we can handle that much, can't we? We'll see.

As for now, I'm digging back into my book. I have a goal of completing 5 interviews per month for the next three months so that by April I start the real work-the writing and the structure.

This pearl better not be so distracting when I start typing...