Tuesday, April 12, 2016

On Acting, Politics, Growth, and Performers...

One of the communities I used to interact with over the years as an actor based out of the San Francisco Bay Area is the spoken word/poetry community and their respected activists.  The lack of diversity and representation within television, film, media (along with blatant whitewashing) and institutional oppression tend to create discussion and dialogue amongst us actors, writers, spoken word artists, poets, and activists.

But that's where I draw the line.

From the time I took my first batch of headshots back in 1999 until utilizing my lunch breaks for audition times nowadays, I recall first hand the frustration of being overlooked for a specific role, told to re-read the lines "with an accent," or simply auditioning for a role that was racially and ethnically (as well as ethically) questionable.  Eventually I felt that out of necessity, it's best to write and create my own work in order to maintain creative control over my own work.  I also took the time to learn other peripheral crafts to augment my skills in acting such as theatrical movement, voice and diction, dance, vocal intensive, writing, and long form and short form improvisation.

Meanwhile in the light of all the negative headlines regarding race relations and politics I found myself having lunch with a group of activists, writers, and spoken word artists who were venting about the various situation.  Finally the discussion shifted to the 2016 presidential election.

They had a laundry list on all Republican candidates. (Cruz, Bush, Carson, Fiorina, Kasich, ect)

They had a laundry list on Hilary Clinton

They had a laundry list on Donald Trump

They had a laundry list on Bernie Sanders.

So I asked them WHO THEN would they cast their vote on, and they immediately turned the question to me.  I told them I may vote for the same candidate I voted for back in 2012 if this person was to be nominated again because I thought it was important to vote 3rd party and create an additional voice to the bi-partisan "bi-opoly"  voting system.

I was then labeled as a "vote waster."  Funny part was, one of them bragged that she "doesn't bother wasting time to vote." Yet, she labeled me as a "vote waster."

I realized that I was too drowned out by the group and no matter what I proposed, they were dead set on why the system is "f*cked up."  Plus after so many years of voting, I still had not yet developed a comeback for the cliche "voting for the LESSER of TWO EVILS is still voting for Evil" default argument that they pull out of their asses every election time.

So they hide in their spoken word lairs with other like-minded victims while presenting their pain-pimping propaganda to a chorus of empathetic hisses.

The last time I was present at one of those events I had this moment of clarity:

They weren't committed to a solution.  They're not committed to any solution to the problems they present.  They thrive on the problems they presented.  If anything, they may or may not be aware that their identity is so intertwined with the social problems and victimhood, that they fear that they'll lose a sense of who they are if there ever was a healing and/or a solution.  Those hisses of allegiance is their rare experience of inter-connection and validation.  Their problem is spoken word and poetry to a room of 50-70-100, even 200 people and their accompanying hisses is not going to create a concrete solution for anyone.

For example, at a spoken word event, this artist began her twelve minute introduction to her two minute piece on human trafficking and sex slavery while her chorus of hisses began to build.  At the end of her piece, actually after the event when we gathered to eat, the artist and I had an additional "dialogue" regarding her performance.

Me: "actually, I've donated to Organization XYZ before.  They have several locations throughout Southeast Asia to rescue and house the women from human trafficking."

Her: "aren't they some stupid Christian organization?  Christianity and churches are tools of the colonizing oppressors."

So much for solution.

Ten years ago at a theater conference, there was a "mix and mingle" at one of the restaurants where one side of the restaurants were those who wanted to mix and mingle, while the other side of the restaurant was hosting an open mic section.  At certain points the performers at the open mic called out those who were there to mix and mingle, accusing them of lack of etiquette.  There was no dialogue or civil interaction between the two conflicting groups.  It was just a "you folks need to shut up while we're up here on stage."

Seeking a solution is to find the best case scenario of a "win-win-(win)" situation for all sides involved. Some people even call it "compromise."  For the spoken word artist and activists, it's more or less an "all or nothing" standoff, and then they perform more pain pimping propaganda on why their life is full of a "series of nothing" results.  Thus the cycle never ends.  Then they're neither an artist nor activist, just a victim of the never ending self perpetuating cycle of their own creation.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

I've Fallen and I AM Getting Up!

I'm convinced that invisible ink is utilized on our high school diplomas and our other higher learning accredited degrees.  Why?  Because it seem to me that our society is convinced that it's no longer acceptable to be a beginner afterwards.  Somehow hidden on the document declaring that "NAME has fulfilled all requirements to be conferred ___________" is something along the lines of:

"You no longer have permission to be a beginner again and must be good at your adult endeavors or else cease participating in them."  

Why?  It seems to be the overall sentiment.  It seems that people no longer have permission from society to learn a new skill or a new endeavor without some sort of scrutiny.  If a person decided they wanted to learn how to sing, the expectation is that they must instantly become the next Freddie Mercury, Whitney Houston, or Pavarotti, less they're just wasting their time.  There's no room for mistakes, voice cracks, off key moments.  Is it any wonder why we have such a high rate of obesity?  People are expected to exercise and eat perfectly otherwise they're accused of wasting their time.  Yet exercise and voice training both have something in common: the need to fatigue and break muscle fiber.  In other words, the need to "fail."  Those who exercise know that their physique is dependent on the muscle fibers tearing and rebuilding.  Likewise when someone is learning to develop their voice, singing off key and cracking voice on a high note or range work the same way as a broken muscle fiber for a body builder.  

I didn't understand in the beginning why my acting classes were sometimes referred to as an"actors' lab."  That was and is because it wasn't so much a class where someone lectured and students took notes.  It was an experience created where the actors can "experiment" with their choices, being-ness and approaches to find out what enabled them to work more effectively as an actor.  In other words it was a safe environment giving an actor permission to make mistakes.  

One of my nieces had learned to walk within the last couple of months, and it was one of the most cutest and inspiring moments to savor.  I look forward to bringing in a little human into this world and as a parent, watch him/her tackle that same endeavor.  Anyhow as my niece falls, tumbles, picks herself back up, falls again, we adults look on with amazement and wonder.  Not once did anyone tell her, "OK, you fell X times already.  Just give it up."  If anyone had said such a thing, they would be ostracized and perhaps shunned from society and justifiably so for their insensitivity and callousness.  Yet why do we do that to each other when our peers, colleagues, friends, family, and lovers while pursuing something new and they have a "fall" per se, our immediately response is telling them, "give it up already?"  If it's considered inhumane to do that to a one year old who's learning to walk and talk, why isn't it considered inhumane to do that to each other?  

If anyone were to pursue an endeavor, learn a new skill, I become their cheerleader.  Why?  Because I know first-hand how much resistance that person will receive from other people within their own inner circle.  Don't get me wrong, if someone were to approach me and tell me they're aspiring to pursue acting, there'd better be a game plan to learn the craft.  I have told specific people to "give it up" to their faces, not because they fallen, but because they didn't even take any sort of step.  I've been approached by people who told me they wanted me to assist them in their pursuit of acting, but when I ask them what steps they've taken or are going to take, their answer was basically the fact that they're asking me to help them network with my colleagues.  Nope, sorry, in that case they are wasting my time.  I'm talking about being a cheerleader for those who have actually taken steps to pursue their endeavors, dreams, skills.  

What does it mean that I'll be their cheerleader?  Look out for incremental progress and cherish it because I know people en mass will focus on what went wrong.  If something did go wrong and it's correctable, simply remind them to make that correction/adjustment without harping them.  I've heard so many times, "see, you haven't progressed much in ________," or "you haven't changed a bit."  Hell, if two years pass by and only I see an increment of progress of .01%, my job as cheerleader is to celebrate that growth.  Yes, THAT .01% growth.  

We take for granted our ability to walk.  We take for granted our uprightness.  Unless someone has a debilitating medical condition, being upright and walking is the norm.  Even with debilitating medical conditions, some people are determined and succeed in standing upright and walk against conventional odds.  We expect it from every human born on this planet.  Yet when it comes to skills that takes time to develop, nurture, grow, we begin to categorize "natural talent," as opposed to "not meant to be." What's worse is for the most part we buy into that lie.  We accept it.  

Imagine learning a new skill, pursuing a lifelong dream, taking a class and the people closest to you are around you in the exact same state of being as they were when you were learning how to walk and talk at age 1.  Would you be more encouraged to study/practice/persist?  How much of a difference it is to hear, "it's OK, get back up now, you can do it" versus "give it up already?"  

So from 1999 to now, I've relentlessly pursued acting almost full time.  From humble beginnings at East West Players Summer Conservatory not being able in differentiating "stage right" from "right," to currently receiving a call from my agent telling me "you have a booking, and the pay is XYZ,"  I've fallen many times, often flat on my face with no cheerleader within range.  Nowadays, the phone is silent and I now wonder if my agent remembers me at all.  The crossroad is ahead of me and I see many splits on the road.  I've fallen and tumbled flat on my face last October 2012, and I'm STILL dusting myself off.  

Yet I'll learn to cheer myself on.  Cheer that I've dusted my bloody face, placed some wrappings and stopped the bleeding.  Cheer that I am able to take one step.  Cheer for the breath I'm taking now.  Will I still pursue the acting?  Don't know.  However I know I'll be back up and if the only cheerleader around is me, consider it practice for you.  At least you know I have the experience.  

Monday, February 4, 2013

A Heartbreaking 49ers SB Defeat

I am someone who grew up in Oakland, California who followed the Raiders and A's as a small child, ATTEMPTED to follow the 49ers during adolescent years when the Raiders were in LA, and who resumed fanship of the Raiders during their final years in LA and with their return to Oakland.

First off, let me explain my attempt of following the 49ers during my adolescent period: several years had already passed for the LA Raiders existence, and this was the second appearance of the 49ers in the Super Bowl.  Oakland was going through a minor resurgence in the downtown area as their newly built 5 Star Hyatt hosted the visiting Miami Dolphins when the Super Bowl was being played at Stanford.  I was about 13 or 14 at that time.  When the 49ers won their second SB victory, my jr high mates and I BART'd to San Francisco for the victory parade.  At one point Wendell Tyler, the running back was reaching out to the crowd, was close enough to our group while we gave him a "#1 salute" (real one, not the middle)  At one point he was like "where y'all from" and we replied "Oakland" and he jokingly was like "all man" and kinda did like a "sweep away" with his hands and moved along to the crowd.  At that point I decided that there was no NFL team for me to root for.  Those following years until the Raiders return I didn't follow football much until a girl I was dating had an admiration for this "new receiver named Rice."  I then started to follow the Niners briefly during that time and attempted to "emulate" Rice's look. That include getting the same earring, working out at Gold's Gym (didn't know where he worked out, I just knew I needed to 'hit the gym') and at that time wore those fitness/biker's lycra shorts. (SHUT UP)  Driving across the Bay Bridge during bumper to bumper aftermath of 49er games in a car decorated with various Raiders gear can be challenging in the 90s.  When the Raiders were originally slated to return to Oakland in 1990, but didn't, I dealt with the gloating and chastising from 9er fans.  When I attended a church service in 2001 after attending the AFC Championship game in Oakland, I had to deal with the praise and worship team leader declaring, "I'm a 49ers fan and God is good cause he kept the losers of the Bay Area to remain losers."  I found myself praying for a mass church shooting that night. 

So fast forward to the "here and now."  Listening to the radio call-in shows, seeing the different Facebook and Twitter updates and hearing directly from friends and contacts on both sides have been disheartening.  First off, as someone who wears his Oakland heritage on both his heart and sleeve, and as someone who religiously follows the whereabouts of the Raiders, let me go on record that I REFUSE TO refer to the 49ers community as "Whiners, ect."  Yes, as a Raiders fan I admit that I was bracing for an onslaught of fanfare and euphoria of a local 49ers victory while out here in Raiderland there's so much "Oakland can't support the team, move them to a better place like LA" talk.  Actually the current turn of events and overall perception of Oakland has been disheartening altogether.  Secondly, let me also go on record that I will NOT gloat at this recent defeat.  I'd like to make a few points:

1) I know that there were AT LEAST 2 key components of the 49ers SB team yesterday that folks from the Raider Nation wanted badly: HC Jim Harbaugh and QB Colin Kapaernick, myself included. 

2) If given a choice between appearing in this weekends Super Bowl versus our actual 2012 record of 4-12, which would you choose? 

3) I've experienced the exact same emotional sense of disappointment before as the Niner fans are experiencing now.  It was wrong for people to gloat and celebrate when I was going through that disappointing experience, therefore it's wrong for me to do the same when someone else goes through something similar. 

4) REAL WINNERS NEVER celebrate a defeat of anyone, including their own opponents.  I'm from a traditional martial arts background, and learning the history and tradition of various schools, sects, styles showed me that masters were held in high regards not because of their accomplishments, but how they assisted their own opponents. 

Lastly, I've been studying various forms of metaphysics and a consistent point made is the inter-connectedness of everyone.  Society declines anytime people buy into the myth of separateness and splinters out into factions.  Society tends to accomplish more anytime the emphasis is on unity.  When the Niners were in the NFC game two weeks back, I held my breath of the possibility that they'd win and participate in the Super Bowl, which they did.  I knew how much of the potential this situation could create conflicting factions as a result of appearing in the SB, and right now emotions are high, raw and words are firing in all directions now that the SB is over. 

Look at the overall picture: The Super Bowl has not reached a 50 year history mark yet.  The Bay Area has collected 7 Lombardi trophies in 47 years.  (No, I'm NOT including that last Super Bowl Lombardi the Raiders won in 84, sorry)  This region has had10 appearances in the Super Bowl in the 47 years.  (6 appearances for 49ers, 4 for the OAKLAND Raiders)  Basically 1 out of every 5 Super Bowls in the entire history of Super Bowls, a team from the San Francisco Bay Area has appeared in it.  Face it Bay Area, we're spoiled in the least. 

So process this Super Bowl, show some love for yourself and each other, and prosper. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Obligatory Political General Election "Every 4 Years" Entry...

Will someone please wake me up after this election is over, please.  If there's anything I've observed this past Election Year is how much this country lacks critical thinking skills.  If my education level was considered "sub-standard," I'm highly highly terrified about the level of education this younger generation has access to.  Then again, ranting about education and the current state of education is really another topic to tackle at a latter time.

Actually a little more on the topic of education:

Call me a conspiracy theorist, but this whole "No Child Left Behind" program to me was a plot to deprive current and future generations access to imperative skills needed for life: Leadership skills which includes critical thinking.  If we create or revamp the education system into something based upon subjective test scores and revolve around the results of those scores, wouldn't the opportunity to develop one's self into a well-rounded individual be less prevalent?  EVERYONE and I mean EVERYONE needs to develop leadership skills.  As a current member of my high school's alumni board of directors, (and as VP) I inquired about what was taught at the "Leadership" class and who was able to have access to the class.  I found the answer to be quite disturbing.  Students who are heavily involved in student government make up about the majority of the class.  I pointed out to the teacher that leadership skills MUST be taught to ALL students; not just those serving on student government. 

Going back to the upcoming election, I'm ranting and raving again about our inept political system.  In my opinion, the current system IS broken, and IT NEEDS TO BE DESPERATELY REVAMPED.  I reside in California where there are at least 5-7 Presidential tickets to choose from, yet the news, media, and debate only covers TWO candidates. The public is now tricked into thinking that they can only pick between the two.

Ever play that game where you're given a choice between Option A and Option B where each option offers a benefit and an undesired result simultaneously?  Normally the kid who doesn't want to respond would reply "neither choices" or "I choose C" to which the other kid who initiated the game goes, "NO, YOU HAVE TO CHOOSE BETWEEN A OR B."  What made it more disgusting was the fact that one of my adult Bible study group would often play that game.  In a lot of ways this is how our upcoming election is presented.  People who refuse to vote for A or B would be ostracized, being accused of "wasting their vote."  It's been twelve years already, and Democrats still hold a grudge against the Green Party, accusing them of "costing" Al Gore the election.  In 2008, I ranted about how all the publicity on the "1st Black Presidential Candidate" vs the "1st Female Presidential Candidate" was inaccurate since the 2008 Green Party's Presidential Candidate was Cynthia McKinney who is a female of African American descent.  Yet, very few people knew who Cynthia McKinney was that year.  On top of that, she served Congress longer than Barack Obama. 

Now this election year, the Green Party candidate was arrested at the site of the 2nd Presidential Debate all because she wanted to be included in the debate.  Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson was entered as an American Elect candidate for one of the states and was denied though the Americans Elect organization collected and filed enough signatures.  Yet one of their 1st debates was via some online crappy conference call while the other debates between "Candidates A and B" was covered on all the major networks. 

So this so-called "wasting votes" is by design.

One of my former professor,  Froben Lozada was asked by my classmate to differentiate between "left wing and right wing."  Lozada sarcastically told us that he was going to write the name of the example of "left wing."  (He wrote "Ronald Reagan" on the board)  The class was somewhat confused as Reagan was considered a "conservative moderate" then.  Lozada then told us he was going to give us an example of "right wing."  (He wrote Reagan's name down again)  At that point, Lozada switched topics to sports.

I'm paraphrasing Lozada from memory since this was almost 20 years ago:

So it doesn't matter whether its baseball, or football, or basketball, especially in professional sports.  They're all under the same umbrella of their respected leagues.  The owners of the teams figured out that a rivalry will sell more tickets.  The league knows that a rivalry sells more tickets, so they too encourage that rivalry.  The more intense the rivalry is, the more money is to be made.  Now if we change league to AmeriKKKan (his emphasis to spell it with "KKK") politics, and Democratic and Republican Parties to "Team Democrats," and "Team Republicans," do you not see a rivalry to sell more tickets?  In this case, to pick a "winner" and to raise campaign money.

In Malcolm X's Autobiography, he was asked about one of the elections and he likened the election process to choosing whether to be maimed by a fox vs being maimed by a wolf.  (This was written in 1962, FIFTY YEARS AGO!!!)

A short while back, one of the automakers was in negotiation with the State of Wisconsin to build an assembly plant.  During the negotiations they were offered financial incentives, corporate and business tax breaks.  Yet at the end of it all, the company opted to open their plant in Canada because their study concluded that the cost in educating and training the workforce in Wisconsin exceeds the financial incentives offered.  That is the testimony of the current state of public education in this country.

Yet both Candidates A and B are promising jobs if they're nominated as President.  The most logical question to ask next is "what kind of jobs?"  We hear buzzwords like "innovation," and "forefront" and "frontrunner," but is the education system built to prepare people to create an industry to live up to those labels?  A year ago when I purchased a pizza, i was charged $21.30 and had a $100 bill with me.  I gave the young lady $101.30 to her expecting $80.  Instead she gave me $78.70, contemplated with the $1.30 which eventually in confusion and disgust literally threw back at me.  I wanted to ask her which school she graduated from so I knew that if and when I had kids to not enroll them there.  And that's just for basic cashiering.  It's scary to think of that same lady working on something like alternative energy.

So for this election if you hadn't already submit your vote, I plead whole-heartedly, please use your inner-leadership skills and take the time to research each candidate presented on your ballot.  Who knows, you may actually find a candidate that's more of a fit to your own personal ideology.  And contrary to what other pundits may say, it is NOT a "wasted vote." 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Separate and Incomplete

Who would've known that in this day and age of the post-Civil Rights Movement, this society has gotten more and more separated and disconnected.  Let's say we're about two generations into a post-Civil Rights Movement society.  It seems that there appears to be more separation and disconnection in this day and age.

Now, I'm not going to be going into the whole inter-ethnic, inter-racial tension amongst all the various ethnic groups within the greater American society.  If anything, my personal theory is that the inter-racial, inter-ethnic tensions amongst differing groups is merely a symptom of what I'm about to share.

I joke around that the former largest book retailer is at fault.  (Border's)  All the different categories of books and separated and marketed accordingly.  Now that is for the convenience of the consumer who's shopping and looking for a specific book.  My question is that have we become a society who has over-compartmentalized to the detriment of humanity?  In the case of categorizing books, it makes sense to store and present accordingly in order to enable the shopper to find what book they're looking for.

In other words, do we separate and categorize more than we should?

Like people?

Or even differing aspects and facets of people?

I'm a book nerd.  I'll admit it.  I have yet to own a Nook or an iPad.  I have downloaded a handful of out of print books on PDF files to my lappy.  I'm just not used to reading off a screen, so I have a preference for actual books.  One of the few bookstores in San Francisco is Green Apple.  They carry a large amount of out of print books.  They have categories and sub-categories.  The books I've been looking for are those that tend to overlap-categorically.  I can go back and forth to like 7 different categorical sections in the store just to look for one title, and since their selection of used books are not inventoried, it's not like the staff could type up the title or author.  So basically, I can get lost and dizzy looking for a book.   That's just a book.  To put it simply, I can get lost and dizzy looking for a specific item composed of paper and ink.  Yet, we know there's much more to the paper and ink which what makes each book unique.

People are even much more complicated than that.

Online marketing, global economy, and marketing demographics has created more and more categories to place a person.  It makes things easier for advertisers and marketing departments in order to maximize the advertising dollar.

Like a pharmaceutical drug, there are side-effects.  Yes a pharmaceutical drug can benefit the user for a specific symptom and/or need with a likely risk of side effects that comes along with taking it.  Likewise this whole concept of breaking society and humanity down to demographics and categories, while benefiting the global market, has a side effect detrimental to humanity.

We're losing our wholeness.  Actually it's not so much that our wholeness is lost.  In all honesty, we can never lose our wholeness.  It's more of a lack of acknowledgment and validation of our wholeness that's missing.  We don't acknowledge our own wholeness, we don't acknowledge others and their wholeness, while conversely they don't acknowledge ours.

And that's what I mean as racial and ethnic tensions within society being symptomatic. Lack of acknowledgement on others' wholeness based on their racial and ethnic makeup.  During the Civil Rights Era, there were two main camps vying for a voice on how to achieve racial equality: one was for unconditional integration and the other was a proponent for creating a separate self-sufficient community. As someone who completed his undergrad degree in Ethnic Studies, I've heard both arguments and I can see validity on both arguments. 

But let's look at it from a much closer view:  Not acknowledging our own wholeness creates unnecessary stress, takes a toll on our health, and becomes an obstacles to our endeavors.  Going back to book shopping in the bookstore, I was looking for a book about healthy living, but because of the notoriety of the author, I had to look at the sections of psychology, metaphysics, religious theory, and even economics in addition to the health section.  The thing was, that book addressed every aspect of living: spirituality, health, finances, relationships, and psychology.  In other words, it was a book about wholeness.  Yet, there was no such section or category on wholeness at the bookstore.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My Confession

Today is July 10, 2012 at 6am PST.  Normally I'm asleep until 9am after going to bed around 2 or 3am.  I awoke at 4:48am this morning after going to bed around 2:30am.  In other words, I barely had about 2 hours of sleep. 

Since 1999, I pursued acting on every possible level: from audition notices on Backstage West, to Craigslist, to CSU Hayward Theater department and everything in-between.  I did not call myself as a "professional actor" until I was actually paid for my performance on some commercial karaoke videos in 2001.  I was cast in my 1st local commercial at the end of 2003, and my first lead role on a stage production in 2004.  I "peaked" when I was cast as one of the leads on the independent film So Beauty.  That was in 2005.  During the filming, my mom passed away literally 20 minutes before call time.  Since that point, I've struggled with ease and confidence on productions, auditions, even promotional events.  Though I landed an agent based out of the San Francisco Bay Area in 2010, nothing had been handed to me easily. 

On a personal level, my last relationship ended in the summer of 2004, and I went on my first date since that summer in July 2006.  It didn't go too well.  I dated again in the spring of 2007, and once again, it didn't go too well.  It was disastrous enough that I sought out a personal development coach.  I attended one of his retreats during my birthday week in the end of August.  That was the start of my personal development journey. 

In March 2008, I took The Basic Seminar, offered from PSI Seminars.  That course enabled me to piece together my acting training, the personal development course I took in 2007, the sales and personal development courses I took during my 1st stint as a college student during the 1990s, and my church experience.  I took all the following advanced courses offered by them.  One of the unique benefits as a graduate is the opportunity to re-attend the Basic course at no charge, so I was able to review the elements of the class up to the present day.  In the fall, PSI offers an advance course/convention called Principia where guest speakers are invited to teach.  I attended the event in 2008, 09, 10, and 2011.

More recently in 2011, I made a spiritual transition of leaving the more mainstream evangelical form of Christianity and embraced what is considered "New Thought," which has been labeled as "Practical Christianity," "Spiritual," "Science of Mind," "Metaphysics Christianity," "Religious Science," "Unity" "Truth." 

Yet, I have a confession to make. 

With all that experience and new insights and achievements over the past 5 years, there is still an inner struggle I deal with day in and day out. 

My "I AM" statement.

Personal development and New Thought really has an overlapping concept of the "I AM" theory.  Not only is it a foundational spiritual statement.  (In the Bible, God's "name" is Hebrew form of "I AM")  In other words, an "I AM" statement is basically a self declaration belief about ourselves, and our concept of God simultaneously.  So when I say, "I AM _____," I'm saying that I am this, AND my concept/belief about God (Divine, Universe, Infinite Intelligence, Allah, ect) is this. 

An "I AM" statement can be empowering or it can be limiting. 

My "I AM" statement(s) falls in the "latter" category. 

In 1999, Crosswinds Church began a "post-modern, college, young career/family" ministry called "The Sanctuary."  It was an evening service aimed for young adults and "the young at heart."  That's when I befriended Peter Sleeper, who was the newly hired Executive Pastor of Crosswinds.  He and I met on a regular basis, and he recommended a home study course by a Dr Eckman about identifying the "Sonship of God," and claiming yourself as the rightful Child of God.  It was during that study when I came to the conclusion that I could never be a Child of God.  I'm not, wasn't, and would never be. 

"I AM God's mistake." 

You see, I was placed for adoption even before I was born.  Not only did I have the legal documentation to confirm that, I met my biological mother face-to-face who told me herself.  I spent my childhood growing up with four main messages:

1) I was a mistake by my "real" parents.

2) I can or will be returned to the adoption agency if I didn't live up to standards.

3) Every family negative situation was MY fault. (I was often blamed for my parents health issues, my father's alcoholism, and for my younger cousin's misbehavior) 

4) I was lovingly "chosen." 

Yes, that 4th message did contradict the other three messages.  It's funny about the "chosen" message and the fact that I "chose" a profession where I present myself to be "chosen" by casting directors, producers, ect.  Bear in mind, the "lovingly chosen" was a mild form of manipulation of the expectation of gratitude I needed to openly express to the family who poured their heart and soul into raising me. 

So this journey of the last 4-5 years was about letting go of a false "I AM" statement about myself as a "mistake," but I recently discovered a corollary "I AM" statement that was just as strong as the one I was dealing with.

"I AM worthless." 

That tends to sabotage and cancels out a lot of intentions I've set and developed over the last few years.  It not only undermines my financial and career goals, it also sabotages any sort of relationship goals. 

Don't ask me what I am going to do about those beliefs, for I have just come to the realization of the 2nd one and it has surfaced very recently.  I need to process what has been brought to my attention.  I have a list of request to ask in support of the recent discovery:

1) Please don't demand that I "get over it."  That only places additional pressure.

2) Please don't tell me to "not feel that way."  How about if I tell you to NOT think about the pink elephant. 

3) Sometimes your presence is worth more than the words you attempt to say.  If I'm at a state of feeling and am not saying much, you need to say even less. 

4) Don't let my smile fool you.  I am an actor after all. 

5) I acknowledge your Divinity, please acknowledge mine.  In other words, let God reveal to me that those two "I AM" statements are not true.  I know that already on an intellectual level.  It needs to sink, root, and plant in the depth of my heart. 

I am thankful for the support I've received over the years, the miracles that showed me differently, and tools I've learned to overcome such beliefs. 

But I just need time.  Time to process.  Time to reflect.  Time to let God show me the errors of my way. 

Thank you in advance. 

Monday, April 30, 2012

An Open Letter to Mayor Jean Quan, City of Oakland, CA

Dear Mayor Quan:

I'm sure you have received a "gazzilion" opinions about your job performance since you were sworn is as the first Asian American Mayor of Oakland.  First off, because you benefited from the 1st Mayoral "Choice Balloting" election held in Oakland, many citizens questioned the validity of your candidacy.

Please allow me to introduce myself and why I'm typing this entry.

My name is Jarrett Chin and I was born and reared in the city the voters entrusted you with.  I am a product of the Oakland Unified School District. (Glenview Elementary, McChesney Jr High, now Edna Brewer Middle, and Oakland Senior High; please note that as a student of Oakland Unified, the teachers went on strike 3x's; then again you should already know about that considering you served on the Board)  I received a BA in Ethnic Studies (Asian American Studies Option) from California State University, Hayward.  I also considered one of your fellow activist as a personal mentor. (Richard Aoki)  Currently I am a San Francisco Bay Area-based actor and performer. 

Throughout my lifetime, I remained as a registered voter within the City of Oakland until 2005 even though I may have resided in San Francisco, Monterey Park, El Cerrito, and Gardena.  I kept my parents' Glenview neighborhood address as a permanent address over those years.  In 2005, my mother passed on, and my sister and I eventually sold the Oakland home and I've resided in San Mateo county ever since.

The reason why I'm typing this blog piece is because of the discussions I've had with friends and family over the past five years.  Those discussions pertained to whether or not I would return to living in Oakland.  After all, though I reside in San Mateo County, I am often in Oakland dining at my always dwindling favorite eating spots, serving as a board member for Oakland High's Alumni Association, visiting my deceased family members at Mountain View Cemetery, and catching my Oakland Raiders games.  If anyone is familiar with my numerous blogs, they know I have my heart that's out and open towards Oakland.  So many times I'm often asked over and over again...

So why don't you just move back to Oakland?

I often share with people that the main reason why I have not moved back to Oakland is because of the time required of me in San Francisco, and the uncertainty of traffic due to the ongoing construction of the Bay Bridge.  However, that's only a partial factor.

That same year that I moved from Oakland to the Peninsula, I visited my close friend in Singapore.  I totally fell in love with that country and with the people who reside there.  Though there are documented restrictions out there such as a ban on chewing gum, I was thoroughly impressed with the nightlife out there.  Actually I was culture shocked.  So many neighborhoods and locations throughout the city-state were opened AND SAFE to walk around, even at 3am.  It was not uncommon for people to walk around at 3am and not be harassed, let alone attacked.  In fact I spent 2006-08 intensely looking for employment and moving opportunities specifically over there.  In addition to the overall low crime rate and safety, Singapore is an extremely clean country.

I'm sure you've heard the expression, "a dog would never return to bones after eating steak."  I'm sure you're getting a good idea of where I'm going with all of this.  Why would I return?  Why should I return?  Granted, San Francisco's nightlife has more of a transient alcohol-driven nightlife, but at least a nightlife exists.  Upon my visits to Oakland, I'm lucky to find a spot open after 9pm on a given night, and even if I were to find such a spot, would I be safe enough to walk from my car to the venue?  I'll admit, had blogging existed during my teenage years, I'm sure someone would blog to the then current mayor (Elihu Harris) about how unsafe they felt at Lakeshore and/or near the now-defunct Henry J Kaiser Center because of the malicious teens based on my past behavior.  I'll be the first to concede that I was not a complete angel growing up in Oakland.  

Last week, I was shocked to learn that the nephew of one of my schoolmates was tragically shot and killed.  I do not know what official number count he is on your city's homicide list, yet are you aware that such a list is increasing by the moment?  So much for your "100 Block Plan,"  Oakland consists more than a hundred blocks.  I want to remind you that you are responsible for every block within the Oakland city limits, not just those 100 you singled out.

Over the years, my biggest concern as an Oaklander was making sure we kept our professional sports teams.  Now after leaving the city and adapted as an outsider looking in, I cannot blame the respected owners for looking elsewhere to play.  Aside from the Raiders whom Mark Davis has actually publicly stated his interest to remain in Oakland, the owners of both the A's and Warriors deserve no more a$$-kissing from you guys.  The Warriors has played in Oakland for 40 years now and has NEVER considered themselves as THE OAKLAND WARRIORS.  It's clear that The Warriors want to drop "Golden State" in favor of "San Francisco."  If Coliseum City still insists on building a large capacity arena to accompany a stadium, then I highly recommend negotiations with the Sacramento Kings instead of the Warriors.   As for the Athletics, as long as Mr Wolff is in charge, Oakland should not negotiate (ie, BEG) with them.  I think Coliseum City is a wonderful idea, just not for the current owners of those two specific franchises.  Speaking of Coliseum City and the speculation on how it's going to be possibly funded, cleaning up the immediate 3 mile radius of the proposed Coliseum City both literally and figuratively (violent crime) would boost the probability tremendously.  If there will be a reliance on foreign investors to build CC, then Oakland International Airport needs to include flights in and out of other countries besides Mexico and Canada. "International" goes beyond North America, y'know.  (edit note: Now aware that there are regular flights going in/out of some Scandinavian countries via Oakland Int'l Airport 10/2013)

Have you looked at a map of California, more specifically The San Francisco Bay Area recently?  Have you looked at an almanac?  Oakland has been top rated regarding climate.  The City of Oakland, YOUR city is located in the most centralized prime location in the Bay Area, yet it's one of the most avoided cities not just in the Bay Area, but the entire Northern California. (If it's not already THE MOST avoided city)  Just the Coliseum area alone, BART, Amtrak, 880, and the airport are within reach, but the concentration of homicides dominate the perception in regards to that area.  In any other city with similar transportation access, such an area would be prime real estate, prime development.  Yet we still need to wait another year for a friggin EIR?  Meanwhile as I type this, the likelihood of another shooting happening within 2 miles from the aforementioned area is highly likely.

Please don't blame the economy and/or lack of funds.  That is a catch-22 that's been created in Oakland.  Funding comes from revenue and taxes, but as long as businesses don't feel safe to operate in Oakland, bye bye revenue.  I have an idea: next time instead of overspending to accommodate a group of outsiders like Occupy Oakland, how 'bout using that money to protect the citizens and businesses within your city.  I have news for you: Oakland "AINT" San Francisco.  Let San Francisco handle the visitors, outsiders and tourists, that's what San Francisco is good at.  Oakland needs to take care of Oakland and Oaklanders.  Isn't that a concept?

And if I begin to see Oakland taking care of Oakland, maybe I'll feel safe enough to return and live there.

Sincerely,

Jarrett Chin

PS, going back to the fact that you were the 1st Oakland Mayor of Asian descent and the other fact that my undergrad work was in Asian American Studies, for the record if I was still a voter in Oakland, you would not have received my 1st or 2nd choice vote for mayor.  Just sayin'...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The King and Queen of Hearts

Happy Hearts Day!!!

So for those of us who are considered "single" and/or were physically away from our respected significant other for one reason or another and were unable to spend time together today, I'm going to pose an important question.  Actually scratch that.  This question is for everyone, including those who went all out and celebrated today with their respected "special someone someone."


What special thing didja do for your absolutely, wonderfully, ever lasting and loyal "TRUE LOVE?"

Now before answering, I want to clarify and be specific of whom I'm referring to when I ask that question.

What special thing did you do for that person who looks back at you every time you look in the mirror?


If today is designed to celebrate your "special" relationships, wouldn't the most important relationship in your life be acknowledged in some shape or form today?  Shouldn't the most important relationship in your life be acknowledged in some shape or form today if today is designed to celebrate those "special" relationships?

Yes, I am referring to YOU


Who else is out there?  Who is with you 24/7?  Who sees you naked every time you undress?  Who else are you fully responsible for?

I used to be very cynical towards Valentine's Day.  I was a victim.  Victim of bad relationships, girlfriends from Hell, singleness, over charging restaurants, unrealistic expectations.  You name it, I was once a victim of it until the sheer utter hateness and livid bile permeated my entire beingness come every February 14.

As someone of Chinese descent, thank God the Lunar New Year rolled around the same time.  That enabled me to effortlessly find "distractions."  People would ask in years past what my plans were for February 14, and my answer would be that I'm "too busy" with this or that Lunar New Year event.  For the most part, it worked.

And besides, why designate ONE DAY  out of the entire year to celebrate those special relationships in your life?  That's pretty sad and shallow to "NEED" a day remembering and celebrating when one should remember and celebrate their relationships every day! 

I've been in an "off again, on again" type of deal for the past 3 years.  We had a big squirmish during Valentine's Day 2011 when I said "it's Chinese New Year and we're 2000 miles away from each other."  It WAS CNY and she was located in Asia while I'm here in the States.  I was a volunteer for the Miss Chinatown USA Pageant which is held annually on Chinese New Year, and someone posted a shot of me distributing Valentines gift to the beauty contestants.  We almost split up, and thankfully we didn't.

So this week, something hit me about today regarding relationships.  Last year I focused on the Lunar New Year's festivities because I didn't have much faith in the relationship I was in during that time.  I wasn't having much faith as today we being approached closer and closer.  On top of that, the Lunar New Year concluded a week ago.  So when I attended church service this past Sunday, Rev. Donna asked all of us a poignant question.

How are you celebrating Valentine's Day with the most important relationship in YOUR life: YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOURSELF?


Huh?  Myself?  What?

Yup, all these years I've neglected the most important relationship in my life.  ME.  And then I wonder why I was such a "victim" to all those "Bad Valentines Day incidents" over the years.

Could it be that had I improve the connection to me, a lot of that would've disappeared?  Could it be, I would've been more open to celebrate last year?  Could it be that the relationship I was in would've been more "on" than "off?"

If someone asked me to give them $10, common sense would say that I would need to have at least $10 to fulfill their request.

To say that Valentine's Day celebrates the special relationships in our lives, especially our relationship with ourselves isn't being corny, or "touchy-feely," it's common sense.

So today, my special thing I did for myself was a little common sense.