how I learned… I was basically addicted to the Internet

Rocket Science was started as a time capsule for future introspection. During those first 365 days I wasn’t really writing to remember, I was writing to find a point.

How I Learned is “a monthly series of writers, storytellers, comedians, bloggers and performers” sharing stories of wisdom found and gained.


It happens every fourth Wednesday in Brooklyn, and although the website doesn’t post transcripts, they share pictures from each reading and they always share the topic beforehand.

Some of my favorite prompts include: How I learned … I was basically in love with you, there might be some issues (stories about therapy), to inhale (stories about drugs), to live on the road (stories of travel), and my favorite: what everyone else already knew.


Even though I have yet to write one of these narratives, they inspire me to spend time reflecting on my own stories and stories that I’ve been told.

How I Learned serves as an extension of my own introspection and I can pretty much guarantee that one of these days, I will write a post about something I have learned. Not that I don’t already do that…


I can’t help but be addicted to anything that throws a little wisdom my way.

All images by Jon Boulier and gleefully stolen from How I Learned. GO THERE NOW!

I don’t f—ing care if you like it!

I will save my scathing review of Bridesmaids for a different day, when I have a clear head and a bullet point of specific problems that need to be addressed in terms of storyline and character development within that film.

Until then, I have to say I liked it which is pretty pathetic.

It’s pathetic because in a time when a five-year old can learn and restate random facts about the Earth and the Universe, we are still congratulating ourselves on realizing universal facts that should no longer need clarification.

Like: the sun is hot and women can be funny.

Which one of these would you put on a movie poster then congratulate yourself about?

Hopefully neither, because they are both so obvious and should already be a part of your basic understanding of, well, everything that stating them again would just be redundant and a bit foolish to you.

The marketing campaign for Bridesmaids is so congratulatory—as if someone is doing Kristen Wiig a favor by allowing her to write and star in a feature film directed by a man who is most famous for directing a specific brand of comedy (whatttt uuuup awkward teenage boys and men suffering from arrested developpppmeeenttttt).

FILM EXEC: Hey, want to make a film starring ONLY females (because we’re going to market the —- out of the fact that it’s NO BOYZ ALLOWED!!1) that is comedic in the same way that Superbad, The 40-Year-Old Virgin and etc. were funny?

KRISTEN: That is exactly my writing and comedy style. I would be happy to try to expand your brand by not actually expanding your brand at all!1!! And etc.

I don’t imagine Kristen putting up a fight because no matter how limiting the scope may seem, that is an awesome lead and it would be ridiculous for anyone to not take that.

I would take that! I would take anything! I would rewrite Herbie: Fully Loaded as a coming of age story about high school lesbians driving lesbian, enchanted cars if Judd Apatow asked me to (Judd, if you want me to do that, I am available).

“Chick flicks can be FUNNY” the Bridesmaids poster proudly proclaims in giant pink letters.

This is the part where my brain jumbles and I want to descend into a fit of curse words and hair pulling and maybe a few ?!??! for good measure because if any words should be on the poster for this film it should be “YOU’RE WELCOME.”

Because, thank you, Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumulo for writing a comedy starring females that will do well at the box office this weekend. Thank you for doing it and opening yourself up to the opportunity of doing it again—and better. And, oh man the next comedy you write better be better because what I saw tonight was such a first draft. You can make something better than that and you will.

But, what do I know? I’m the only person in the universe who didn’t like The Hangover (and predicted that he was on the roof—sorry! It’s not a spoiler if it was popular two years ago and you still haven’t seen it).

Any film that lets girls see themselves outside of the “girl-box” is a good film. Kudos you, Wiig–even if the only instance of you being outside of the “girl-box” was writing it and starring in it (because boy oh boy oh boy was your character trapped in that box–get her out of there, it’s roomy out here!)

By the way, Kristen: I’m totally okay with sharing writing credits on the new Herbie if you want to work with me.

“I get worried for young girls sometimes; I want them to feel that they can be sassy and full and weird and geeky and smart and independent, and not so withered and shriveled.”-Amy Poehler


starting to get addicted to… dancers among us

Jordan Matter is a photographer in New York City and since 2009, he has been shooting the series “Dancers Among Us.” Every week there are new pictures and new behind-the-scenes footage of how he gets each shot.

Have you seen them?

It’s so fun to imagine actual dancing in the streets.

He was inspired to start this series by watching his son play with a toy bus, creating a storyline and acting out characters with a passion that is typically best displayed by children and “creative types” (you know who you are). He wanted to capture that feeling of passion for everything that often gets lost in the cynicism of the adult world.

After attending a performance of the Paul Taylor Dance company he found the perfect participants to help him capture that everyday passion.
It was then that Dancers Among Us was born.

“Dancers are storytellers. They’re trained to personify passionate moments, their bodies imbued with a stunning combination of artistry and athleticism. They create a fantasy world, offering us a deeper look into familiar settings. They bring to life what we feel but are unable to express physically.”

His website tagline reads: BE passionate joyful euphoric intense desperate present ALIVE.

My response to that?

Okay!

Dancers Among Us: in Chinatown from Jordan Matter on Vimeo.

let’s be friends!

For the past few weeks I have been reading, writing and exploring the depths of my interests. Novel concept, right? Doing what I want to do.

This week I started a swimming class at the local aquatics center because I have never been a strong swimmer. I “learned” how to swim in Lake Michigan during a tornado warning in 1996. It was dark, ominous and the water was outrageously choppy.

My brothers caught on quickly and my dad had to continually coax me into the lake–a true feat of parenting considering my dramatic antics and cries of anguish as water went into my nose for the umpteenth time, effectively killing any desire I had to learn to swim.

Tornado sirens, immediately recognizable to all native Midwesterners, went off as we swam and we all jumped out of the water. My sister, busy practicing her already mastered breaststroke, kept swimming farther and farther away from the shore as the sirens went off. Later, we would learn that in a nervous panic her mind had been paralyzed in fear and she temporarily lost it. She thought that if she turned her body around she would immediately sink.

There was a dramatic rescue by the lifeguard in a little tugboat type thing and then we all sat around in the women’s shower area until it was safe to drive home.

Luckily, the tornado never came and instead there were just a few strong winds that scattered some tree branches and frightened a few children (in particular: me). The next year, my parents got divorced and we didn’t go back to the house in Michigan for the summer. That was lucky, too, because a tornado actually hit and it was terrible.

That fall, while filling out the customary grade school “What I Did This Summer” project, I decided this story wasn’t dramatic enough to share. I edited out the whole part about being out at Lake Michigan and made up an elaborate story about how my parents were watching Independence Day in a movie theater when a tornado swept through, tore the roof off and killed at least one patron (DRA-MATIC). I specifically remember writing “the Will Smith movie” and drawing a picture of a cinema house with horrified patrons looking up in shock as their roof floated away. My teacher, Mrs. Leiker, asked me if it was true and I confidently replied that of course it was true. This was my first taste of incendiary storytelling.

Later, I would write a Frosty the Snowman-esque comedy about a dancing scarecrow that would yield belly laughs from that same teacher and my class, after she asked me to share it with everyone. That is definitely when I learned to love my audience.

Other byproducts of that summer in Michigan include an inability to immediately recognize dramatic stories as dramatic stories and a fear of large bodies of water.

So, I’m in a swimming class now.

My classmates are triathletes learning how to improve their breathing strategies and I’m the weirdo trying to learn how to not feel like I’m going to drown every time my head is submerged in water.

It’s a process and my teacher is wonderfully patient.

My basic goal with that is to not be so afraid of the lake this summer, and maybe, maybe, not freak out about the possibility of flying off the jetski when my friends and I double up.

This week I want to share a little bit more about where I spend my time—both online and off, in a “Starting to Get Addicted To…” series. Maybe I’ll even introduce you to a new addiction (and I promise, it will not be toilet paper).

Let’s all agree to carve out happy trails this week. Deal? Deal.

of montreal

You know those women who have really cool tattoos and also knit really well and live in Canada and are cooler than everyone by virtue of said tattoos/knitting skillz/location?

Neither do I!

But one of my favorite places on the Internet stay fancy free, is written by a woman who happens to be from Canada and who happens to have some mad knitting skillz.

Besides posting pretty pictures and nice words on stay fancy free Tara is moving to Montreal and she’s selling her knits at a discount at Yarn Over Movement.

All these sales are convincing me that I have more money than I actually do.

But you know what they say: better to live as a hobo in a great knit scarf than as a miser!

Or, maybe the saying goes: better to save your money and buy things you need and not things you want.

No, this is America so it was probably the first quote.*

*I really do love America though. Don’t kick me out! I’ll bake apple pie, get married young, force my kids to play baseball and not vote in elections!**
**see what I did there? Damn it, my attitude is getting very Gwyneth Paltrow-y. I better start practicing my fake British accent and sense of entitlement.

the blizzard of oz

I think I just bought a camera because of the snow storm?

You can’t write about a snow storm that affects most of the Midwest and not have photos that are specific to your region. If you do, then it just becomes a third grade composition:

It snowed on Monday night.

We bought bread and milk on Monday afternoon.

We walked in the snow to get $2 drinks downtown Tuesday night (WORTH IT).

Dora the Ford Explorer drove us home through piles of snow.

It was a good middle of the week, snow day imposed weekend.

It could be worse: I once ordered ballerina earrings from China on Etsy (I’m still waiting for them to arrive) (also, WORTH IT) (also, I couldn’t go to work for an entire week and everyone was too busy having a life to entertain me, so basically it was everyone else’s fault) (also, I hadn’t discovered My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding yet or else I would’ve just spent my time watching that not ordering earrings from China that I’ll probably be too scared to wear, because…really?)

It’s a red Sony Cybershot-W330 and it’s currently on sale. I forgot how much I loved Cybershots until I used my friend Sara‘s last weekend when we got really metal at the HELLYEAH concert.

HELLYEAH is a death metal band fronted by some middle aged dude with a fondness for cargo pants and long, stringy hair. Sound cool? IT GETS COOLER!

ACTUAL quote said by an ACTUAL human being (HellYeah frontman) on an ACTUAL stage (so a very literal platform in front of hundreds of people):

Are we gonna get real drunk tonight? (crowd yells “YEAH!”) Are we gonna drive home REAL careful? (crowd yells “YEAH!”) Because we do NOT want to give any money to the man (deafening screams).

America, we are doing everything just right.

To all the struggling musicians out there: drop everything now. 2012 is not a rumor! Tell your parents you love them! Try peyote! Live yo’ life! Because the ship that is humanity is sinking and sinking fast so … everybody wang chung tonight (everybody: have fun tonight).

taken on the Android, not the Cybershot

the british are coming!

America needs its own royal family.  We need someone to get excited about, to invest in, to speculate about and of whom we can only assume the best.

There is so much interest in the British royal family and Prince William’s spring nuptials and that quickly translates into one million opportunities to SELL THINGS.

There are bus tours offered through Kate Middleton’s hometown–tours which the owner and director says Americans have more interest in than the people in his own country.

There is a three week “princess training camp” which apparently consists of more than just watching Disney princess movies and walking with books on your head.

Guys, that’s a lot of revenue!

There’s nothing more American than barbecue, apple pie and consumerism.

Long ago, America decided that the Kennedy’s were our royalty.

While we’ll always have Camelot, we won’t always have their lives at the click of a cursor.  In a smart move, they’ve shut the door on the American public and have chosen to live their lives as contributing members of society out of the public eye.

I know–but how will we know what they’re wearing??

It does makes sense though: our royalty shouldn’t aspire to be famous, after all Snooki is famous.  Who wants to be in the same league as that?

That doesn’t excuse the fact that we still need someone to wear this dress:

That’s right–if you want to be American royalty you’ve got to wear THIS creation.

Any takers?  Paris Hilton?

Dubya’s niece, Lauren Bush, is engaged to Ralph Lauren’s son (Lauren Lauren? Dear Lord…).  Ralph Lauren is pretty classically American, so maybe along with the beige, black and white they could throw in some of that red, white and blue.

Imagine that

Or we can wait a couple of decades and see what Sasha and Malia end up doing.  I’m pretty sure this dress isn’t going anywhere.

judging a book by its cover

Before we moved in 2009, my father’s college textbooks used to travel with us from house to house.  I remember the orange “used” stickers dotting the sides of seemingly random psychology books and novels in the basement and all around my parent’s bedrooms.

My introduction to classic literature came from talking vegetables and time-traveling dogs, but I was surrounded by it from birth.

I read a book about Mr. Blue’s Farm, then read Animal Farm.

I watched Veggie Tales’ Grapes of Wrath, then attempted Steinbeck’s novel.

Unlike Animal Farm, I couldn’t get by with a notebook full of unknown words and a dictionary.  I put it down after ten or twelve pages and haven’t gone back since.  I’ll probably need to add that to my “Need to Read” list.

I read Catcher in the Rye sometime in my pre-teen years and was later confused by the barrage of teenagers claiming it as their favorite book.  When I read it I was emotionally too far away from the hopelessly introspective and downtrodden spirit of Holden Caulfield and now I’m too far away from that period of angst to take it seriously.

But I learned a valuable lesson from that book: teenagers who count Catcher in the Rye among their favorite books are almost always the most boring people in the room.  This book marked my last adolescent stint with “college” level reading materials and my introduction to the adult (as in grown-up, NOT skeeze)  fiction section at the public library.

In my hometown, the public library let you check out adult fiction books when you turned eleven but only let you check out DVDs after you turned thirteen.  So at first I read books based on movies I couldn’t see–the top two being White Oleander and Riding in Cars With Boys.  Then when those ran out, I simply judged the books by their covers.

The most memorable covers came from Julianna Baggott,

And, as previously mentioned, Jacqueline Susann:

Methinks it was just an attraction to the color pink…but, it served me well.  By (ruthlessly) judging books by their covers I was introduced to fantastic female authors and the books taught me about the little bits of crazy hiding in everyone.

Win/Win.

StolenSpace, a gallery in East London, is currently hosting a gallery featuring book covers reinterpreted by different artists.

And if ever there was an argument for judging books by their covers, this would be it.  Here are a few of my favorites:

How could you not pick this book up?

Bridget Jones' Diary.

I think that last one is my favorite.  I am not above getting “no emotional fuckwittage” tattooed on me.

liveblogging the DVR, or if it happens it happens

In 2008 and 2009 I filled out this end-of-the-year survey that asked me to rate my happiness, sadness and defining moments of the year*. It also asked me how far I traveled and what countries I visited.

When I answered that travel question I felt like it was mocking me. I hadn’t gone anywhere out of the country either year–was I supposed to go somewhere? But there’s so much to see here! Don’t you know about John Brown and Bleeding Kansas? I live blocks away from history and haven’t even traced those routes.

But at the end of last year I reread those questions and answers and realized I was moving in circles and making myself a comfortable path.

While comfortable is good it’s been getting a little too comfortable, and you know “the doors of life must be shaken to test the hinges and bolts,” “you’ve got to try your luck at least once a day because you could be going around lucky all day and not even know it” etc, etc…

And Globe Trekker!

I fell in love with public programming when I was an oppressed child with twelve television channels.

I’d watch Arthur and Zoom on weekday afternoons on PBS, followed by the Simpsons on Fox (JUDGE AWAY, still love it, it gave me my humor–as did In Living Color) then I’d move on to reading or playing for the rest of the night.

On the weekends it was all play and the occasional episode of Globe Trekker, which then turned into a regular schedule of weekend Globe Trekker (when I could figure out what time it was starting). SHORT TANGENT: I could never remember how to convert Eastern Standard or Pacific Time to Central Time…because I was really, really, ridiculously smart… obviously.

Anyway, I loved watching Globe Trekker because I imagined I was taking notes for future trips: the tea gardens in Asia, finding and walking with a nomad in the Gobi desert, walking barefoot through temples or sanctuaries, plates of fish in Nordic regions, mounds of meat in Germany and so on.

Admittedly, I’m still taking those notes but the list is getting so long that I forget where I’m at and what I’m resolved to do. Holly Golightly can only remind me that there’s such a lot of world to see for so long before her words begin to mean nothing.

“And think of a what a specialist misses–the whole world over his fence.”

Maybe I should take a long walk to Canada or up the Pacific coast. Maybe I should go to Alaska and re-imagine the Bering Strait. Maybe I should fish in Newfoundland and cook over an open fire. Maybe it is about time to get lost and get found.

And did you know that marmots in Mongolia can still carry the bubonic plague and there’s no way to boil it out or get rid of it? And that in Ulan-Bataar in Mongolia almost every car can act as a taxi and that remnants of the old communist Russian rule still exist in ghost towns? And in populated towns (namely, VODKA)?

Maybe I’ll milk a cow in Mongolia.

*I always had trouble with this because I like Beverly Ann Donofrio’s statement that life “four or five days that change everything.” I can’t imagine having all of mine in one year, but I guess if it happens, it happens.