Hello Again. It’s Been Awhile.

Hey y’all,

I know, I know. It’s been far too long.

So, what the heck have I been up to, you might be thinking.

Well, I’ve started writing for a couple of magazines and still love telling stories. I still love the idea of the Penguin Project, but things moved in a different direction.

Now, I have my own website: http://www.amandapolick.com/

On there, you will still find blogs and stories that you are used to on here and some new things.

And I might be one of the last people to join Twitter, but it finally happened: @AmandaPolick

So, let’s stay in touch and continue to share stories because I love hearing yours.

I appreciate you reading and can’t wait to talk to you soon.

Amanda

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You Belong

“If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), “Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?” chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.” -Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

September swept in through the windows of the great Victorian building and danced under a few loose papers on the table. Presentations circled the room about magazines that each classmate would love to write for, and this was all in front of my professor that was a Senior Editor for Mother Jones. Every woman spoke eloquently and with conviction of the publications that they would hope to write for. There was an ease with their speeches. They knew what they wanted and where they were going. And then, there was me.

It might have been the fact that I had to practically run to my first class because traffic was a complete beast with the opening of the new Bay Bridge. It may have been the two large cups of coffee that I destroyed within two hours of each other. It may have been a lot of things, but I can tell you what it wasn’t. It wasn’t eloquent and was even hard to understand myself. It was shaky. It was intimidating. It was hell.

I left the room feeling like such an amateur. Did I even belong at that table with those intelligent women? Did I belong anywhere?

I love to write. I want to write. I want to be successful, but what just happened wasn’t really representative of that desire or preparation.

I think, sometimes, we don’t belong. Or at least, we feel like we don’t belong. Maybe, it was the boy that suddenly decided that you weren’t “worth it”, but some new girl is. Maybe, it was the girls at work that decided that you were the only one that shouldn’t be invited to a group outing, but that they should post pictures of their fun all over social media for you to see.

And as many times that I have felt that I didn’t belong, the one place that I always felt the most terrified of and the most comfortable is with my art. So many times before going on stage, I just wanted to throw up. My heart was leaping out of my chest. Anxiety feeds its way inside of me when I let someone read the words that I had been obsessing over. And I always felt a little like an impostor. Am I really an actor if I’ve never been on the silver screen? Am I really a writer if I can barely talk about the things that I want to write?

And the answer: YES.

The people that I know that are talented and successful on many levels are the ones that always question themselves. They may not be so eloquent. They make mistakes. They don’t always get what they want. But they are always trying and always pushing themselves in new ways. They show up every day with the same dream. AND THEY KEEP GOING. The true artists never feel like they’ve “made it”.

So as my tea steams and afternoon finds me, I just have to remind myself: You. Belong.

Because I do. I really do. And so do you.

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Naked Truth

“Let me ask you something, in all the years that you have…undressed in front of a gentleman has he ever asked you to leave? Has he ever walked out and left? No? It’s because he doesn’t care! He’s in a room with a naked girl, he just won the lottery.” -Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

It’s true. As women, we are obsessed with every crease, hair, and things that are never mentioned to even other women. We try and try to be as perfect as possible. We try to live up to images of what other people think is beautiful.

And then they show up.

They get to have back hair. They can be a little thicker around the middle. And we don’t even say anything when they start losing their hair.

Oh yes, ladies. I’m talking about men.

And while it may seem like they get a free pass, they are just as insecure about those things. They just have different ways of dealing with those insecurities. Some men embrace them. Some men decide to change them. And some men just don’t give a shit.

So ladies, embrace yourself. There is no one else in the world that looks like you. Every single inch of you is beautiful. Even with the lights on.

All you need is confidence. I mean, you’ve seen the large guy at the party that has the hottest girlfriend in the room, right? And he’s normally the one with best personality. Take a lesson, everyone. Confidence is sexier than a six-pack.

And guys, if you think I’m letting you get away that easily, you are sadly mistaken. Just because you get us naked doesn’t mean that you nailed it. No pun intended. Take a little advice from Louis C.K.:

“After sex, men just want to lay there, and the woman wants to cuddle. Some men like to make fun of women for that, ‘They always want to cuddle, they’re so needy. Why is she so needy?!’ She’s not needy, you idiot. She’s horny because you did nothing for her. You did absolutely nothing.”

Basically.

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Dear John

“Just when I had you off my head
Your voice comes thrashing wildly through my quiet bed
You say you wanna try again
But I’ve tried everything but giving in

Why you wanna break my heart again
Why am I gonna let you try

When all we ever do is say goodbye” -John Mayer, “All We Ever Do Is Say Good-bye”

He hated John Mayer. To be fair though, I think most guys hate John Mayer. Which is funny because his songs described us better than any other songs. And there were many that came very close and seemed almost entirely written for us as most music lovers come to believe. But John Mayer must have been sitting in the corner of our future lives when he was writing most of his songs. He must have known.

It’s weird when you finally think that you have it figured out. You think that everything leading up to a certain point was totally worth the pain and wonder. Everything leads to something, and finally, it has lead to something great.

But you never truly know what the future holds. Emotions change. Situations change. People change. Yeah, people really do change. And as much as you thought that you knew someone, all of that can change in a single letter.

And you can sit around and wonder what was the moment that changed everything, but you’ll never really know. And you probably wouldn’t want to know anyway. Sometimes, it’s just best to leave things as they are.

Some things are only meant to last for a season.

And as we move on in our lives and run head first into new adventures, I hope he finds what he’s looking for. I hope he figures it out. And hope, oh how I hope, that wherever he goes, whatever he does, when he’s in the car or when he’s in the coffee shop trying to read that John Mayer finds him over and over and over again.

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F@!k It (Dick)

“If you are going through hell, keep going.” -Winston Churchill

It’s funny how things come together only to fall apart again. You get the perfect job within walking distance from your apartment to help you survive school. Your timing is finally right with him. Your team wins the World Series for the second time in three years.

And then….

You basically receive an ultimatum from your boss to choose between work and your dream school. Timing turns out to be nothing but a disappointment and a huge asshole. And your boys trail miles behind your biggest rival only to then acquire your former beautiful tattooed and bearded closer. Yeah, sometimes things really suck. They really fucking suck.

When I look back at the best things in my life, a lot of it was effortless. When I applied to my dream school, I received a personal phone call from the Dean of Admissions saying how much they would love to have me. When I was looking for an apartment in my ideal neighborhood in L.A., it pretty much just fell into my lap. When I started improv, it just fit. That’s not to say that work was not required leading up to those points, but when the time came, everything fell into place.

I’m okay with struggle. In fact, I don’t want something that is easy. I am willing to put in the work. But sometimes, things are hard for a reason. Honestly if it wasn’t for the struggles that came after the best parts, I would never have moved forward. I can pinpoint moments and tender times when I would have just stayed exactly where I was. I would have been content. But somehow, someone bigger than I knew that I needed to go onto better things. I needed to leave L.A. I needed to go back to school. I needed to fight for something again.

It’s when things become easy that you forget what you really want; you miss out on opportunities that may have never come your way otherwise. And only you can decide what is and is not worth fighting for. So, maybe you get a new job. Maybe, you move somewhere new. Maybe, you finally decide to let him go…for good. And maybe, you call it a wash and get ready to cheer your boys on next season. Because regardless of what is happening, you can only decide to stay or go. You alone have to decide if you are getting what you want…getting what you deserve. And if the shitty job is worth it while you get to where you want to be in the mean time, so be it. And if not, then tell that jerk to, “Suck it. Dick.”

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Shark Attack

It goes without saying Los Angeles is a city of dreams. Dreams that can largely be determined by someone you only meet for five to fifteen minutes, and then if you’re lucky, they might call you back in. Maybe. If your hair is the right shade of auburn. But for Alex Backes and Cody Williams, they wanted to create something of their own.

And that came in the form of Shark Bites as Alex explains, “It started as a simple collaboration between myself and Cody Williams. We wanted to make these short puppet videos with a comic strip that went along with it. It slowly morphed into a longer narrative, and eventually we just decided to swing for the fences and independently produce a pilot presentation with the intentions of selling it to a network.”

But as in the beginning of any great story, there was something missing as he quickly continues, “Important to note, Neel Upadhye came in right at we started and sort of pushed us to these longer narratives when we realized that it wouldn’t work in these really short formats.”

To create anything as an artist is to be vulnerable to the opinions of others, and that might be the greatest risk of all-to share your art. But most often, it is worth it as Alex gushes, “The most unexpected process has really been how positive the response has been. We have gotten so many people we respect and look up to, coming up to us and telling us how much they love it and how pumped they are that we just, ‘Swung for the fences.’ I am surprised by how hard it is to make traction on the internet. It is so full of stuff that we have to push so hard, and when you think you starting to bother people… Just keep pushing. Also, I am surprised how quickly it all came together. I mean, two years ago, I had a Shark puppet. Now, myself, Cody and Neel are pitching networks that we watch everyday. Super cool!!!”

Perhaps, the hardest thing about living in Los Angeles is that people believe that you should be instantly famous, and if they haven’t seen you on the Ellen Show yet, well you just haven’t made it. But like anything worth doing, it takes time, and true artists know that success comes in many forms.

“ A lot of people ask where I hope it ends up, and the answer is pretty simple. I want Shark Bites to end up somewhere that it will flourish and grow. If that is major network, AWESOME. If that is us making little YouTube videos until we feel we are fulfilled creatively, so be it. I want to tell fun and interesting stories for kids and adults, hopefully, with a message and something that inspires people. We have so much fun making these videos that I just want to keep having fun.”

And what keeps the team of Shark Bites inspired? Well, Alex says, “All of us are super inspired by nostalgia. From movies and television we loved as kids or even things like slap bracelets, the show feels like, ‘Calvin and Hobbes grew up and got a loft in Silverlake.'”

And like any great creation, it is not the work of just a couple, but of many as Alex exclaims, “I cannot tell you how awesome it is to work with this team. Cody brings such an amazing skill set and aesthetic to this show. I never thought this thing would start to look as amazing as it does. Cody builds all of the puppets. (Based off concepts I write, or he designs and I write in). He also does any design you see online, shirts, logos, stickers… I mean EVERYTHING. The Kid is a MACHINE!!!

Neel brings such professionalism and work ethic. He is so focused and keeps us constantly moving forward. It is awesome working with this cat. Neel and his crew at the reason the pilot looks so great, and why people are responding so well to it.”

And as much as it’s about the behind the scenes action, it’s the characters that you immediately fall in love with, and even makes you a little sad that you don’t have a shark friend yourself.

“I am so luckily to have had so many talented actors and improvisors come out and be apart of the cast. So much can be said about Keith and Tilt. They play the two main puppet characters, Spielberg and Brooklyn. They have made those characters into such fun and lovable dudes. My mentors and friends like Matt Craig, Frank Caeti, Barak Hardley, and Marlon Young have all come out to help. It feels really good to have those cats’ stamp of approval.”

There is always a feeling of certainty that accompanies the work of good art. There is a feeling that you are seeing film and writing in a refreshing form. That feeling comes from knowing that it will be a big deal. It will blow up.

Yes, the world is about to get bit.

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Loud and Clear (Oakland’s Cry for Trayvon and Their Own)

San Francisco has always been my city. Every time that I drove over the Bay Bridge and saw the city glistening around the bay with the Golden Gate in the background, I was home. When I would take my grandmother back to the city that she grew up in, it was as if she never left. She would show me where my great-grandfather’s office was in Union Square and talk of meeting friends at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel for lunch. There was magic when she spoke because there is no place like San Francisco. No place like home.

But I never imagined that I would find myself living on the other side of the bay. I never imagined that I would be in green and yellow territory. I never saw myself living in Oakland. But when you get the opportunity to attend an amazing women’s college for pretty much free, you’re an idiot if you don’t go.

And as much as people think that they know about Oakland, I saw a different view when I was young because my aunt lived in the hills and my friends started moving there when San Francisco became too expensive. But I didn’t really think I would feel like it was mine. I didn’t think that it would be home.

Until now.

We have all seen the terrible effects of the verdict in the Trayvon Martin murder case. Hearts were torn apart and scattered in barely recognizable pieces. And instead of being quiet, people spoke. All across the country people protested the truly disgusting non-guilty verdict. They cried for the injustice that was given to the Martin family. But I think that Oakland’s cries were the loudest.

In a city that has seen too often their own “Trayvons” lost with little to no justice, this verdict and this case ripped those not-yet healed wounds wide open. With the recent release of “Fruitvale Station”, it is apparent that the city of Oakland has not forgotten the loss of Oscar Grant and others like him. And if there is one thing that I know, Oakland will not go down without a fight. People are mad. People are hurt. And they are not willing to give up. Because in a town consistently listed as one of the most dangerous cities in the country to live in, there are people that love this city and want to see it do better. They want a better future for their children. They want their neighborhoods to flourish. They want to see color lines vanish. They want to not live in fear.

So as my new city burns flags, tags the courthouse building, and tries to destroy property in an effort to be heard, there is something greater going on. Perhaps, the rest of the country and even surrounding areas have given up on Oakland, but Oakland has not. And when no one else will listen, they will just get louder until someone does. And while the best way isn’t destruction of the city that they live in, at least they are speaking up. It’s too important not too.

And others are speaking up too in more positive ways as Carly Schwartz of the Huffington Post reports in her article “Oakland’s Trayvon Martin Protests Underscore City’s History of Racially Charged Violence“, “…Richard Raya, executive director of Oakland-based nonprofit Youth Radio, is planning a series of public forums in which community members are encouraged to discuss Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant and wider social justice issues. ‘Oakland is a special place,‘ Raya told HuffPost. ‘It’s a place where people pay attention to what’s happening locally and nationally, and people act. It’s who we are.'”

As a society, we have got to do better. Things have got to change.

Oakland cries for Trayvon.

Oakland cries for Oscar.

Oakland cries for all of the Trayvons and Oscars across the country that many of us will never hear about.

Oakland, we hear you loud and clear, and I am proud to call you home.

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To Be Continued…

“It just takes some time, little girl you’re in the middle of the ride/ Everything (everything) will be just fine, everything (everything) will be alright (alright)” -Jimmy Eat World “The Middle”

If I measured my life by my friends’ Facebook posts, then I am in desperate need of playing catch up. When I was 19, I thought that my life would look a lot different at 26 than it does now. I don’t know what I thought my life would be, but it would just be…different.

It’s as if there is a checklist that everyone must go through to have the most successful life. House. Spouse. Kids. Done.

Don’t get me wrong. I am so incredibly happy for my friends that have found happiness with their life partners and even with the little people that they have created. But we’re not all there yet.

I read an article awhile ago in Relevant Magazine by Shauna Niequist that I found myself recently re-reading called “What to Know at 25-ish”. And while the whole article offered a good perspective for me, my favorite part was when she said, “This is the thing: When you hit 28 or 30, everything begins to divide. You can see very clearly two kinds of people. On one side, people who have used their 20s to learn and grow, to find God and themselves and their dreams, people who know what works and what doesn’t, who have pushed through to become real live adults. Then there’s the other kind, who are hanging onto college, or high school even, with all their might. They’ve stayed in jobs they hate, because they’re too scared to get another one. They’ve stayed with men or women who are good but not great, because they don’t want to be lonely. They mean to find a church, they mean to develop intimate friendships, they mean to stop drinking like life is one big frat party. But they don’t do those things, so they live in an extended adolescence, no closer to adulthood than when they graduated.

Don’t be like that. Don’t get stuck. Move, travel, take a class, take a risk. There is a season for wildness and a season for settledness, and this is neither. This season is about becoming.”

And if that’s the case, then I am right where I belong.

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I Remember…

Sometimes, you look back and remember things as they never were. You believe that a certain time was more vibrant and beautiful than it actually was. Sometimes, you read into things too much. You expect more than what can be given.

But sometimes, you remember it exactly how it was. You remember all of the pictures, messages, songs and times that you told someone to let you go, but they came back time and time again. They put so much effort into finding you again. They came back only to let you go.

And sometimes, you remember that saying good-bye is the only thing to do. Because there are some things that you just can’t come back from.

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Mixed Up

““There are all kinds of mix tapes. There is always a reason to make one.” -Rob Sheffield, Love is a Mixtape

It’s never as easy as it seems. It takes patience. It takes moments upon moments of planning the perfect time in which to introduce the next piece. It’s a gift.

The best ones are few and far between. They are the ones that you come back to time and time again. Sometimes, they are the ones that you set aside for awhile, but they always find a way back to you.

And there’s some that should be lost forever. Because sometimes, you just need to let things go.

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