Wednesday, February 18, 2015

"Oversized Heart" by Lana McKissack

Last week I was in my car listening to a piece on NPR about those brilliant underprivileged high school kids who beat M.I.T. students in a robotics competition, and I started uncontrollably sobbing. WHAT. THE. HELL? I felt ridiculous, so I changed the station to one that was playing "All About That Bass" and sang along as I gleefully wiped the tears off of my face. As soon as the song was over, one of those "Helpful Honda" commercials came on. A woman was talking about how her entire family's bicycles had been stolen, and how she couldn't afford to replace them. She said that riding bikes together was the main way she could spend time with her kids since they didn't have a ton of money for extracurricular activities. So, the Helpful Honda Guy told her that Honda was going to replace all four bicycles. Two waterfalls cascaded from my eyes. I finally had to turn off the radio altogether because I just couldn't escape these absurd emotional outbursts. 

What was wrong with me? Why was I incapable of controlling my feelings during news reports and blatantly manipulative car commercials? Was I finally confronting my disappointment over my lack of scientific achievement in high school? Or was I feeling left out because I'd found out the hard way that it really is possible to forget how to ride a bicycle? While I do feel a little sad about both of these things, neither was enough to merit the full-blown breakdown I had just experienced in the Starbucks drive-through line. And then it hit me. There was no underlying issue. I wasn't suppressing any childhood traumas. I'm just sensitive. I always have been.

The thing about being a sensitive individual is that many people (myself included) see emotion as a weakness. Yeah, sure, it's been a handy trick to be able to cry on command in an acting class. People are always so impressed with my ability to connect so deeply with my emotions. But lately I've been feeling like a bit of a fraud. I mean, is it really that impressive to shed a tear or two when you're the type of person whose eyeballs explode while listening to a Honda ad? No, it's not. Because I feel EVERYTHING. I soak EVERYTHING in. And I have zero control over any of it. If I have lunch with a friend who is upset, I too get upset and feel terrible for the rest of the day. If I know that I hurt someone's feelings, I'll think about it FOREVER. Seriously. I still feel awful for getting in a fight with a boy named George Edward Marti in second grade and throwing his retainer in the gutter. He totally deserved it, but let's be honest. That shit is expensive. And his parents probably got really mad at him. And he probably got in a lot of trouble. And he's probably still traumatized about it to this day. And... well, you see what I'm dealing with.

I always hoped I'd grow out of my Excessive Sensitivity Disorder - hey, if Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a thing, ESD gets to be too... although I think I might also have CFS, but that's a story for another day- so I've spent much of my adult life trying to desensitize myself. I figured if I watched Marley and Me enough times, it couldn't possibly upset me anymore. I was wrong.

And so I'm realizing that if trying to squash my emotions isn't working, maybe it's time to appreciate them. Yes, it's pretty embarrassing to cry in public at inopportune moments, but wouldn't it be infinitely worse to find yourself incapable of ever feeling anything? I think so. I suppose it's all just a matter of finding a balance and a healthy perspective. My hope is that one day I'll start seeing this oversized heart of mine less as a weakness, and more as a gift.

Now if you'll excuse me, The Fault In Our Stars is on TV, and those onions aren't going to chop themselves.


Follow Lana on Twitter: @LanaMcKissack

Monday, February 16, 2015

"Follow Your Heart" by Kara Sotakoun

One thing that almost everyone hears at least once in their life is that they need to “follow their heart.” Need to make a big, life changing decision? Follow your heart! Not sure if the person you’re seeing is right for you? Follow your heart! Trying to decide if you want pizza or double the pizza for dinner? Just follow your heart! It’s easy to say, and it might seem easy to do, but actually following what your heart is telling you is one of the hardest things that you can try to do.

In the words of the immortal Selena Gomez (and her team of writers), “The heart wants what it wants.” As trite as that song may be, that basic sentiment is absolutely right. You can’t help but want the things that you want. However, what you truly want, what you crave in the deepest parts of your soul, is the most difficult thing to get. It feels wrong to do what you want to do with little regard for what someone else wants. It feels unnatural and it just isn’t something we’re used to doing. We are taught from the moment we are born to always consider others first (unless the plane is going down), and to put others' feelings before our own. Rarely are we told to indulge in our own dreams, even though we are often given the advice to follow our hearts.

It’s just so simple and uncomplicated to follow someone else’s heart. It’s far easier to please someone else than it is to do what you want for yourself. Following your own heart, while a nice idea, can often seem like an act of selfishness. Recently, I read a quote from a man featured on FaceBook’s Humans of New York page: “I’ve tried to invest my time and money into other peoples' dreams. I thought that helping others succeed would be an easy way to accomplish something without the pressure of doing it myself.” Stumbling across that quote summed up life just perfectly. It just makes so much sense to help others, to build others up, to make others feel good. It feels so counterintuitive to make yourself feel good, and that is truly unfortunate.

I, myself, followed what was in my parents’ hearts and I went off to college. I was the first in my entire family to pursue a higher education. I had watched my older sister follow her own dreams rather than my parents' and it seemed so wrong to me. She did what she wanted, disregarding my parents’ wishes, and I watched how happy she became. Instead of following that path, a path of fulfilling my own desires, I aimed to please someone else. It felt like the right thing to do, but I ended up being miserable most of the time. Now, here I am in the middle of my junior year and I’m finally following my own heart, listening to what my heart is telling me. I’ve taken a year off to see what it would have been like to have paid attention to what it was I really wanted, as opposed to what everyone else was telling me that I wanted. Even though I was studying my passion, and working really hard at it, all I ever really wanted was to explore a life outside of education. It’s been incredibly fulfilling. Even though I’ve been working two jobs since leaving school, I feel like for the first time in my life this is what my heart wanted and I’m listening to it.

It’s so easy to live your life through someone else, to do what others want you to do in order to please them or to live by their accomplishments. Once you follow your own heart, though, you realize how much more satisfying it is to live your own life. It’s hard to break away from being a background character in someone else’s big show and become your own one-man extravaganza. But as soon as you decide to be the leading (wo)man by following your own heart, your life comes alive.

Friday, February 13, 2015

"From Film Scholar to Movie Goer: How the Cinema Won Back My Heart" by Stephen Gallutia

Film school is not meant for the faint of heart. It’s a bitter and brutal schooling, wrought by its own ideologies and reckless ambitions, a tumultuous down hill slope for any lover of cinematic art. My stint in film school, however short-lived it might have been, left me helplessly clamoring for the cinematic appetite I had going in. Despite the presumptions of any cinephile hoping to become the next great auteur, film school isn’t everything it’s talked up to be. 

Ruthless analyzation, broken ambitions, and an overwhelming sense of artistic apathy plague the a-typical film school student, many of whom can be found at the local fine dining establishment post-grad.  And here I am in my fifth year of college, blazing through in pursuit of a degree in Journalism and finally, within the last year, I have begun coming to terms with the lost love I have for the cinematic experience.  So here’s to 2014, the year that the cinema won back my heart.

Two weeks into 2014 I’m sitting in the office of the resident film professor at Asbury University as we peruse through my first screenplay, and he leans over to me having barely said a word, to say this, “I’d like to see what you can do with writing.”  That’s a ten-word sentence that left me both gut wrenched and ecstatic all in the same moment. And it made me ask myself, is it possible that one sentence can work both as an intervention and an epiphany? It was in that moment that I discovered I had lost myself in pursuit of an ill-fit ambition and that my true calling was to write.

Preceding this enlightening gesture, I hadn’t found myself in the buttery lobby of a movie theater in months, and quickly, as if I was regurgitating my lunch, I switched my major and began redirecting my life and re-evaluating the way I thought. In an act of withdrawal I proceeded to avoid the cinema for several months moving forward, reluctantly caving in on a viewing of Gareth Edward’s Godzilla sometime in the early summer. It came at me like a slow-burning thrill ride, blanketing me in an awe-inspired study of man versus nature. I was entranced. Newly enlightened by my change in schooling, Godzilla was the first of many cinematic experiences that whetted my appetite all over again.

Following Godzilla, I binged, spending dollar after dollar on viewings of Guardians of the Galaxy, Interstellar, Birdman and pretty much any other film that could feed my craving that peaked my interest. I was hooked again, and not in the way that I might find myself saying, “I need help”, but rather in that way you do as a child, simply, utterly fascinated at the emotional and intrinsic nature of the cinema.

And so one of the key elements of film that you lose when you embark on the petty dream of being a film scholar is that innocent and intrinsic emotional release that comes with that 16:9 viewing on the silver screen. And yeah, 2014 was great year for movies, blockbusters like Godzilla, Guardians of the Galaxy, Interstellar and even Captain America: The Winter Soldier were a throwback to the action films of the late eighties and early nineties, but it doesn’t matter how “good” those movies were, because in reality, what we all experienced, what I experienced, was that emotional release I’d been longing for and had lost so long ago.

Following the mixed critical reception of Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, a fellow student of mine at Asbury reminded us all, via Twitter, of why we watch movies. “We don’t watch movies for the ways they depict reality, but rather for the way they make us feel.” For me, there has not been a truer statement concerning film in long time. From the meta-reality of Birdman to the altruistic angst of the next great space odyssey Interstellar, every film I saw this year heightened my sense of imagination and cracked open the emotional floodgates of my mind with endorphins flooding in every which way. I can say with the upmost certainty there hasn’t been a year where I’ve cried in the cinema as much as I did in 2014.

Repeat viewings didn’t feel like a sin, they felt like a testament to cinematic perfection and an investment into the future of a brighter, more creative Hollywood. Even awards season seemed brighter, with filmmakers ditching art house melodramas for insightful and provoking character studies like Birdman, Whiplash, and Wild. Hollywood is looking better and better every day. So in a last ditch effort to convey to you, the reader, once more how important 2014 was to me I will vaguely recall one climactic event 20 years ago when, in 1994, I visited the theater for the first time. The Lion King got my heart beating at a pace that I haven’t felt until only recently, and it wasn’t characters or the plot or the mis-en-scene or anything else, it was the awe and splendor of the cinematic experience. The genuine, heartfelt wonder of gazing upwards at the imagination of a generation and feeling all at once that kid in me growing up, learning about the world and experiencing emotion.

Film school isn’t for everyone and it’s debatable whether it’s good for anyone. Film and all its spectacle weren’t meant to be bound by rules and regulations, film has always meant to transcend the authority of our imaginations and venture into the dark void of humanity to discover the still beating heart of our emotional existence. “We don’t watch movies for the ways they depict reality, but rather for the way they make us feel.”

To those it may concern:  My Top 10 films of 2014:

1.) Interstellar
2.) Birdman
3.) Whiplash
4.) Inherent Vice
5.) Nightcrawler
6.) Guardians of the Galaxy
7.) Godzilla
8.) The Lego Movie
9.) Wild
10.) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Monday, February 2, 2015

"I Swear I'm Hilarious" by Andjela Tarailo

I decided, in the middle of the “great snowpocalypse of 2014,” in January that I needed to hone my comedy skills.  I’m just on a never-ending quest be the next Amy Poehler. I mean, someone’s gotta do it. 

I’ve found that I’m only funny when I’m not trying to be funny at all. I’ve had days where simply reading my grocery list aloud to coworkers has had them doubling over on the ground laughing, but then I get to an audition and have to read two paragraphs of a side and nobody even blinks. What gives? 

I’ve been searching for answers to this question for just about two decades now. Actually twenty-four years, six months and twenty days, but I’m not trying to date myself. 

This brought me to Second City. 

After speaking with Michael Jordan, (yes, the receptionist was a man named Michael Jordan), I signed up for the Improv & Writing intensive. And I was ready.

The class had no prerequisites, so anyone could join. Our class was composed of about fifteen people- six kids from Pace University, a lovely actress named Meghan from California, three people that had never done any performing ever in their lives, this super awkward greasy man, three really artsy Chicago humans, and myself. I rolled in with my musical theatre-filled resumé and my theatre major from the prestigious Indiana University (Go Hoosiers), and I was just ready to kill the game. And boy, did I kill it. In the worst way, but hey- I’m learning.

Our mornings were spent improvising with the great Sean Cusick (weird name coincidence again, but just roll with it). For those who have not ever studied Improv, it was basically like a never-ending game of Whose Line is it Anyway? for four hours every morning. The biggest lesson was to not think, just do. By the end of the intensive everyone was more comfortable in their own skin, but even more importantly- as a group. 

Then it was off to Chipotle. Yes, there’s a Chipotle IN the Second City Training Center building. In case Second City itself wasn’t perfect enough already, then they added a Chipotle. It’s like heaven on earth. There’s also a Starbucks. I’m telling you, Second City is perfect. 

After a burrito bowl-induced food coma, we all stumbled to the writing portion of the class. I’m currently writing a memoir about all the ridiculous things that happen to me on a daily basis, so I was excited to apply this class to that future bestseller.  In case you were wondering it will be titled Epic Fail, the Chronicles of #AndjelaProblems. Sorry for the shameless plug, but expect this gem to hit the shelves as soon as I experience a book-size amount of awkward and unfortunate moments.

Anyway, next I met our teacher, Bina Martin. She was waiting for us with homework assignments. Cool, Bina. I definitely didn’t sign up for that, but I decided to humor her anyway. That’s when things got interesting. We were given assignments to listen in on a conversation and then write it down. How sneaky, and weird, and hilarious. I witnessed a breakup in my hotel’s lobby. I’m sad to report I giggled throughout the whole deposition.

The next day of writing class was a massive contest of “who overheard the funniest conversation,” and, to be quite honest, it was a toss-up. The people of Chicago were the equivalent to the people of Walmart in this exercise. It was too weird. 

The final assignment of that class was to write our own comedy sketches.  I was on the search for the perfect comedic monologue for auditions so I simply turned one of my many rants about hating monologues into a sketch piece. The piece was fondly titled  “Callback Me Maybe” and discussed how ridiculous it was to cast Carly Rae Jepson in Cinderella on Broadway instead of me. Ms. Martin laughed along with my classmates, so let’s just label that whole section of the class as a glowing success. 

After attending all our classes, our final moments were spent on an actual Second City stage playing all different kinds of improv games. I laughed so hard I had to use my inhaler. I wish I was kidding. 

In closing, I think Second City Training Center is wonderful. I have much more faith in my improv and comedy skills and I look forward to the next chance I get to study there again (preferably not during a blizzard). I learned a ton, and laughed even more. With that being said, I’ll leave you with this:

Some are born funny, some achieve funny, and some are Amy Poehler.

Follow Andjela on Instagram: @AndjelaTarailo

Saturday, January 31, 2015

"My Wild Adventure" by Jason Anders

"If your Nerve, deny you- Go above your Nerve" - Emily Dickinson 

These are the words that open the trailer for what would become not only my favorite movie of 2014, but one of my favorite films of all time, Wild. I rarely see a movie in the theater twice, this one I've seen three times... so far. My first trip to the cineplex was early morning on opening day at Universal Studios Florida- a completely empty room where I checked in on Instagram with the caption, "I love having a theater to myself. #MorningMovies" The next 115 minutes would wash over me like ten years of therapy. Every once in a while you connect with a film in such a way that it changes you, recharging your batteries, gifting you with a clarity that you didn't have while riding that Regal Cinemas roller coaster just moments before the picture began. (I hope they never change that, especially the explosive popping of that third kernel.) The movie plays from opening frame to final credit like poetry, like a perfectly-crafted album, and not once during the runtime did I shift in my seat or check my phone... I was lost in the screen, on the Pacific Crest Trail with Cheryl Strayed. 

When I left the theater I headed straight for Barnes & Noble to purchase both the book and the soundtrack. I love movie soundtracks. It's the first section I always target in any music store. The perfect soundtrack will play like a personal mix-tape from the filmmaker, and while I'll always buy the albums in advance of seeing movies by directors like Sofia Coppola, Cameron Crowe, and Quentin Tarantino, I'll never spin them before seeing the film. The use of music in Wild is possibly the greatest I've ever observed... hints of Simon & Garfunkel's "El Condor Pasa" are sprinkled throughout the movie, slowly building along the way before finally climaxing with the full track near the end, almost as if the song were fighting its way into the film the whole time. It wasn't until a second viewing that I realized just how important this song was to the storytelling... in fact, Reese Witherspoon's first dialogue onscreen are the lyrics, "I'd rather be a hammer than a nail." This soundtrack would become my anthem. This film would fuel adventures in my life that may not have otherwise occurred in my immediate future. "How wild it was, to let it be."

"I'm a slow walker but I never walk back." - Abraham Lincoln 

I've always loved walking. My dream is to live in a city that doesn't require a car so that I can walk everywhere. There's something liberating about being free from the need of an automobile, unless you absolutely need to hail a cab or ride the subway... that's one of the many reasons I'm in love with New York City, my heart beats for it. I'm currently reading the December issue of New York Magazine entitled "Reasons to Love New York (right now)", as if I need more reasons. Possibly my biggest adventure of 2014 was making the impulsive decision to hop a flight to the Big Apple for a one-day pilgrimage to the Cort Theater at 138 West 48th Street to see the play This Is Our Youth. On Friday, November 28th, I would wake up in my own bed in Orlando, Florida and return to it that night, reflecting on being in the middle of a freezing Manhattan earlier that day with my friend Sarah, hugging the Ed Sullivan theater and selfie-ing the shit out of the Late Show marquee for Twitter. I'd trek through the freezing cold, underdressed for the occasion (my friend Amy commenting on my attire with, "Are you kidding me with that jacket?!"), avoiding subways and embracing the long walks to each destination even though it felt like my feet were wrapped in ice. The city was being dressed for Christmas, with people ice skating at the rink of Rockefeller Center and Christmas music echoing from the small cafes we'd quickly stroll by in search of the nearest heated building. Letterman was on hiatus at the time, being that it was Thanksgiving week, with the CBS Store and even the Hello Deli all locked up with the lights out. The last time I stood at 1697 Broadway I was in the 8th grade, visiting the city with my family. I could see the hotel across the street that we stayed in, my dad had booked a room with a view of the Late Show for us. We camped out hoping to meet Dave, who we never saw, but did end up in a conversation with Paul Shaffer. I got to meet Rene Russo who was kind enough to autograph my Get Shorty soundtrack, and even talked with Carrot Top (which was for some reason a big deal for me at the time.) Probably the most exciting part for me was meeting Biff Henderson, Rupert Jee, and Alan Kalter. I was in heaven. It was my first exposure to film production as we happened upon the set of Keeping the Faith where Edward Norton and Ben Stiller were filming a scene. I ended up chasing Mr. Stiller through a building, nervously asking for his autograph. All I had for him to sign was the booklet to a Paul Shaffer CD which had been autographed for me earlier that day... he signed it, no questions asked, and shook my hand with a smile. This was a big day for little Jason.
Cut to 2014, and here I am again.  Euphoric that I actually made this trip happen.  Excited to finally arrive at the Cort Theater and pick up our center orchestra seat tickets, the best seats in the house, to enjoy watching Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin, and Tavi Gevinson act their hearts out before us.  This was Sarah's favorite play, though she'd only read it, and these were some of my favorite people - Scott Pilgrim vs. the World being one of my favorite movies and Tavi Gevinson being an obvious inspiration to my style of writing.  They killed it.  They brought the house down with thunderous applause and I racked up on merchandise on our way back out into the bitter November cold.  As I laid in bed that night, back home and thawing out in the Florida humidity, I was full of life.  It was astonishing to me what could be achieved in one day, what kind of adventure you could have in such a short span of time.  There are days where I feel I can't find the time to do laundry, yet that very morning I had eggs and coffee in a small cafe near Central Park. What would be my next adventure?  I can't stop now, I have to plan the next one.  What would it be?

"Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt." - John Muir

My dad has always been very into nature.  Growing up, I lived in both Colorado and Tennessee, so much of my childhood was spent in both the Rocky and Smoky Mountains. Though Rocky Top will always be home sweet home to me, I was always happier during the van rides there, through the winding mountain roads, where my sister and I would share the headphones of our Walkman, shuffling through cassettes and singing songs. I was never too into nature as a kid.  I wasn't necessarily opposed, but it didn't "wow" me like it did my father.  After seeing Wild, I was certain of one thing... I needed to take a hike.  Not because I was suddenly proclaiming the same intense love of nature that my dad still carries with him to this day, and certainly the majesty of the great outdoors in those hills I trekked as a child were nowhere to be found in Florida... but the idea of walking alone, completely detached from civilization, with only the sound of the dirt beneath my feet and my thoughts to accompany me... it just sounded therapeutic.  

I Googled Florida nature trails and was shocked to find so many near Orlando.  The one that stood out the most was The Disney Wilderness Preserve. I remembered my parents donating money to it as a kid when we were at Wilderness Lodge, and my sister and I receiving themed buttons to wear, but it never dawned on me until now that it was an actual place. So I packed a bottle of water and some nuts to snack on and drove out to 2700 Scrub Jay Trail in Kissimmee where I would hike over six miles through their three separate trails, making a few stops along the way to write in my journal and quench my thirst. The trail showcases the effects of two major forces - fire and water - that have shaped the area. Surrounded by charred trees and fresh flowers, open vistas and dried leaves, dense vegetation and wet depressions which would soak my shoes and socks... it hit me just how alone I was out there. 
Standing still you could hear nothing but nature, the wind in the trees and the cracking sounds in the surrounding weeds and woods, prompting paranoia over what type of animal might be lurking nearby. It had just struck me that I was in fact deep in the wild where, even though this was Disney, an encounter with a venomous snake was not unlikely. It wasn't until a couple weeks later on yet another hike, this time through the Black Hammock Wilderness trail along the shores of Lake Jesup, where I would encounter a snake on my path.  Frozen in fear, the snake's beady eyes looking directly into mine, I tried recalling what to do should the damn thing start slithering in my direction.  Do I keep trekking past it?  Or do I turn around?  The correct answer would have been to turn around because, to my surprise, I had wandered off the poorly-marked trail.  The weeds grew higher around me and any clear indication of a path had disappeared, and I panicked. I couldn't figure out exactly how I strayed from the trail and began to wonder what would happen if I couldn't retrace my steps out of this nature maze. Black Hammock was not as safe and contained as the Red, Yellow, and White trails of Disney... out here there were wild animals like foxes (my favorite animal, by the way, but not one I'd necessarily want to run into alone in the woods), as well as large droppings on the trail that captured my imagination as to what sort of animal left them behind... and was this animal now hungry and watching me stumble alone on the trail? Retracing my steps, I was all too aware of the snake I had run past earlier, now missing from its earlier spot, as I quickly trekked back the way I came from, unaware that a tick had by that time buried itself in my arm (something I'd discover later on with great disgust and a fear of having contracted Lyme disease. Oh, I'm a hypochondriac by the way.) Parts of the trail were sunken in muddy water, which I sloshed through while trying to distract my overactive imagination about what might actually be in that water. This was not what I had signed up for. I wanted a peaceful, relaxing experience... not a nightmare. It reminded me of that time as a kid being chased by a bee, swearing once I had safely escaped back into my home, the bee still buzzing on the other side of the screen-door, that I would NEVER go outside again. "Fuck nature," I continuously repeated aloud to myself as I made my way out of the woods, my wet shoes and jeans so buried in mud that they had to be thrown away. I hadn't been so happy to come home, possibly ever. The Florida wilderness, I decided, was not a place I'd likely return.

"I wish I was homeward bound." - Simon & Garfunkel 

It had been years since I visited home, "home" being a term I use loosely since the location of my family changes from year-to-year. For now, "home" is Greenville, South Carolina. The last time I visited was in 2010 to stay with my grandparents for a few days, long before my parents moved there from Wyoming. I was actually born in Greenville and it's where most of my mom's side of the family still live. Being that I hadn't spent Christmas with my family for years due to my work schedule, I thought 2014 would be the perfect year to reignite that tradition by surprising my parents. I phoned my cousin Kate to help me plan the perfect surprise, and it could not have been executed more fantastically. After a heartfelt and tearful reunion full of hugs and laughs with my parents, completely shocked at my presence during the entire duration of my trip, the entire family met up at my uncle Len's house to celebrate Christmas together. It was a holiday ripped from the reel of a warm Christmas movie, with the added element of a contagious flu virus infecting half the family and creating paranoia in the still-partially-healthy other half. 

One of the best gifts that came out of Christmas 2014 was an idea. A conversation with my cousin Richlan led to the discussion of turning Fulle Circle into something new- Up until now it had only been my interviews, but now it was about to become something more. We decided, starting with Richlan's essay "The Allure of the Unknown", that this site would house the thoughts and talents of my friends and family... a "Fulle House", complete with its very own cheesy 90s sitcom theme song. It would become a platform by which we could all express ourselves and connect not only with strangers but on a deeper level with each other. It would be the perfect way to start 2015, an adventure in writing and creating with the people in my life I find most interesting. Sure, my heart skips a beat when Camren Bicondova who plays Selina Kyle on my new favorite show Gotham calls my cell phone to do an interview with me from the Fox set in NYC, but it's not as meaningful as collaborating with my favorite people, which has already begun with Emily Alexander's essay, "Adventure... or something like that", after a recent trip to Orlando to celebrate her engagement, or Kara Sotakoun's essay which inadvertently coincides with the idea of most everyone else's writing this month that you don't have to physically travel to a foreign location to have an adventure, it can literally happen in your own backyard (as Honey, I Shrunk the Kids so poetically taught us.) That my friend Juliana Guimarães can submit her thoughts on movies all the way from Brazil, while Mary Schlichting writes her out-of-this-world piece, "Adventurus", only a few miles away, really excited me. And there's much more to come, as essays are currently being written for February by my cousin Stephen Gallutia in Kentucky, Lana McKissack in Hollywood, California, and Jocelyne Barchet in Myrtle Beach who will be the first in addition to myself to interview people for Fulle Circle while at the same time lending her superhuman artistic talents (of which, I posses none) to the site!   

While January is the only month themed to "adventure", I hope it's a theme that carries on throughout the life of Fulle Circle, wherever that road may lead, and that the "Fulle House" family continues to grow as "a place of somebody who needs you, everywhere you look."