Godmama Says…
a buncha stuff.

Mar
05

While pre-production on RAIN brews in the background,  I’d like to start introducing the amazingly talented crew that’s coming together to make this production unforgettably awesome.

First up,  some of you know that my previous experience as a performer is as a musician.  Even though it’s been a shameful number of years since I’ve been in a band,  music remains massively important to me and I am insanely picky about what sounds I will associate myself with.  Sometimes I think of the film as a multidimensional painting, and one of the most important “colors” of that painting will be the soundtrack.

Having spent the bulk of my creative life in  the heart of New York City’s colorful rock scene, I am fortunate to be good friends with some wildly talented people.  One of those people is Luqman Brown.   As soon as I knew that RAIN would be a “real” film,  I knew in a heartbeat that I had to have him on board to create the score (along with some vocal magic from internationally adored indie rock genius Honeychild Coleman).  The words and images tell the story;  the music will give it a soul.    Better yet:   the images of a storm are the lightning;   the music of a storm is the thunder.    Luqman Brown is going to rock that thunder,  and I am honored and thrilled that my chosen brother – who also happens to be one of my all time  favorite musicians- agreed to be the music supervisor for RAIN.

Luqman Brown, music supervisor for RAIN

Luqman Brown, music supervisor for RAIN

So, Luqman,  tell us a little about yourself and your creative background:

I’m from Harlem NYC and I’ve been a professional musician for 25 years.

I grew up in the loving arms of some insane artists.   My father,  Carlyle Brown,  is a well known playwright and my mother is a teacher and poet. Their artistic influence fuels a lot of the work I do today.  The first concert my father took me to was Funkadelic at the Apollo Theater.    I was 7 years old.   Once I had seen what I thought were superheros funkin’ out,  I was instantly hooked.

How long have you known Maya?

Wow… a long time!   I think ten years.   [he's off by about a decade-- we've known each other since '94]   We’re brother and sister from another momma and mista.   But we graduated from University of Hard Rock Cafe where we all worked for too many years.

Have you ever worked together creatively before?

Yes,  I have supported Maya creatively for years.   My band  (Funkface)  has backed her many times during the late 90′s early 2000′s

You seem to keep yourself very busy.   Other than RAIN, what other projects are you working on currently?

Well I’ve just finished producing, engineering, mixing and mastering a band called REBELLUM:  a pop off-shoot splinter unit from the insane avant garde jazz band BURNT SUGAR [at the studio /label he owns and operates, Buddhabug Records].
About to celebrate the 25th anniversary of my long time punk-funk band FUNKFACE this year with two new albums and some special shows.
And lastly I’ve just gotten the lead in Stew Stewart’s new play Family Album. Stew Stewart is the guy who wrote and starred in a the Broadway play called “Passing Strange”. Spike Lee made a movie about it.

Where are you drawing your inspiration from for the tone of the music for RAIN?

I’m an insane comic book fan.   I am quite intimate with all the exploits of Ororo Munroe.   I’ve been just re-reading X-men comics from right when she joined.  But most of my inspiration is coming from Maya.   I’ve seen this powerful person become even more powerful over the years.   I think about Maya’s struggles and triumphs and overcoming things we all need to overcome.   And I trust I know what that sounds like.

Are you excited about this film?  What kind of impact  do you think it will have?

I’m very excited to see it once the parts all come together.   As far as what kind of impact it has,  you never know.  That’s why we do art:   to see what happens next.     And I hope it hits folks like a right cross by Tyson himself and it breaks your imagination’s jaw!

luq2

Luqman Brown, music supervisor for RAIN

Feb
20

I am not a huge fan of the Fantastic Four and can’t tell you much about them.
I am a big fan of superhero movies, but the reason I don’t know much about the Fantastic Four is because the movie released in 2005 (which was my introduction to them) sucked rotten gym shoes.  It was bland vanilla fratboy fluff….the kind of film that made me wonder why I wasn’t writing movies myself (yet).  Fantastic Four wasn’t made for me so it wouldn’t have held my interest even if it wasn’t horribly acted and badly written.
So much of what makes it to the screen proves again and again that somewhere in Hollywood, some very important (and totally clueless) people believe that the only viable audience for sci-fi, comic books, or fantasy stories is white and male.

But every great once in a while, someone takes what is still unfortunately considered a “risk” and updates a cast of characters created in the 50′s to be ever so slightly more reflective of a modern audience… and then one half of that modern audience loses its collective shit.
Case in point?  Another Fantastic Four film is being released and this time Johnny Storm, aka the Human Torch, is being portrayed by Michael B. Jordan….a black actor.   This character can fly, control fire, and set himself fully ablaze with nothing but the force of his own will… powers which came to him when a spaceship he was on was hit with some wild cosmic rays which also turned his sister invisible and turned one of his friends into some rocks.  All of that is totally believable and acceptable,   but having the guy portrayed by a black dude somehow defiles decades of comic book tradition?
This is what I’m hearing.

I understand that people freak out over change, and I get that comic book geeks love to shake their fists in the name of “purism”.  But the world of comics and superheroes is an art form that has survived by allowing its characters to morph and transform over time into different bodies, alternate universes,  and parallel realities…(“The X-Men are all vampires this month… in outer space! Because fuck it!”) Through the magic of movies we are able to see these characters brought to life over and over (and over) again with wildly different actors and directors telling the stories of the same characters from different angles.  (Seriously:  Michael “Mr. Mom” Keaton was cast as The Dark Knight, but can you imagine the shitstorm if Denzel Washington ever was?)

The world of sci-fi and comics has also survived for so long by championing freaks, underdogs, and outcasts.   Mutants who are the hated, feared and rejected minority (ahem) end up saving the day and still end up just being called criminals.
Who can relate to that?  Who needs to see themselves represented in a world of heroic outcasts and misfits?  Who relates to being needlessly feared and shunned?  Is it really ONLY white guys?  Incredibly wealthy white guys?  Hmmm…  so if that’s the case you’ve still got Spiderman, Batman, Superman, Captain America, Ironman, Thor, the Hulk, Wolverine, Green Arrow, Professor X, Aquaman, Flash, Daredevil,  Harry Potter, all the damn Hobbits as well as the other 3 of the Fantastic Four to name a few.
But what the everloving fuck about the rest of us?  

I don’t normally give a shit about “arguments” like this, or the outrage of some butt-hurt comic book ‘purists’ who don’t think a man who sets himself on fire might have a bit of a tan… but all this hateful anger over the casting of a supporting character in a B-List superhero movie is happening at the same time that I’m trying to shield my heart from more bullshit news out of Florida about another teenage boy who was shot to death for sitting in his car being black.
In this world, right now,  don’t you think there’s another segment of America who needs fantasy hero escapism other than blonde fratboys and wealthy Bruce Waynes?

So Johnny Storm, one out of like 500 sci-fi stars, is a black guy this year.   Catwoman wasn’t originally “drawn” as black either, but aren’t we all glad that some TV producer 50 years ago was progressive enough to take the “risk” with Eartha Kitt and give that character a chance to be a thousand times more awesome than she ever was before or has been since?  FIFTY YEARS ago, people.  You guys are gonna be okay.

This also gets to the heart of that other Storm raging in my soul demanding to be born.    There may be more important ways to affect change, but I’m a performer and a storyteller and this is what I know how to do.   Music and art and film and stories and yes even comic book superheroes have an important place in the psyche and the soul.   Adding color and dimension and gender to that world and empowering so many more different kinds of young imaginations is important.  Representation is important.
And I cannot wait to shed a bit of light(ning) on the situation myself.

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Jan
31

Did some green screen test filming yesterday.
No other cast members were present,  no props to play with,  no set yet… just me alone with the green screen under the lights and the microscope.

I’ve been so busy fussing over details of getting this ship off the ground that I almost forgot something:
It’s been a solid 8 years since I have been onstage- and that was in my comfort zone.
When I had a band I could perform in front of 2000 people without being the slightest bit uncomfortable.  I felt alive onstage and thrived on the energy that flowed between the music and the audience.  I could transform and transcend through that energy.  In those moments onstage I had no fear of anything except the end of the show.
Strip it down to a small crowd however and another truth would come out:  I am surprisingly shy.  People who have known me for more than a day think it’s hilarious when I say that but it’s true.
I share myself to the point of being an exhibitionist and I have rarely felt more alive than the times I’ve bared my soul in front of hundreds of strangers…  but If you asked me to play my guitar unplugged without a band and sing directly to one person,  I’d come up with a way to distract you and then quickly hide under a rock.

Consequently, I have a fast new respect for my professional actor friends.  I’ve done some theater stuff before but it’s been a long time.   I’ve been on camera before but always documentary stuff where all I have to be is my goofy self.
Acting in front of cameras, solo, felt a lot like having to sing without a band for an intimate crowd.
It is entirely thrilling to be performing again,  I’m hardly sleeping because of how psyched I am about all of this.  I am more excited about this project and watching it come to life than I have ever been about anything else I have created (except for that one thing… and this is for him).   But when the costume was on and all those big lights were in my face and the cameras were rolling  and I heard the words “Whenever you’re ready” (the gentle way to call “Action“),  I felt exposed in a whole new way.
Green in front of the green screen.  Fitting.

The butterflies in my tummy were struck by lightning and caught on fire for a little while.
I got over it, of course, and I’m fully in love with the idea of having this fresh new challenge that I’m a little but scared of.

I’m in excellent hands,  so there’s really nothing to fear but my own oncoming emotional catharsis.
I’ve got two great directors who are wildly out of my league but generously and genuinely interested in the film and excited with me about creating it.  In the hands of director R. Zane Rutledge and his partner Jeff Stolhand,  my little passion play is being lifted up to the next level and beyond.   So far there are the two directors;  a spectacularly talented DP named Drew Barrera; FX make-up artist and mohawk tamer,   Sayward Anderson;  and our awesome goldenhearted producer,  Matt Joyce. These people are creative magicians and I am star struck in the presence of their talent.  I am in awe of the fact that I somehow ended up with such an incredible crew, and I will honor their hard work with my own.

So last night we did some green screen test filming and I needed to be not just in costume of course, but in character.   Here’s how hopped up on goofballs I am over this thing:  one of the main directions I kept getting was that I needed to “smile less”.
In the past 2 years and 2 months, that has never been an issue.  But last night… in full costume for the first time, in the presence of my amazing team and all the lights and cameras…  I had a hard time getting the grin off my face even when it was required.   No worries, though- I’ll eat the nerves and absorb the challenge and rock this thing harder than I’ve ever rocked anything,  but for now it’s a nice change for smiling to be the thing I can’t stop doing for a while.

I keep saying it because it keeps being true: This little film is going to be something truly, truly special.
Meanwhile, I have got to calm down and get some sleep… the bags under my eyes are no joke in dramatic lighting.

Stay tuned, Storm watchers…

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Jan
19

The beginning phases of production have begun on the film, and the Rain clouds are beginning to form.
The crew is coming together piece by piece and major components of the production process that I don’t understand at all (namely: all of it)  have been taken over by professionals.  That is exciting, humbling, and frankly it’s freaking me right the hell out.

I am wildly honored that genuine pros have taken enough of an interest in the project that it’s growing into a bigger thing than what I could ever handle on my own, but what that means is that it is largely out of my hands at this point.

Imagine creating something very personal out of raw heart and soul and love and tears, and then handing that very delicate vulnerable newborn creation over to someone you just met.  Then that person takes it away for a while and has meetings about it and passes it around to other people you don’t know and they examine it and judge it and decide what to do with it when they have time.   Meanwhile, they are very busy and so they don’t have time to talk to you about it just yet… maybe some time next week.
I’m not saying I’m anxious or anything but I’m blog-venting at 3am on Sunday morning instead of… wait,  what’s the other thing I used to do?  Oh right:  sleeping.

I am the first one to admit I am a control freak- especially when it comes to anything creative– and so the whole “let go and have faith in the process” part of the process before I know exactly what the process is is making me kinda wanna chew off my own arm.

At this point I feel a bit like the pregnant lady from the hospital scene in Monty Python’s Meaning of Life.
“What do I do?”  she asks,  splayed out on a table with a crowd of people looking up her crotch.
“Oh nothing, dear! You’re not qualified!”

Not to sound the slightest bit ungrateful…I am not.
I have absolute faith in the director I chose who has taken the reigns on Rain.  We discussed early on that this part of the journey would be arduous, tedious at times, and not very sexy…  and I made damn sure that the person who would be taking my creation out of my hands in this way is someone I trusted 200%.

I’m  just overwhelmed and impatient and pacing at the door like a dog who’s about to piss on the carpet if somebody doesn’t let me out soon.
I should go running… again.
Excited… just excited… shhhh…. kava tea for me.

On with the show!

Dec
16

Down here in Austin, we’re generally pretty sheltered from crappy weather.  It gets cold in the winter, but not for long.  Like, not even for the whole day.  The week leading up to the Glen Rose Spartan Beast was different.  Most of Central Texas was being treated to a frosty holiday surprise, complete with things like ice pellet storms and city-wide school closings.  Austin didn’t get all that,  but 3 hours north all my friends and family in the Dallas area were frozen into their homes with streets iced over and temperatures dangerously low for at least a solid week.  But it is Texas after all, so the way it’s supposed to work is that when it’s cold and crappy one weekend it should be unseasonably gorgeous the next.  By my not-very-scientific calculations, the weather for the Spartan Race should have been perfect.

I was off by a day.  Glen Rose, Texas was perfectly gorgeous on Sunday.  My race was Saturday.
The high that day was around 41 degrees.  Not terrible…. til the cold front came around mile three.  Biting 20mph winds pushed back against us as we ran, and stole function and feeling from cold fingers.  We climbed up higher…  I didn’t realize Texas hills could offer such climbing.  I figured this race would be an actual walk in the park after the mountain in Vermont, but of course they found tricky steep hills for us to climb and sent us up and down them in the most treacherous possible ways- much of the time while carrying sandbags, dragging cement blocks, or lifting buckets filled with gravel.
It had rained all day and night the day before, so everything was a mudslide… and icy.   There was ice and snow along the trail as we slipped and slid up and down slick hills of mud and rocks and occasional snow.   It was perfectly crappy.  The weather and mud were creating extra obstacles for us like Mother Nature was in on the joke.
This shitty weather has been brought to you by Reebok!
I was layered like an onion: 3 tops, 2 pairs of pants, hat and gloves… but none of that mattered too much when we reached our first water obstacle.
Mercifully,  they decided to cut out the main swimming obstacle from the course for safety reasons.  It was THAT COLD.  But we still had to get in the water several times… we just didn’t have to swim.  There was a lot of wading in water that was so cold it somehow burned.  And then more running to heat those cold muscles back up again.

Yeah, so my calves did not appreciate that particular back and forth on top of all the other effort, and they let me know with the most extreme charlie horse pain I have ever felt in my life… in both legs at once.
At one point, maybe about half way through the race, I went down in so much pain it looked like I was done for the day.   All I know is that I had started jogging a little faster and suddenly I was on the ground screaming bloody murder in a most undignified manner.   When I opened my eyes, five or six other runners and two staff guys with walkie-talkies were surrounding me asking what happened.
When I held my calf it was spasming so hard I could actually feel the muscle thumping against my hand like an alien was trying to bust out of there.   One of the guys was on his walkie-talkie calling for a “pick-up with medic”.

Let me rewind a bit for a minute…

One of the first obstacles anyone has to deal with when facing a major challenge of any kind is doubt.  Even when you think you  have dealt with your own there is often someone else standing by waiting to share theirs with you.   I had plenty of anxiety and nerves going into the race of course, but once I made up my mind to do it I didn’t doubt that I’d finish.   I did need some encouragement at one point, though, so I asked a friend for some uplifting words.  Instead I got a list of all the reasons I shouldn’t be doing it.  What may have come from a place of loving concern ended up being a straight up insulting bummer:

Do you really think you’re still in good enough shape for something like this?
Have you even thought about how cold the water is and how dangerous that could be?
You haven’t been training like you used to.  This is going to be a lot harder than you realize.
What if you get too cold?  What will you do if you get hurt?  What would make you quit?

That little pep rally actually made me cry.  I was already an emotional landmine this weekend as it is the anniversary of my son’s birth (and passing), which is why that race on that date was so important to me in the first place.  So while the majority of people who care about me were either cheerleading, you-go-girling, or keeping their mouths shut,  there had to be one last ‘voice of reason’ to try to burst my bubble and throw me off course.   Just another obstacle.  It was a disappointing moment, but I realized that if I couldn’t get over a few disappointing words I probably couldn’t get over a mud covered 9 foot wall, or much else.
When you start to float up too high out of the realm of what others understand, they want to pull you back down into their comfy world of can’ts and shouldn’ts.   I have never belonged in that world.

Fast forward back to the middle of the Spartan Beast.  The temperature is dropping,  my hands are numb even in my gloves,  and I’m in fetal position in the dirt while someone calls for a medic to come pick me up and wheel me away to safety and warmth and told-ya-so’s.   I remembered the words of my doubtcaster from before:  What if you get too cold?  What will you do if you get hurt?
What will I do?  Exactly what I have always done and exactly what the hell I came here to do:
OVERCOME IT, and keep moving.

I took a deep breath (or two or three… or twenty) and told the nice men with the walkie talkies that I did not need a pick-up.  I was staying, I just needed to roll around screaming and swearing for a minute.   There were two guys on a team together who were running the race in full wetsuits to guard against the elements.   Their wise wardrobe choices made them look a little like superheros…which they were.  They stayed with me and tried to get me to flex my feet the right way to calm my calves down.  When I was ready they stood me up and fed me salt tablets and added electrolytes to my hydration pack.  This was a race we were running, but these two dudes cut at least 10 minutes off their time to babysit me and make sure I was going to be alright on my own again.  They held my arms and made me walk on my heels for a while, to keep my calves stretched and happy.  I know I asked their names at some point, but I think they answered when I was still screaming and crying so I don’t remember.  One of them was Justin, I think…. (Thanks, Super-dudes!)

A few miles later I was jogging again and a guy said, “Hey!  Aren’t you the girl who went down with a leg injury back there?”  “Yeah, that was me.”  “So then how are you passing me right now?”

The rest of the race remained brutal… and they added distance to it since they took out a swimming obstacle, so all told it was around 15 miles.  Oh, and if there’s a hell, I bet they’d make you carry 5 gallon buckets full of gravel up and down a steep muddy ice covered hill.  But even in hell you’d probably only be forced to do that crap once.   We did it twice.
I did lots of burpees that day. (For the uninitiated,  30 burpees is the price you pay for any obstacle you fail in the Spartan Race.)
Lots of people were doing lots of burpees due to the cold.   A lot of the obstacles like the monkey bars and the rope climbs require grip strength, or at the very least the ability to feel your fingers, which a lot of us could not.  I surprised myself by what I did accomplish as much as by what I didn’t though, so all in all it was still satisfying.   And even though my legs started seizing up again toward the end and I was fully limping by the time I jumped the fire,  I jumped that fire.
I did it.
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Stats-wise my time of 5hr 56min was pretty average.  I was right at about the 50% mark across the board (Overall, Gender, and Age Group finish times), but that’s pretty good for a Beast.  Pretty good for the girl they wanted to cart off the course at the half way mark.  Pretty good for a lazy winter Saturday morning. Pretty damn good.
One of the things I love about Spartan Races is that they show you very clearly what all your weaknesses are (physical and otherwise).   You can be bummed out when you see all your own weaknesses, or you can go, “Awesome!  Now I know what to work on next!”

I definitely feel stronger after every race.  Well,  alright let me be honest:   first I feel like exhausted crap-sandwiches for a couple weeks and then I feel stronger.   I’ll give my legs a little break to recover, but when I do start running again I will be faster.  It has happened every time.
And my mind and spirit get stronger too.  Big dirty obstacles on the race course make little pesky worries of day-to-day life so much smaller.  The amount of crap I am willing to take gets smaller, too.  And the list of things I think are impossible is disappearing faster all the time.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it seems I have a movie to make….

Dec
12

My 4th Spartan Race is coming up in just two days.  Hard to believe it all started this year.  2013 has been a pretty big year in Mayaland.  4 Spartan Races, awesome new job,  blue belt,  school, and suddenly the beginning of a hot new affair with film making? Sure, why not.
Every once in a while someone uses the word “inspiring” to describe my obsessive need to stay occupied in dramatic ways,  but the funny thing is that anything I do is only a reflection of how inspired I am by everyone else around me.  What’s more,  most of what I do is actually based not in any kind of unusual amount of strength, but in my need to deal with my own fear.

I am not a superhero,  I am a big crybaby scaredy cat.  Maybe (in fact: of course) that’s why I need to “play” a superhero in this film I’m making.  Fake it til you make it, right?
Even at the dojo,  Sensei once told me that he saw a lot of fear in my face when I’m sparring.   I hated hearing that– HATED it–  but I am becoming aware of what he meant.  It’s not all the time, and I do know I’m getting better about it, but I specifically have a problem dealing with head strikes.  When someone throws a punch or kick at your head,  a skilled fighter will slip that strike or otherwise avoid it and counter with their own attack.  My tendency is to flinch and turn away with my eyes closed.  *Wrong!*  “Never turn your back! Never take your eyes off your opponent!”  That is exactly when and why I get hit.  Every time.  Giving in to my own fear hands my opponent a big shining opportunity to take me down.  I’m working on it, but it’s there- more than I’ve ever cared to admit til just now.

The same is true with Spartan Races.  I am obsessed with doing them it’s true,  but here’s the thing:  I am scared shitless before every single one of them… and then I cry like a blubbering idiot after they’re done.  It is the epitome of uncool, y’all.
You’d think that the more of them I do the easier it would be to face the challenge,  but with each one a new set of doubts crops up to nag at my brain and the fear-demons in my head keep me up at night telling me all the reasons I should back out.

I almost did back out of this one  (It’s gonna be so cold!  My rib is still sore!  My cat shouldn’t be left alone all weekend!), but because of the date of the race it’s impossible to forget my reason for doing crazy crap like this in the first place.
The Glen Rose Spartan Beast is Saturday, December 14th.
December 14th of 2011 was the date that I went to the doctor to see why the little hyperactive love of my life in my belly hadn’t been kicking around as much.  They checked me into the maternity ward that afternoon, and he was stillborn the next morning.
I do all this stuff because of Orion Xavier Jamil Glick: my greatest love and the massive hole in my heart that never leaves my mind…
and because of all my stupid little fears.
We shared a body and blood and cell structure and spirit and lifeforce, that little boy and me.  So if all that’s left of him is me, then I will shine as bright as I possibly can for as long as I can and the one heart I have left will beat as strong as it can.

The fears can keep coming and picking at me like mosquitoes, and I will keep facing up to them and swatting them down.  I may still turn my head and wince at the first strike,  but I am still standing and fighting.   Even if I’m a little scared. The trick is taking fear and twisting it into something like excitement… and I’m finally getting really excited about this weekend.

-Edit:  I wrote this blog, and then immediately found this on the Spartan Race facebook page:
spartan

Nov
29

Why do I need this film to happen right now?
Well, for one thing… I don’t like Christmas.
I used to love it.   Surprising people with gifts is a thing I love;  Christmas has that.   Colder weather is a thing I dig;  the holiday season has that.   Get-togethers and chances to entertain and laugh with friends?  Yep, holidays.  But most importantly– sparkly crap EVERYWHERE!  Twinkle lights.  I love twinkle lights and the creative to psychedelic ways that people make their homes and trees look like they came from outer space.  Christmas has that.
Oh and brighter stars.  Christmastime has that, too.
The constellation Orion doesn’t show up til around December.
I’ve always loved that constellation so much that I named my son after it.
He was born right before Christmas 2 years ago.  So now Christmas has that.
and endless songs about a little boy being born under a magical star.

So yeah… I do not like it, Sam I Am.

Since that day 2 years ago, I have managed to keep myself very busy with different things.  BIG things.  It takes big things to even attempt to fill or cover a hole the size of the one he left.  The latest big thing is this film.  The promise of the film has kept me busy and distracted and fueled with something to look forward to… something productive and exciting that will keep me occupied and make me tired enough to sleep at night.  Without this giant overwhelming project I have too much time to look around me at the world and go, “Oh, shit… Christmas.”
With it,  I can feel like I have grown and healed a bit and am honoring the spirit of that boy and somehow passing inspiration along to others while I’m at it.
The story that I have written reflects the journey of a fallen superhero from tragedy and powerlessness to transformation and re-activation of power.  That is a story I need to tell and one that I need to see.   I need to share it with the world and with my own self.   When I had music I created songs with lyrics I needed to hear.   When I paint I create the things that I need to look at.   I fill in blanks.   I have a huge, massive blank right now and I need to fill it in.  The creation of any art is a release, a catharsis, a time capsule, a roadmap, a rite of passage…
A superhero who rises from her own ashes and refuses to give up, that is something I need to see and be.   I need to play out this little fantasy and share it so that someone else might be uplifted by the burning, passionate fire behind the story.  When I was a lonely little girl the sight of this strange character lit my heart up in a way that made me feel like somehow things might be alright one day.   I need to give life to that character and prove to myself that I was right.

If the fundraising efforts fail, of course there are other options and I can always try again later.
But it will be much later.  The process of campaigning and promoting just to raise the cash has been a lot more draining ot my already weary brain than I was prepared for,  and I’ll definitely need a minute to regroup.   I’ll need to crawl back into my protective shell at least til the holidays pass and maybe come back at it in the spring with a larger audience and better video teasers.  (Did you know there were critics out there for Kickstarter videos?  Oh internet, you so crazy…and rude.)
Also with a bigger audience, my close friends and family don’t have to feel burdened to help me out quite so much whether or not they are excited about the actual story.   There has been an overwhelming display of generosity from people who I know just want me to be taken care of,  when this is meant to be cheap and easy for everybody if there’s enough of everybody involved.  So I need more people involved, so I don’t have to feel guilty and you guys don’t have to feel broke.
If it does succeed right now, then I can spend the holidays with my mind exploding with pre-production and video effects ideas and fight choreography…rather than humbug.

This has been quite an experience either way.
So with only a few hours left til it’s all over,  at least I can say that I gave a nice old man named Bill Shatner the chance to flirt directly with punk rock Storm.  Who else can say that?  Who does that happen to?

Merry Humbug everybody, and thank you for being a part of this crazy ride, wherever it goes next.
xox.
Kirk out.


Shatner and Maya

KICKSTARTER FOR RAIN: A FAN FILM ABOUT STORM

Sep
23

“Beast” they called it.
A dramatic overstatement for marketing purposes?
Well, let’s look at some definitions I just found of the word:

Beast [noun]:  A large, unusual creature, typically dangerous to humans.  A thing that is formidably difficult to control or deal with.  A cruel or unkind person or animal.  A monster.
Okay… so what’s a monster?
A strange or horrible imaginary creature;  something that is extremely or unusually large.

Yep.  The Spartan Race experience I had in Vermont was at least a Beast.

This was the “World Championship” Spartan Beast  with prize money set at $15,000 for 1st place which attracted elite athletes from all over the world,  so the stakes were raised and the course was even more beastly than normal.   Other participants who had done Spartan Beasts before were amazed by how difficult it was and just how long it was taking them to finish.   There were people saying they had done marathons and triathlons and other such extreme endurance events, but this one was kicking their asses in all new ways.  And then there was me in the mix:  the newbie who can barely handle the shorter races, thinking she can hang with the monster on a mountain.

Each Spartan Race is a challenge.  There are tough obstacles, and of course the famous 30 burpee penalty for not completing an obstacle.  So what made this one so monstrous?  That damn mountain.  It has the word Killing right in its name…

The course took us up and down Killington Mountain –FIVE TIMES– with some smaller up-and-downs thrown in the mix just to make sure no one can use their legs for a while.   It may have been a race but most of us weren’t doing much running.   The ascensions were impossibly steep and surprisingly hard to climb.  I imagine the elite runners may have actually run, bless their freakish hearts,  but not me, and not most of the people around me.   We would huff and grunt and climb and sympathize with each other and make jokes, and then when we looked up to see how far we still had to go we would groan and shout obscenities at the whole world.  I llive in Texas for crap’s sake. Where the hell am I gonna practice mountain climbing?  I hit the stairmaster and the leg press at the gym a few times and thought I knew somethin’.
I was gravely incorrect.

The first climb was the steepest and went all the way to the peak of the mountain; well over a mile of relentless endless uphill work.  And this was just the warm-up.  Most of us had to stop several times along the way for breaks and stretching and energy bars.  Then the never-ending downhill was through thick forest where the only thing guiding us was a trail of  plastic strips that said Spartan Race tied to some branches.  The little white flags led us over fallen trees, down slippery muddy drops where we had to grab onto exposed tree roots to keep from falling, through rocky mountain streams, over piles of wet boulders, through thick sticky mud…   It got so steep in places that there was a lot of slipping and landing on my butt,  which led to a lot of staying on my butt to keep from falling on it and just scooting downhill for a while.  Have you ever scooted down a mountain through a muddy rocky forest on your ass?  And we hadn’t even gotten to the first obstacle yet.

Finally back at the bottom of the mountain (mile 4) we were faced with the first real challenge:  we had to go back up again,  only this time with a 60 pound sandbag.   Up and back down.  Not all the way up, but it was with a 60 pound sandbag… and it was far… and it was uphill.  No, not uphill,  upmountain.

Then there was more climbing; sometimes through the woods, sometimes up a ski slope, always unbelievably steep.
Then there were the standard obstacles, made harder by the fact that we were all exhausted from having just climbed a freakin’  mountain a couple times.   There were walls to get over,  cargo nets to climb,  lots and lots and lots of barbed wire to crawl under.  I work at Hot Lava Obstacle Course which is an indoor OCR training gym here in Austin, so I’ve got no excuse struggling with the basics, but add in a mountain like Killington and you will struggle with tying your own shoes….
There was even a memorization test thrown in:  At about mile 3 we had to find a series of numbers and letters on a giant chart that corresponded with the last two digits of our bib numbers.  Then a couple hours later around mile 8 (after you had totally forgotten your own name. let alone the memorization test)  we got stopped and had to recite it back perfectly or do the 30 burpees.

Still, I felt surprisingly good for most of the first half.   Every time we made it back down the mountain we went through a spectator area- back to civilization for a moment,  and Adam was always there waiting for me.  This was a major energy and spirit boost.   The big rope climb Was at mile 7, well past any of the other distances I have run before, and last time the rope climb was where I failed.  This time i nailed it.
Also the weather had been gorgeous all day. It was sunny and about 70 degrees for most of the afternoon…

Then things changed.
The Beast was done playing with me and it started to growl and show fangs….

Right around the time I had to attempt the first of three major water obstacles, a cold front rolled in with dark heavy clouds and it started to rain.   Fantastic.
I jumped into the frigid mountain pond water and swam out to a rope hanging under a bridge.  The goal was to climb it and ring the bell at the top, and I almost made it… but it turns out it’s hard to pull your body weight out of a pond and up a rope when you’re so cold that you can’t feel your fingers.  I splashed down hard and sloshed back to the shore for my first set of many burpees that were to come…
This beast was taking much longer to conquer than I had ever imagined it could.

More endless up-the-mountain ascents; more tough obstacles; more treacherous down-the-mountain sliding, crawling,  scooting and tumbling; more frigid water swimming; and many more burpees.  A recent knee injury I picked up at the dojo in a groundfighting collision kept blasting past the ibuprofen I was trying to appease it with and some stiff legged limping slowed me down for a few miles.

When it started to get dark we had to pull our headlamps out.   This was mandatory gear that I didn’t understand when I was shopping for it or packing it.  I didn’t think there was any way I would be on that course when it was dark out, but there I was trekking through the pitch black forest at night with a spotlight shining out of my forehead.

I saw many people dropping out.  I saw a few scary injuries and a couple people losing their lunch.  But more often I saw amazing  things.  I saw people who were easily three or four hundred pounds working with all their heart to get up the mountain, too.   I saw a man who had to be at least 70 years old dragging himself through the mud under the barbed wire right next to me.   I saw a guy in a freaking wheelchair doing the Beast course,  which blew my mind right in half.  He had a team of at least ten other people who worked together on the logistics of getting him and his chair either together or separately where they needed to be.
None of these people ended up on the podium or won the big prize money of course.  And I doubt any of them were spotlighted on the NBC Sports special that was being filmed that day.    That was saved for the star athletes who completed the course insanely fast, like there was no mountain and no obstacles.  Those people are machines and they are inspiring in their own way, but to me the true champions aren’t always the ones who can breeze through hell like it’s an easy game.  The strongest in the race may not be the fastest.   The biggest heroes may not be the first ones to cross the finish line but the fighters who  struggled the whole way and never gave up;   The non-athletes who trudged up and down the mountain and in and out of the dark woods at night for hours and hours and hours, just to complete the task against all odds;    The countless people who stopped to help each other out when they saw another participant sidelined with cramps, injury, or doubts;  Those are the stories that will inspire and motivate and move hearts.  In fact some of the biggest champions may not have finished the course at all.   They came, they challenged themselves, they inspired a few hundred strangers just by showing up,  and they were brave and smart enough to know when to say when.
Rock stars, one and all.

Spartan Race is working very hard to make obstacle racing a legit and formalized sport,  and I think that’s pretty cool… as long as the real fighters are still welcome to run the courses along with the pros.  The fastest finishing times at The World Championship Beast were around 4 hours.   Those were the world class pros who won up to 15 grand for their efforts.  I was on that damn course for 8 hours and 50 minutes… and I got a free banana.
But I did the damn thing.

And yes, I cried at the finish line.
No- I didn’t just cry, I faceplanted in the dirt after the friendly volunteer put the medal around my neck and I sobbed shamelessly.

Next stop:   the Spartan Beast in Texas in December.
This one will be “easier”  partly because it’s not the high profile world championships,   partly because it’s not on a 4100 foot mountain, and mostly because I know what to expect and can train better (and longer) for it.  But it will be harder because the date in December happens to be the 2nd anniversary of the day Orion was born.

So yes,   I would do it again.
Maybe not the Vermont course,  but  I’ll be back.
Just give me a couple months to clean off my shoes….

*Click here for MORE PHOTOS by Adam Glick*

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Sep
17

Countdown to the Spartan Beast in Vermont.
Flight leaves tomorrow morning, I’ve got my race gear all laid out and accounted for, and I am feeling something like… scared?

I’ve been reading a lot lately about the explosion of the popularity of obstacle racing as a sport.  I’m particularly interested in a documentary that’s being made called Rise of the Sufferfests which asks (and I imagine, attempts to answer) why exactly people need to put themselves through hell… rather expensive hell… as weekend entertainment, sport, addiction, or way of life.
“Sufferfest”.  Brilliant.

I have been asked “why” many times myself.  The easy answer for most people is that it’s crazy fun.   You crawl in mud and leap over fire and test your limits in ways you’d never do otherwise without joining the military.   (By the way, joining the military: not “fun”)
I read a piece recently in which one of the pro OCR athletes said she had a hard time describing obstacle racing to people who were unfamiliar with the concept without making it sound silly.   I have had the opposite experience-  I have a hard time describing it without making it seem soul-shakingly intense.  I think it’s a matter of who is describing the experience and what exactly their personal “why” is.

For a trained and skilled athlete who does this sort of thing all the time,  of course it’s fun.   “Wheee! Monkey bars and mud! Yay I won another thousand dollars!”   For jocks and crossfit strongbodies,  it’s a messy day at the amusement park with a beer at the end.   For teams who laugh their way through the whole thing in matching tutus,  it’s silly awesome dress-up fun (although, you don’t see quite as many tutus and silly hats at a Spartan Race as you do at other ‘fun-runs’.  Warpaint, yes… clown wigs, not so much).   I’ve done two Spartan Races so far.  Both have been Sprints:  the “easy” ones.   At the finish line,  people are excited for you and they congratulate you and the first thing they say is, “So?  Was it FUN?”   My response both times has been to weep uncontrollably for at least five solid minutes.

So what’s my problem?
Is the Spartan Race fun?  Well… no.  Not for me.  Not yet.   Do I enjoy it?  Hell yes…. only, not necessarily while it’s happening.  It’s like a tattoo… or natural childbirth… or getting a tattoo while you’re giving birth.
For some it may be a hysterical reclaiming of lost warrior-machismo, or a desperate attempt to feel anything at all in our  over-saturated disconnected facebook world as I have read it suggested recently… and I think that is all good stuff, I just don’t relate to any of  that.  For me it is something else.  For me it is primarily a reaction to (and maybe, it has occurred to me recently, even penance for?) the death of my son.   For me it is a literalized expression of my journey to healing and redemption.  For me it is a battle against defeat itself.   It is functional, therapeutic, cathartic, and spiritual.   It is a rite of passage;  a cleansing ritual.   In geekspeak: It is Luke Skywalker going into the swamp-cave to battle his own self and learn his Real Truth.

I am exponentially stronger than I was a year ago, yes- but I know when I am surrounded by the Spartan “elites” that I am still no athlete.    While a year of obsessive martial arts training has kicked my ass into relatively good shape, I am still new to successful push-ups for god’s sake.   The Spartan Race wants me to climb ropes, scale walls,  drag cement blocks, carry sandbags uphill,  swing on muddy monkey bars,  climb some more ropes,  climb some more walls,  and be punished with 30 burpees each time I fail.
At this point I’m not in it for the fun of it.  I’m in it for the challenge,  the trial,  and the fight against my own fear.
Also, being tested in such a grueling way for so long in relative isolation has a way of stripping away all your bullshit and  leaving you completely raw and spiritually naked.  I often hear people talk about the comaraderie factor of events like this,  and while the people there are all very kind and helpful,  I tend to feel extremely isolated during the race- and for me that’s actually part of what I’m looking for– I think.   The Spartan race tagline is “You’ll Know At The Finish Line”.   Sounds corny,  but it’s a real thing.   It’s why the first person to speak to me after I jump over the fire will be greeted with noisy ugly crying.  I do not feel like a tough guy or superhero when I finish the Race, I feel like a vulnerable newborn baby.

This one in Vermont is the Spartan Beast.  Rumored to be at least 14 miles (they never tell you exactly how long the course is),  up and down a mountain,  with at least 2 icy cold ponds to swim through.   The “pros” are expected to finish in around 4 hours, “everyone else” is expected to finish in between 5 and 8 hours.  That’s a long fucking time, you guys.   I have never climbed a mountain.  I have certainly never climbed a mountain riddled with exhausting obstacles, freezing cold water, and penalties.
Oh, and the forecast for Saturday in Killington?  Thunderstorms.

So yes, I am scared.   And no, it will not be “fun”,  but yes I am looking forward to it more than I can remember ever looking forward to anything.
It’s just that I also want to throw up when I think about  for it too long.

____
Here’s me expressing how much ‘fun’ I had and what a bad-ass I am  (sobbing like a baby and running to Adam) after my first Spartan Race in May:

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May
05

Once upon a time
my heart got broken into a few too many pieces,
my soul got smashed up a few too many times, my brain got fried, my will got torn down,
my dreams got shattered,  and my whole self got older and slower and tired.
Once upon a time I wanted to give up and fade away.

That time passed…

Once upon another time I dragged my sluggish body and weary soul into a very special dojo with nothing but a wilted spirit, a blank slate, and zero to lose.   More time passed…
It took work… a lot of work… but gradually the remnants of that shattered, tattered old self began to fall away like a dried out chrysalis and something else began to emerge…  something brand new, energized, and strong.

On the training ground of my dojo I learned (am learning) that I don’t have to be defeated by obstacles, no matter how great.  I can rise up, shake it off, and square off against any opponent -including my own fears and weaknesses – with the confidence that no matter what happens,  I am always learning and growing stronger.    The empowerment I gained through the Elite Martial Arts program helped me to make that choice.  I chose to dedicate myself to the hard work of growing stronger instead of  growing older, and as a result I am becoming stronger now (at age 40) than I have ever been in my life.

After just under a year at the dojo,  I am not only learning how to overcome challenges, but I have become addicted to the idea of overcoming as many of them as I can.   It seems that not only am I not interested in running away from obstacles,  but I seem to be  into the idea of running headlong into them.
About a month ago, completely out of nowhere, I signed up to do an obstacle race.  I’ve never been a runner before,  I’ve never done any kind of race,  and as my first one ever I chose not only an obstacle race but the one which is infamous as the toughest and most hardcore of them all:   The Spartan Race.

The one I’m doing is The Spartan Sprint– the “starter” Spartan Race– approximately 4 miles,  loaded with crazy obstacles, and hard penalties for each obstacle you miss.
I have been researching, reading, video watching, and falling so hard in love with this insanely difficult thing that I haven’t even done yet.  I have been training,  running,  pushing myself harder, loving the feeling of being pushed,  and already obsessing over the idea of doing the next 2 levels up:  The Super Spartan and The Spartan Beast.

Once upon a time it would never have occurred to me to even want to know something like this existed.
Once upon a time I was old and tired and weak.
That time has passed.

The Spartan Race is two weeks from now.  I’ve never even run up and down my own block before last month, but now I’[ll be running with people who are strong young triathletes, fighters,  military warriors, and all manner of professional adrenaline junkies.   I’ll be dragging myself through mud, running uphill over boulders and creeks,  hoisting over 10 foot walls and crawling under dirty barbed wire.   I’ll get banged up and worn out while my aching body tries to tell me I should quit and I don’t belong there.  I’ll be racing against myself and the world and all the lies I have ever been told about what is and isn’t possible…
Two weeks from now, I’ll be a Spartan racer.   I’m sure it will be much harder than I am even imagining… and  I am giddy with excitement like a child about to get a pony.

My dojo is teaching me how to tap into my own strength,  and how to defeat that which might defeat me.  How to fight smart.
Training for the Spartan Race is teaching me that  I also love to run… not from but toward challenges, in order to conquer them.
Fight and flight.

Everyone is fighting something at some point.
The older we get it can seem that the fights get tougher as your fuel gets lower.
They say once you hit 40 “it’s all downhill from here”.
I’m here to testify:  That is some lazybrained backdated bullshit.

Make hard changes,  fight for your health,  conquer your obstacles and win your own joy.  Don’t be forced into submission by time and nature,  become a force of nature.
Shake it off,  do the work,  decide to keep growing and always keep going.
It’s like sex- an awkward and painful chore at first, but once you start doing it the right ways and for the right reasons you’ll want it all the time.

Seriously- if I can do it, anyone can.

Once upon a time I couldn’t,
but that time had to pass…
because I stood up to it
and  kicked it’s ass.

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