This is the Life of a Redhead

Monday, November 10, 2008

USC Transfer Application Essay

My 2008 essay for USC's transfer application. Another one about my dog.

It was the winter of my junior year of high school. I had just been cast in the spring play, and I was also preparing for the State series for the Speech and Acting Team, as well as vying to become a Captain of the team for the upcoming school year. I had a research paper due for my honors English class, and I still managed to work twelve hours a week at my local library.

On a frosty February afternoon, the first day in months that I came home from school before sunset, I was wondering how I would juggle all my activities when I saw my Mother standing in the foyer with a Butternut Squash in her hands. It looked strange; it was furry, it moved, and, when it saw me come in, it peed on the tile floor.

This was how I met Kirby.

The last time I begged my parents for a puppy was when I was seven. Now, I was seventeen, and my Mother’s birthday present to my Brother and I was a cream colored Schnoodle—half Schnauzer, half Poodle, and completely hypoallergenic to adhere to my Mother’s needs.

Kirby was supposed to be a standard sized dog, but as he grew we discovered that he was a miniature. My Brother, who never wanted a dog, and especially not a small one, refused to take care of Kirby. My Mother, discovering that dogs barked and had to be housebroken, abandoned caring for him as well. I was too busy with school and work to make any real impact on the dog’s upbringing, and so it was my Dad who ended up caring for the Schnoodle.

Even though he worked from home, my Dad had to fly out of town often. It was on these days when I took care of Kirby, since my Mother and Brother refused to deal with him. I would walk him along the snowy streets of my suburban neighborhood, holding him back as he yapped at other dogs, moving in as if he were ready to kill, but really just longing to play with another of the same species.

I was very harsh when training Kirby. When he peed on my bed, I would chase him with a squirt bottle filled with lemon juice. When he ripped up toilet paper, I would put him in his crate and endure his whining for hours. “The Everything Puppy Book” said these actions were all right, but I couldn’t help but think that Kirby’s treatment was awful. We were terrible owners.

I began to regret my Mother’s decision to get a dog when, on a gloomy day in March, Kirby padded into my bedroom. He leaned his body against me, rested his head on my lap, and looked to me with his dark brown eyes.

This was unconditional love.

At that moment, I learned to love my dog. My general dislike for the mutt melted into affection, and I urged my Brother and Mother to put more effort into raising the pup. With my encouragement he burrowed a place into the hearts of each member of my family. Kirby became my roommate when his crate was moved out of the kitchen and into my bedroom. He has his own place at the dinner table. He gets taken to the dog park every Sunday for a proper playtime. He eats the best dog food money can buy.

Now, I could never view Kirby as a possession; he’s family. Kirby displays love that requires nothing in return, and I believe that this is something that humanity can learn from. To hate is simple, but to love one another is a challenge. It sounds unbelievable, but from witnessing a dog’s unfailing affection, I decided that I wanted to become a better person. I try to be less quick to judge others, and to love someone despite their faults. I try to encourage others to do the same, and I long to make a positive difference in the world. I never thought that a dog could change my outlook on life, but sometimes it takes a puppy whining at four in the morning to make that wake up call.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

To Do List: Before Death

In lieu of another piece of writing (I have three half-written stories.) I will post a list of things I would like to do before I die.

In semi-order:

1. Become a member of Pixar's Senior Creative Team.
2. Travel (locations: Most of Europe, South America, Australia, Tokyo, Safari Thing in Africa)
3. Live in Europe.
4. Work in Europe. (maybe not for an extended period of time)
5. Enter a short film in Cannes and/or Sundance
6. Direct a movie
7. Be happy for an entire year
8. Own a dog
9. Live in Los Angeles
10. Live in San Francisco
11. Work or Own a Chocolate Shop
12. Open my own film stuido (focus on animations and short films)
13. Be in a long term relationship
14. Have some close friends
15. Go skydiving
16. Go ripcording
17. Learn to play the ukulele or tambourine (decently)
18. Do a professional modeling photoshoot
19. Appear in a magazine
20. Make art I am proud of
21. Wirte something that gets published
22. Stay up all night playing board games
23. Feel successful
24. Join the Peace Corps
25. Teach film and/or animation to students

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Hunt

Here is a short one for you guys to read ---

It’s late spring, and a warm breeze drifts through my window. I can hear my dog in the yard, the tags on his collar jingling as he romps around, occasionally sniffing tennis balls and making a mess by digging in the dirt. Kirby has always been a digger, and is the only dog I’ve ever known to and burry his prized possessions in the backyard. He zigzags along the grass, and then sniffs the clematis lining the fence of the yard, the stump of a tail frantically wagging. Suddenly, his body becomes rigid. A low growl escapes his muzzle. Kirby’s interest in the clematis escalates, as his growling transforms into high-pitched barks. He then begins to paw at the plants in a frenzy. His barks are rapidly increasing, from a curious few to a series of alerted yelps, signaling that he has found an astounding treasure. With his paws caked in dirt and his muzzle blackened, Kirby emerges from his finding with a baby rabbit in his mouth. The only visible parts of the unfortunate creature are its tiny legs, which feebly twitch and kick in a pathetic attempt for freedom. From my window, I see Kirby take his prey and prance around the yard in a victory lap. From his jaws the weak rabbit squeaks a grotesque, ear-piercing cry for help, and I feel spring fade into summer.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Workin', Workin', Workin'

I am working on two essays right now, but I don't know when they may be posted. One I think is too personal to be put on here, and the other is perhaps too long. I think I'll upload the longer one on a different server and post a link to it so it doesn't take up the entire blog page.

Friday, April 18, 2008

My Movie Epiphany

I’ve always been a really big movie person. I can’t go far enough to say that I’m a film buff, but I know that I enjoy good cinema. I feel that there are a few things that qualify me as a movie lover. First, there’s the fact that I used to be the assistant entertainment editor for my high school paper, which allowed me to write a movie review or two. Though not a professional setting, I can always discard the “high school” part and tell people that I’m a published movie critic. There’s also the fact that I’m incredibly picky with my movies. I think there’s something in my subconscious telling me that I have good taste, because without even trying to be pretentious, I find myself generally agreeing with film critiques and squirming in my seat at the hoards of stupid comedies that litter theatres each year.

Needless to say, picking my favorite movie has been a big ordeal. I have seen countless films, and disregarded most of them as being decent, while others I discarded as trash. There are a lot of classics I have not seen, which might invalidate my love for cinema, and it spans a wide array from the arguably best movie of all time, Citizen Kane, to every film Martin Scorsese directed. Still, I’ve seen my fair share of cinematic masterpieces, as well as movie duds, to do the grueling task of picking a favorite.

My shelf of DVDs can give a good guess at what type of movies I like enough to purchase. There are no horror movies in my collection, and action movies are sparse. There are a few comedies, teen movies, and romances here and there, not to mention a handful of foreign films. Most of the movies I own are almost genre-less. They have some drama in them, but it’s counteracted by comedy. There are romantic tensions, but plenty of other plot devices to pull away from the romance category. There really is no singular type of movie that I like, apart from what I consider to be the “good” type.

Most of the movies in my collection have won or been nominated for a few awards, and some of them are even Oscar winners. In fact, my favorite movie had been nominated for the Best Picture category, and even won two Oscars in categories that many didn’t care about. Still, when I declared my favorite movie as Baz Luhrmann’s “Moulin Rouge!” people took it as a shock.

“Moulin Rouge!” is a romance musical. Though there are two other musicals in my collection, (“The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” and more embarrassingly, “Rent,”) it does not seem like the type of movie that would land as my favorite. Perhaps this is the reason why, after three years of declaring it as my favorite, I moved it down my mental list and dethroned it of its former title.

Demoting “Moulin Rouge!” stemmed more form the fact that people would raise their eyebrows and silently judge me when I shared my love affair for the movie. It came from a sort of epiphany I had on a Saturday afternoon. I was browsing through my movie collection, trying to find a flick to watch in lieu of doing schoolwork, and I had a hard time making a selection. I wanted to put in “Moulin Rouge!”, but I just wasn’t in the mood to watch the dizzying first half hour of this quick edited flick. It was then that I realized that I was never in the mood to watch this movie. Even if I were in desperate need of a love story, I would settle on “When Harry Met Sally” or “The Princess Bride”. I had even recently purchased “Paris, je T’Aime” for days when hoped for romantic stories and the language of love. I could always think of a million reasons not to watch “Moulin Rouge!” and the only reason I ever had to watch it was to blow the dust off this unused disk.

On this Saturday afternoon, I popped “The Fully Monty” into my DVD player, and the realizations kept coming. This movie was probably the most watched in my collection. The witty, hilarious, and heart felt tale of six men trying to score some quid during a recession by taking their clothes off was a gem of a movie, and there’s almost never a time where I am not in the mood for this charming tale. It was about five minutes into the film when I covered my mouth as I gasped dramatically. “The Fully Monty” is my favorite movie.

I wanted to shout this relevation out to the world, but instead I played it cool. While I had to go out of my way to weasel into conversations about my favorite movies, when I dropped my British comedy bomb I got wondrous responses. The people who had seen this movie admired my sophistication. This wasn’t a film that just anyone could appreciate, and it appeared that only a truly witty and intelligent person could put this flick on his or her top-ten movie list. Others were impressed by my favorite by the obscurity of it. While not unheard of, many I’ve encountered have never seen “The Full Monty.” It elicited responses from those who had been enthusiastic about seeing the film, but never got around to doing so. Age played another factor in the unawareness of the movie. “The Full Monty” hit theatres when I was eight years old. I didn’t even see the film until I was 17, but luckily for me it was within months of the 10th anniversary edition of the movie, and I was able to purchase it in a timely manner. Still, most people my age haven’t seen this movie because they were too young to process it’s greatness when it was released, and it isn’t regarded as classic enough to be forced to watch it at a later period in life.

I guess this puts my taste in film with middle-aged people, but I feel that some undesirable assumptions are the burden one must carry for the sake of being open with personal preference. Enjoying a film like “Moulin Rouge!” would place me with my younger peers, but I want to be one with my movie loving self. I am a cinema coinsure, and whittling down every movie I’ve seen to one ultimate favorite is a job that I should be proud of. With every movie I see, I dread that I will become enamored with these new flicks. The idea of ridding “The Full Monty” of its “my favorite movie” title is almost too much to bare. This must be the trouble of loving film. People expect you to have a favorite and be steadfast on that favorite for a lifetime, but as we movie lovers keep adding onto the list of flicks we have seen, we threaten our taste and have to be prepared to change our mind on our favorites. In my mind, this is where being picky is beneficial. My mind isn’t going to change any time soon. “The Full Monty” has buried it’s way into my heart, and it won’t be replaced until I see another small film ten years after it his Hollywood.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sedaris: My Muse

I am going to start off by saying Yes.

I don't know what your question was, but the answer is Yes.

This is a blog.
I will be whining and moaning and bitching and complaining.

I hope to do this, however, in a relatively unique way. Instead of just writing spur of the moment rants, I feel that I will discuss my life in a personal essay format. I've been reading David Sedaris' book "Me Talk Pretty One Day," and I decided that I want to write amusing ditties about my life as well. Unfortunately, I'm not as old as Sedaris, and I don't have as many humorous tales about my life as he does, but I feel that there's plenty of awkward and crazy things that happen to me that would make me a decent essayist. I hope I can dig out some humor and make these tales entertaining. My family never found my writing remotely funny, so I'm dreading that public doesn't feel the same way. The only thing that makes me feel any different is that a complete stranger usually "gets" me much better than my mother or father ever will.

Perhaps another interesting thing about this blog is that I'm not going to tell any of my friends about it. This is relatively easy, since out of the few close friends I have, most of them don't give a crap about reading. If they do happen to read, they limit the genre to some pretty narrow categories (one of my friends only reads war-inspired science fiction novels, and hits the jackpot if he encounters some futuristic setting that serves as a throwback to WWII.). Safely assured, none of them will want to read about my life.

I'm hoping that I'll end up writing some really neat things and that really neat strangers will come across these things and find them intriguing. At the very least, I hope that people who end up hating my not-so-neat things don't feel the need to comment and tell me how boring my life is. On the Internet, I feel that people are much quicker to hate a blogger rather than appreciating her.

I will admit, this post does not count as an essay, and I'm sure that the essays I write about my life will come along really slowly. So, how often will I update? Well, let's be honest. I don't know. My first goal is to finish one essay. My second goal is to actually post it to this blog, and not let this be the first and last post.

I'm going to go now. There is a wonderful woman's rights event scheduled today called "Take Back the Night" that I am participating in, and I need to get ready to go to it. I'm sure any reader has instantly pegged me as a feminist, but in reality, I don't even know if I can label myself as such. This will no doubt be a topic that I write about in the distant future, but for now, I just need to focus on what to write in the near future.