maybe "rants" isn't the right word. these are simple thoughts about my life. some may be more colorful than others. some language may be offensive, but it depends on your definition of offensive. consider this your warning ;)

03 April 2016

I don't know if I would sell

So I just finished watching "The Big Short," and I must say I really enjoyed it. I'm not here to lobby for it and toss out a bunch Oscar snub comments, or defend why it should have won this or that. And I'm not using this as a politically-charged post for or against any candidate or even any angle regarding the primary focus of financial criminality in the movie/book (which I want to read).

I'm here to share my admiration for (the portrayal of) Mark Baum's moral compass.

He wants to do what's right. But what resonated even more with me was that he wants to ask all the questions. He has an inquisitive eye, which many (including his wife) want him to tone down for his own sanity and overall quality of life.

But he wants to know, and not just to know, but because he wants to know why, he wants to expose how, and he wants to learn and potentially execute how things can be done more effectively and legally with the "right" people in mind.

SPOILER ALERT (but not really): What he does at the end of the film is what I figured he would, but I had hoped he would not. Would I do the same thing had I been in that position? Probably, but in theory, I would like to say I could stick to my guns and keep my integrity in the face of a man made catastrophe.

So, yeah...going back to Mark Baum...with another mention of the fact that I haven't read the book yet...

Even with the structure of the movie, using Gosling's Vennett as narrator, taking into consideration of Bale's Dr. Burry, Pitt's, Rickert, and Magaro and Wittrock as the duo from Brownfield, Steve Carell's Mark Baum was set up to be disliked early on. And I think that was part of the plan, full-knowing the general American public's enjoyment of Carell. But his Baum...his just edgy enough to be an asshole, while still hard-nosed to fit in (ish) with these financial types, but what really struck me is how he is the same way with everyone, including his wife played by Marisa Tomei.

(Sidenote: I was kind of hoping Emma Stone would make an appearance because #CrazyStupidLove)

I keep getting sidetracked...(actually, the more honest wording would be..."I keep sidetracking myself.")


What I'm trying to say is that I feel like Mark Baum sometimes. I don't ask questions to make people look bad. I don't do it for personal benefit. I ask questions and challenge and poke and prod and inquire because I genuinely want to know why things are happening the way they are. Are they right? Who are these methods serving? Who implemented these practices? Is it a hopeless case, or can it be reformed?

Everyone has their motivations for pushing ahead or even staying out (like Rickert), but what makes me sad is that Mark Baum's drive for revealing truth isn't more common. It isn't to prove self-righteousness, and it isn't even for personal benefit. It's for the masses. It's for the people. It's to broaden our perspectives as a society.
Truth is like poetry. And most people hate fucking poetry.-Overheard at a Washington D.C. bar
I know I don't have all the answers, and I will never claim to. What I can do, and what I choose to do on a daily basis is ask the hard questions. Of myself and of my environment, those around me included. A lot of people aren't a fan of this, and I'm fully aware of this. It has taken me a long time to be able to ask myself challenging, truly inquisitive questions on a constant basis, and I don't expect others who have chosen to not question like I have to instantaneously flip a behavioral shift and start doing this. This isn't an end all, be all practice, but I can say from experience, that being able to Mark Baum a few things and ask the tough questions can really open your world up. Even if you don't know how far down the rabbit hole goes, or whether you're falling down said rabbit hole, or if it's within yourself, it takes a hell of a risk to do it.

And whether you sell the swaps or not, just know why you're doing it, and that'll bring you a bigger payoff than anyone else can get you.

21 February 2016

Addressing some laws

More days than not in recent past (as in, say, the last two weeks) I've been operating at a higher level, a more positive one, and in some ways, a more dynamic one. The last three days have been absolutely packed with different events in my personal and professional life and energy has been brewing and bubbling fantastically. That being said, this morning took an unexpected turn and jarred me for the majority of the day.

I was driving to Notre Dame for a work-related event and on the way there, while waiting at a red light behind two other vehicles in my lane, I heard a loud screech of skidding tires and I saw a full-size SUV in the crossing traffic crash into the rear passenger side of a minivan that was speeding past it. The van spun around (thankfully staying upright) and came to a stop in front of the SUV, both vehicles in the middle of the intersection in front of me and the other cars waiting at the light. 

I froze. Panicked really. The sound of the tires skidding across the pavement was a brutal bleating, and the crunch of the vehicles is what set me off. The driver and front passenger of the SUV got out and as others had already exited their cars with the cell phones in hand, I opted to pull around the scene and head towards the university. As I pulled around, I noticed the driver's door and driver's side passenger door open, and in the middle row seat on that side there was a young girl, who looked to be around 7-9 years old, and she was crying. The adult from the driver's seat was standing next to her outside the car and I could hear them saying, "You're ok. You're ok." as I drove by.

I've driven by plenty of accident aftermath scenarios, but it has been quite a while since I've seen an accident unfold in front of me. And with a recent revisiting of the Angelina story this past week, this tossed the energy of the week into the blender. Nonetheless, I was off to Notre Dame and had to focus in for work, which was fine once I was in the building around some great energy in an improv workshop.

Being blunt with myself, I said to myself, "Get it together, Marlon, you have a lot to do today and there isn't time for weepy memories to take over your day." Typically, I try to address feelings as they arise, positive or negative, but as adulting does with most of us, "the show must go on." Life doesn't give you a pause button just because you need to take a time out.

I head to the first part of the improv workshop and leave to head back to a lighting workshop at the theatre where I work. Once I'm in the car the mood sets in again. I stop and get coffee and a donut, and while in the drive thru, I hear staccato horn honks and hear a thud and a crunch of two vehicles, although milder than the one that morning. I turn around and see a red Prius with a white minivan behind it. The van backs up slightly, and the Prius speeds off through the parking lot. 

"You have GOT to be fucking kidding me," I exclaim in my car. Seriously. That was my out loud reaction. Inside my head I think, "Ok, that's two." Because, threes, right?

I go to the lighting workshop. I enjoy it. I take off to find a friend for a hug before heading back to Notre Dame to catch the tail end of the workshop I was present at in the morning. And then I head to a local coffee shop, The Well, for an all-day event to raise money to donate to UNICEF for Syrian Refugees. Partially to help out with a portion here or there, but also to enjoy some of the awesomeness in my new-to-me community.

So today I spent more time driving around than I do normally, and of course this is what happens when i spend more time on the road.

The law of conservation of energy states (loosely) that energy in an isolated system cannot be created or destroyed.

The law of attraction deems you can bring positive events by emitting positive energy and likewise with negative events and negative thoughts and energy.

With that in mind after the inciting incident of the morning's turn of events, I knew I needed to focus on positive things and allow myself to soak in all that is good. But then I also think to myself, I am not an isolated system. Neither is Saturday. And the world itself isn't an isolated system. (In regards to the spiritual sense, anyway.) But to some extent, there can be an argument for conservation of energy in life: births and deaths, relationships starting and ending. And even with the law of attraction, there are things like this morning, that are curveballs, and yet events that may be considered coincidental (like the van/Prius situation) they may have very well be somewhat generated by energies felt after the morning.

And then I think of Batman. (I know, I'm all over the place, but if you've read through a few blog posts here, you know this is normal, and I typically come back to the primary point, whether it looks like I will or not.)

But yes, Batman.

What does happen when an unstoppable force comes up against an immovable object?

And this is when my uniquely wired psyche throws me a huge curveball:

What if I'm both for myself? My own unstoppable force AND the immovable object?

This video, although primarily focusing on a scientific explanation (as opposed to spiritual/emotional), gives me a solid answer.

The rest of the day turned out to be a lot of fun around a lot of very interesting people. So many different people enjoying the event, participating and performing, sharing stories, and just a grand day of being a community. The last hip hop act of the night was a very unique performance for me to catch. It's been a while since I've listened to much rap or hip hop, and although I feared for his safety as he precariously perched on top of a barstool as well as thrashing about the stage, I enjoyed the fact that this is the one of the rawest emotional performances I've seen outside of a theatre. In between tracks he would share his message of staying true to yourself and being honest with yourself. He voiced his opinion on always wanting to dig in more and executing actions and not just talking about them. For his authenticity and honest, unadulterated energy, I enjoyed it immensely.

And I couldn't let this day go by without getting it out of my head. There is much to be said about energy and emotion, and as you know I enjoy telling stories, I had to tell one about today. When I got to Notre Dame shortly after the first accident happened, I texted a friend about it. The words that were shared in the response resonated brilliantly,

Breathing. Breathing. 
Acknowledging our impermanence and permanence. That we aren't promised more than this moment.

For now it is time to regroup, recharge, and rest well.

24 January 2016

I'm here.

Whenever I'm acting in a show, I take a pre-show nap. I have to. To release my mind, calm down, let go, and essentially find my mental prairie of peace and clarity. It helps. It always does. It ensures I leave behind everything I don't need for the performance and allows me to focus my all-too-often scattered energy. Sleeping through the night can serve the same purpose, but most mornings I wake up the next day still a little scattered. But today is different. I know everyday is different, but today feels different. It feels like I took a pre-show nap and today is a brand new performance for a show I have been cast in that I've failed to focus on for way too long. I'm ready. I'm rested, I'm energized, and I have a relaxed readiness that can be mistaken for calm nonchalance. But that's not for you to worry about. I'm locked in. Good morning, January 24, 2016. Good morning, world. I'm here and I'm present. Let's do this thing.