Sunday, November 18, 2012

Moving Up

Patrons - After three years at this location, I have decided to relocate this site to

I've been wanting to expand Mug for Thought for a while, and Wordpress offers features that will allow me to do so. This Blogger link will remain active and host to articles written from 2009-2012, and I will be transferring select posts to the new site in the coming weeks.

To everyone who has supported me in this project in over the past years, thank you! I couldn't do this without you, and hope to see you over at the new site.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Writing Myself Free

It's the one piece of advice almost universally dispensed: Write every day. So simple, yet so hard to follow at times!

Between the writing I do for work, journaling and even making grocery lists - I do write every day. Yet when it comes to my aspirations to create literature, and sharing thoughts on issues I really care about, my commitment level has tended to peak and fall.

Recently, I completed a workshop at a great local organization called Write Yourself Free. If you live in the Westport, Connecticut area, and are interested in creative writing, film, poetry - I highly recommend it. In addition to their classes, WYF also hosts speaker events, movie screenings and student reading nights, so there are offerings for everyone from the professional author to anyone with an appreciation for things literary.

I took the school's foundation course and thoroughly enjoyed and learned from it. I'm definitely going to continue with them, likely exploring one of their screenwriting programs. And the one point most consistently emphasized, and best thing I learned was, "Write every day," and how to do so.

The course centered around narrative storytelling, so this was largely my focus for the past eight weeks, and an area I will further explore. At the same time, Mug for Thought is my primary interest, and a place I can certainly also apply what I learned in the workshop.

Hopefully, this means Mug for Thought will have new content more regularly! And as always, I welcome submissions and comments.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Unlost 101

Last month I spoke with the founder and colleague of one of my favorite sites, The Unlost, about what advice they have for anyone searching for something they can't quite define (i.e., all of us. Yogi Berra was wrong. I think?) As I mentioned, the team was at the time developing an online course designed to help participants incorporate the Unlost teachings into our own lives - it's one thing to find assurance that all this angst we experience is normal. To learn to confront those feelings directly, with a fresh approach that could actually be effective? Even better.

Well, Therese and Sarah have since completed the beta version of their course and officially launched it to the public. As someone who truly believes in this project, I'm pleased to continue to spread the word so more can benefit from it - and maybe we can even change the conversation so people don't have to feel so lost in the first place.

The course begins this Monday, November 5th.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee: Good to the Last Drop

This past week, Jerry Seinfeld aired the last in his series of webisodes, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

Seinfeld’s experiment of filming himself and friends in cars, getting coffee proved to be a successful one. He has said in interviews that he went into the project without any specific expectations, rather, it was just something he wanted to try and thought audiences might enjoy. Jerry filmed ten episodes and aired them weekly from late July through last week, in his words, until he ran out. This scheduling was a smart choice, allowing him to build an audience during the summer while the network series were on hiatus and end just as the new television season is starting. He further released the episodes in a sequence which felt like a season, drawing us in with some big names and building toward others at the end:

1. Larry David (07.19.12)
2. Ricky Gervais (08.02.12)
3. Brian Regan (08.09.12)
4. Alec Baldwin (08.16.12)
5. Joel Hodgson (08.23.12)
6. Bob Einstein (08.30.12)
7. Barry Marder (Ted L. Nancy) (09.06.12)
8. Colin Quinn and Mario Joyner (09.13.12)
9. Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks (09.20.12)
10. Michael Richards (09.27.12)

You are of course free to watch these in any order, but this sequence has a pleasing rhythm to it.

Over the course of the episodes, Jerry continually mixes the setting between Los Angeles and his native New York (though he may have originally filmed these in a different order), the types of comedy we associate with each guest, the styles of coffee shops visited and of course, the cars. An explanation of each week's car choice is posted on the CCC Facebook page; I’d be even more interested to see any forethought that went into the choice of restaurant - mostly old school diners, with deviations like one to a bowling alley in Bob Einstein’s episode. The continuous changes in setting and personalities kept the series fresh and surprising each week, even in instances when I was less familiar with the guest’s work (Jerry provides a CV on each comedian at the beginning of the episode so even if you haven’t seen them before you can get a sense of what they will bring to the show.)

Each episode is worth studying, but the arguable highlights of the series took place in the last two episodes, featuring Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks and finally Michael Richards. The second to last episode starts like the previous ones with Jerry getting coffee with Carl Reiner, during which Reiner mentions that he and Mel Brooks have met for dinner every night for the past forty years, and extends Jerry - and us - a special invitation to join them.

The dinner scenes are a complete joy to watch. The fact that these two entertainment legends have such a close lifelong friendship, and eat dinner every night as that tradition slips away, is a rarity worth seeing. We also get to see Jerry - an idol to many of us - in the fan role, as his own heroes share stories of Get Smart, The Producers and The Dick Van Dyke Show. It’s great fun.

Last, we see Jerry with none other than Kramer himself, Michael Richards. As many know, Richards has a checkered past, notably relating to a 2004 onstage outburst from which his public image never fully recovered. Even in the 2009 Curb Your Enthusiasm staged Seinfeld reunion, Richards had the most minor role of the four cast members, audiences still sensitive to the event.

Needless to say, I wasn’t sure what to expect from seeing Richards on CCC but went into the episode with an open mind. It starts off with some zaniness, with Richards suggesting they visit Sugar Ray Leonard - only to find they had the wrong house - and donning a surfer wig and sunglasses disguise - only run into someone with the same real-life look. A disclaimer at the beginning of the episode reads, "Certain things in this episode seem set up. They were not."

The episode continues into the coffee segment of the day, with the conversation shifting toward Seinfeld memories. Suddenly, Richards begins to open up, ultimately addressing the previously mentioned incident. It’s a completely unexpected and refreshingly heartfelt moment, and one which I believe to be genuine.

Whether Jerry had planned for Richards to have this platform to express remorse, I don’t know. He has said the episodes are all unscripted, and the conversation felt as natural as any of the others, so I trust it was. I don’t condone what Richards said in 2004, but I do believe in second chances, and if this experience can serve toward one for him, I think that’s a great thing. Jerry says it best, "It's up to you to say, 'I've been carrying this baggage enough.'" Which is true of all of us.

Jerry has said he’s unsure whether he’ll film another set of episodes, and perhaps this is the best possible ending. I’d love to see more guests and think the possibilities are as of yet unlimited. Still, should Jerry choose to bring the project to a close as it is, he can do so feeling very proud of the work he’s done and knowing we’ll be eagerly awaiting whatever he does next.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

An Unlost Cause

Writing Mug for Thought has always been a reflection of my own life, dreams and anxieties as a twenty-something trying to figure out what the heck to do for the next thirty years. In this crazy, sometimes heartbreaking process of self-discovery, reading the work of fellow wanderers, as I affectionately call us, has been a source of great comfort and inspiration. One such space is The Unlost, created by Therese Schwenkler.

Therese hails from Boise, Idaho and launched her blog in 2011, home to such refreshingly honest articles as "Your Guidance Counselor Was Wrong: Why You Don't Really Have to Figure It All Out Now" and "Weird But True: The Secret to Dealing With Those Things Called Feelings." In the introduction to her site, she explains:
We’re all looking for some sense of purpose, for some sense of direction, and yet the only strategies we’ve ever been handed come from ridiculous sources like Cosmo Magazine and Jersey Shore and – well, our friends, who unfortunately are just as lost as we are. Have you ever noticed how much the advice out there for young people FREAKING SUCKS?? Well, my goal is to bring that suckiness to an end.
Therese is well on her way to achieving that goal - this past spring, she made The Unlost her full time pursuit, and since then has been taking a seemingly awesome cross-country trip and designing a guided learning course for those of us that can't get enough of her advice.

I've been following Therese's experience with this process as I consider taking a similar leap of faith in the coming years(!), and she's become a terrific mentor and friend. In the following video, Therese and Sarah Goshman, who's joined in her movement, speak about leadership, actively shaping our own paths and why we can be hopeful about our futures.

I hope you find the conversation interesting and it inspires some questions of your own. A big thanks to Therese and Sarah for taking the time to prepare this video and helping us all get a bit closer to an unlost place.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Roles of Art

My recent post "Can Glee Maintain Rachel Berry's Relatability?" generated some really interesting feedback. Many of you said I brought up some valid points to consider, which is definitely something any writer wants to achieve in our work, so that was great to hear. Additionally, you reminded me to consider the perspective in which I was critiquing the development of a fictional character, and showed me that I was looking at Rachel with the expectation that she should reflect my own desires and insecurities. Which maybe wasn't entirely fair of me to do.

Objectively, I stand by my previous comments about my impressions of season 4. For me, Rachel's story, and more broadly, the New York set story, looks too over the top for my liking and not one I'm particularly interested in right now. For those of you who are excited about it, great; I hope you like it, and I'm glad Lea seems to be having fun with it.

I would like further consider the question though, about the responsibilities of art and artists. Do they simply need to entertain us, or do they need to speak to us on a personal level as well? Do they need to act as a source of validation for each of our circumstances and choices? Provide social commentary on the world-at-large?

The answers to these questions will of course, be different for different people. I often love to delve deep into a novel, film, album and what it may be trying to say; other times, I just need to disengage temporarily from my own life, and there are merits to both ways of interpreting a work. But when I think of the stories that have affected me the most, they are the ones that spoke somehow to my dreams, fears and sense of identity. That resonance, I think, is what separates entertainment and true art.

Of course, what moves each of us personally will never be exactly the same. That diversity of reactions is what makes creative canon so interesting and wonderful.

Which brings me back to my own work. I want to know, what are your thoughts? Your favorite movies, music, books? What would you like to see more of on this website? Because I want to connect with you, too. That's the only fun in it all anyway.

Share stories, pictures. Vent about your day. Ask questions. Stop by next time you're on Facebook or Pinterest.

Mug for Thought is what you make of it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Will Glee Maintain Rachel Berry's Relatability?

A few weeks from now, Glee's fourth season will premiere, and we'll finally learn how Rachel Berry's been doing since we last left her in New York City. Though I don't intend to follow the show as closely as I have in previous years, I'd like to address concerns I have about the direction in which Ryan Murphy may be taking the show, particularly as it regards Rachel's character.

When we first met Rachel, we knew she had a heart and dreams larger than her archetypal high school and town could contain. She wanted to be a star. So when a teacher at her school decided to revive the school’s Glee club, she jumped at the opportunity, yet still had a long journey through high school ahead of her. Rachel Berry demonstrated a longing for acceptance and success to which anyone can relate. She wanted to inspire people and feel that they cared for her. This passion I know too well can often be misunderstood for egotism, uptightness, delusion, overachievement, and flightiness in a world that doesn't always understand, and Glee, at its best, has captured this experience. Rachel was driven in her dreams of performing not only because the arts were something she'd loved since childhood, but because she wanted to escape the cutthroat high school social environment in which she was an outsider. That vulnerability and heartbreak are the very experiences that led us to relate to, fall in love with and root for Rachel throughout the series. I was a high school wallflower myself, as I suspect a lot of us were, and so Rachel is the character I have had the strongest emotional attachment to during most of my experience watching Glee, and certainly the one I've written about most. Despite Rachel's comfort in knowing she can build a life for herself outside of high school, she still wishes for a sense of connection with her classmates. In the show's pilot, she confides to Will, "Being a part of something special makes you special" - she wants to feel valued and appreciated, not only after she graduates, but at this very moment and in the environment of her present.

Three years later, Rachel has experienced heartbreaks and victories. She has won a National show choir championship, graduated high school and boarded a train to one of the most prestigious New York performing arts programs in the world. And, she has been in a very serious relationship with a boy who loves her so much he was willing to let her go because he views himself as a potential impediment to her ability to fully flourish on Broadway. Right away, we can see that the Rachel of “Goodbye” is very different than the Rachel of the Pilot. Her metamorphosis really has been something out of a fairy tale, and I know I’ve often found myself wondering, “Why her and not me?” And perhaps there is no answer to that question. Moreover, having seen how hard Rachel has worked to get to where she is today, and how happy she is, it’s hard not to delight in her triumphs.

But this season, which places Rachel in New York with a supposed whole new set of challenges, will be a test of whether we still view Rachel as someone to cheer for. What concerns me, based on what I’ve learned about the upcoming episodes, is that her character is becoming too sexy and could lose touch with the roots that made her the beloved underdog we initially connected with.

Lea Michele has done a great job of taking her media image seriously knowing how many people look up to her and her character. She uses social media to connect with us, speaking about her closeness to her family and enjoyment of staying in to watch TV herself. Her Facebook posts often reiterate points she’s made in interviews about being true to herself, following her dreams, and encouraging us to do the same. At the same time, Lea is clearly comfortable, and enjoys, being seen as sexy and desirable, both in photo shoots and character scenes like “Baby One More Time.” As she should. She’s 25, works extremely hard and has been able to balance her girl-next-door and bombshell personas really well - no easy task, particularly for a young Hollywood actress. (Coincidentally, she'll be covering another Britney Spears number in episode two. Wearing this.)

Sadly, we live in a culture that is still more interested in a person’s sex appeal more than their authenticity, and I’ve seen the impact these norms have made on Glee’s presentation of Rachel Berry. So far, we’ve learned that in season 4 Rachel gains the affections of a new boy, has a far-from-needed makeover, and lives in an unreal New York apartment with Kurt, who has somehow landed an internship at Vogue himself (x). While I understand that college is a time for experimenting and is often glamorized in the media, the transition seems a bit too seamless for me and not reflective of the typical freshman experience (certainly not mine!).

Glee showrunner Ryan Murphy has shown a love of pushing the envelope, and there’s a lot of merit in that. But I think he also needs to decide what type of show he wants to make – one that represents our fantasies or one that speaks to what we’re really going through. Because he built Glee on the latter ideal, and if he wants to continue to delivering that message, he needs to prove he’s committed to it 100%.

Related Reads:
Glee: Goodbye, for now.
How I Learned to (Sort of) Stop Worrying and Love the Monchele
First Times, on Glee and Beyond

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Seinfeld, Coffee and Conversation

These past few weeks, I've enjoyed following Jerry Seinfeld's most recent project, "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee."

When I first heard that Jerry was producing this web series, I was naturally interested right away. He is, of course, one of my all-time favorite entertainers and influences, so his name being attached to a project is an automatic selling point for me. I also liked the idea of learning more about the Internet as a growing platform for original content, as well as finding another series to cover on MFT.

The show's premise is as straightforward as the title indicates. In each episode, Jerry picks up his guest of the week in one of the cars from his famed collection and they go to a diner for coffee. That's about it. The variety in each episode comes with who is having coffee with Jerry and what they talk about during that time, which is precisely why it works.

Jerry has been really smart in the way that he has chosen projects post-Seinfeld, never trying to top the show about nothing while still drawing upon the formula that made it a pop cultural masterpiece. In 2009, he and Seinfeld co-creator Larry David staged a fictional(?) reunion show on David's follow-up series Curb Your Enthusiasm. With "CCC," Jerry once again allows the nuances of everyday life to take the wheel and steer the show (metaphorically, of course.) The diner scenes brings back familiar memories of Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer passing countless hours at Monk's but are inherently different enough not to pale in comparison either.

In short, "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" is not particularly profound viewing, but that's what makes it great, and Seinfeld's ability to present the fascinating within the ordinary is what has set him apart for over two decades. "Comedians'" potential is unlimited, and I'm looking forward to enjoying the ride.

"Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" is available on Facebook, Crackle and New episodes debut Thursdays at 9 PM Eastern.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

How I Learned to (Sort of) Stop Worrying and Love the Monchele

As it's been a while since I've written, I hope all is well with you all and that you've been enjoying the summer so far. I've been taking some time for myself, and having wrapped up my Glee analysis last month, it's been really great.

It turns out I am not the only one reaping the benefits of a summer hiatus. Having spent the past three years powering the show, the Glee cast seems to have been given the opportunity to step back a bit, regroup and determine their own futures within the show. And I have to say, I'm a little jealous!

Cue Ben Folds' "For all the Pretty People." 
Notably, Lea Michele and Cory Monteith, who have spent the past three years portraying the show's famously star-crossed lovers Rachel and Finn, appear to have embarked upon a romance of their own! While I was familiar with news that the two were dating, in the weeks since they wrapped up filming I suddenly found my Internet feeds filled with photos of them traveling the world, seeming to be blissfully in love.

It may sound silly, but I've found myself at times reduced to a volatile mess when hearing of "Monchele's" latest escapades. As someone who's always taken pride in my ability to embrace singledom, these feelings have been particularly disheartening. I'm not supposed to care about things like dating! I'm different!

Ultimately, though, I've come to recognize them for what they really represent: acceptance of my own emotional vulnerability. That perhaps I'm not immune to wanting a relationship, however far off that may be. And that it doesn't mean I'm a lesser person for asking those questions. I stand by who I am and the choices I've made, and that's what matters.

So, after some weeks of soul-searching, I've become able to appreciate that these beautiful, charming, and kind co-stars are happy together. Ultimately, there's little else I can do. So congratulations, you two! Can't wait to see what's next.

For fans who are particularly interested in this story, I've posted some additional thoughts here.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Glee: Goodbye, for now.

After a joy-filled Nationals triumph, McKinley High graduation, and gradual farewells to Mercedes, Mike, Quinn, Puck, Santana and Kurt, we all knew that the last five minutes of Glee's season three finale would bring the hardest "goodbyes" of all.

Still, those closing scenes hit me like that truck into Quinn Fabray's car earlier this year.

I've always planned to conclude my analysis of Glee at the end of this season, and so had been hoping for an ending a bit less unsettling than this one.

My frustrations with the ending - to "Goodbye" and to the three seasons I've been invested in for the past three years - related to the mid-series conclusion that, as far as we know, Finn will be joining the army. I don't mind Finn and Rachel spending some time apart - I think that aspect of the ending was a smart move. I just think Finn deserved a more promising new beginning.

You could say that season three ended with Kurt also facing an uncertain future, and that's true. Here's the difference - Kurt is not joining the army. Plain and simple. Nor would it make sense for him to, given our understanding of his character. When we next see Kurt, he will probably be taking classes at a local college and applying to transfer elsewhere mid-semester. But why couldn't Finn have had the same opportunity? Because otherwise, Rachel wouldn't have gone to New York?

Rachel showed strength in saying goodbye to Finn, trusting in him and in their relationship, and going to New York. But I think the moment would have been even more powerful if she had an honest choice to make, because practically, she didn't. Even more tragically, after years of being Finn's at times only supporter, she was left unable to do anything but leave him to face his grim future. And it isn't anyone's "fault" and no one took away the other's agency or anything like that. It's just not the best ending that could have been chosen, for either character.

Imagine how differently we would feel if Rachel and Finn were saying goodbye to one another on the same terms as they did, but instead of Finn joining the army, he was going to visit a college or looking into a post-high school plan that may not have been his dream, but would show promise that he might find it in season four.

It wasn’t even that the ending in and of itself was that much of a letdown. I just felt led on, as someone who watched loyally, detour after detour for the past three seasons. I expected those frustrations would build to something, particularly after the emotional payoff that Nationals and graduation had provided,and I was disappointed.

That said, it is what it is. Further, having had a couple of weeks to process my initial emotional reactions, I feel better about the fates of Rachel and Finn and the rest of our beloved characters. Because their stories aren't over yet, and hopefully the series finale will bring that closure. While I don't know what will happen for certain, I can step away from writing about this show and move into new projects. Which I am certain is something I need to do right now.

To everyone who has supported me in this first writing endeavor - thank you. I hope you've gotten something out of what I've said, and that you continue reading as I explore new stories and ideas.

Related Reads:
Glee: Senior Year
A Guide to Glee: Senior Year

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Glee: It's All Coming Back to Me

This week brings a moment I’ve been excited about for a long time: Glee graduation.

Since last season’s finale first alluded to the core characters’ impending departures from McKinley, it's been clear how important a moment this would be in the show's story. For the past year, I've been running the three seasons in my head, over and over, wondering what sort of answers this year's finale would bring.

The penultimate moments of the past few episodes, most notably “Nationals,” have been a joy to watch, delivering some of the best performances and poignant scenes in years.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

At least...a voice. Of a generation.

"I don't want to freak you out, but I think I may be the voice of my generation. Or at least...a voice. Of a generation."
I finally watched the Pilot of Lena Dunham's show Girls, hailed to be the series of my generation.

I've learned that any show, movie or book that claims to be a portrait of a generation - On the Road, The Breakfast Club, Friends, even Glee - is never going to be completely accurate or inclusive, if only because each member of a so-called "generation" is a unique individual. Archetypes may provide some insight on common values and lifestyles we share, but they will never tell the whole story.

I don't point this out to criticize Dunham, rather, to support her. It's not her sole responsibility - nor anyone's, to fully capture a point of time in society, something I'm coming to realize myself in my own writing. "Portrait of a Generation" is an appealing ideal and a marketing goldmine, yet, like most ideals, it is unlikely to be ever fully realized, at least in the way we had originally imagined.

Notably, in the Girls premiere, Dunham's aspiring writer character, Hannah, shares her memoir-in-progress with her parents in an effort to help them understand her dreams and, particularly, support them financially. (Note that I, too, have done this.) In what was the most poignant moment of the episode for me, Hannah says, "I think I may be the voice of my generation. Or at least...a voice. Of a generation."

Which I think, in its simplest terms, is something we all desire. To feel our viewpoints are valued by others. I know I do.

Through my experiences writing Mug for Thought I have discovered some of the most fascinating, thought-provoking pieces of writing, many by others my own age or, as we've come to be known, the emerging Millenial generation. And while some comparisons can be made of our work, we each bring our own unique worldview to the dialogue, and more important, we inspire one another.

In short, I don't think any of us need to feel inadequate just because we haven't been identified as The Voice of Our Generation. We just need to keep nurturing our own - and each others' - voices.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

My Charlie Manifesto

As I continue each day to follow my heart and forge my own journey, I keep You, Me and Charlie close by for counsel. This month, the creative team at the website has invited us to consider a series of topics and develop our own responses. Their first question:
Write your personal manifesto. What are you about? 
Well - exactly what I've been trying to discover. Some of things I've learned include:

I live in a world of ideas, and the community that explores them.

Existentialism fascinates me.

I like to think that there’s a heaven, but I can’t say it exists for certain.

For me, too, the arts are a source of joy and inspiration.

I express my anxieties and sadnesses not to garner sympathy but because I think you deserve honesty, and  I know you can handle them.

Every day I strive to nurture these values and build a legacy.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Blogging Alone

Sociologist Robert Putnam, in his book Bowling Alone, examines the structure that social organizations - such as bowling leagues - provide for people to feel connected to one another and develop relationships,  giving them real "social capital" in approaching the world. Yet, Putnam argues, these organizations are losing influence in a culture, and we are moving more and more toward a society of “bowling alone.”

I highly recommend the book, whose main points are outlined well on its website,

Reflecting on some of my recent writing within the context of Putnam's ideas, I better understand some my own feelings these past months.

The Other Side, Imagined” explains how important institutions like the workplace, relationships and friendships are as “sources of support in looking at the big picture,” and “Grappling with my Dark Side” shows that I haven't quite found those resources yet: "I really am trying to build a life for myself. Those tangibles I mention - my job, family, friends, this blog - I recognize the support and sense of a foundation that they give me. Yet I still feel so, so empty inside."

I support sociology - and all social sciences - as fields of research because of the way they provide a platform for discussing these issues of loneliness and anxiety we all go through.

In my own life, I am trying to develop my own social capital. It has been largely a process of trial and error much like my experience with writing.

Yet I keep on going.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Introducing Socialpunk

As we continue deconstructing society here at MFT, I'm excited to share my first collaboration with another writer online!

Monica Leonelle, a social media marketing blogger and science fiction storywriter, reached out and invited me to join a blog tour for her forthcoming novel, Socialpunk. Needless to say, I was elated to be considered for the opportunity and explore her work. And the material seemed right up my alley:
Socialpunk is aimed at tech-savvy, social media aficionados who enjoy writing and reading. The book centers on Ima, who is stuck in a virtual reality that functions more like a prison, and Vaughn, who lives in a dark, technology-driven future, but manages to save Ima from the people trying to destroy her. If you enjoy books like Ender's Game, Neuromancer, or The Hunger Games, you would probably enjoy this book too!
Confession: I still haven't read The Hunger Games. But I digress.

Monica sent me an electronic copy of Socialpunk, which opens:
SOMETHING ABOUT THE BRIGHT PINK sky had always bothered Ima, but she couldn’t  put her unease into words. It wasn’t like the sky had changed in her seventeen years on earth; it had changed during her mother’s marrying years, from a blue the color of forget-me-nots, to that awful, bright pink.
She plucked one of the forget-me-nots from next to the bush she hid behind and held it to the sky for comparison. Her mother remembered the change starting around 2036, when the ozone layer damage hit an all-time high and the air became too polluted for breathing. Populations migrated to domed cities like Chicago, where the government could control the atmosphere and food supply without overextending the earth’s dwindling resources. 
Domed cities provided answers for the people who had survived the Scorched Years. And most accepted the safety domes could provide without question. But the pink blush that streamed through the clear protective barrier only left Ima with more questions. Questions about The Dead Zone. Questions of what lay beyond it.
It seems like this book would interest many of you, along with all of Monica's projects. If anyone is interested I'd love to host a reading discussion about Socialpunk or Monica's blog. All you need is a social media page (including accounts on Facebook, Twitter and the like) to join the tour and read the book for free!

Monica, thanks for including me in this opportunity and good luck with the Socialpunk launch! I look forward to reading more!

Follow up 04/30/12: I have since finished The Hunger Games, and definitely consider it an Interesting Read!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Teach me what you know.

Me too. (
I enjoy immersing myself in dialogue about concepts larger than us all - existence, truth, purpose. My passions for these themes have made me struggle to express my emotions and dreams. How can I compete with the philosophers of the Enlightenment, the sociologists whose work I studied in college, the artists whose works have touched me so profoundly I've always known I wanted to build upon their contributions? What do I have to offer the universe that hasn't already been contributed?

I’ll be honest: I like to think I’ll be remembered long after I leave this Earth. That maybe someone struggling to express herself might find refuge in my world. Still every day I wake up and live in a society that tells me I’m no more special than anyone else. I have to put food on my table and keep a roof over my head, and my dreams don’t seem to hold much currency in fulfilling those obligations. I wonder if I even want to be part of a world like this, if anyone achieves fulfillment as much as a sense that their place in the universe is “good enough.”

After years of asking these questions, I haven’t seemed to find any answers. Few people seem to honestly know if their life is as meaningful as it could be, yet that doubt doesn’t always appear to shake them as much as it has for me.

Reading my previous work I’m struck by how much of it is focused on my self, my questions, and I’m repulsed. Am I that self-centered? Maybe. Yet maybe, in working through these feelings and positing them in the realm of discussion – maybe I can move closer to reaching some answers, and connecting with other points of view.

So I’m going to keep on sharing. My ideas may at times be trivial, and they may not connect to any broader theme, but they won’t move anywhere if I keep them in my own head. Feel free to read along and teach me what you know. I’d love your company.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Grappling with my Dark Side

I realize I've become quite melancholic as I enter the second quarter of my life, and depending on your own current experiences, you may find my ramblings relatable or annoying. Maybe both.

I really am trying to build a life for myself. Those tangibles I mention - my job, family, friends, this blog - I recognize the support and sense of a foundation that they give me. Yet I still feel so, so empty inside. And for the first time in my life I'm questioning whether that void will ever be fulfilled. If I'll ever make it to the other side.

I know that I love to write. I've been thinking about going to graduate school. Maybe even moving across the country. I consider what it would be like to pursue these things. I wonder if I'll ever leave Suburban Connecticut.

More than that, though, at the moment I could use some guidance and affirmation. I know we all have our own bags of issues to deal with, so would it be possible for us to each other out?

I've been listening to this a lot lately:

Are we worth it? I think so...yet sometimes I need to hear it from you.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Other Side Imagined

Last week I opened up about some big uncertainties I have, and in doing, so I've realized I'm grappling with these questions on a philosophical and spiritual scale.

I referred to a proverbial other side, which I can best describe as a place in which these questions no longer shake you to your core. I don't know if it exists, and I think that's why we associate so strongly with the tangible aspects of life, namely our place of employment, life partner, and other relationships and activities. It seems that when we reach a point of feeling fulfilled by these things - when we are invested in them and feel they are truly a part of us, and sources of support in looking at the big picture - that we've reached the other side.

My greatest source of fulfillment is literature, art, reflection. At this point, it's the work of others that makes me feel safe and supported.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Where Am I Going?

Look familiar? (From the movie Cast Away, 2000.)
I've thought thoroughly for a while about where I want to proceed with this blog and beyond. I've always viewed it as a metaphor for my own life. Working through my thoughts on paper (or screen, more often), I've hoped would help me work my way through what I've felt can be a challenging world. 

What I've come to find is that it isn't easy to move forward, either in writing or life. I've felt like I've gone around in circles, a frustrating catch-22. I can't articulate what I'm looking for in words, so I don't know how to find it. I don't know what I want in life, so my writing lacks focus.

Those adults who claim to have been in my shoes and and seem to have made it to the proverbial other side say everything will work out. The burgeoning genre of "Gen Y" literature provides some assurance that others are going through similar experiences. Still, I find myself coming to question everything I've learned and expected in the past 25 years.

The only road map I have is what other people have done, what the social norms are. Finish school, get a job, move out, make friends, find a soulmate, buy a house, have a child, and encourage that child to follow the same road. That's what the adults - the ones I describe as having made it - did. There are the people who seem to naturally follow this progression and those that thrive off skewing from it. And then there's me, and all I really want is to find my way home.

Fiction doesn't necessarily help. My expectations of life in my 20s were shaped by shows like Friends and countless others that made me think these were going to be the best years of my life. In a lot of ways, they have been - but not for the reasons I thought. I feel happiest in the solitude of my own apartment, seeking refuge from the world in which I'm supposed to lose myself. My relationships are as rewarding as I imagine they can be. Yet knowing how I feel, and keeping my life thus far in mind, I wonder why I fight so hard for a life that may never be more than this.

I realize this worldview is rather depressing, and if it isn't one that resonates with you, I appreciate your at least taking a moment to listen to me. But if this picture does seem familiar, maybe my story will make you feel less alone. And maybe, just maybe, we can help each other get home.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Developing the Mug for Thought Brand

This week I will be transitioning my Tumblr account to the username and title Mug for Thought. As some of you know, it has been called Meticulous Whimsy since its inception in the summer of 2010.

Mug for Thought has always been my primary blog and the title among the two that, after two years of writing under both names, I feel is the best catch-all for my work.

I’ve put a lot of thought into this decision and I’m going to miss Meticulous Whimsy, but I’m excited to be developing Mug for Thought as a brand and finally having one name for everything.

Hopefully the synergy will spark inspiration for me on both media platforms! (Twitter will remain @SarNoon. It just feels like me.)

P.S. I am also now on Google+. I look forward to developing content and connections on that platform also.

Editor's Note: 02/18/12: Mug for Thought is also now on Facebook!